Drumming up a neurotic sound


State of Mind’s Stu Maxwell never liked happy music.

In his opinion, the darker the better. But it isn’t angry, he says, just energetic.

Maxwell and fellow producer Patrick Hawkins make up New Zealand’s leading drum and bass duo.

The pair will let rip at Queenstown’s Loco Cantino tomorrow, promising a rowdy night and a hell of a party.

The Auckland duo, who have collaborated for 10 years, are looking forward to a southern excursion.

Being in a two-some isn’t always easy. They have had a couple of creative disputes over the years – but nothing that can’t be sorted out over a beer.

Maxwell: “We can’t go to a vote as there are only two of us. Occasional we butt heads on the music side of it. Our policy is ‘if we are both not into it, we don’t release it’. It is pretty in-frequent; it was never bad enough we needed group therapy.”

Maxwell and Hawkins met through the drum and base scene in Auckland. They got talking and decided to have a go at working together.

“The first tune was pretty good so we kept going.”

That first track, Sun King, created in 2004, is still one of their most popular and most requested at gigs.

While they don’t mind playing it, Maxwell reckons it doesn’t really fit with some of their newer material.

The track also landed them interest from various record labels, but they decided to wait until they had more tunes to offer.

It was a good decision.

When they were ready to release tunes, there was a “feeding frenzy” of folk wanting to sign them.

Maxwell puts it down to quality.

There is no set method to creating the perfect drum and base track, he says. Sometimes it starts with a sample, while others develop from a simple idea or working back from an intro.

“Music is a spontaneous thing. You don’t want to get too formulaic or set in your patterns as you are not making the same track over and over again.”

Technology and software to create tracks has also changed and helped deliver their sound.

He doesn’t like to pigeonhole the genre, but says their style is best described as neurofunk– a dark, techy sound.

“Not everything is dark. There are things … that are quite deep or introspective. That is one thing about our sound; we have a degree of flexibility.”

Queenstowners can expect a mix of tunes, some from their own back catalogue, as well as more mainstream drum and bass tracks.

State of Mind are supported by Shapeshifter’s Pdigsss and ambient electronica outfit Arma Del Amor.

State of Mind play Loco Cantino, tomorow, 10pm. Tickets $30.