When assessing the trajectory of drum and bass music over the course of the last two decades, many early DnB artists are still thriving. Andy C is arguably bigger than ever. Pendulum and its members have found global success across genres. Even originators Bad Company UK released a new album in 2018 to major acclaim.
What is undeniable, however, is that the DnB sound has evolved. As drum and bass artists have found enormous success in the electronic mainstream, the makeup of songs has expanded to include influences from across the bass music spectrum. The lo-fi sound that defined the genre’s early days has given way to modern production techniques and, like any artists trying to make a living today, primary digital distribution is the go-to solution for circulation.
In the Pacific Northwest, one artist with long-standing ties to the DnB scene has launched a new project to “bring neurofunk drum and bass back to basics, reviving its fundamental qualities that have gotten lost over time.” His name is Brian Babinec. You likely know him as local artist Tony Rocky Horror, or perhaps by his new alias, Black Yukon Sucker Punch.
In addition to producing new original music under this alias, Babinec has also launched a DIY label called Yukon Punch Recordings. The label harkens back to 90’s-era DnB in more ways than one, including regular vinyl releases and a focus on the lo-fi sound that propelled the genre out of UK warehouses and into the global consciousness.
We sat down with Babinec to understand more about the label, his outlook on the state of DnB, and how Yukon Punch Recordings is moving to its own unique beat.
DMNW: What is Yukon Punch Recordings?
Brian Babinec/BYSP: Yukon Punch Recordings is a record label I created in tandem with the artist alias I undertook in 2020, Black Yukon Sucker Punch. All releases to date are both vinyl and digital, though the lion’s share of the distribution efforts are focused on the physical format.
I fell in love with electronic music at a young age when physical formats were still the primary mode of distribution for labels. I always admired the quality control aspect of vinyl releases. Labels would really have to think twice about whether they wanted to commit something to that format. With today’s over-saturation of the market, I felt drawn to relive that era by putting my own releases out on vinyl.
How did the distribution process start for Yukon Punch Recordings?
For the first record, YP001, I was completely on my own for physical distribution. I personally made contact with representatives from Redeye Records and Juno Records to make the record available in their stores overseas. I still hand deliver copies to a handful of record shops in the Seattle area each time there’s a new release.
Subsequent to the first release, Triple Vision from the Netherlands has handled pressing and overseas physical distribution on my behalf. I’ve also funneled a lot of energy into Bandcamp, which is where domestic fans can buy either format, especially if they don’t have a local brick and mortar that would carry the vinyl.
Despite the label’s emphasis on vinyl, digital releases are sold concurrently. Fans who prefer to purchase downloads can find Yukon Punch on Beatport, Juno Download, and every other major digital retailer. The releases are also distributed to all major streaming platforms.
Why did you launch Yukon Punch Recordings?
Something I often see come up in conversation in different spaces across the internet, when talking about the late ’90’s/early 2000’s neurofunk sound, is inevitably there’s a consensus that the spirit of that era has gotten lost over time.
Having internalized this sentiment for a long time myself, Yukon Punch is the embodiment of me doing something about it.
Tell us about the music. What is coming next from Yukon Punch?
In November, I’m putting out my third release, which is a two-track single called Dead Man’s Hand. You can preorder it here. It’s an original mix on the A-side, and the flip-side features a remix by Kemal, who is looked up to as one of the most influential neurofunk artists of all time.
I’ve had the privilege of hiring on some amazing remixers throughout the first few releases. The approach has been to seek out artists who inspired me to make the kind of music I’m making today. YP002 features a remix by Vegas, who is one-fourth of Bad Company UK, and YP003 features a remix by Kemal, who is one-half of Konflict.
These two each had a significant hand in creating a lot of the sound design and composition techniques I aspire to, so it was quite a thrill to work with them. There’s also another remix in the works that I’m quite excited about, but it’s a bit too early to mention by name.
What is most important to you that DMNW readers should know?
It’s most important to me that DMNW readers know Yukon Punch is small but mighty, and values substance over aesthetic.
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