Teen Duo De$ignated Usher in New U.K. Bass Sounds
If Hollywood has taught us anything, it’s that older brothers are trouble. They get you into compromising situations, make you rebel, get you into dangerous hobbies. They’ll lead you astray.
Luckily for Nima Bazrcar, his script read a little differently, as his brother had a blueprint for future success. Indeed, his older sibling was embedded in the healthy East London grime and garage scene pushed the then 7-year-old Nima into a life of samples and drum loops. By 12, he could do things with FL Studio that grown men would blush at.
Eventually, he hooked up Rory Bowyer, an indie rocker with compositional talent, and De$ignated was born. Relatively soon, the duo began to create music that resonated with the growing U.K. bass (or future garage) movement. With several remixes having already found success on U.K. dancefloors—like their work for Wave Racer’s “Stoopid” and T2’s “Heartbroken”—and a forthcoming release on Roger Sanchez’s Stealth label, we caught up with the teen duo, De$ignated.
DJ Times: Where did all this begin?
Nima Bazrcar: I grew up in East London and my older brother was involved in the pirate-radio scene. He’d been producing and rapping since I was 6 or 7, and he was always in his room messing about with kit or in a studio somewhere. I began to imitate him—like brothers do. I was playing with eJay from around 7; then by 11, I was making tunes on FL Studio. Over time, I got the hang of it.
Rory Bowyer: I actually started around band music, indie stuff—I liked playing the guitar. I befriended Nima through school and brought my composition and musical knowledge to his technical abilities with software. That led to me studying production and music tech at college, so I eventually caught up.
DJ Times: Where does DJing come into this?
Bazrcar: It just kind of evolved. We started experimenting with mixing different tracks, and eventually we migrated to actually using CDJs and mixers. We had our tunes and a few mixes out there and a promoter took a chance on us and invited us up to a night called Shadow City in Birmingham. It was our first proper gig and it was amazing. There was a good line-up and the venue was packed. For us, it was a uniquely new experience because, when we began DJing, we’d only just turned 18, so we hadn’t even been to that many clubs. Mixing music, watching how the crowd reacts to different songs, just hearing music on massive sound systems was all new to us, and it just spurred us to work even harder.
DJ Times: So you both come from different backgrounds, musically speaking. How does production work between you two in the studio?
Bowyer: Actually, our track “Valentine” was the one of the only tracks we’ve put out to date that was made by us sitting side-by-side in the studio. Normally, when we’re together, any plans to make all-conquering beats end up being both of us sitting there watching “Family Guy.” We find we get most of our work done by sitting in separate locations, sending parts and ideas to each other. It’s very fluid. One’ll write a cool drum sequence, the other will mess about with a sample, we’ll mesh them together. The sound just sort of steadily builds itself.
DJ Times: Let’s talk about that sound. There are plenty of references to garage, to 2-Step, and you’ve got this light, floaty 8-bit synthy thing on the go. How did that all come together?
Bazrcar: It comes straight from our background. I grew up on grime, which led to garage and that whole sound. Rory was getting into the indie, electro-pop crossover thing, so the two kind of clash together in a nice way when we work. All the elements fit—light drums, easy-listening melodies, tongue-in-cheek vocals. It works.
DJ Times: What is it about the bassy, garage sound that you think’s making a resurgence?
Bowyer: It’s been crazy. Even a year and a half ago— before Eton Messy took off—it was starting to grow on the blogs. People that hear it like it. Society itself loves nostalgia. The truth of it is that garage taps into that same part that causes people to throw their hands up and cheer when some ancient track from their childhood comes on in the club. But with garage you’ve got that, plus all the updated drums and bass and everything that actually makes the tunes solid. What with people being more open-minded about the electronic music they like, nowadays, ever since the likes of dubstep took people away from the fixation with just pure house, garage sits in a pretty sweet spot.