2020 has undoubtedly been a year filled with plenty of lows. On the contrary, one of the lights to shine through the darkness of the year has been the resurgence of drum and bass in North America. One of the leaders at the forefront of this movement that’s been dubbed #DnB2020 is undoubtedly the masked menace himself, REAPER.
Two years ago, the REAPER project was unleashed on SoundCloud with his massive remix of Pendulum’s classic record ’Granite.’ Since then the anonymous production wizard has become a staple on some of electronic music’s biggest labels. His debut EP, Rapture, was the start of what has become a tenure at Monstercat, following that up with another single and his most recent EP RENEGADE. The mysterious man in question also found himself on Bassrush earlier this year with his massive collaboration with AWOLTALK, ‘Hysteria.’ REAPER has developed a sound that seems to perfectly mesh with the festival scene. His releases somehow become more aggressive one after another, and influences from hip-hop all the way to dubstep can be heard in all his records.
With all this being said, we had to ask REAPER to drop off a guest mix and answer a few of our questions, thankfully, he obliged.
First off, tell us a little bit about the mix. What direction did you take this one in?
My goal with this mix was to explore some lesser-known sounds in the Drum and Bass genre. I went crate-digging for underground artists that still have that big room attitude. This mix was really fun to put together cause I had the chance to play a bunch of tunes that I usually wouldn’t be able to fit into my live DJ set.
Without diving too deep into your personal background, tell me about what made you decide to pursue the Reaper project. Who and what were your main inspirations going into this project?
I have all these crazy, distorted, roaring sounds in my head, and REAPER became my canvas that gave these sounds proper expression. I’ve always loved fast-paced aggressive music from a variety of genres.
Your project has in a sense catapulted out of the underground. Did you expect everything to move as fast as it did? How do you plan on continuing to build upon your initial success?
I honestly went into this with zero expectations, but I’ve got my sights set on big things. I want to create a community that electrifies people, so community building, live streams, gaming nights, giveaways, is going to be my continuing focus for the next few months. The Immortals family is growing.
My advice for anyone trying to develop a brand would be to create a world and community around your brand. Be intentional with your message, aesthetic, and product. Most of all, put your heart and soul into it. If you don’t truly love it it will eventually show and your fans will notice.
I truly believe the Reaper project is one of the most well-thought-out and executed projects in the underground today. Every decision and release you and your team make seems very calculated and on top of that, you guys have developed a brand that perfectly complements the music being put out. How long was this project in the works before its launch? What advice would you give to an underground artist trying to develop a brand?
My team and I had almost everything planned out even before my first release. The ideas were naturally just building upon each other, and by the time I was ready to release music, REAPER was already a completely developed and nurtured thought. I don’t know exactly how long the project was in the works before launch, we spent countless hours working to create something special. My advice for anyone trying to develop a brand would be to create a world and community around your brand. Be intentional with your message, aesthetic, and product. Most of all, put your heart and soul into it. If you don’t truly love it it will eventually show and your fans will notice.
We’ve seen many anonymous acts make their raise in electronic music over the years.. There are specific challenges that come with running an anonymous project in terms of fan interaction and engagement. How have you and your team been able to consistently remain relevant with fans, other than putting out insane music?
Being anonymous doesn’t have to mean being cryptic and unapproachable. It’s very important to me to be a person or a friend that my fans can actually have a conversation with. Staying relevant to the community and keeping conversations going is sometimes as simple as replying to a tweet, posting a meme, dropping into your discord server to say hello, it’s about putting in the time.
We’ve seen DnB finally make its mark on North America this year, and the Reaper project has a lot to do with that. What are thoughts on #DnB2020 and how do think DnB can influence the overall scene in North America?
DNB is a breath of fresh air in the NA bass music scene. I’ve already witnessed this Drum and Bass movement pushing other producers and DJs to expand their musical styles. I think new EDM fans are getting excited about Drum and Bass because it feels familiar to the festival music we’ve heard in NA for the past few years with a fast-paced, energetic injection. When acts like Jauz, Zeds Dead, Slushii, etc are rinsing DNB in their sets, it does a lot for the genre. We also have rising acts like Kumarion and Justin Hawkes helping push the sound. It’s an exciting time.
You played your debut show with Brownies and Lemonade in LA earlier this year. Unfortunately, I wasn’t there but the videos from your set looked absolutely bonkers. We got a peek of it then, but describe to the people what they could expect out of a Reaper set when shows and festivals make their way back?
All gas, no brakes. Tons of original music. Jump Up, Neuro, and Halftime DNB. Remixes of iconic songs. My set is a roller coaster of the most intense beats, basses, and melodies that many wouldn’t even imagine hearing on the main stage.
When listening to your releases over the last two years, one of my favorite elements in your music is the obvious inspiration taken from all over the music landscape. From dubstep to trap and hip-hop, your take on Drum and Bass has truly felt so fresh and unique. Are there past side projects lurking in the depths of SoundCloud somewhere?
I’m going to be releasing big music projects with tons of content from streams to music videos and more interactive pieces that the community can engage with. There’s definitely an album on the horizon somewhere that will showcase my range as an artist and as a produce…
With everything that you’ve already accomplished, from your many successful releases on some of bass music’s flagship labels to your debut show to your Livestream sets, it seems like the sky is truly the limit for you. Is there a sort of “Grand Vision” that you want to accomplish with the Reaper project, and if so, what would be included in that vision?
In the short term, my vision is to continue creating a super-community for fans and artists in a similar way that Excision and Rezz have. I’m going to be releasing big music projects with tons of content from streams to music videos and more interactive pieces that the community can engage with. There’s definitely an album on the horizon somewhere that will showcase my range as an artist and as a producer. In the long term, I want to curate my own festival of the best bass music DJs in the scene. Drum and Bass is near and dear to my heart, but I really appreciate diversity in sound and style. Curating and producing an all-around proper bass music festival is a dream that I’m aiming to turn into a reality.
REAPER – OBLIVION
Karimooo – Death
Raiser & Axel Boy – Back Off
What So Not – Divide and Conquer (Noisia Remix)
Posij – Half Monk
Holly – Labyrinth
Kasra & Enei – 40hz
Millbrook, Disprove & Ordure – Beyond
Millbrook – Refractions
North Base, No Concept & SMK – No Mans Land
The Upbeats & Noisia – Shibuya Pet Store
REAPER – PULSE
Mefjus & Phace – Bubble
TR Tactics & IHR – Light Hammer
Gydra, Gridlok & Pythius – Sound Barrier
REAPER – UNHINGED
REAPER – HEADHUNTER
REAPER – RAVEPUNK
A$AP Rocky – Praise The Lord
Was A Be – Move
ID – ID
ID – ID
Whipped Cream & REAPER – Shouldn’t
ID – ID
REAPER – SAWTOOTH
REAPER – BARRICADE
GRiZ & Subtronics – Griztronics (REAPER Remix)
CLB & Formula – Moving Forward