The Leicester-based producer mines the nascent genre’s seedier sides on his Been Lean EP.
While the tropical-bass hybrid has gone from slowed, reggaeton grooves to EDM-inflected “bangers” in just a couple of years, some producers have stayed true to the genre’s more mellow origins. One such beatsmith is Disgraceland (aka John Stanhope), whose Been Lean EP is out today on Diabluma Sound, the label founded by moombahton progenitors Nadastrom.
Across its four tracks, Been Lean infuses dub-heavy techno with the midtempo, dembow rhythms of moombahton for an after hours vibe. Download bonus cut ‘Burning Up’ below; the track is a percolating mindgame, awash with feedback and samples from the Stooges’ Ron Asheton.
FACT spoke with Disgraceland via email to explore his background and the genesis of the EP. Growing up, Stanhope was a fan of acts like Nitzer Ebb and Front 242, before hearing Age of Love on a massive sound system at a free festival in 1990. He toiled as a DJ for years, experimenting with house, techno, drum-and-bass, and breaks, before connecting with early Ibiza clubber Charlie Chester at DC10’s Circo Loco. “They made techno sexy, and paved the way for people like me,” he says.
After taking a break in 2005, he was grabbed by the energy of moombahton tracks by Nadastrom, Sabo, and the like and returned to production. “There was something about the beat, something about the rawness of it,” he relates. “It was one of those moments of clarity when you know what you have to do – moombahton was the key that unlocked the gates to the noises in my head.”
His experiments with dub techno are a natural fit for the simplicity of the moombahton formula, but his sound doesn’t stop there. “Core to my style is a love of the audio in cinema. When you see a film the sound surrounds you – random sounds pop off and there is a kind of three-dimensional motion to what you hear. At the heart is the screen which unites all the sounds – and that’s how I visually imagine music.”
Following Been Lean, Disgraceland promises a release an EP on DJ Sabo’s Sol*Selectas imprint, a collaboration with Arizona moombahnista DJ Melo, and an appearance at the December 1 Moombahton Massive at Worldtronics in Berlin. Been Lean is out now on Beatport.