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DJ Naxxramas : interview

Meeting with one of the Dungeon Rap bosses

Tibo BRTZ, le 24 juin 2022

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Swampdiggers : Yo, DJ Naxxramas, you are one the most prolific Dungeon Rap producer, you run the label Mystical Place, you are a member of Grave47, an other Dungeon Rap label... But before we go deeper in this scene, could you explain what is your musical background ? Were you a Phonk producer before ? How do you discover Dungeon Rap ?

DJ Naxxramas : Yo wassap La Phonkerie ! No, I’m no longer a member of grave 047, I threw all my strength into the development of Mystical Place Records.
For a couple of years I played in a band on the local scene in my city, we played something between post hardcore and metalcore. A little later I started to get interested in beats and damn it I started recording phonk under the name DJ TRILLANDKILL.

in 2018 while flipping through the newsfeed i came across a post about the dungeon synth genre, at that time i was actively recording phonk tracks and thought it was great material for sampling, dark and cold atmosphere of lo fi sound, i tried to work with it but nothing worthwhile happened, some time later I heard Dungeon Rap The Introduction from DJ Sacred, this gave rise to my project DJ NAXXRAMAS, I recorded the first tracks on an old Yamaha pss 270 with a Roland sp 404. This is how the first album Frozen Bones vol.0 appeared.
After a while, I met DJ Sabnak, we started with the single "Dungeon Playa", my synthesizers and mixing, and drums DJ Sabnak.
We went ahead and recorded Dungeon Rap The Legacy.

Could you define Dungeon Rap ? What are the main influences of this genre ? Who are the pionneers of this scene ?

Dungeon Rap is a combination of two different scenes, Memphis Rap and Norwegian Black Metal
a simple recipe for dungeon rap is to take a sample of dungeon synth music and mix it with a Memphis rap drumline, you can use Memphis acapella for the arrangement, you should end up with a dungeon rap.
Pioneers of course it’s DJ Sacred, DJ Bishop and DJ Sabnak.

What projects/ artists would you recommend to somebody who never heard of Dungeon Rap ?
DJ Bishop – Dungeon Juntz 
DJ Sacred - Dungeon Rap The Introduction
DJ Sabnak x DJ NAXXRAMAS - Dungeon Rap The Legacy 
Orcaluv - Morgentau  
Lord Rasnak - Some Old Memories  
DJ Castle - Mental suffering
I also advise you to pay attention to Dominus soul, Obscure castle, DJ Suicidal szed, Mysterium, Eternal Flame and Cave Castle.

I’m sure you’re into Dungeon Synth too : are these 2 scenes connected ?

And yes and no , Dungeon synth has separated from the black metal scene , metalheads mostly do not perceive hip hop culture , there are some DS projects that are interested in Dungeon Rap , but there are not many of them, and few people in the DS communities perceive this genre
So my answer is no rather than yes.

How come there is so many Dungeon producers from Russia, or russian speaking countries ?

I think that due to the fact that the genre appeared among Russian-speaking people, there are no language barriers for people to communicate and work together, I also wonder why there are so many producers, it would be more logical if there were such a number of projects in Europe, since DS music is more refers to European culture.
When did you found your own label ?  
We can say that the label appeared on April 1, 2020, on this day my solo album Faceless was released
Then I began to actively use bandcamp, and after half a year I renamed from DJ NAXXRAMAS to Mystical Place Records.

How did you connect with the artists you make projects with on your label ?  
From the very beginning I made a label for myself in order to publish on behalf of the label, I did not offer anyone to make releases, the guys themselves wrote and asked to make a release for them, since many artists did not know where to get cassettes and how to record and did not even know about the relevance of cassettes on stage.

How many projects did you release already ? How many cassettes ? How do you manage to release so much projects ?

About 30 projects, 25-50 cassettes each.
It’s my favorite thing to record music, while I was playing in a band, I recorded all the material in guitar pro 5, now times have changed and I work in FL.
I try to spend all my free time recording music, because I’m still looking for a corporate identity, and I go from project to project.
There is such an expression "record in the table" I consider it a crime to record and put music in the table, it is always interesting to watch how your music grew and developed after a while.
To go deeper in your music, how do you search the samples you use in your tracks ?

I try to use samples as little as possible, for the swords up mix I took samples from the 90s DS
I think it’s perfect for sampling, because the quality of the recording of lo fi sources has this atmosphere in them.

How come do you sample Britney Spears ? or The Cure ?

I don’t know where in my music you heard Britney Spears ahahah but The cure, yes.
I recorded a piece from "A Forest" and developed it into a track "In the silence of the forest".

Do you work with analog equipment, to have this lofi sound, which is one of the caracteristics of Dungeon Rap ? Or only MAO softwares ?

I try to use all the possibilities according to the situation, somewhere I use a tape for saturation, somewhere only a laptop.
Of the equipment I only have a cassette deck and a Roland sp 404 A.

How is Dungeon Rap appreciated in your country ? Is there events, where DJs play Dungeon Rap ? How do you see the evolution of this scene ? Is it undergound by definition, or do you think it could grow and reach a large audience ?  

There are a lot of producers in Russia, they are scattered all over the country, but all events take place either in Moscow or St. Petersburg.
But at these events they play Memphis rap, maybe in the future Dungeon Rap will also sound. in short, there are no Dungeon Rap events.
I don’t notice much evolution yet, new producers appear, the scene is growing, Dungeon Rap is now quite canonical, referring to my Dungeon Rap recipe.
I don’t think that music for a large audience will come out of it, for example such as dirty phonk house or drift phonk, because there are more car enthusiasts who will drive to this music than lovers of the Middle Ages, armor and swords.

We saw that the Phonk scene grew very fast, and became kind of "mainstream", at least some tracks make a lot of streams, but due to the explosion of Drift Phonk, which is only a sub-genre of Phonk, and not because of a real recognition of the Phonk cultur in its globality. Do you agree with that feeling ? What’s your opinion about it ?

I think it’s cool when a sub genre shoots louder than the genre itself.
Music is one big experiment, it would be strange if such a branch of new music did not go from phonk.

And, if we step out the artistic field for a moment, has the political situation an impact on your music ? On the way you produce, or spread,or promote it ?  

With writing music, the situation has not changed, I still have the opportunity to record it, with distribution it has become more difficult, I can’t corny pay for a soundcloud account.
Since PayPal left Russia my Mystical Place Records band card is not working so I made all the music free to download because people spend money to support my work and the money goes to bandcamp and since paypal is gone it doesn’t Can I translate them.
Now I accept all orders via mail or instagram.
I’m currently working on a guitar album, tentatively called Fallen pt.2, I don’t know yet, maybe the title will be different.
What are you working on now ? cassettes, solos, collabs ?

Along the way, I’m working on a Memphis rap album for the DJ TRILLANDKILL project.
Of course there will be cassettes, soon I will start recording the album DJ NAXXRAMAS - Saturn.
What could we wish you for the future ?

Wish me to be released on vinyl, this is my dream to hold and listen to a record with my music, it’s time for Dungeon Rap to take new formats, and where there are new formats, there are new listeners.

Thank you, NAXXRAMAS !

Thanks for the questions and for the opportunity, I appreciate it. Big shout out from Russia 
Swords Up !