Voltage is one of the most influential figures in modern drum ‘n’ bass.
For one thing, the roll-call of labels he’s released on – Hospital, Metalheadz, Low Down Deep, 31, CIA, Playaz…the list goes on – represent pretty much the full spectrum of styles DnB has to offer. That’s something special. And the way he and his Kings of the Rollers team-mate Serum interact with their followers on social media has set out the blueprint for how DnB artists can effectively connect with and mobilise their fanbase.
That connection and unity has always been an important thread in his work. When the young Voltage was getting into jungle music back in the mid-nineties, different styles and sub-genres could all be heard on the same night, often in the same set. Through getting a job in Reading’s Record Basement as a teenager – alongside dons like Tobie from Serial Killaz and Donovan Badboy Smith – he was exposed to it all, building up an encyclopaedic knowledge of, and unquenchable enthusiasm for, the entirety of the music.
That’s when the deejay was born. Despite, in blatant defiance of conventional wisdom, never having owned his own pair of decks, Voltage’s natural connection with the music meant he mastered the craft of the 1210s without breaking a sweat. Even at fourteen years old, it would have been obvious to even the most casual of observers that a drum ‘n’ bass prodigy was on the rise.
It would be almost a decade and a half before Voltage completed the career jigsaw and progressed into making his own music. But, once he got going, things started moving at a frankly frightening pace.
A hefty schedule of releases on progressively more prestigious labels, coupled with an insomniac quantity of deejay gigs pushed Voltage rapidly to headliner level. Garnering awards for both his production and selection skills, every passing year has seen him hit greater heights. Taking his cue from the music of his formative years, he’s crossed stylistic boundaries with abandon, as revered as much for his jump-up work as he is for his experimentalism.
The levels were raised even further with the launch of the Kings of the Rollers project. Alongside kindred nineties-enthusiasts Serum and Bladerunner, Voltage has helped propel classic rolling beats and weighty sub-bass back into the mainstream of DnB. With huge three-way back-to-back deejay sets to lay out the template at monumental events like Boomtown and Glastonbury, followed up by their definitive album project on Hospital, they connected together all sides of the scene.
And then his storming, multi-genre solo album ‘Balance Over Symmetry’, expanded his sound even further. Deploying a variety of BPMs and stylistic twists, with masterful eighties-infused synth-work, it’s a benchmark for DnB artists who want to push beyond conventional limitations.
In Voltage, we’re seeing what happens when driving ambition meets passion and a deep understanding of the craft of drum ‘n’ bass. And there’s still a lot of mileage left to travel. Exciting times.