Drum and bass fans around the world were amazed when it was announced Netsky would be returning to his roots later this year.
Netsky's journey with Hospital Records started a decade ago with his eponymous album before following that up with 2 in 2012 and then 3 four years later. In recent times the Antwerp-born artist has showcased a different side to his production talents with records incorporating house, hip-hop and trap music.
While it was refreshing Netsky allowed his creativity to run wild, many will be thankful he has decided to come home and make the music he is best known for.
We caught up with him to chat about the process of producing his latest record, what he’s enjoyed doing the most with the extra time during lockdown and much more.
Netsky was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time as he managed to travel to London to finish some collaborations, which feature on the new album, before worldwide lockdown occurred.
The Belgian artist admits it was a major relief that he managed to seal the records off before Covid-19 put the brakes on life as we know it.
"I spent two or three weeks in London and I had one more week to go," he said. "I had one week back home on holiday and then was supposed to fly back on the Monday but that was out of the question, so I was stuck in Belgium for about three months after that.
"I was glad that I finished my album right before that because I had a couple of collaborations that I needed to be in London for."
Over the past few months the 31-year-old has kept himself busy in a variety of different ways, rekindling his passion to be able to fly a plane, playing computer games and also finishing work on a bar he is opening in his hometown of Antwerp.
One thing which Netsky hasn't been doing a lot of is relaxation which might come as a surprise to some considering there is very little time to recharge your batteries as a DJ and producer when you are busy touring around the world every weekend.
Not being able to work towards a goal or see a set of tour dates for the month ahead has proved to be really difficult, according to Netsky.
"Being on the road, being with my team and working towards a goal was a bit therapeutic for me," he admitted.
"The closer we get to the end of the year the more we start understanding it might not be for this year.
"In the beginning I found it really hard not knowing what was going to come up. Forced relaxation doesn't work for me. If I want to relax I’ll take some time off."
After a sabbatical from drum and bass Netsky is back making the music which established him on the world stage.
The new record Second Nature will be released next month exclusively on Hospital Records and Netsky admitted it was a great feeling to reconnect with the label which has been such a big part of his career.
"We’ve been talking with Hospital for a really long time," he explained. "It was a super fun project to work on.
"There’s something on all sides of drum and bass. Some liquid and some harder stuff on there as well.
"There are also some really cool collaborations with people from the D&B scene rather than just singers or pop stars."
A big part of writing this album was being able to relive all the memories from when Netsky used to be a regular fixture on club nights organised by Hospital Records.
Just having that opportunity to touch base with DJs and MCs he had worked with over the years proved to be really enjoyable.
Netsky admitted he has always been quite “schizophrenic” as a producer and you can see that with the tracklist for his forthcoming album, which features artists from numerous sub-genres such as Hybrid Minds who are known for their liquid tracks.
The Antwerp-born artist is always looking to try out new things like when he produced a trap beat alongside the incredibly talented Aloe Blacc, who was nominated for a Grammy.
One of the collaborations on the record which was really exciting for Netsky was the track with the Brazilian artist Urbandawn, who broke onto the scene with that stunning Beatles cover last year.
"He's such an amazing producer, so technical," he explained. "He demands military precision on every snare and bassline whereas I’m completely different.
"I love it when I’m completely different from the other person in the room because you learn so much."
Working with as many different people as possible will really help your development as an artist, according to Netsky.
The Hospital act was eager to emphasise the importance of getting into the studio with other acts.
"I don’t think there is any collaboration you can do without learning something and even if the song doesn’t get released you definitely learn something," he said.
"No matter how far you are with your career you’re always going to walk away with something."
When it comes to the people that influenced Netsky from day one High Contrast has always been a prominent figure. The Welshman, who has also enjoyed releases on Hospital, is a massive inspiration for Netsky. The one thing which stands out is the way he continually tries to achieve a structure with his music and create a story.
Andy C and Murdock are two artists that Netsky has also looked up to because of the legacy they will be remembered for.
"Not just on the production side but Murdock also organises Rampage Festival," he said.
"He was an incredibly talented DJ and a great promoter. I also think about someone like Andy C who managed three months at XOYO."
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