Over the years we've been lucky enough to meet a remarkable cross-section of people through carp fishing - we love those intersections, and we've always been fascinated by anyone that is as happy turning their hand to something else as they are sitting behind the sticks.
A chance conversation with Ryan via email about the Sub Sounds mixes led to us soundtracking some of our editing with some of his. We shot him some questions, about his fishing, and his mixing, and grabbed a few photos and put a little interview together for you. Check it!
What's your name, and where are you based?
My name is Ryan Blackman, and I am based in South East Essex.
How long have you been carp fishing, how did you get into it?
I started fishing when I was around 6 or 7 years old, in the mid 1980’s. My parents had bought my brother and I one of those cheap rod and reel kits from Argos, and if I recall correctly the first ever venue we attempted to catch fish from was the River Stour at Flatford Mill. We had absolutely no idea what we were doing, the line was coiling up like a spring and I can vividly recall lots of people on boats coming past us and telling us how many fish they could see! We didn’t catch anything that day, but the fire was ignited. We made several other unsuccessful attempts before I went on a trip with my Uncle - who had a semblance of an idea about what he was doing - where I caught 76 fish on a whip, including a small carp that almost pulled me in. I was absolutely astounded that not only had a I managed to catch that fish, but how hard it fought and how beautiful it was once I eventually managed to get it into the net. Slowly but surely, my angling improved and I would strap a float rod and a leger rod to the frame of my bike and venture out looking for places to wet a line…..The Warren in Stanford-Le-Hope and the various Essex Park Lakes (Gloucester Park, Northlands Park, Lake Meadows etc) being within cycling range from my house. I’d say that I finally settled on fishing solely for Carp in the late 1990’s, and have done ever since.
What's the scene like up your way?
It’s Essex! I am very lucky to have a such a vast array of venues within an hours' drive from here. I am a member of the Chelmsford Angling Association, which is fantastic club, really well run and with some brilliant venues and fish. I also fish a non-publicity syndicate along the A12 corridor and another wonderful, members only lake called Halcyon Pool, which is near Boreham in Essex. When I step through the gates at The Pool I feel like I'm stepping into another world. It’s very mature, and usually very quiet. It’s a labour of love for the owner who manages the water impeccably and the fish are beautiful, growing well and in rude health. The surrounding flora and fauna is immersive and I could watch and listen to the Kingfisher’s all day. I feel lucky to have access to such a wonderful place and it’s a ticket I will have for a very long time to come - despite being the current lake record holder and provided the owner still wants me!
Where does carp fishing fit into your life, how often do you get out?
I work full time in a demanding job, I oversee a fairly substantial team. I also have a family - my wife and a couple of teenage kids - so that’s obviously a major factor too. Ideally I like to get out at least once a week, during the summer it’s far easier to do weekday overnighters which is what I favour since I enjoy the fact that the lakes are much quieter during the week. I try to fish all year round, though genuine chances are diminished throughout the winter so I try to organise trips based around what the weather is doing. If I see a little warm spell or low pressure system moving in then that’s usually enough for me to try to engineer an opportunity.
How long have you been DJ'ing for for? How did you get into that?
Not quite as long as I have been angling! I got into my first nightclub (Raquel’s in Basildon!) in the early 90’s when I was around 14 or 15, and I was very, very curious about the bloke playing music in the corner. I started to buy some records, and then a turntable, and then a mixer. I pinched my Dad’s JVC turntable from his stack system and plugged it into the mixer and then quickly realised that different tunes have different tempos, and mixing records together without any way of altering the speed that they were playing at was massively problematic! I persevered and developed a kind of “hip-hop” style of mixing which relies less on beat matching and more on your skills to transition from one track to another. Lots of cutting, scratching, and records that were eventually unplayable! Developing skills this way - with inadequate tools - was a huge learning curve, and something that new DJ’s don’t even have to consider any longer, considering how far technology has moved on since then. I am pretty sure you can get apps to DJ on your phone these days, so anyone can do it. Back in the day, it required dedication, commitment and lots and lots of wires!
Amazing - love that. Kinda like a lot of things back in the day. Is it a hobby for you, or something you take pretty seriously?
Obviously as I work and don’t make any money from it, it’s technically a hobby but that rather understates just how important it is for me. I played my first public gig in the 1990’s and continued to play at parties, clubs, festivals all over the UK and Europe until just after my daughter arrived in 2008. Then the real priorities kicked in! The thing about the dance music scene - and it’s more acute now than it was back then - is that you need to have a continued social media presence, and always be “putting yourself out there” and stuff like that. I didn’t have the time and my priority was for my young family. As such, my passion for DJ’ing became a much more personal thing. The main reason I do it now is for my own enjoyment, and if someone else enjoys it too then that is an additional bonus. I buy loads and loads of new music, whether that vinyl, CD’s or digital. I have the tools to play any format that I like. It’s definitely “easier” these days, there’s no pressure, I have nothing to prove technically. It may be coincidental but I feel that I am better at it now than I ever was, which may be why I am asked to do more podcasts, record label mixes and radio shows.
'as I work and don’t make any money from it, it’s technically a hobby but that rather understates just how important it is for me'
How much time do you spend working on it all?
It depends. I have to keep all of my music organised, which takes time. I like to play long sets, and the nature of the music that I play means that I can get through a huge number of tracks, upwards of 25 an hour. If I am doing a podcast then they’re usually quite short, but I want to still play loads of music so I will spend time finding ways to sequence the music to make sense when presented in the podcast format. I always feel that people listen more closely to recordings or podcasts as opposed to being in a club where there’s a lot more going on. As such, you can’t just throw an hour of bangers into the mix as it gets tiring, and boring. I think that any good, experienced DJ will know how to alter the mood and intensity in order to keep the listeners engaged - that’s the main consideration, but to do it properly requires time and a degree of dedication.
The few people I know that are really into this scene are full on geeks for it, which I love - sounds like you're the same about it. Tell us a bit more about what you play, and why?
I play good electronic music. It doesn’t matter if it’s techno, house, electro - whatever - if it fits with my vibe then that’s all that matters. My taste has definitely become refined over the years and I am always looking for “something” in the records I play - whether that is the atmospherics, or drive, or funk or soul of a track, it has to compliment my style and work in conjunction with the other records that surround it. It’s a little bit like a puzzle, but one that doesn’t have an end result and can be assembled in numerous ways yet still be deeply satisfying.
'it has to compliment my style and work in conjunction with the other records that surround it. It’s a little bit like a puzzle, but one that doesn’t have an end result and can be assembled in numerous ways yet still be deeply satisfying'
How did you get into this particular genre and style? Where do your influences come from?
When we decided to venture out of Raquel’s in Basildon, we started going to London. I think the first place I went to was the old Leisure Lounge in Chancery Lane and I got in at 16 years of age with my mates ID. I remember the bouncers taking the mickey out of my (his) name and me absolutely bricking it! But I got in and it was a massive shock compared to what we’d been used to. But it was that night that I found myself enjoying the little bits of the tracks that came after the huge, piano led breakdowns - just the driving kick drums, percussion and baselines. I seemed to be really drawn to that aspect of the music - it was basically techno. Then we went to Club UK in Wandsworth, started listening to proper DJ’s and then I heard Jeff Mills for the first time and it was a truly life changing experience. A native of Detroit, born in the 1960’s, an urban legend in his hometown known as “The Wizard” on his hugely influential radio shows, his entire ethos and approach to music was so futuristic and his DJ sets back then were absolutely legendary, nobody could get near to him. Throughout the 90’s and 00’s I only really went to parties that he was playing at, since everyone else just bored me. He’s still going today, still pushing boundaries and in my opinion, the greatest and most influential DJ that ever lived. Without Jeff Mills, I would’t be a DJ now.
Are you producing as well?
No, and I actually get asked this question a lot. Although it’s something that interests me, I have always been completely dedicated to playing, rather than making, music. Back in the 90’s I didn’t want anything to detract from my DJ “craft” so focused on its entirely, and didn’t want any distractions. Nowadays, although the idea appeals a lot more, I know I don’t have the time to dedicate to it.
Do you reckon there's some room for some of these sort of vibes on carp fishing films rather than the usual DnB or those stock, grand orchestral and piano tracks?!
It’s a funny one isn’t it? It seems to me that carp angling videos these days are soundtracked according to what the producers expect their audience to like, but I think that’s missing a trick to be honest. I certainly don’t listen to techno when I am by the lake; in fact I rarely listen to anything - I just want to hear the sounds of my surroundings. In that respect, if I were producing my own films then I’d consider using music that doesn’t demand my attention but instead compliments the vibe that I am trying to achieve in the film; so ambient, field recordings and drone would make up the soundtracks to these films if it were me making them.
'I certainly don’t listen to techno when I am by the lake; in fact I rarely listen to anything - I just want to hear the sounds of my surroundings'
Thanks Ryan, all really interesting stuff and thanks for taking some time out of a busy schedule to talk to us! Good luck with the fishing and we'll continue to soundtrack some of drives and desk hours with your mixes! Cheers mate!
Check out Ryan's Soundcloud here;
One of our favourite mixes;
And something a little different..
Campfire Stories is a mix series by friends of Silent Season. The focus of the series is on storytelling through deeper electronic music. Artists weave together narratives using the emotional characteristics of ambient and techno music'