Future Engineers have been producing drum and bass music since the ’90s, with releases on a number of prominent record labels including Renegade, Partisan, 720 Degrees, and Good Looking. In 2010, Lee FE launched his own digital label, Transference Recordings.
Lee Batchelor and Keir Cleminson are Future Engineers, a Glasgow based drum and bass production outfit, best known for their music that was released by LTJ Bukem’s Good Looking Organisation between 1999 and 2003, and also for the progressive, dance floor friendly DJ sets that they have performed across Europe.
They released their seminal 12” (“The Silence”/”Shattered”) on Renegade Recordings in 1997, quickly followed by popular material on labels such as Temple Records and Partisan. Almost 10 years since they first broke onto the scene, they have retained their reputation as a boundary-pushing and prolific drum and bass act. Their solid working relationship has been built on the foundations of a life-long friendship, having grown up together in North London and then Glasgow when Keir relocated there in 1990, followed by Lee in 1994.
From early childhood they were constantly surrounded by music – from studio sessions to live concerts – due to their fathers who were working together in the industry. Most notably, Keir’s father was lead guitarist in The Sensational Alex Harvey Band and Lee’s Father co-produced some of their albums (he also co-produced “Slide Away” for Oasis on their debut album “Definitely Maybe” years later!) As a result of this exposure and the uptake of musical and studio know-how, it was a natural choice by Lee and Keir to pursue a similar career to their fathers.
As teenagers in the 1990s, they listened to London’s pirate radio stations, following the progression of early Hardcore through to Hardcore Techno, Jungle Techno, Jungle and then Drum and Bass – learning the sounds along the way with a view to producing material of their own in future. When Lee moved to Glasgow, bringing with him some studio equipment that he had collected, the pair began to experiment in writing a variety of styles of drum and bass. But it wasn’t until they heard LTJ Bukem’s first Radio One Essential Mix in July 1995 that they identified the kind of sound they were most interested in creating, and tailored their approach in the studio accordingly. Around this time, they also befriended a fellow Glaswegian drum and bass producer, KMC, who had built up a good reputation (and knowledge of the scene) outside Scotland, and he encouraged them to relinquish a demo DAT in order to start the process of getting material signed to record labels.
Good Looking Records
The relationship with Good Looking Records began in 1999 when LTJ Bukem selected a track entitled “Timeshift” to be part of the third volume of his legendary Progression Sessions mix CD series.
It was an instant fans’ favourite due to the futuristic synths and technological vibes that would become two abiding ingredients of Future Engineers’ sound. In the ensuing years, the duo released tracks on a variety of labels under the Good Looking Organisation umbrella – such as PHD’s Ascendant Grooves, Tayla’s Nexus Records and Blame’s 720 Degrees. The latter proved to be a particularly significant outlet for them within the Good Looking camp and their 12”s, “Changes in State”/”Rogue Comet” and “Momentum”/”Organism” played no small part in the fast growing reputation of that particular label.
By 2001 they were so highly regarded by the Good Looking Organisation, having almost all of their new music picked up by the labels within, that Lee and Keir accepted the offer to sign an exclusive artist contract.
In addition to agreeing a structured release schedule, this presented an opportunity for Future Engineers to showcase their DJ talents at some of the Progression Sessions nights throughout Europe. It proved to be a good year for the Engineers; a track entitled “Merge” was selected to appear on MC Conrad’s Logical Progression Level 4 CD, and the boundary pushing, dance floor shaker “Echo-Location” was one of the highlights of LTJ Bukem & MC Conrad’s Progression Sessions 6, recorded live in the USA. 2002 saw the release of the “Technetium EP” – four slices of hard-edged, techno-orientated, atmospheric drum and bass – which was widely acclaimed by fans and music critics alike. This actually turned out to be the penultimate Future Engineers release on Good Looking Records – the last being a remix of Pariah’s “Midnight” in 2003.
Almost three years later, in early 2006, despite a lot of support and guidance from LTJ Bukem, MC Conrad and the rest of the Good Looking Organisation over the years, Future Engineers’ request to terminate the exclusive contract they had signed with them was accepted very amicably. This event marked the beginning of a new era and they did not hesitate to make their mark on the scene once again, releasing the popular “Down-Time” and a remix of Matizz’s “Through My Eyes” on Camino Blue Recordings, and a three track plate (including the much anticipated “Eon”) on Covert Operations Recordings.
The comeback is still building momentum as Lee and Keir continue to write more and more fresh material in the studio and DJ throughout Europe once again. Furthermore, the imminent launch of their brand new imprint – Transference Recordings – spells exciting times ahead…
Words by Mike McGhee