33 Below has wrapped up his breakout year with the release of his sophomore EP, PUSHER.
The Aotearoa-raised DJ and producer, now based in London, had some big moments in 2023, like being the support act for producer-of-the-moment Fred again..’s only New Zealand show and sharing the stage with RL Grime for an 18-date tour across the US. He was also nominated for Best New Artist at the 2023 Panhead Rolling Stone Aotearoa Awards.
Also known as Jack Laven, 33 Below pushes the boundaries of his electronic sound on PUSHER, blending UK garage and pop-tinged melodies over the euphoric six-track project.
With far-reaching appeal, it’s the kind of music that sounds as good on the dancefloor as it does emanating out of your headphones.
The EP is inspired by the producer’s recent travels in Los Angeles and London, where he jumped in the studio with dream collaborators. It includes previously released singles like “PROTECTA”, “HOLD TIGHT” featuring GRAMMY-nominated singer-songwriter Chrystel, and the latest single “LOYAL”, a collaboration with UK-based singer-songwriter and producer DRIIA.
“With ‘PUSHER’, I tried to make a collection of sounds taking in influences from the different countries the tracks were created in,” Laven explains. “I have been working on the project for the most part of 2023, and was lucky enough to work with some dream collaborators in LA, London, and back home in New Zealand.
“The whole project is inspired by travelling and I wanted to do something to push myself from not only a song-writing standpoint, but my production as well – and not be limited by specific genres.”
Looking ahead, 33 Below has a packed summer schedule with performances at Hidden Valley Festival, Rhythm & Alps, Famous Last Words, and Nest Fest.
Rolling Stone AU/NZ asked 33 Below to break down each track on his new EP in greater detail, which you can read below.
33 Below’s PUSHER EP is out now via October Records.
PUSHER Track by Track:
I wrote this one at the end of last year in New Zealand. It was the first song I made for the EP and it definitely determined the sonic direction I wanted to go in for the project. I had been listening to a lot of Avicii and Swedish House Mafia and wanted to create a big room, melodic vibe, that felt timeless but also had a New Age 2023 garage/house drop that makes the song feel fresh! I pulled in the R&B vocal from my friend and close collaborator Isaiah. The vocal was actually from an older dancehall-type song that we did a few years ago.
“LIVE IT UP”
This tune was written in a studio in Hackney with Particle. Alex [Particle] is one of my favourite drum and bass producers and he has a great ear for clean breakbeats and deep basslines. I love the amount of space this track has for every sound to breathe and create an ethereal atmosphere. I pulled in an a capella I had sitting on my laptop from my friend Jake Schdroski. He had originally written the lyrics and melody to a super slow and moody rap instrumental so I think it was a cool juxtaposition having that switched into a more fast paced DnB song.
I started ‘LOYAL’ with RL Grime at his house in LA while I was on a writing trip at the start of the year. As soon as the chords were put down and we made that intro vocal chop, I knew I wanted it to have a UKG swing to it. I wanted to make the track have appeal to both UK and American listeners, so I usually describe the first drop as the ‘UK drop’ and the second as the ‘American drop’. Once the instrumental was finished I went into a studio in London with DRIIA to write and record the topline for the song. I love her vocals on this, and I feel like she encapsulates the euphoric yet slightly melancholic feeling of the song so well.
“JUMPER” was pretty much just a product of me experimenting with ripping sound apart and trying to make something so left field of what I usually make. I spent about three hours messing around with the granulator melody and had originally put in a house beat underneath, with a really dark, gliding reese bass in there too. I came back to the beat about a week later and substituted the drums for an energetic half time pattern and replaced the reese bass with a bouncy 808 and it switched up the vibe completely – which I loved!
This was another song written on my LA trip, this time with songwriter and producer Grant Boutin. Grant has a great ear for melody and played in those beautiful chords which the song lives around. I remember the tune came together pretty seamlessly which was a nice change. I pulled in an a capella written by Jake Schdroski and Giorgio Scott, which they had written in 2018, and it sat perfectly on the beat. My label put me in touch with Chrystel, and she cut the vocal and wrote some more parts. I absolutely love her R&B voice and think it compliments the instrumental so well!
This tune is one of my favourites on the EP. Duskus is one of my favourite producers so I was stoked when we finally got a chance to hop into a session together! I feel like we have a super similar sound palette that compliments each other’s style really well. There’s something about the groove in this song that feels really addicting to me, and I feel like I will never get sick of those chords. To me, this song really takes me on a journey and has a delicate balance of melodic and club elements that allows the song to sit well in any setting.