Joe Le Groove chatted with this young producer from Brighton ahead of his gig at the Hypercolour Warehouse Showcase alongside Groove Armada, Todd Edwards and many more.
Hi Sam – thanks for talking with us today!
So.... Its been a bit of a roller coaster ride for you since your killer track “Criticise” came out.. What did it feel like with everyone slamming it and you were getting the recognition that every producer wants?
It was amazing as it was also totally unexpected, I mean originally that track was just done for a party we were going to play at that night so I was rushing through it so I could play it out that night as I thought it would be fun to have a new version of that track, and then a few friends of mine got hold of it and convinced me that it needed to get released so when we did it, it was a really small run on vinyl and yeah.. It was nuts when it went on Radio 1.
Of course I remember I heard the track and I was like wow that's pretty hot! I also had a few people that were saying “Damn! I wish I'd done that!” (laughs) I think it was also the way that you did it that kind of worked.
All I was thinking was to have something fun to play at the party that night, I wanted it to sound a certain way, the original of that track has so may good elements to it but its not something you would really get away with playing out unless you were doing a wedding (laughs)
Yeah well I think I play it when I'm going down the road somewhere and I don't want to listen to any house music or drum and bass or something...
So you’ve been DJing and putting on parties for some time in Brighton – when do your musical journey begin?
The journey began, I suppose when I was a kid – my dad is quite a well known jazz musician so music was always around, he used to teach me a few things... I used to play the trumpet with him when I was very young, but I suppose actual production didn't really happen until I had been DJing quite a bit and putting on parties in Brighton. I hooked up with a guy called Tom Gandey and I used to sit in on the studio with him, I used to be there every night, anytime he worked on something I just used to go in there and work with him, and it sort of built from there working with him and started my own stuff by 2006/2007
So prior to that - growing up what kind of stuff were you listening to?Well my old man likes avant garde improvised jazz music, so it was very hard for me to get hold of that at 8 years old but he did have a few records like the Isley Brothers, The Meters – all that kind of funk stuff.. Talking Heads as well, that was sort of having to go and find what I wanted out of my dad's massive record collection, so I'd have to go to really long lengths to have a dig if you know what I mean
So that was your original influence – away from that growing up as a teenager what were you in to?
Hip hop was a big part of it – I liked anything aggressive when I was about 13/14 so Lord's of the Underground Das EFX - West Coast stuff... Then when drum and bass came along – that was a really big thing for me. I grew up in Hastings – it was massive down at Hasting Pier. I mean it was that or John Digweed who was also from Hastings who was doing the progressive house thing, but that never really grabbed me when I was a teenager.
It wasn't angry enough then? (Laughs)
I guess it wasn't yes... I was trying to find something to get excited about and that didn’t do it for me then.
So you've signed with Futureboogie, Hot Wave and Nervous to name a few – what kind of labels are you currently working with? You must have quite a few things in the pipeline right?
Yes, got a few things I'm really excited about – next thing time wise I've got coming out is a single on Hypercolour, which is a label I'm really excited to work with and I'm working with this singer - I cant say who it is yet but he is a former pop singer and he's started getting into making house music, he's a really great guy and I cant wait to work more with him – he's guesting on that as a vocalist and Matthew Herbert is going to do a remix which is really exciting. And I just literally signed one 2 days ago to Ellum, Maceo Plex's label. He's been playing this party record that I did and he's really into it so I think we are going to put it out on that October/November time.
Maxxi Soundsystem Mixes by Maxxi Soundsystem
Sounds cool – so things are cooking and now they are starting to boil... So what is your studio set up like?
Well its a bunker... A basement - it used to be a paint warehouse or something or a storage place its wicked there are about 5 diff studios here all kinds of music including some guys on Ninja called the Qemists who are upstairs so drum and bass meets rock that kind of thing. I've got a load of keyboards here, a nice mic, some decks kind of everything you need really, stuff I collected over the last few years anyway
Right so you've been collecting keyboards and everything since you were working with Caged Baby?
Yeah saved up my pennies and got a few bits, I just wanted to learn a few synths really well so outboard for me in terms of synths, cos I do like to get hands on with them
Right ok so a lot of your music - instead of using VST synths you obvs like to get hands on so you might have a juno 106...
Yeah I have juno 60 and a Pro one, 2 Nords and an Oberheim Matrix, they sort of do everything you need, I didn't have them straight away I only had 1 synth to start with - my Nord Lead and then just learnt every part of that as much as I could... I felt with all the soft synths I had too much choice, too many menus - so I turned back to kind of twiddling nobs and getting involved.
So when you perform what is your choice of set up when you DJ? I mean DJing nowadays... If I asked you this question 15 years ago you say 2 decks or 3 decks, but now its changed - what is your choice of set up?
I'm using Pioneer 2000's with a USB just 'cos I love using record box and building sets in there and playlists as then I still have that feeling of going though my record collection,. without having to have a laptop there to look at, which I find very distracting.
What's your plans for the rest of 2012?
Next week I'm going on tour, I'm doing America and a bit in Canada, Mexico and Brazil for 4 weeks - so that's my 1st proper full on tour and then lots more gigs in Europe – loads of touring and just getting these 2 new EPs out and a couple of other bits I'm working on including a new remix.
What has been your worst DJ nightmare so far?
Oh god yeah - Fabric the other week - 1st ever gig in Room 1, so obviously really wanna make sure its good. They have 4CDJs 2000's and when they are all linked up together it can be tricky to work out which one is playing what, so when you pull one of the usbs out without ejecting it properly it starts playing off the memory I think... anyway am still not 100% on why it happened but as I was putting a CD in as my 1st track - it cuts all the music off just after Miguel Campbell had finished!!! And then I had the whole of Room 1 just going “WOOOOAAAAAAAH!” I'm like “this is not a good start!” I had the CD on in literally 10 secs later but felt like 10 minutes! After that it went great but it wasn’t the best way to kick off.
Oh god I know that one - or even just pulling out the wrong USB!
Yeah they try out things like eject lock, but I mean everyone back in the day pulled the needle off the wrong record - just as it was going off and everyone was going “YEAAAAH!” But hey - the first thing you always do is you look at the sound guy? (laughs)
So you have got the Hypercolour party this Saturday – you got Todd Edwards, Groove Armada, yourself, Alex, Jamie are going to be playing – how did you get to know Alex and Jamie from Hypercolour?
Jamie used to live in Brighton and come to the parties I put on down there, that sometimes weren’t that well attended (laughs) well - Jamie was always there. He was always dedicated, he always used to come along and we got to know him.. He was also doing his parties, which were sometimes even less attended than us... But putting on amazing cool acts, some that we'd hardly heard of – and we'd be like how has he managed to continue doing this as he can’t be making his money back. Then when he moved to Bristol his label just exploded... He was someone who always really into his music and really dedicated to it, so he deserves all the success he is having right now.
I think the good thing about both of them is that they haven’t' really gone down 1 road of - we are gonna make Techno or Deep House - Hypercolour is just about really good music for me.
If you could make a new Electronic Music genre what would you call it?
Raunch, (both crack up) Kind of like the music we have now but EVEN sexier...
Not like sexy sensual house but like RAUNCH
Yeah not raunchy house but RAUNCH
Right so it would still be 4 to the floor but Raunch?
If you threw the last party on earth and could book 7 acts who would you book?
Prince, D Train, Talking Heads, Daft Punk doing a live show, Jonny Cash, Kate Bush
If you were banished to a desert Island and you had to take 3 famous people - who would you take and why would you take them?
Hmm – I wanna eat in the wilderness so I'd take Ray Mears, Daniel Kitson to make me laugh and Marvin Gaye to sing for us cos he's got that great acapella so we wouldn't need a band.
Dude its great talking to you man and look forward to seeing you play on Sat night!
You can catch Maxxi this Saturday at the Hypercolour Warehouse Showcase alongside Groove Armada, Todd Edwards and many more: http://www.residentadvisor.net/event.aspx?381232