Interview Sicknote

Originally from Essex then moved to Bournemouth and eventually moved to London to go to university and you are still currently living in London, what’s the DnB scene like when you grew up in Bournemouth in comparison to when you moved to London?

 I moved to Bournemouth when I was around 10 or 11 and lived there until I was about 25 then moved to London. When I grew up in Bournemouth the Scene was really strong. You had Destiny records in town, which was our black market records in a way and you also had Standout and Avid records which were also just as good, avid in particularly for second hand records.
Destiny and Cocoshebeen were the dominant force for a long time, Destiny was held at the Manor, I never got to go but that had a legendary status in Bournemouth and I did go do Destiny in the end when they started doing nights at the old Fire station. I remember seeing Bad Company and fierce around 2002 at Cocoshebeen in the back room at the Opera house that was sick!
After a while these nights faded out and you had Drumfunk, which Judda organised, and I think he still does (has been a long time since I was out partying in bmth), remember seeing Bukem here for the first time at the Consortium! And you also had Guidance come along which was run by the Ulterior Motive guys there were also loads of smaller nights going on like Incognito and Filth.
Riotlab was a night I went to a lot, they were pushing the therapy sessions sound a lot around 2006 and I was well into it, Remember seeing Dylan and DJ E at the Opera house for Riotlab Vs Therapy sessions.
Bournemouth is definitely where I got my love for Drum and Bass and I have a lot of fond memories from going out and my early days of DJing.
To be honest it Is hard to compare because at the time I was out partying in Bournemouth the scene in London was pretty huge and very different to what it is now. I remember always wanting to go to hardware and RAM at the END and also the mid weeks sessions at Herbal for Therapy sessions and Bar rumba for the V Recordings nights.
I would say they were both probably at there best around this time and I was lucky enough to see some of my favourite Producers and DJs in Bournemouth at the time without having to get the train up to London.
I do love what is happening in London at the moment though, it really feels like there is a good cross section of good people all helping each other and pushing the music forward in positive ways. Big up all the London crew !

So I see you mentioned the scene in London and everyone helping each other out, we agree it’s nice to see this happening, like a community spirit I suppose do you feel this is going to help the scene grow even stronger within the London DnB scene with things like this happening?

Yea it’s defo a good thing, it’s how I meet you two nutters anyway! Ha ha. I am constantly meeting and connecting with people at parties and events , everyone wants to help each other and push each other I think and that can only be a good thing for the scene and the music and also help new djs and promoters come through and be able to do what they love , MUSIC !

So at university you studied sound engineering, must have made your life as a producer a hell of a lot easier doing that right?

Yeah it has helped me progress a bit faster and given me a better understanding of how music is made and engineered, practically and theoretically but I think there are some things you cant be taught and you just have to do it over and over again until you get that certain aspect locked down. I can stand in front of a big console and be able to use it but you cant be taught how to cut up a break and get a vibe going in the studio that all comes with experience and time.

So having that understanding of music engineering helped you understand production in a more in depth fashion, what’s your opinion on these Learn to produce quick YouTube videos, are they just giving  us a wave of under engineered electronic music because it’s not giving people enough true guidance?

I think some of them are really good but I think you have to take what you want from them, for me I see things and I think that’s wrong and maybe you shouldn’t do that, but that’s from my perspective from being shown and trained at uni to do things a certain way.
Also people are not going to want to watch a video about how you convert DB measurements or what Nyquist theorem is.
So yeah I think from a absolute beginners perspective they are good and could help you try new things and maybe learn a new technique and I have watched some of these interviews and learnt something new and instantly switched on logic and tried it out myself.
I would recommend watching Opticals two hour long video if you can , he goes in on music theory a little bit which Is very good and he also goes in on chopping up breaks and how he makes bass sounds.

So doing sound engineering at university, do you ever do any sound engineering work at gigs/events etc ?

I have done some fairly large live sound gigs but nothing related to drum and bass, I was mixing front of house for the main stage at Epson derby for a couple of years and also worked on the grand national one year helping run the smaller stages along with a range of different corporate and entertainment industry events. Last year I worked at move fit, which was a fitness event, one of the groups on my stage were Fight Klub. They do boxing workouts to drum and bass that was fun and met M Beat while I was there ha ha!

Prior to Sicknote the single producer you were part of collective-G.H.O.S.T. Can you give us the down low on the project for anybody who aren’t familiar with it?

G.H.O.S.T was originally a five-piece group, which later went down to being just a 3 piece. The group now is myself, Will and Tom big Ups to Ben and Mathias as well who left the group still really good friends and will always be a big part of how GHOST started.
We formed around 2013 ish I would say and it all kind of just happened tbh, Mathias and me had been making tunes for a while and I had just met Ben and he hit me up about getting on some music and we started making tunes. I was living with Tom at the time and Will was on the same degree course as us so we all just kind of started working on music together over time.
Where we lived in Goldman close also plays a big part in GHOST, which is where we all lived most of the time, hence the name of the record label. We were all at the end of our degrees and smoking lots and just making tunes for fun more than anything. I think the goal at first was to just see if we could get our music played out by some big DJs but it did gradually spiralled into something else.
Over time we finished our degrees and had moved out of Goldman close, Tom had started working at SRD and then eventually I started working there and still do lol! Tom had been talking to Rico one of the label mangers there and had given him some of our music and he suggested that we should start our own label.
That was how Goldman records started really. From that point on we were all really focused on getting a record out. The first release sold out and had loads of support, which was great and spurred us on to do more. G.H.O.S.T is still here we are just taking a break as we have all been really busy, you will be able to see Will and me at the Clashmouth Market on the 21st April at house of Vans.
I will just say these records hold a lot of good memories and mean a lot to me so just want to say massive big up to Tom, Will, Mathias and Ben!

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Carrying on with talking about the label, there’s an influx of fresh new labels popping up all the time. I wonder if it’s just a statement a lot of the time rather than about actually understanding the true in and outs of what it’s about and then launching the label with a game plan etc. Can you talk us through your dealings with Goldmans records and how you approached launching the label etc?

Goldman records was a massive joint effort there was three of us running all expects of the label from getting the artwork sorted in time, sorting out the logistics of getting the sleeves from the pressing plant in Germany to Switzerland and then back to the UK for us to sleeve them up and sorting out getting the release in the right places and in magazines and blogs.
I think our approach on a whole was there was no rush and that if things had to be put back they would go back because we wanted the releases to special and individual and hopefully stand the test of time. We never went in thinking it was going to be some massive label like Metalheadz or Hopsital because we were not signing over people’s music for a start off, it was all about our music and showcasing what we had been working on in the best possible way and for the love and excitement of putting a record out with our music. That does change the further you go on as there is some kind of anticipation of what you are going to follow up with but each record has its own excitement and memory’s attached to it.

So after the G.H.O.S.T project slowed off and became dormant, you starting working primarily on your productions as a single artist, how was this after spending much time involved within the G.H.O.S.T project?

I think it was just natural to go on and do more solo, I had always been working on solo tracks, a lot of the tracks that went on to be GHOST tracks were started as solo projects by each individual in the group that we would bring to the table and then carry on working on as a group.
It is different working on a track on your own though and I do prefer collaborating is more fun in the studio when there is some one else there to.

Listening through your material (and we get a lot) we see you like to experimenting with different vibes and don’t just concentrate on making one type of DnB. Talk us through how you as an artist goes into a studio session, do you have a set idea in mind prior to making a tune or do you sit in the chair and see where the vibe goes?

The best sessions have always been the tunes that were un-planned. Planning a session or going into a session with an idea that I’m going to make this style track or that style track doesn’t really work for me. Every time I have it either ends up completely different or it takes me a lot longer to get the track finished. I have been finding lately that I just let the samples judge where I am going to go or what the vibe is going to be, if it sounds good run with it and then just build from there.
I like all aspects of Drum and bass so I think that shows through in the music I make, I don’t like re using the same breaks, samples in genrall over and over again and generally I always start with a different break or drum sound when I start a tune this also goes for bass sounds, pads and everything else.

Within the last few years you started up another project called PAWS, with J.Bionic and notorious Hertfordshire scarf fanatic DISSECT, how did the project come about?

Ahh Dissect…… lol! Haha.
I met Jay and Dissect through Ben Jay and Horrific James, we properly connected 2 years ago on New Years Eve, we all got smashed and played some tunes at some mad house party, which was sick! I think about a week or two later we all linked at Dissects and wrote our first tune, and from then on for about 6 months I would say we were in the studio every weekend just writing tunes having a laugh and just smashing it.
After we had made all these tunes we didn’t know what to do with them really so in the end we decided to put them out our selves, so that was how PAWS was started.

How about future plans with the PAWS project?

We have lots of things in the pipeline but nothing I can discuss at the moment, all I can say is keep them eyes peeled.

Let’s talk about the Sicknote set up… We have seen it first hand, there’s some really tasty hardware in there, talk the RF readers through what you got! And what’s your favourite bit of kit you use the most?

Yes I have been bean investing in quite a lot of hardware for the studio. I have a Mackie 24/08 mixer with the 24-channel sidecar so I have a total of 48 channels in the mix. Few out board samplers, EMU E5000 Ultra, Akai S3000xl and an Akai 3000Outboard FX wise I have a Lexico LXP-15 II, Alesis Quad Verb, Yamaha REV 1000, Aphex 104 Aural Exciter Type and a Drammer DL231.
Synth wise I have a Autaria Mini Brute and a Roland JV1080 and I am borrowing my mates Nord Lead at the moment which is very nice
Along with the outboard I have the computer with Logic and some plugins I use, I try to use a combination of both digital and analogue, there are some things you cant really get with out running them hard through the desk and there are some things you can do in the box you cant do with the analogue gear so a mix of both definitely is working for me at the moment.
I would say my favourite piece of gear is the EMU sampler at the moment, really getting into twisting up bass sounds and jamming a loads of different variations and then layering them in tracks, It has a certain sound I cant get using Kontact or any software sampler so I tend to use it on every track at the moment.

In an age of software and easily accessible music making programmes and lack of people using hardware, do you feel this has impacted modern electronic music given that hardware gives music more rounded and organic feel?

For me I think drum and bass has lost a bit of its gritty edge, this could be due to people crossing over to writing music completely in the box.. But I cant be 100% on that as there are loads of people out there writing tunes in the box and they sound just as good as if they were written with a shit load of analogue gear.
A lot of the newer main stream drum and bass sounds way over produced and clinical for me, almost a bit plastic in some ways, don’t get me wrong all these tracks are produced well and sound really good from a technical aspect but I think some times it can kill a track, another thing that I have found is that people are still wanting to have tracks way, way too loud and I have heard a lot of tracks lose that low end power because they have sacrificed their low end to get the track louder, I want to feel that bass!!!
But this is all personal opinion and taste at the end of the day, I don’t think there is a wrong way or right way of doing things but I just prefer that more crunchy and rounded.

One thing we noticed and have talked about previously at length is the artwork of all the G.H.O.S.T Vinyl/merch. Can you talk us through why you feel that branding and the appearance is so important to you from a producers perspective?

With G.H.O.S.T the idea was always quality over quantity and we wanted to go in on the artwork from the start and the artwork Pascal created for us really gave us an identity for our music. For me how a record looks is just as big a part as the music, makes you stand out and gives you an identity and also if you get it right can compliment and set the mood for the music you are putting out.

I think it’s time we broke up the music chat for a bit, RF loves our grub and we know you do too, tell about some of your favourite munch spots in and around where you live?!

Ha ha ha giving away the secret spots haha. Best spot hands down near me is Gokyuzu. If you like Turkish food defo go here, always rammed and the food is amazing! La Porcherta in Finchley is also a proper good pizza place and it’s cheap! HahaArligton café in Seven Sisters is also a good spot for the hangover session.

Some nice food spots there bro! Can’t deny that we both love our good food, how about Masala Wala cafe in Brockley we visited the other month?? Decent food right?! (We must mention that Masala Wala cafe is a RF favourite eating spot!)

Ahhhh yes, that was the best Indian food I’ve had in ages! Big ups to the Masala Wala cafe !

So when you aren’t grazing on nice food, what do you do away from music production, hobbies/interests etc?

Collecting records is my main hobby away from producing, always on discogs spending money I haven’t got and also getting the latest releases. Some really good releases coming out at the moment so is hard to keep on top of it but I try to get as much as I can.

Ahhhhhh yes, here we go, lets talk RECORDS! We have seen your collection, it’s huge! Wicked selection, various genres, loads of film soundtracks and some real fancy pieces of wax too. Talk us through a few of your favourite and also unique pieces of vinyl and what is the most you have paid for one vinyl?

Ah, hard question! I recently purchased the golden disc box set, which is a collector’s piece about the voyager space mission. When they sent the Voyager mission into space NASA attached a Golden record with music and a host of other sounds and spoken word on the off chance intelligent life found the satellite, This box set is all the music that was on that record pressed over 3 pieces of vinyl with a print, slipmatt and a book of photos from the mission and what they encoded into the golden disc. Very geeky lol!
Just got No Tomorrow by Source Direct so that is a favourite at the moment because I have wanted it for quite a while now!
Also another Recent purchase that is a big Favourite is the Blocks and Escher album, they truly smashed it with that, managed to bag a bundle with the T-shirt and print which are a really nice touch.
Most I have paid for a record was £120, but I am not going to say what it was hahahaha.

Previously you mentioned working at SRD too, which is a well known record distribution company, being surrounded by vinyl all the time and listening to music all day, must be like a kid in a sweet shop right?

Yea it is with all the records that pass through that place, dealing with all the different record labels too, I’ve managed to get and still get some sick records from work .

Final question, what’s Sicknote got lined up for the rest of 2018???

Gig wise I have a few bits lined up, I am playing out in Denmark in May for the guys at Outa Endz, playing out in Romania in September and then for Noise Test X Ronin Ordinance special in December. There also some other gigs that have been pencilled in London so keep an eye out for them. My next release is out very soon on Silent Force that should be out next month. I also have a few bits coming out on Detrimental Audio, solo and collabs with Mr Dissect (aka scarf boi). Ronin Ordinance has a tune coming out from myself and Flava and we are currently working on the flip for that one.
Sweetpea and myself also have a track on the next Addictive Behaviour album so excited about that one as well.

Thanks to Sicknote for taking the time to talk to us!

Soundcloud:  www.soundcloud.com/sicky

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/Sicknotemusic/

 

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