At the moment there seems to be a real community of talented artists just making music for their own reasons and it’s a really positive environment to be in.
Dark room dubstep has always been the one that brought about discussion. On one hand it stood for what cemented genre in the first place, drawing from sounds that awe those who gather to listen. On the other, it was blamed for digitalisation of the sound, arguably leading to its monstrous and noisy form (opposed to dubwise or deep dubstep that helped the genre survive years of poorer popularity). The criticism eventually dropped, allowing more freedom in the creative field. With dubstep currently going through its renaissance, it left space and courage for new labels and movements to settle. One of them, Crucial Recordings found its way into the music world right at that moment, introducing brave, dark releases, that managed to retain organic sound and rule-breaking quality. If you watch Sleeper’s work across the years, you can realise how much inspiration he draws from different musical spheres and personalities, constantly seeking new material to contribute to his Crucial catalogue. By doing so, he stumbled across a young talent, hidden in the boroughs of London. Having already caught the attention of Encrypted Audio (another forward thinking label that consequently invests in uncompromised productions), Samba gets his work pressed as CRUCIAL009. I got a chance to speak to him about the scene’s habitat, inspirations and controversies of innovation.
Hi Sam, thank you for taking your time to speak with us. How are you doing? Exciting things ahead!
Hi there, no worries it’s a pleasure. I’m good thanks, been pretty busy recently, trying to juggle work and music but yeah really good.
So where did it all begin? I always find it interesting how people actually get into dubstep, because it’s a relatively young genre. How is that for you and how would you describe your journey into dubstep?
I first heard dubstep about 7 or 8 years ago when my cousin played me “Bury Da Bwoy” and I think “Poison Dart” by The Bug and Warrior Queen. I had never heard anything like it before, it just had so much weight and power to it. I grew up with parents and siblings who are all massively into music in general, so all through the house there would be different things playing: Reggae, Metal, Hip Hop, Punk, Drum and Bass, RnB… So I guess a combination of different influences that led me to it.
I can see why Sleeper picked your material as a continuation for names like himself, Foamplate, or Eva 808. However, how did you find your way to Crucial Recordings?
I believe it was Jesse (Oxóssi) who played Sleeper a couple of my tracks, when he was out in the States. From there he reached out and asked what I was doing at the time, and what was happening with “Sadist”. I told him about my then forthcoming Encrypted release and I sent him some other ideas I’d been working on. From then I just updated him with a few bits as I finished them and then we stripped it down to the ones that we were both happy with.
How do you know Oxóssi? You guys obviously collaborated on “Orbitals” and you support each other in the industry. Now you’re both signed to the same label. Can we expect some more Samba and Oxóssi works?
I can’t remember exactly how Jesse and I were first introduced to one another, I think it was through Jonah Freed. Since then, we’ve been chatting most weeks for probably almost a year now. The guy is so talented, I sometimes have to take 2 or 3 listens through the tunes he sends me, to just get to grips with them. We’re definitely planning on doing some more stuff in the near future.
From what we’ve heard from you so far, you belong more into the dark room dubstep. First Encrypted Audio, now Crucial Recordings, they both appreciate niche, nocturnal, murky sounds. For a long time dark dubstep was associated with badly interpreted noisy music. However, now we can safely return to subby wobbles and randomised rhythms, like it was at the start – focusing on innovation and breaking the rules. What draws you more into the gloomy side of it? Some of your tunes are quite mystical.
I think it’s being able to write whatever you want. I mean, I can’t think of another genre or subgenre like it really, every tune is different, every artist has their own take on the sound. It has different beats, different sounds and even totally different vibes for all of the different artists. Obviously there’s generally a basic structure in the tempo and some of the styles end up being a template for some people but at the moment there seems to be a real community of talented artists just making music for their own reasons and it’s a really positive environment to be in.
More about your new release. Obviously we’ll let the music speak for itself, but how would you describe what you’re serving us this time? How does it compare to what we’ve already had a chance to hear?
I guess it’s more of an unconventional sound than the Encrypted one. Two of the tracks especially, are more distorted, but still pretty dark. There’s a few of them floating around online in mixes, but I think they’ve been kept pretty under wraps otherwise.
Malignant EP artwork by Mesck
You’re a Londoner, right? I believe that the musical community has got huge impact on the sound and its integrity. What would you say about the dubstep scene over there at the moment? Obviously London is the place where it all started, gathers many great names and hosts important events. Do you feel inspired by London to make this kind of music? Is Samba’s sound the sound of London?
Yeah I’ve been living in London for the past couple of years, I actually moved up here so I could be closer to the scene. As for the scene, I’d say it’s definitely growing again, I mean Medi 10 was absolutely packed out and the vibe in there was unlike anything I’ve seen before. I guess at the moment you get these massive nights which draw out the masses but I do feel like there isn’t really like one hub for the scene. I guess that’s because of the amount of clubs closing in London left right and centre and there’s a lack of decent venues with decent systems. More than the scene, I’m musically inspired by the city itself and its nature. As for influential places; Denver and LA are bringing out the most forward thinking producers and with that a newer sound. I feel a lot of my inspiration comes from out there actually.
You started from releases on really original and respected labels, that’s quite a success for young age and early portfolio, big up! What other labels are “doing it right” in your opinion?
I’ve been really fortunate with what’s happened so far and I really appreciate Tony, Rich and Alex for backing me enough to do releases with me. Crucial and Encrypted in my opinion are both doing all the right things for the scene at the moment and have put out some of my favourite releases last year. They like picking up on previously unheard artists and giving them a platform to release on, it’s a big thing and obviously holds a risk when pressing vinyl.
What do you produce with, in the box or hands-on? Is there any piece of equipment or software that was a breakthrough in your production process? Did it take long for you to feel comfortable with making music and to be content with your work?
A bit of both really, I have a midi keyboard and Maschine, but sometimes I’ll start a beat just lying on the couch with my laptop. The Maschine software is definitely my main tool though, I use it on every track. I like it because it’s so quick to get something going fast and then I just take it from there into Logic. As for feeling comfortable and content, I guess it was quite a while, I’ve been making music for a few years now and it was just ‘trial and error’ until I finally just relaxed with it.
Your music heavily focuses on the use of polyrhythms and triplets with some complex rhythms for percussions against bass. As a whole you create a pretty wonky combination of sounds. This is something that’s being used more and more recently, shaping this completely new, hypnotic and tribal flavour of dub. Where do you draw inspiration for those beats from? Is this intentional?
I don’t think it’s really intentional, I mean when I’m writing things I do it with reason but it all just depends on what I feel like at the time I open up my laptop. Although I do feel a lot of inspiration from what I hear going on in the scene. To be honest, I’d be lying if I didn’t say “Spry Sinister” changed things for me. I remember I was in BM Records and I listened to it and I swear, I must have been in there for about 20 minutes, just listening to that A-side over and over. On that note actually, I feel that Gantz opened up a new sound for everyone. When people say something on the lines of “sounds like Gantz”, I think it’s ridiculous. You don’t get people going on about every dub influenced track saying “sounds like Mala” or on a harder tune saying “sounds like Coki”. Then why do it when people are just trying new things out?
There’s a huge difference between the first dubstep tracks, in which sequenced bars were very strict to the grid. Now we can go fully mad on swing, syncopation and tempo change in every bar if we wanted to. What do you think is better, the limitation or complete freedom? It sounds like people draw more and more to the old method with some sentiment for the repetitive simplicity. What do you think and what’s your preference?
At the moment, I definitely prefer the newer freedom in the sound. It makes for an exciting scene to be in. When people send you new tracks you have literally no idea what they’re going to be like.
If dubstep never existed, what music would you be making?
I’m not sure, I make a lot of random chilled stuff in my spare time so probably that. I jam with my little brother quite a lot, he’s sick at guitar and I still love playing the drums so we like making noise when we get a chance.
What would be your advice to a producer trying to push his sounds through? What’s your tip on getting attention of a label?
Order the wrong t-shirt size from their online shop, then message them saying you messed up and just slip in a few tracks. That’s pretty much how I started talking to Encrypted (laughs). But yeah, in reality just keep making tracks, trying new things, and basically just don’t get down if nothing is happening, there’s always a reason and things take time to happen.
What else can we expect from Samba? What are the plans, anything interesting lined up that you would like to share with us?
I’m actually working on a lot of different bits at the moment, a fair few of my own tracks and some remixes and collaborations that should be wrapped up soon.
Is there anything you would like to share with us to end, shout outs to anyone?
Gonna be a bit long on this one but I’ve gotta shout to Oxóssi, Malleus, Trisicloplox, Sleeper, Ceiva, Sectra, Moonstones, Bukez, Jonah Freed, all of the Encrypted family, Content, Deafblind, Chris (Duffer), Davor, Pynt.Blnk, Headland, my parents, family, Vic and anyone who has supported me or taken the time to listen to or even buy my music.
Thank you for your time Sam, it was a pleasure to meet you. I’m sure your release will do well, good luck with everything. I look forward to hearing more of your music!
by your favourite new artist: Soukah – JAK FOU
that you always rewind: Malleus – Grinn
that you’d like to remix: Dayzero – Allca
that inspired you to make music: Mala – Bury Da Bwoy