The freaks dropping the dirty bassline
Interview by Dan Prince
Scott a huge welcome to DMCWORLD. Where on planet earth are you right now?
Yes our kid! Thanks for interviewing me – lol! I’m currently in Gorton, Manchester, in my attic (where my home studio is) finishing up bits of Craig David’s album.
The best new music you have heard today?
That’s a tough one. I think MNEK’s ‘At Night I Think About You’ is sick. I’m also loving the new track from DJ Khaled ft. Jay-Z and Future – I love that beat. I’ve also been listening to some ‘Simpsonwave’ stuff online today – it’s pretty trippy but I can’t stop listening!
Really exciting start to the summer for you young man with the release of your new single ‘Freaky With You’ on Ministry of Sound, which we will come to later. But let’s rewind for a moment and kick back to where this all began. What is your earliest musical memory?
My earliest memory would be listening to Michael Jackson’s ‘Man in the Mirror’ and singing into the mirror with a bandage round my wrist – good times!
Who were the artists you were listening to growing up?
A LOT of Michael Jackson and Marvin Gaye. I listened to a lot of ‘80’s funk, R’n’B. Gap Band, Zapp/ Roger Troutman, Frankish Beverly, Maze as well as a lot of 2pac, Deathrow Records, Prodigy, Blur and West Coast stuff (Dre. Snoop, Dog Pound, Warren G etc).
You are a self taught guitarist – in your opinion, who is the greatest guitarist of all time?
The greatest guitarist is probably BB King. There was also a wicked guitarist called Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson who used to make his guitar speak which was pretty sick! Eddie Van Halen’s incredible too – I spent a lot of time on YouTube watching him play guitar.
You started producing at an early age, how old were you and what was the technology you were using?
I was 14 when I started producing. I had a rubbish PC home computer and got a copy of Fruity Loops off my mate and started producing from then on. I then went on to Reason software for about 6 months after which I loved. Then I finally went on to Logic a few years later (when I was about 18) and saved up for a Mac G5 and Korg Triton which I used for years until I got rid of it a few years ago and got a MacBook Pro Laptop.
You became part of Manchester’s underground scene fairly quickly, who were the other artists around you back then?
I was involved in the more underground grime/rap scene back then, working and producing with a lot of guys around Old Trafford/ Gorse Hill Youth Centre. There were people like Raw-T, Shifty, SBD, Virus Syndicate, M16, Platinum; I didn’t work with all these dudes but these were the guys at that time who were making moves in Manny.
Tell us about the being ‘discovered by an A&R scout/moving to London to produce’ story.
The whole A&R scout finding me was pretty much a cliché story. I made quite a lot of demo CDs with my beats on, as well as songs I had written and sent them out to anyone and everyone (I paid about £60 for a list of industry addresses online). I sent these to anyone I thought would fit my music and then one day I got a random phone call from a guy at Sony who loved the stuff and asked if I wanted to work on a remix for this group called The 411. I did that and he loved it so it got commissioned and I went on to remix tracks for Lemar as well as others. Before long, I saved up and moved to London about 7 years ago and have been hustling my way around the industry till now.
What did your family think of all this, were they behind you from day one?
My family were always behind me. No one in my family is really a professional anything and all work 9-5 jobs (my mum is a dinner lady) so I never had one of those super strict families that tell you that you have to go to university. No one in my family has been to uni so I’ve never been told what I have to do with my life – I was pretty much left to do what I was doing. I’ve always known I wanted to do music – no plan b or going off course – no way!
You have now written with Craig David, MNEK, Diplo and Becky Hill amongst others – most notably creating a sound for Mr David on ‘When The Bassline Drops’ which many people are calling “the resurgence of one of the greatest UK artists of all time”. A little bold, but we get the picture! How did the whole Craig David relationship begin and what did you two discuss from the beginning, what was the musical plan?
I met Craig through Marvin Humes ( I was producing for Marvin’s House project Luvbug) and he rang me up one day and said ‘Oh Craig David’s in town tomorrow for an afternoon if you wanna work on a house track with him for Luvbug’ and of course I was like ‘F*** yeah mate!’ I’m a massive Craig fan, like bit of a ‘Stan’, so I jumped on the train to London and went into a session with him next day. We worked on a kind of a House track with a definite Garage vibe to it and he asked me what other stuff I did…and I was like ‘everything bro, lemme play you some stuff’. I played some Garage tracks, R’n’B, a bit of Trap. I told him he needed to do some garage as it was definitely going to come back again and he said yes! We didn’t end up writing anything for Luvbug but he messaged me later on so we could do a session for his stuff and after he spoke to his management we ended up having a few days. I said ‘we gotta do something back to your roots man, none of that Motown covers, folk weird stuff. People will go mad to hear you on a dirty bassline’. We then made ‘Bassline Drops’ and his management (now my management) went mad and we decided to put it out ourselves – and here we are now.
Magic stuff. Funniest moment you two have had together?
We were writing a song and it ended up being about a girl waiting for you outside the club, phoning you but you’ve got no signal and she ends up going because she’s been waiting outside for ages…when we started writing the verses it sounded like a CrimeWatch episode: girl goes missing outside the bar, phone goes dead and no one has seen her. We kind of started losing the plot on that one, but was pretty fucking funny when we realised how it sounded. We scrapped it!
Tell us about your summer shows, what can we expect and how excited are you about Ibiza?
I’m really excited for the summer, got a few unis lined up and Ibiza Rocks is gonna be SICK! I can’t wait, especially as the single ‘Freaky with you’ gets bigger (hopefully!). Just expect to see my ugly mug about the place!
Which brings us to the new single ‘Freaky With You’, please talk us through the history and sound of this sure fire anthem.
I made it over a year and half ago, It was just a mess around to be honest. I’ve been doing the sample/dance thing for ages, before Le Youth started to get big with his R’n’B/ House thing went massive. I was DJing at one of Craig’s shows in Hackney and a Ministry A and R heard it and emailed my manager asking what it was and that they wanted it ASAP. It’s take a long time to sort out sample clearance splits but it’s finally sorted now. I’ve loved the Baby D song since I was a kid and I had this sick acapella on Logic so started playing some chords which I realised sounded a bit like ‘Be Your Fantasy’ so I wondered what it would sound like with the actual riff and loved it! From there I just chopped up the vocals, set them up to a sidechain with my kick and got massive up on my Logic, added my signature bass sound and boom! It didn’t take long, I just wanted a dirty bassline and that’s it – Freaky was born.
What is coming next from you studio wise?
Next from me studio-wise is just finishing up Craig stuff for his album and then focusing on my own material.
And finally, what are some of the most important things you have learnt about the music industry to date?
The most important thing I’ve learned about the industry is to stay true to yourself, don’t change your sound, style or attitude, just be you (unless you’re a bellend, in which case you should probably change)
Surround yourself with people you can trust.
Don’t rush into making big decision because you could end up signing a contract that could last you years and years, damaging you. Be patient, anything worthwhile takes time.