South London Ordnance appeared on the scene around the end of last year and since then has become a household name when it comes to innovative and forward-thinking bass music.
Sorry, that sentence has become a bit stale in 2012 since it’s used to describe anyone who’s managed to stitch a 2-step, broken-beat together these days, ‘innovative and forward-thinking bass music’. It’s actually got to a point where whenever that sentence is used to describe a new producer, you can almost guarantee that the music is pretty stale too.
Stale is precisely what I’m not trying to convey when talking about S.L.O. Very much the opposite in fact. So let’s scratch that. S.L.O is the meaning of ‘new’ music in it’s purest form. That’s better. Quote me, do it. There’s nothing old about these productions. I mean it has it’s influences, sure, but there’s nothing in S.L.O’s productions that you’ve heard before. It’s so new that it’s genre-less, and because those forum lurkers haven’t invented a twatty sub-genre name for it yet.
We caught up with the freshest guy in bass in, you guessed it, South London. We were quite taken aback with how focussed and determined he is, but after a studying Law at Leeds Uni you can see where he gets it from. It made for a great discussion with loads of insightful topics covered, read on.
In the last six months you’ve just completely blown up, was there a strategy behind this?
Mm, yeah I’ve had a couple of people come up to me and say ‘I’ve been working on this for five years, and it’s taken you six months…’ or something. I usually reply look, I’m not the best producer, I just took a considered approach to marketing my music. I think the reality is, people sometimes go about making an impact in the wrong way. They think that 10,000 hits on Soundcloud is better than one message from a decent label head that says, ‘Hey, I like your stuff.’ It doesn’t matter how many hits you have on Soundcloud – I’ve always been of the opinion that if you just focus on a few labels, and just focus on your art… Then it should come together. The reason I never sent anything out before was because I never had good enough music. And even when I did start sending it out, it wasn’t very good. But, I was just lucky because a couple of people, who are very forthcoming and supportive generally, you know – people like Seb Chew, Mary Anne Hobbs… they started playing my stuff. I think that, if you go about it the right way, and not necessarily push it in people’s faces, and just make the one link that counts over the 50 links. That’s what I think, anyway.
So, how long were you producing for, before you started sending tracks out?
Probably like, three/ four months…
Is that all?
Well yeah, I’d been producing for three or four months. I’m one of those people that when I get my mind stuck on something, I can’t not have go and crack at it. I don’t think there’s a point in doing anything if you are not aiming to really get stuck in. I just enjoy it to be honest… the whole process.
Do you have a day job? I mean, sorry for being so blunt, but you’ve got graphic design and other projects going on at the same time, how do you manage your time between it all?
Yeah, well basically, I’m actually still a student at the moment – well I won’t be when this goes to print, I’m just about to finish this Wednesday. So yeah, I’ve been a student and now I’m just tying up a postgraduate course now. The plus side of that is that I had a lot of free time; I know it’s very difficult to find time when you’re doing a 9-to-5. I was very lucky to get on this course.
What do you study?
I’m doing a graduate diploma in Law. My original plan was to get into Record Label management via Media Law and you know, I know it’s something that everyone always says but I’ve always been interested in music – the industry and the kind of, mechanics behind how it works. I thought that that would be my way to slot in. But as I was saying, I started making a few tunes and I started to send them out to a few people and then when some were like, ‘would you like to release on our label?’ I was thinking ‘ah well maybe, there’s a possibility that I could make this work…’ But I stuck at the law course. Because I think that’s really important. A lot of people, when they get that first whiff they think ‘ah maybe this is going to work.’ And before you know it, you’ve given up everything to build yourself a studio and wasted all your money on studio equipment and then the label are like, ‘well yeah, we’ve done that release now, we’ll see you later.’
The thing is I think, I got my head down and it kept me sane in a sense that you have a lot of other stuff to focus on. Do music when you can, because until it becomes financially viable, it is a hobby. And that’s the thing and so, it’s taken it to this point, and I’ve worked very hard to make sure that at the end of this course I’ve got a relatively stable platform to work on.
That’s great man, really is.
What’s the strategy behind the Soundcloud presence and deleting tracks fairly quickly?
I think that the reality behind that is that… well, the thing about the internet is stuff spreads so fast… A good example is SBTRKT, or like Julio Bashmore. They put up a track and within 5 minutes it’s got 20,000 views and like it’s been all over the internet. So everybody knows about it, everyone’s heard it. On the flipside then, if you’re an unsigned artist and you make a really great tune, and then you send it to a label and say, ‘here’s the stream of it,’ with 20,000 hits – it’s like, ‘well, I’m not going to release that now…’ The hit factor has gone.
I upload tracks to let people know where I am with my production. I’m still at that stage where every time I open up Logic, I learn something new. So, I want people to know and to hear the development, it’s a good way of getting bookings, people see you’ve tracks in the bag and that they’re (hopefully) getting better!
So how did it get from the three months, then you started sending tracks out, then, now the release on 2nd Drop, how did that relationship come along because obviously that’s your debut release isn’t it?
Yeah, basically, the first people that I actually signed on a release with were actually a Dutch label called Audio Culture. So they’re the first people that I sent a couple of demos to and gave me decent positive feedback and said ‘Would you consider doing a proper EP?’
You’re still doing something with them no?
Yeah, yeah – it’s out next month actually. I had an amazing time over there.
Oh, is that how the Red Bull Studios in Amsterdam thing came about?
Yes, they very kindly flew me over and I went and did all the mix downs there. I’ve got to say, I made those tunes a long time ago so you know, the finish was very rough but the reality is, those guys in that Studio – Chad, for example – they can really polish stuff up. They know what to do.
How did they receive that, they obviously loved the track even though you were a bit like ‘I’ve moved on from that’?
Well I think the reality is, and I think that this is important about like any like creative endeavour is that ultimately it doesn’t matter about what stage you were as an artist making what you’re making. If there’s a good idea there, it’s usually always a good idea. Like good tunes are good tunes. For example, people talk about classic garage tracks – the production on some of those tracks is pretty grim, especially by today’s standards. You know what I mean, but, they’re classic tracks, the riffs are there. Those synths, those pads, it’s timeless – and that’s the thing…
The thing is – I’m not saying that my EP on Audio Culture is any way comparable to any of that, but like at the same time there were just some ideas there that were like, they’re just nice ideas. And I’m still happy with them and I’m obviously I’m proud of them and I’m really looking forward to releasing them.
With that lead time, you will have been hearing those tracks so many times, because of how long an EP may come out – when it comes to the release point, does it get boring, does it get to the point where you’re like ‘I’m actually sick of hearing this now’?
Well I think that yeah, well yeah definitely – I mean like sometimes you get six months down the line and it’s like ‘what the f*ck was I thinking?’ That is really, really not cool. I make a lot of tunes… I make a lot tunes, and I’ve got hard drives full of ideas that you flick through and you’re like ‘wow, that was terrible, I’m so glad I didn’t send that to anyone.’ Even worse is when you open an email thread and you realise youdid send it to them… That’s the reason they never speak to you anymore.
That’s just the way it is though isn’t it…
Definitely. It is the way it is. On the one hand we talked about not sending too much stuff out but then there’s the other side you know. I’ve got a lot of friends that are incredibly talented and don’t send anything out, ‘it’s not ready, it’s not ready.’ You’ve got to find that balance between, sending a few tracks out and keeping stuff locked… It is literally finding that line and it’s a fine line you know. I mean, the stuff I sent out to Audio Culture – the first stuff they picked me up on, was total sh… The production… haha actually there was a tune that was supposed to be on the EP that they asked me to prepare for mastering and I actually said that ‘I can’t go back to it. I don’t know how I made those things, I can’t refine it in such a way that we can release it,’ because if I touch anything it’s like you know, if you touch a tower of cards, you pull one thing out then it’s all going to fall apart.
It’s quite nice now being at the stage that I actually know what I’m doing. So I can tinker with the tune.
You say you’re fairly fresh to producing then, how long have you actually had Logic then, six months or something?
Probably about a year now…
Did someone teach you that? Or was it all self-taught?
It was more or less self taught. It was the same kind of process that I did with Photoshop and Illustrator. You sit down, and you kind of go on Youtube tutorials… I also had a lot of friends, Marco (Last Japan) helped me a lot, my friend Will who is actually one of those people that never sends any of his tunes out. He is a fantastic engineer, he taught me pretty much everything I know. He’s a very talented artist, really knows a great deal about sampling and making beats.
What’s his artist name? Will…?
He doesn’t have one. He’s just a friend of mine…
You’ll always find that though with producers though won’t you, there always a mate or a best friend that has a knowledge that steers you in the right direction.
Yeah of course, it’s one of those things that you pick up as you go along and then you start sending your stuff to not only label heads, but to producers. I think one of the most important people I sent my music to, even though – to be honest, we don’t chat that much anymore (he’s a busy guy these days), is Mosca. He said something that has always stuck with me and that I have always remembered which was, ‘with dance music, make sure the kicks lead the track.’
I get sent so much music where like, the kick isn’t really there – you know… you’re trying to make dance music, techno music… whatever, without a decent kick?! I played at Fabric the other day, which was an amazing experience, but I played one of my new tunes, and bear in mind you’re trying to really drive a big crowd you know… It’s like, you imagine with the tracks you’re throwing water on a crowd, if it’s just a small bucket, you know it’s not going to be enough – you need to go in with a proper hose. It’s a bit like that if it’s a weak kick, in a sense that you really have to have a strong kick to get people really going. For a long time I didn’t think about that. It’s not that I didn’t realise, it’s just that I didn’t think about that enough. So now, it’s all about building from the kick.
Is that like a natural progression, you’ve started producing music and now you’re playing out. Is it something you come back to, after you’ve come from playing out and learning from that you can see what really works in a club?
Absolutely, it’s one of those things. Recently I’ve really realised the importance of making dance floor tracks essentially quite simple. Originally one compensates for one’s poor production skills by making something overly complex. And actually the reality is that it comes back to making, well attempting to make, an interesting, memorable piece of music. Like those classic Garage tracks, you’re just looking for that really effective riff.
We were talking earlier that the most timeless and great stuff is the stuff that is simple, like for example, Neptunes stuff – Drop It Like It’s Hot.
Yeah, it’s weird you mention that track. The amount of people that have brought that up recently is really weird! But it’s true isn’t it: keep it simple. I mean that track is just white noise and an 808 drum…
I do have a lot of time for complex, engineered music – but at the same when you’re trying to play that kind of stuff out, and you know – it’s really loud you’re listening through X amount of layers of white noise because the producer’s trying to ‘create an atmosphere’… You know what I mean? You’re just trying to mix this track!
I never want a desire for simplicity, or facility to replace artistic endeavour – or to take away from certain ‘atmospheres,’ that do tend to clutter tracks. But at the same time, it is really nice when you bring in a track and it’s effective. It’s got a nice thick kick and it’s got a nice thick bass line or whatever – you know?
You know when you sit down to make something new, do you have an idea in your head? Or do just ‘jam’?
It’s really annoying. Sometimes, I sit down to make a tune with other people and they’re like ‘let’s listen to this track, let’s get some ideas going here.’ I know there’s an element of people wanting to draw influence from stuff but I don’t know, it’s not necessarily a choice but I just don’t really do that.
I just start messing around with a few synths; I know what’s pleasing to my ears. I know what I like in music right now – I like certain frequencies, I like certain noises – I like the way certain vocals are placed. Then it’s all about gathering that altogether and bringing those influences up.
More than ever these days, and I always talk about it when people ask me – it’s a bit like drawing a picture. Before I did graphic design, I was just an illustrator with a biro. So, you know when you’re drawing and you’re making marks on paper and you’re scribbling stuff out and then you’ve smudged it on the back of your hand – that’s exactly what making tunes is like.
Make a certain noise in Logic – bounce it out, bring it back in, affect it and cut it up – maybe like put it in time with something and that’s just how it works really. For me anyway.
Everyone has their own way!
You’re quite percussion based though aren’t you.
What I like to do is – you have a bit of percussion that works with a bit of bass and that kind of stuff, and you get them to bounce off each other. The kind of Drum n’ Bass that I used to love that I don’t listen to that much anymore is…
[interrupt] Is that your ‘teenage years’ music? Drum n’ Bass?
If we had the time I could take you to my house and just see some of the terrible vinyl that I have, it’s quite embarrassing. I was looking at some stuff this morning, I was going over to a mates’ to just play some records and I found ‘N-Trance – Set You Free’… but a dark UK Garage, Breaks sort of remix – a one-sided vinyl. It’s cheesy as fuck.
But at the same time, it’s kind of like – it’s that stuff that actually is really resonant for me. Because it had like the floating pads and the uplifting vocals, but then it had the raw, LFO, kind of Garage, Breaks bass line. I guess, if you listen to a lot of my stuff, the Well Rounded thing – that’s what that is, basically. It’s kind of an Acid House bass line with floaty pads and it owes a lot to that kind of music…
I forgot what you actually asked me there! I just kind of rambled on!
Your identity, under South London Ordnance, is it purposeful that a lot of your photographs are always in shadow and obscured, and it’s not always obvious to exactly who you are – is that the plan or strategy to create that mystery?
It’s just one of those things, the reason is – I didn’t have that stuff. For example, I used to use this picture of a girl with a glass hat on. Which sounds weird, but if you look at the photo it’s not actually that weird – it’s just some photo that I found on the internet. I just didn’t have any press shots, I didn’t need any press shots. It’s just like all those kind of those things, when you need something – you can get it. I have friends who have thousands of pounds worth of studio equipment but have never finished a tune. I didn’t really need any press shots so I didn’t really have any.
When you start characterising your music, there’s a tendency… it’s very easy to get it wrong when you’re young like I am… I think, anyway. You just want essentially a blank slate and you want to be able to let the music, the people you send your music to and the labels that work with you – that kind of stuff to shape you as an artist. Rather than, ‘look, here I am, this is me, I’ve given everything away…’ I don’t know that’s just my own opinion, because everyone does it a different way. I just quite like that vibe really.
Do you like how that’s going for you? That’s your strategy, that you’ve planned it in a particular way, do you think it’s working for you? Are you getting the recognition that you want and have to set out to get?
To be honest, in terms of recognition… I think that I have been blessed by the people that have got in touch and who have helped me out. Everyone like, Truants who I think did my first feature, and you know to the labels – 2nd Drop, Well Rounded etc, Mary Anne Hobbs, Mosca who was the first to put a track of mine in a mix.
Yeah he did this mix for Mary Anne Hobbs actually, and put it in… it was called ‘Under The Radar’. And that was it, which was kind of the first bit of exposure.
Did you get hype off that?
It’s those little thing really isn’t it, you know. He name checked me in the Guardian or the Independent which was great for me.
So in terms of recognition and exposure, it’s those little things that we talked about. You know, like the one shout-out that’s from a decent person is you know, it’s worth so much. I’ve just been very lucky in that sense.
Was that the turning point of this whole process then? Was there a point where you thought, ‘this is going to really work out, I’m really getting some momentum here’?
Yeah, you could describe it as a turning point, it was nice. People were saying that I should send Mosca my stuff, he’s really good for feedback. So I did, I sent him a couple of things and some stuff he liked and some stuff he didn’t. He just sent an email to a few of us saying ‘ah yeah, your track is in this mix, it’s airing on Christmas Eve.’
Then obviously LuckyMe hit me up to do a mix, and that was really mad because that’s such an established series. That was again, a real turning point. Then slowly but surely, it all started to get a bit more momentum.
Through Mosca’s mix then, is that how you got Mary Anne Hobbs singing your praises?
Well, I just hit her up on twitter actually. ‘Hey, mosca put a track in this mix, do you mind if I send you some music?’ She was like yeah, and there were a couple of things that she liked… And she played them a few times, and you know I got some really great exposure from that.
How did you get involved with Enclave, the clothing brand then?
Yeah, Kyle from Enclave just hit me up on Twitter, ‘hey, I like your stuff’ – ‘hey Kyle, I like your stuff!’ And we just started sort of chatting really! He’s a very talented guy, he really does have a niche with his aesthetic and it’s exciting to see that. He’s very on point.
So what’s next in store for you, where’s the next release coming from?
The next release is… I’ve got a 12 inch on Well Rounded which we’re just waiting to just start putting that out, and that’s out on 2nd July. Two tracks, ‘Trojan’ and ‘Pacific’. I’m really happy with the tracks and I think they really work as a 12”. I’m really happy to be working with Ash. And I think that, personally, the tracks really fit the label. It owes a lot to Acid House, Hardcore and Techno, basically. So I’m really looking forward to that.
Then my first full EP, coming on Audio Culture… which is supposed to be my debut. But you know, such is life and Audio Culture is very prolific and a very busy label. They had a schedule to stick to. That’ll be 5 new tracks which is cool.
Then one more 12” with the label that I’m probably not supposed to announce yet. Then yeah, a couple of remixes. One on Kerri Chandler’s new label of a track called ‘Rome,’ by a producer called Kashii. Then another one for a Belgian label called Beatcave, which has just gone up today actually.
In January 2013 I’m also launching my own label, which I’m really looking forward to.
Wow, that’s planning ahead!
Oh god, no, that’s tight! I’ve been involved with labels in the past and it takes so long, because you’re always relying on people to get back to you. You know like, distribution, PR, Marketing… getting a designer in… Getting the tracks sounding exactly how you want them… Then you’ve got to get them mastered, then you’ve got to have at least six weeks lead time. You’ve got to have everything in the bag to be releasing on time.
This label project is going to be the one that I’m going to run with for this S.L.O alias. Hopefully I want it up to 10, 20 releases so you know – it’s got to be right, if it isn’t, I wont be rushing to get stuff out.
The aesthetic is so important to me, I want people to be able to go into record stores, go into BM Soho and be able to pick up the 12” and be like ‘this sounds really dope and looks really dope as well!’
Are you going to be doing all the branding for that as well then?
No, I’m not actually. I’m not doing any of the artwork because one thing I have realised that’s important is that want you everyone to stick to his or her own area of expertise. Mine, I would like to think, would be the press and as a figurehead for the label – whereas I want someone whose jobit is to do graphic design.
Have you got someone lined up for that then?
Yeah, I have – but I’ll keep it under my hat for now! It’ll be really cool though, I’m really excited about it. I’ve already seen some demos of what we’re going to do and stuff. It’s really exciting; we’re releasing someone who has never had a release before.
All sounds great man, we look forward to it!
One thing I love to ask producers and DJ’s etc, is what type of music did they listen to mainly when they were 15 years old?
You can’t be embarrassed and ashamed, you have to be truthful!
When I was 15? Ah man, no I’m not embarrassed! I can be fully truthful and I have the record collection to back it up. I used to go a record store down Northcote Rd (Clapham) called IS Records… I have a lot of Breaks, like Botchit & Scarper and then like Hard Trance and Hard Techno.
[lots of laughs]
Actually when I look back at it, there’s a couple of quite relevant records in there… maybe! Also, we used to have a lodger called Alex, who lived with us, big long dreadlocks and was really into psy-trance. And he used to take me to a place called, ‘The Psychedelic Dream Temple’…
Sounds like a Mighty Boosh episode!?
[laughs] believe me it’s not made up, it’s in Camden, it’s a psy-trance record store and so as a result of that I have loads of psy-trance records! In between that then there’s everything from Fatboy Slim, who is still a massive influence to me. I don’t know why people think that’s a dirty word? Some people do, I suppose I should be here telling you I was into Detroit House since I was 12. But that kind of (Fatboy Slim) stuff, I used to love that! Used to listen to that stuff on repeat! And then I actually have a lot of grim, cheesy Defected records and a LOT of Drum n’ Bass. I was into Drum n’ Bass from about 15, to 18?
Drum n’ Bass is definitely the most popular answer…
Absolutely! Those bass lines that kind of turn on a bit of percussion, used to really do it for me. And then it moved towards – especially when I was growing up, towards the minimal stuff with the compressed snares and people like Foreign Concept and Perez and that kind of stuff… loved that sound.
It was a good time, but it’s just one of those things where the BPM doesn’t lend itself – for me anyway, to an inclusive clubbing experience. The important thing for me is that girls dance when I’m DJing. I think that’s make or break for any genre.
That’s why dubstep and grime in the form that they had, at a point where any sort of ‘heads’ would say that they were at their best… You know, there were no girls, it was just guys in a dark room with their hoods up. And of course it was amazing, and indicative of a time… and a group of people… but there were no girls, which I think made it difficult for those sounds to progress in that original form. And so what a lot of producers seemed to do, was they took the bits that appealed to teenage girls (and perhaps some teenage guys, it would seem) and they made them really loud and really pronounced… So we get that new mid range chainsaw sound, with all the vocal breaks and trance synths. It’s obviously a different vibe from what it was, but I guess they have the girls in the party now… maybe?
So that’s important to you, getting girls dancing?
Yeah definitely, that’s why I started to really get into House and Techno because I think it is very… it’s just a unisex genre. On the other hand, for example, Cable in London – at like a Metalheadz night and Andy C is doing a 3-deck set – and I’m just reporting from literally the last time that I went… there weren’t a huge amount of women on the dance floor. And I think that everyone in Drum n’ Bass would agree? Whereas you go to a Techno or House night and there a lot of girls, and therefore by default of course a lot of guys, and it’s just a more like inclusive, less offensive atmosphere. I may have got that completely wrong though! I’m always wary of making those kind of statements, you’re always bound to piss someone off!
So when you’re DJing, where do you draw from?
Well the thing is, before I even started this project I was DJing quite a lot…
You’ve been DJing a long time then?
Yeah I started… well I’ve been mixing since I was about 12. I got a pair of belt-drive decks – y’know you could tell this story for me! Friend of a brother… My mates’ brother… Or whatever. My mates’ brother who used to mix and the rest is kind of history…
Everyone says that, and it’s just the reality! It’s how it started for most people.
I’ve always loved mixing and loads of different stuff like I say – I started out I was mixing stuff like…
[laughs] I don’t want to get known for that but yeah you know I’m not going to lie, but yeah some pretty terrible music! Then started mixing like Drum n’ Bass and things like that, I was getting quite accomplished in terms of mixing D n’B, I could touch on things like 3-decks and that kind of stuff… But at the time when I was just about to move and leave university, people like Blawan and Nightslugs and people like that were coming more to the front and everyone was getting into Funky and strains of House music or whatever but you know, well – people like me were getting into Funky! Perhaps I was a bit late… But anyway, that was much more fun to mix. You could turn up to a house party and play a combination, well… I used to play a combination of Dancehall and Bashment that was at like 130bpm, then like funky into like Blawan kind of stuff, then into a bit of like L-Vis and that seemed to work for me. But I can’t really do it these days and like, under this moniker, people know me for more straight House and Techno I think.
… but then I couldn’t possible play kick drums for an hour. There is a bit of broken beat stuff I play, a bit of Swamp/ R&S stuff and I play a lot of Tessela tunes for example and they’re all over the place! He’s one of my favourite producers for party tunes…
But your stuff is not just from one place either though, you have like House, Techno, Garage in there…
Yeh, I mean I know of producers that are very happy – they have found a formula and maybe they feel ‘this works for me and what I’m going to do is just going to make that’. I think a lot of people are like that, I think people shy away from taking risks by saying ‘this is my sound.’ I think that it’s one thing to say that ‘this is my sound’ and it’s another thing to just be really dull. I think that Mosca is a great example of the opposite of that – that’s what’s wicked about him. He takes a thing like, for example the Hypercolour thing: Deep House, Tech House. And it’s almost like he’s sat down and gone ‘I’m just gonna murk this genre.’ Like, ‘Yeah, just did the tune – got Robert Owens on it…’ Do you know what I mean? And then he said, ‘Later this year I’m releasing grime.’ And it’s like – how exciting is that?
I think that’s what 2011, 2012 is for us right now do you agree? Like we were saying earlier, the popularity of the DJ as well as the DJ/producer that never used to be the case, but because they’re bringing in every genre in their sets – people want that, it’s like producers are now almost following the DJ’s footsteps and bringing in all sorts to their music.
To use Oneman as an example, that Boiler Room set, where he brings in Lumidee and you’re like ‘I haven’t heard this in 8 years! And it’s amazing tune!’, people expect that now and there’s this excitement to see DJ’s perform – what are they going to bring out next?
That mix that you’re talking about, that’s one of my favourite mixes. That is the mix; that is it. Thing is, if you want a lesson in how to DJ – in terms of playing a crowd certainly – just study that mix (in my opinion!). And the amazing thing about it is that like – you know there’s an element of preperation, everyone who plays regularly knows their party mixes – but that set is pretty much ‘off the cuff’! It’s just the mark of a great DJ is that he just throws it together… Like didn’t he drop some prog. rock stuff? Prince into Redlight?
It’s like gamesmanship, its like ‘you think I killed it then? Listen to the next one…’
Would you say that it’s 50/50 for producing and DJing for you then? Do you love one more than the other?
Well, half of the pleasure of being asked to play out is playing my own music. And seeing people get off to your music and people asking you ‘was that tune one of yours?’ The whole point of producing for me is to get out there and play my music, and see if something that I can make, entertains people.
Sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes it does. And when it does, it’s just really nice.
Have you ever had a moment where you’ve played something new and it’s fallen flat?
Yeah massively, the whole time! People don’t really notice, because the tunes are pretty un-memorable! If you play something that’s really badly mixed down, people aren’t exactly gonna go ‘that tune was shit’ – they just don’t comment on it!
The other week when I played the Camden Crawl, at KOKO, I played a track that I’d just mixed down that afternoon. I was like, ‘right, let’s go!’ I switched over the EQ’s and it just fell so flat, there was just no sub on it at all. It was just one of those ones where you just mix it in and mix it out super fast. No one notices….
You’re always, as the DJ, your hardest critic though aren’t though! The crowd may have a great time and say they loved it but you’d be walking away like ‘Ah, that was rubbish…’
Yeah definitely – so true!
One of the most poignant times like that for me was – I was supporting Rustie at this warehouse thing.. And we all know what Rustie’s music is like, it’s incredible.. The most euphoric, intricate but at the same time ‘up in your face’ kind of music… He finishes his set with ‘Glass Swords’,so the crowd is moshing and going crazy right and I come on and play my first tune and it’s like, ‘dum dum dum’ … Just this simple kick intro! People were looking round like, ‘is the soundsystem broken?’
‘I’m sorry! That’s my shit! It’s what I play! That’s what I do!’ Terrible tune selection on my part in retrospect, but what can you do – it’s all a learning process.
Not my finest hour either way.
What equipment do you use to DJ then?
I use Serato and CDJ’s. I learnt on turntables, and I’d use turntables out but you know… When it becomes your job… In a sense that like, you’ve got to play for an hour and make the crowd move – no questions asked – you can’t really put your faith in potentially unreliable equipment. If you’re trying to use turntables in a club, unless it’s somewhere like Fabric, or I dunno – Plastic People say… you’re risking it nine times out of ten. The turntables aren’t usually prepared to play out properly on – the venue might not even have turntables!
Unless you’re a big enough act, you just can’t have that in your rider can you? Obviously, if you are you can – like, they’re not going to say to someone like Ben UFO, ‘Sorry Ben mate, the turntables, they’re looking a bit ropey…’ He’s not going to pull out CD’s is he…
Cool, well we really appreciate this and thanks for coming down to chat!
Of course man, it’s a pleasure, I hope it sounds alright!
South London Ordnance’s EP on Audio Culture comes out September 1oth on both digitally and on 12″
He also plays Audio Culture label showcase on the 20th October