Originally Posted 10.16.2015 [Archive]
Recently I've had the pleasure of getting to know a young up-and-coming Dubstep producer by the name of Sam Bartlett. Sam, aka Samba, and I became acquainted after we were both asked to do guest mixes for the steady growing Dubstep label 140 Ninja. Since then we've been chatting and sending each other dubs for critique and to be played out in our respective sets. After hearing Samba's tracks I knew he was on to something. For those who are unaware of this ascending artist, Samba has been making tunes for the past few years relatively under the radar. However, now with support from the likes of Content and the rest of the Encrypted artists as well as the legendary Kaiju, Samba is set to blow at any moment. A quick listen to the first few tunes on his soundcloud will let you know: this is not just some kid with a mixtape to shrug off. Samba is poised to take over a sound system near you, so I decided it was about time I had a serious chat with him about his beginnings and what's next for the budding badman.
Samba also graciously accepted my request for a guest mix which you can listen to at the bottom of the page.
So how did you get started in electronic music? / What interested you about the Dubstep scene?
I listened to mostly Rock music when I was young and my Dad used to play a lot of Reggae and Dub, when I was about 11-12 I started listening to a fair amount of Grime and Drum & Bass as well. So when I heard Dubstep a few years later I would say it was a pretty natural progression. The thing that interested me was probably a combination of the bass and the variation between each tune.
What came first for you, DJing or producing? / What was your learning process like? (i.e. Self taught or School Educated?)
Producing came long before DJing. I played the drums and guitar from a young age, so producing naturally came next. I asked for a Kaoss Pad and a Kaossilator for my 12th Birthday and tried to make Drum and Bass tunes on them *laughs*. I really didn’t know what I was doing. A couple of years later I realized that you could use a computer to make songs and got a demo copy of FL studio, but still had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I ended up taking Music Tech at school, learned Logic, and have never looked back. Recently I’ve really got into making and then destroying my own samples. My workflow is a bit weird. I make all of the audio in Maschine and bounce it out to Logic, so I’m always working with Audio when it comes to Logic which is great as it allows me to go through numerous stages of editing the sounds. However, I really want to get into Ableton.
As a fan of the music as well as an artist, what has been your favorite show experience?
I have no idea to be honest, there are so many shows that come to mind. Broken Dub House with Digital Mystikz, Congo Natty, Benny Ill and T_! was a big one. The RC1 Soundsystem never disappoints.
You've had a few releases through 140 ninja, and have just had another one on their compilation Dark Daze Vol. 1; how did you get involved with them?
Chris (Duffer) from 140 Ninja is a great guy, he was the first person to reach out to me about my tunes and then asked if he could feature one of my songs for them on their blog. That one actually never materialized but we agreed for my track “Chest Pains” to go on the Dark Daze Compilation and he asked me to do a mix for them.
Your sound is very unique, and seemingly changing with every new tune you make, yet always stays true to the roots of dub music and sound system culture. What influences your production style? Who are your personal influences, and are you influenced by any music outside of Dubstep?
*laughs* Thanks, yeah it’s a bit random isn’t it? I never really know what’s going to come out when I sit down to write a tune. People who have influenced me are artists like Gantz, Kaiju, Om Unit, Karma, Vivek– there are so many that I don’t really have a set of personal influences. I just like writing stuff in the style that I’m feeling when I sit down to do it or when I hear something that inspires me. I always ditch a tune if it doesn’t have a feel to it. That’s probably the reason why I keep running out of space on my laptop. I must have like 200 WIPs that will just never be finished. As for stuff outside of Dubstep: I’m listening to a lot of Hip-Hop at the moment. I must have rinsed the entire Bobby raps and Corbin - Couch Potato EP about 40 times over the last few months. I’m listening to some chill stuff as well, people like LAKIM, Djrum, Kaytranada, Nodul, Ta-Ku, Cashmere Cat... Some of it gets quite same-y but when it’s done right there are some tunes that I can listen to all day.
Your tunes have been getting a lot of attention from some real heavyweights in the scene, most notably Content and the Encrypted Audio crew. As an up and comer, how does it feel to receive that sort of recognition? / Who were you most excited to hear has been feeling your tunes as of late?
Yeah it feels great! Content is such a nice guy, and Encrypted is killing it at the moment. It’s really exciting to be getting attention from that crew and getting features in mixes. Also getting some attention from Kaiju was a big moment as well.
Speaking of Encrypted, any future plans of a release with them (or is that under wraps)? If you can't tell us, what would be a dream release for you (as in what label would you love to see yourself have a release on)?
I’m in talks with them at the moment actually, we’ll see what happens…
What are your favorite tunes to play out at the moment?
Sahri 8 Bar - Gundam
Monolith - Trisicloplox
Things - Content & Krudkutter
Black Tar - Zygos
Plus as of a few days ago my own tune: 36’s. I’m really excited for people to hear that one.
What's the one venue, country, or festival (or all three) that you feel like you absolutely have to play in your career?
KOKO because it has a lot of memories for me. Anywhere in America because the scene seems to be buzzing in places like Denver, LA and New York. As for a festival: Outlook, because it’s Outlook.
What's your feeling about the Dubstep scene in England at the moment? As an American myself, I have no way of knowing personally, but I've heard that the scene took a bit of a dive for a while there as far as show attendance/ energy was concerned. Do you agree with this? Do you think Dubstep is on the rise again?
I don’t really know right now. House is still huge everywhere– Techno and Garage as well. There are obviously a nights with huge lineups which draw out a lot of heads, but I think there is definitely space for a regular show for up and comers to play out. Nights like Kiroku and TribeVibe (the Dubtribu night) seem to be doing this sort of thing, but don’t happen frequently enough or with a big enough system haha. It definitely took a massive dip a while back, I guess people didn’t want to be associated with that “Skrillex-y” sound and they burnt out. I think it’s definitely on the rise right now.
To that end, what's your take on the notion that "Dubstep is dead"?
It’s just a publicity stunt, any artist who has said [Dubstep is dead] has done so to stir people up or to distance themselves from it as a genre.
We had a laugh earlier about a well known DJ abusing the wheel-up at a show you went to. What's your opinion on reloads in general? What would be the ideal number to have in a show so as to not annoy your audience?
*laughs* Totally abused it man. Literally every tune we’d get like 5 seconds and then just span it back… I think they’re alright when they’re used properly you know? Like sometimes a tune just needs it. When the timing is right, people just want it again. That being said I’ve never actually heard Goblin get played out without it being wheeled *laughs*.
I always ask this of the Dubstep producers I interview, but what is your opinion on the value of more mid-range heavy, "bro-step" as it were, in the scene? What would be your definition of "bro-step"? Does it have a place in the Dub community? Would you ever personally listen to it/ drop any tracks into a mix?
For me it’s a different scene, that’s why people are labelling it differently. I don’t really have an opinion of it. I don’t really rate it at all. Even when Coki, Chef, and Kromestar get into that proper tear-out “Riddim” vibe it gets a bit much at times. I was at a Wheel & Deal night a while back at Fire and it was such an agro crowd. People moshing and trying to start beef with others, wasn’t a good one at all.
What's your take on the value of dubplate culture? Most DJ's I talk to are very into the idea of having exclusive content like that, but there are many well known artists who seem to be coming out against this practice, or at least the idea of holding onto plates for years before releasing it.
I think it’s essential for the scene to stay fresh. If everyone was playing the same tunes it would get boring. Although I need that Free Focus (Commodo Remix) in my life already, that track has been a dub for so long…
Any gigs coming up?
There’s talks of a 140Ninja show in Amsterdam which would be massive, nothing’s confirmed though. To be honest I don’t have anything lined up right now, want to change that though.
And finally the ever cliché, but equally important question: What's next for Samba?
I’m just going to carry on building my sound and see what happens. I have a few big things lined up, looking forward to getting everything finalized and then hopefully playing some more gigs.
Listen to Samba's Playhous Guest mix below. A full track list is available here.