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DJ SS [Formation Records, UK]
 DJ SS [Formation Records, UK]

ϳ FORMATION NIGHT, 09/02/2007, "Cosmo",
interview [ua]

IPB Image




Interview with Seba
(Kyiv, September 2, 2007 after The Most Open Air)
by backpacker & uk



The first one: how has Ukraine been treating you and how did you like yesterdays gig?

F**kin' terrible, man smile.gif No, I love it here. The gig yesterday was really-really good. I was talking to my girlfriend over the phone and I said I think this is the best gig I had this year so far”. I had another really good one in Belgium which was kind of like this one. It was a bit more people in Belgium, it was a bigger event. But when it comes to crowd reaction, it was so good yesterday. So I was very happy with the results yesterday, yeah.


What was that remix on Planetary Funk alert”? Is it already released or will it be released?

Ive just sent it to Danny. Yeah, Ive been having it for a long time now and havent sent it to Danny until recently (about a week ago) and he hasnt said anything about it. I still need to do some work on it. Its not 100% finished. I dont know; maybe he wants to release it, well see.


Id like to know more about the evolution of your sound from 1995, like in 1995-97 when you did deep intelligent more atmospheric melodic stuff, and then you made a break for several years, you were not producing drum and bass, and then you were back with Dev collaborations – more drumfunk darker stuff. How and why did that happen? Can you please expand on that?

I was working with Good Looking and Ive always been into any style of drum and bass. You know, I like drum and bass. Period. But when I was working with Good Looking I kind of had to do that sound because thats what they were working with. But if I would DJ I could have put like an Ed Rush track into my set or something because I like any style of drum and bass as long as it is good.

When I left Good Looking I came to the point where I couldnt go any further with that music. I realized myself that music I was doing with Good Looking wasnt really quality anymore. I think, at that time the whole drum and bass movement came to a stop, in late 1999-2000. I was just thinking this is not going anywhere. The only people that would sell records were people that were making not even jump-up – just noise music, you know. It was hard banging and not really musical. I wasnt feeling it at all. It had some kind of energy in it but it wasnt musical. And I was just so tired after a long dispute with Good Looking, so I stopped making drum and bass for a while, I was making house music with a friend in Sweden (Lenk). Weve actually put out an album together.

The funny thing with Dev is I met him in 1997 and I think that already in 1998 we have decided to collaborate. I live in Sweden and he lives in the UK. Theres no time for us to sit and make music. I think in 2001-2002 we were kinda feeling that we were the only two people that still wanted to work with breaks in drum and bass. Everyone else was just doing 2-step beats. Everyone else had drum sounds that were coming out the drum machine or sample library, but no one was really using breaks anymore. And I can understand that because how many drum breaks are there? About 300 different? You know, there are not that many drum breaks that people use. And once you use it you feel like I dont wanna use it again”. And you can always ask the same question How many amen tunes can you do? How many tracks can you put amen in?” We believe that drum and bass was build upon working with breakbeats. So we still wanna do that.

I know that Dev sees drum and bass as an extension to hip-hop. He thinks that drum and bass is something that came out of UK hip-hop, that kind of breakbeats and oldschool hip-hop, which it is actually. He was totally right about that. When he was starting to make drum and bass in 1989, really-really early, it was hip-hop; he thought he was making rap music, he was rapping and MCing on his own tracks. And he was thinking OK, this is UK hip-hop”. Then it kinda evolved into rave scene: Mixrace, Moving Shadow, Reinforced and then it is what it is today. He believes that it is the same music he did 15 years ago, but the tempo is not 110 BPM anymore, its 175.

I, on the other hand, I have never had any roots in hip-hop or anything. I just got into drum and bass because to me it was techno/rave music but with funkier drums, it had funkier breaks rather than just having a drum machine. Thats what caught my attention.

In 2002 it seemed like we were the only people that have been doing this for almost 10 years now and still want to do it. So we decided we should get together to start working together. And he came over to Sweden; we sat in the studio and did some tracks. Then we started to hook up with people that were sharing a little bit of the same idea as we did. People like Dylan, for instance, Rohan from Bassbin and other few people who have released tracks here and there.

After working with Good Looking for so many years I was starting to think that I need to do something stronger, a little bit more dancefloor-oriented, a bit heavier. So we just started to do that. Then I got to the point where Im like Ah, every track that I do sounds like a horror movie”. Then I made some softer tracks again and all the people that used to listen to my Good Looking stuff kinda picked up my music again. So now every piece I do is a bit of a shot in the dark – when you listen to it, you dont know if its gonna be really mystical, angry, moody or just beautiful. I always wanted to make that kind of drum and bass that was happening back in 1995-97, that kind of style. I was into anything then, it didnt matter if it was Ray Keith or it was Doc Scott – all the stuff that came out at that time was just great. Thats what Im trying to reproduce with more modern technology.


And what is your favorite break?

I think it is The Commodores Assembly Line” or Funky Mule”. Those two are my favorite breaks. I dont use Funky Mule” too much because its my favorite break. I like Apache” of course, Apache” is a good one also. Its the classic break that I like. But you know, all those breaks also have some kind of b-boy roots from hip-hop background: streets, graffiti, everything – its included in those breaks. So thats why I like it.


When you are collaborating with Paradox you sit next to each other and never send stuff over the Internet. What about other collaborations? Ones with Krazy, Chris J…

Oh, Chris J. The collaboration with Chris J started as he was sending me stuff and I was like Great, but I think you should change this and change that”. Then he would send me the track back again after he has changed it and I was like No, no, no”. And in the end I think I told him: Send me the MIDI files and I will show you”. This is how that collaboration evolved. But we actually never finished the track that way. So he came over to Sweden because he was doing a 12” for Svek Recordings and then we did some dnb-stuff. One tune was released on Nu Directions.

Who else did I collaborate with… Lenk – I know him for ages, he lives in Stockholm. Lotek lives in Stockholm also. And so does Krazy. We were doing parties together back in 1995-96. We were a bit of rivalrizing DJs because both of us were playing drum and bass. There was a bit of competition between us. And since the drum and bass scene in Stockholm has degraded totally after that, I met him one day and was like What do you do? I see you DJing maybe once a year in Stockholm”. And he was like I have started Internet radio, just give me your email and Ill show you”. I was kind of under the impression that he was sitting in his living room DJing for 2 hours and broadcasting for like 40 people around the world. I told him Listen man, stop doing that and get over to my studio, bring some samples and well make some music”. I think we have 13 tracks or something. Weve done pretty good job actually, weve done quite a lot of music. And it has taken off in different directions: some of it has been softer; some of it has been harder. We have one 12” on Bassbin, one 12” that is released on Paradox Music now, a track is coming out on Metalheadz, one 12” is on Innerground (should be out anytime now), another 12” is signed to Horizons Music.


Technology- and production-wise how have your skills and technology you were using evolved since 1995 until now?

Same thing – Cubase, thats the environment I work in. Technology has changed of course. I dont use my AKAI sampler anymore, its long gone – Ive sold it 5 years ago. I use only software. I have one or two analogue synthesizers that I use to get some sounds and stuff like that. But most of it is software synthesizers and samplers.

And whats your favorite software tool?

I like this Korg Legacy Edition. I bought the whole thing with Korg MS-20 and everything. Thats a really good tool because it simulates all Korg synthersizers. I like that one; I would say thats my favorite. Then also anything that comes out of Native Instruments is good.


Dev was talking about the album you are doing for Warner. What is the status as for now?

Was he saying that we are doing an album for Warner?

Yeah.

My God… He was right and he was wrong at the same time. We have never had a recording deal with Warner. Although I was actually published by Warner, I have Warner as a publisher. And he was kind of getting a publishing deal with Warner that kinda fell through. What happened in Sweden (I think it happened in England also) is that Warner has lost so much money, they are cutting down everything. When I found out they did, I just left Warner because they used to have like 10 staff people taking care of maybe 300 artists in Sweden and now they have cut down the staff to maybe like 2 people. Since Im not one of their biggest artists, they are gonna be like Call us later, we dont have time right now”. So I have just left. And I think the same thing happened in England. Dev was going to work with Warner Sheffield and they cut down everything and at the end they didnt sign him. Which is really good, but that was just the publishing side of it.

When it comes to the recording side we were talking for a long time what to do because both Dev and I agree on that we cannot decide on the label that would release our music. The only label that comes to think of that we would take seriously would be possibly Hospital, but we think that our music doesnt fit Hospital. Maybe one track Move on” – thats fantastic, but were not going to do an album with just that kind of music, its gonna be totally different. And then we were thinking that Metalheadz could be good, but theyve just done two albums (Rufige Kru and Commix), so I doubt they wanna get into doing another album. I think they need to do more 12”s now. So we are thinking either Metalheadz or Reinforced. But Reinforced doesnt really exist anymore even though they say they exist. Before we start making any album we were trying to figure out where we should put it out. And we came to the conclusion that maybe the best label for doing this is Horizons Music. Ive done a release on Horizons, Dev and I have a release on Horizons (weve done a remix) and now we have something coming out with Krazy on Horizons. And Neil at Horizons Music is a really cool guy, he likes the stuff that we do and he seems to have his head screwed on in the right place, you know. We asked him if he wanted to do our album and he was very happy. So thats what we are aiming to do.

We havent started to do this album yet, but Im also working on an album, like a solo album. I think that from strategic point of view we gonna focus on my album first, so that I can release a solo album which hopefully we are trying to get ready for April 2008. And then maybe in fall 2008 or maybe even winter 2009 we can put out Seba & Paradox album. So we can wait 6 months or something for a Seba and Paradox album, because its stupid to put out 2 albums at the same time.


Do you have some music that you have written and it just sits somewhere and doesnt get released?

I dont have any music that is sitting and is not released. If I do, I gonna have to delete it, because if its just sitting there and doesnt get released means that I dont like it, so it wont be released. But I have so many tracks that are unfinished and just sitting there waiting to be finished, but its so difficult…

I dont know how long it takes Clipz to make a track, maybe it takes him like 15 minutes. But it takes months for me to do a track because there are so many different elements that I need to try out. I just try different things, new angles and if it doesnt work and I get tired, I put it away and bring it up in two days to see what it sounds like. It takes really long time for me to finish a track.

On the other hand, when I work with Krazy and Paradox it goes really quick. Me and Dev can finish two tracks in the weekend. We could start working Friday morning and Sunday evening two tracks are done. And thats because hes got some samples, Ive got some sounds and we are sitting there, trying to do everything together. If I wanna do something I can always ask Dev what he thinks: Do you think we should keep this bassline or should we do another one?” And he can say No, no, no, Keep this bassline. This is good”. Then I know. So we can move on to something else. But if Im sitting alone I can do basslines like No, this is not good” Then I do another one and go like No, I liked the one I did before. Im going to go back to that”. So I just start jumping between versions of the track and its just endless. So it takes much longer to do a track by myself.


Whats the balance right now between production and DJing?

Theres no balance in the DJing at all. I had 2 months without any DJ work and all of a sudden Im out of the country every weekend right now. So theres no balance. All of a sudden I may have loads of bookings and then I have no bookings at all. But studio work is regular. I sit in the studio at least 5 days a week, not full-time though. I would sit probably like 4 hours and then take a break and get back in two hours or something. But I sit there at least 5 days a week.

When I started making this music back in 1995-96 working with Good Looking, the vinyl sales would go up to 5-6 thousand copies. I would make a lot of money from the vinyl sales. And the album sales would be even more, really-really good to make money out of that. But in order to sell those albums and everything Good Looking set up tours, so we had to go out and do DJ tours to promote these kinds of events. And we didnt get much pay – it was just peanuts. But that was something we had to do just to do the promotion.

10 years later Im sitting here and it just turned the other way around. Im doing 12”s and Im happy when they sell 1000-1200 copies. This means I get some money back but its not enough to make a living. All those 12”s are like a PR campaign to me as a DJ, so that it helps me to get bookings. If I would stop doing 12”s, no one is gonna book me. Because people go like Yeah-yeah, I remember that guy 10 years ago, he did some really good music”, but no one is going to call and book me. The vinyl releases today are a bit of a PR campaign rather then income. And thats pretty strange actually. So that kind of explains the whole balance between DJing and studio work.


Dev was saying that you are making music for games, some multimedia stuff…

Oh, was he? He talks a lot, doesnt he? smile.gif Oh, yeah-yeah, I know what he was talking about. Actually Ive got an offer.

From ESPN?

Oh, no-no. Was he talking about that? Because thats something else. We didnt do music for a game. Rohan licensed one track that we did for Bassbin to some basketball Playstation game. So that was a track that was already there.

I think what Dev was talking about is that I have a friend that works with a game company in Stockholm and I asked him something like Do you guys need any sound works or any music in your games?” and he was like Yeah-yeah, talk to the sound supervisor”, Yeah, we are looking for people to do some work. Ill send you a test”. Like the test that everyone had to do in order to get the job. And it was just ridiculous… It was about compressing and making shotguns sound like they are real, so basically it was sound engineering job. I was not interested. I know its a good job, good money, Ive tried to do the test and I think it sounded really okay. But I cannot sit and edit shotguns 5 days a week. Id be f**king crazy and actually go buy a shotgun and shoot my whole family smile.gif Actually I have never sent the test results. I think they were really good but I didnt send it.

So now what I do is work part-time in a school. It sounds like a day care – I take care of kids that are 7-9 years old and they go to this after-school thing where I work. Four hours a day – fantastic, it gives me another 4 hours to sit in the studio.


And who are you by profession? What educational background do you have?

Oh, nothing – I flew out of the school smile.gif I actually went to high school and I have telecommunication and electronics degree which I totally forgot everything about smile.gif I did that because you could take an extension course in sound engineering after that. That was the one thing I was interested in. But when I was trying for sound engineering course I realized that they had like 400 people that would search every year and they took in only 8 from whole Sweden. So I was like f**k it. If dont get in the first time, Im not gonna try the second time”. I didnt get in.

But anyway I found out that sound engineering is not all about music. Its about TV, broadcasting, radio, hooking up microphones on stage – its not what I wanted to do. But its a good thing to know when you work in the studio how to hook up the microphone and all that theoretical stuff. So I just started making music instead smile.gif Actually I didnt start making music. I went to club and then started making music.


Whats the current status of your Secret Operations parties? Are they over or you are still doing them?

Oh, the parties. No. I did a weekly club on Sunday called Secret Operations. It was quite successful. I mean it wasnt packed or anything but a friend of mine came to me and went like You know, this is not a club, this is an institution” smile.gif Because we were doing something that nobody else was doing. We were just trying to prove that this is a new style of music. Actually there were people showing up. The people that were there, they were loving it. I think I did that for only a year. And about few years after I was going to set up my label and called it the same thing.

So now there are no parties run by you?

No Secret Operations parties. I dont think I even gonna do that. Im setting up something in Stockholm right now with Krazy and another guy. We are doing a monthly on Wednesdays. So well see how that goes. But its not going to be called Secret Operations. Its just too confusing when theres a label and theres a night.


What about the label? Whats in the pipeline right now?

I have this release coming out now which is called Warriors”. That one was actually supposed to come out on Metalheadz, but when Goldie heard this new track that I did with Krazy, he was like No, I want this track instead!” smile.gif Fine, I dont care. I can put Warriors” on my own label. So Warriors” is now coming out on Secret Operations, its getting mastered now.

After that I have this guy from Finland called Resound. This is the first release from an artist outside of the label. Everything else is being with either me or with Paradox or Lenk or Robert Manos. But this is the first time that someone outside the label releases on Secret Operations, which is really funny, because I have lot of people sending me stuff and Ive been so close to saying Yeah, Im going to put it out”, but in the end I go like No, not good enough”. It doesnt suit the quality. Or its not about the quality, it just doesnt suit the image of the label.

But if you ask me what the image of the label is - I dont know, I just feel it. Because one day I do a track like the one I just signed - Forever”, which is very atmospheric, nice strings and everything. And next day I put out the other track like Warriors” which sounds like an oldschool Bluenote Metalheadz track – really-really dark and angry. So when you do that its two different directions, its very difficult to explain what the philosophy behind the label is.

Is Resound a breakthrough?

He has done a few things. I dont know what kind of releases he has done. But he was gonna do something on Freak, but I think Dylan backed up there. I was talking to him the other day because I have heard someone playing one of his tracks that came out a while ago on a sub label of Breakbeat Science. And I was like Can you send me some new stuff?” And he sent me all these tracks that he has done and there was one that I really liked. Unfortunately, it was already signed. And he said I signed this track over a year ago and they still havent put it out”. I was like Dude, send it to me and I will put it out straight away” smile.gif So he gave it to me instead, pulling it back from this other label.


How did you hook up with Robert Manos?

A friend of Jesper and I (he is living in New York, his name is Alexi Delano) called Jesper one day and said: I know this guy Robert Manos who is a really good singer and he is coming to Sweden. So you should check him out and maybe take him down to the studio”. So weve got his number, just call him to see if he can come down and thats it pretty much. We presented our music, he did some takes, tried it out and it just worked. It was so easy, because he could get into the studio, just listen to the loop and start singing to the loop. And then we kinda build the loop after his singing. It worked really well.


Do you have time and desire to keep track of whats going on the current drum and bass scene?

No. Its a bit sad, because I miss a lot of things. I would think that when you get a certain level or a certain status within drum and bass, people will actually send you stuff. It does happen sometimes, but not everyone does it. So sometimes I go out when I DJ and I hear some local DJ playing something and I go like Whats this?” – This is a track by Ill.Logic and Raf”. And I go like Why dont I have it? Its f**kin great!” smile.gif So after I got back home I get on AIM Hey man, send me the track” – Yeah, well, its been out for six months”…

You know, Im not like certain DJs that want to play the latest track: This track is 6 months old, I cant play it”. Im not like that. I played stuff yesterday that was over 2 years old. Its not about playing the newest track, theres no point in playing the music that people have never heard of. Its good to do that also, but its good to put a classic track in. Just to play good music rather then playing newest/freshest music.


Can you single out some new names whose music appeals to you?

Oh, its difficult to say. I actually have some contacts with newcomers but most of the time newcomers sound like newcomers. I think Resound is good because he is making his own stuff, he doesnt try to copy anyone and also the stuff that he makes is a bit complex.

When you look at newcomers like Alix Perez, who is doing really well, but his music is so simple that its terrifying. He takes the block, then takes something away and puts it back. And for me its like Oh my God, Ive seen this in house music for 20 years now!” He makes good tracks but its just totally boring music.

Its difficult to say what kind of newcomer is really good – I dont know any smile.gif Now I would say Resound, I like the stuff that he is doing.


Leaving music aside how would you describe yourself as a person in several words?

Im the Gemini, I have two different sides – you can ask my girlfriend about that smile.gif I can switch personalities very quickly. Sometimes people get surprised like Wow, WTF happened there?!” Actually I think that reflects also in my music. One day I make a really angry track and next day I make something thats very nice. Thats kind of character I am.


What about general aspirations in life: what do you want to accomplish and what do you consider the biggest accomplishment up to now?

Biggest accomplishment is having two kids.

uk: Are you gonna stop or…?

It seems like Bella doesnt wanna have any more kids. But you never know what happens with women when they get close to 40. They may go like Oh, its my last chance!” smile.gif Yeah, but I will see what happens.

Actually I have 3 things that are the most important when it comes to my career as a musician and a DJ – my drum and bass career, so to speak. #1 – finish my album. #2 – maintain constant releases on Secret Operations and focus on that label.

Its been too long between releases. Thats not really good. For instance, I have sent a bunch of stuff to Randall recently and he was like Whats this and whats that?” – Mate, this track has been out for almost 3 years now”. And hes never heard it. Im thinking that I need to do something to make people discover this label. I have a release that has been out in 2004 and people still love it. Marky plays External Reality” everywhere he goes, he just loves it. And Randall was like I love this track too, great track”. Why didnt these people hear it when it came out? Because no one knows of the label, it is a very small label. I want to push it forward; I want to make releases more constant. So people can check it out, talk about it, making more profile.

Recently Ive been focusing on getting my name out again. And Ive been doing that for 5 years now. I think that my name is out there again with a lot of thanks to Paradox, Hospital, Metalheadz, Soul:R and all these people that help me. I have done as well, because I have been making music for them. So now I need to focus on my own label. Main concerns for this year: album and label.

My album is actually almost finished. The thing is that its not gonna be 100% new music. Id rather have an album with some old music and some new music, but that sounds good all the way through, rather then sit and make 10 new tracks – very stressful and only 5 of them are good. So Im gonna take all the best tracks that Ive done on Secret Operations and Combination Records, put them on the album. And then I have some new tracks also.

The album is coming out on Combination Records, the German label. The man that runs that label thinks like I do – that its more important to make good quality rather then something new and fresh. When we were talking about the album he was like Theres no point in doing CDs, theres no point in doing vinyl, maybe we should just do mp3s” smile.gif The way music industry is looking today you dont know, in two years maybe CDs are gone… And theres a good chance because there is no market for CDs in the future.

uk: But where you gonna have autographs from the artists? People always want to take something in their hands…

Ive been thinking about that. Im not too sure about this, but maybe at some stage you will gonna have to do vinyl limited edition 1000 copies and do a signature on each vinyl. And also the number, like an artist that makes a lithograph or a serigraph. You can make 1000 vinyl and then just cancel the rest. Then it becomes the collectors item. Its very interesting to do that.

Vinyl sales are actually better than CD sales. Not vinyl albums but vinyl singles. If I do five 12”s I will sell better than rather doing one CD album. We just did this album on Paradox Music, CD album called Beats Me”. And whats the point of having drum and bass on a CD album? What are you gonna do with it? You gonna put it in the car? You are not gonna DJ with a CD album anyway. If you wanna put it in the car, whats the point in buying the whole album when you can go to Beatport and just chose two tracks that you like on the album. Theres no point…

uk: Theres the point: if someone likes the track, theyll go and buy a full album.

Yeah, thats good for the record labels. But all record labels sell their records online anyway. The more people get into buying stuff online, just plug your little thing, iPod or whatever into iTunes and download directly by just clicking on the two tracks you want. And then you dont have to buy the whole album. So I dont see any future for CDs at all. I think they are just gonna die.

uk: But will we see your album on CD?

I think my album will come out on CD. The only reason why you wanna do an album on CD is because the album is so good in whole that you can listen to it from the beginning till the end. Then you have the idea to make the album.

But lets say, for instance, that Clipz would do an album. Its just so stupid. Or another Renegade Hardware compilation – just 10 tracks of noise. Theres no point. Its useless. You cannot put it on a CD and enjoy. Its just impossible. Maybe on vinyl its good.

And its not only in dance music; I think it would be the same in the mainstream market as well. Lets say Madonna makes a new album and there are only two tracks that you like. Why would you wanna buy the whole album? You can just download the two tracks that you like.

uk: But think about fans. They will always want a new album.

But all the artists that have fans, they will have enough money to do a CD album and take the loft. But I also believe that when you come to a point where you have to do an album as an artist, you will put more effort to do a good album rather than making fill-out tracks. The days when you could do like Roni Size, for instance: you do 2 good tracks and then you do 8 fill-out tracks. Those days are over. You cannot do that anymore. You have to do a full-on good album, otherwise its not gonna sell.


Thanks and good luck with your label and forthcoming album.

Thank you.

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- Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 15th December 2018 - 03:51
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