Sinden - The London Bass King (Interview 16.11.2007)

While I was in London in November I had the pleasure of chatting about music with Sinden, one of the most prominent new producers pushing forward dirty house music. And as you’ll see later on, he has his hands also in the baile funk game.

We met before Get Familiar – a regular night he holds at Fabric with his musical soul mate Switch. The night was special in many ways: It really was like a family meeting, since there was a truly all-star line-up that night. After the interview I found myself having dinner with some old, and many new acquaintances and fellow DJs: A-Trak, DJ Mehdi, Kid Sister, Autobot and JK2 from Flosstradamus, Martelo, Scottie B, the guys of Simian Mobile Disco and Buraka Som Sistema from Portugal were there (just to name a few...) ”I know every person in the house tonight.” like Diplo, who was also hanging out there, stated.

Fabric is often mentioned amongst the best night clubs in the world and after that friday night I’m pretty much ready to agree. I mean; have they got some sub speakers under the dancefloor or why was is trembling under my feet? And I think Simian Mobile Disco managed to pull the lowest and most gut-shaking 808 bass drum I’ve ever heard. And watching Mehdi turning and twisting the eq:s along side A-Trak, driving the crowd into one big maddness. Not to mention Buraka’s booty-shaking, booming kuduro-set and Flosstradamus’s flawless mixing; from Alone to Ass’n’Titties, I mean, is that even legal?!? All in all, I wish I had some proper words of how sharing you the feeling of seeing, hearing and dancing to some of undoubtly world’s best DJ and live sets...

But let’s cool it down and go down to the basics for you not yet familiar. Who is this Sinden and what’s this Get Familiar all about anyway, as some of you New World readers might be asking.

Sinden is a DJ/producer who’s come and taken his part in the London club scene by a storm. ”When I was young I got into music through collecting; hip-hop, hip-house, dance. But at the same time I was into guitar bands and indie, so I was into everything really. But only when I moved away to university I bought decks and started DJing.”

First he teamed up with Switch and from there the way up has been quite fast. ”Switch was the one who got me into the production side. I met him some years ago and he took me into the studio and taught me how to produce. I just shadowed him really. I had ideas and samples, but didn’t have the knowhow, so he set me up with the equipment. So we did some remixes together, first one for Lady Sovereign.”

They formed a production team remixing the likes of Basement Jaxx and Bugs In The Attic, and creating their unique bass-heavy, dirty house sound. You can hear from the way Sinden speaks about Switch that he highly respects him: ”He got me into house music again. His production was just different from anything else I had heard. Doing this garage and drum’n’bass thing but on a house edge. We ended up as really good friends while working together.”

It was also with Basement Jaxx that Sinden was spinning as a resident for one and half years at their club night called Inside Out in Brixton, before starting to run Get Familiar together with Switch at Fabric in the beginning of 2007. ”The main idea of Get Familiar is to bring all kinds of styles into one night. We wanna make it different then any other night in London. We bring over up-and-coming artists we really believed in. And I think we’ve managed to set a new trend in London. Get Familiar is known as the night where to hear new exiting and cutting edge music.”

Specially Buraka Som Sistema and kuduro breaked into the ears of the UK audiences through their shows at Fabric. ”We were kinda fighting with Diplo – in a good way – of who gets to host them first, so we decided to do a night all together. Now they’ve been over 4 times already. And next year we’re bringing Sany Pitbull from Rio and DJ Znobia from Angola.”

In October Sinden had the possibility to visit Rio for the first time, as he was invited to play at the Funk Mundial stage of a big festival
called TIM Festival, happening both in Rio and São Paulo. Along Sinden, also Diplo, Daniel Haaksman, MC Gringo, DJ Sandrinho and DJ Marlboro presented themselves in a night put together following the ideals of the ”novo funk mundial” (new world funk) promoted by brazilian anthropologist Hermano Vianna. ”It was cool, but a bit funny playing in Rio. In Europe I guess I’m more familiar to people as an electronic music producer, but there I felt like out of place. It was really hard engaging the crowd and I felt the tracks getting best reaction were local music.”

In my opinion, it’s exactly the same situation for brazilian baile funk DJs coming over to play in Europe. Even though because of globalization in music the borders between coutries are gradually coming down, but they still do exist. ”Yeah, music tastes are still regional. Like some tracks I play in London, wouldn’t work in France.” Sinden notes.

Sinden is also known from supporting baile funk and bringing it on in his sets. Besides Sany, also Sandrinho and Marlboro have done guest appearances on his radioshow at Kiss FM. ”In the beginning there were all these low quality mp3s going around the internet, but Daniel [Haaksman] was the first one to go there, license the music, pay people and wrap it up in a for the western audience as a consumable package, which was the Favela Booty Beats. I like baile funk because it sounds like raw street music, something people are doing in their bedrooms; like grime here. The baile funk producers were also using breaks in a new creative way, and weren’t afraid or ashamed of sampling anything. You hear so many pop samples in baile funk songs. And that attitude definately influenced also my own production.

Sinden is known for eclectic music taste and his DJ-sets melt together also varied styles like Baltimore Club, Dirty South Hip-Hop, Miami Bass, Dancehall, Grime, Electro and Garage besides before mentioned House, Baile Funk and Kuduro. During the current year he’s also been opening for MIA on her world tour. ”Playing at the festivals for massive audiencies was the best. People were going bananas. We also supported Björk and Prince, and that was amazing.”

The same musical diversity comes also out in his own production: ”It’s exiting how nowadays all the genres seem to be melting up and everybody seems to be mashing up different styles. At the moment you can’t really say there’s a single sound dominating the dancehalls. You can get away of playing a hip-hop track in a house party. The scene is not so specialist and seggregated anymore, but more open-minded and creative. You can make tracks that don’t conform to any style, you can just chuck in all kinds of sounds and make it unique.”

Besides Switch, Sinden has done a lot of tunes with Hervé, aka Count Of Monte Cristal. (You must know ”Tamborzuda” done with MC Thiaguinho on the Funk Mundial series of Man Recordings, but be sure to check out also ”Beeper”, an absolute hit track with Kid Sister on the vocals.) ”When I produce I also try to cram everything together. My tracks are bass-driven, so the core is the bass-line. I’ve always been curious and thirsty of new music. I like to sample a lot with a hip-hop attitude and for example Beeper is really sample-based. But I’m really respectful about sampling, I wouldn’t even think of rubbing someone from the scene the wrong way.”

The teamwork with Hervé goes so well, that there’s a full length album of Sinden & Count Of Monte Cristal due to come out some time towards summer of 2008. ”It’s gonna be a mad mix of different influencies and styles.” Sinden explains.

Together with Switch Sinden also runs a label called Counterfeet, that has, along with their own stuff, released some exelent stuff from Radioclit.

As he is a forward looking, trend setting DJ, I also asked Sinden what’s gonna be hot in the dancefloors next year. And as you can expect from a man with broad listening habits, he provided a nice list of his favourites: ”It’s hard to predict, but in UK, garage is having a real renaissance. It was big at one period, but then it went underground and split to grime and garage and then morfed into dubstep in the south. But in the north of England they're gettin into the old garage and it’s moving south again. There’s a kid called T2 that has a massive tune out called ”Heartbroken”. And there’s a big buzz around him and if it breaks on to the charts, that could set a new trend nationwide.”

”Also dubstep is great and really emerging into a exiting sound. I’m not so deep into it, that I could tell you the newest, freshest sounds, but my favourites are Benga, DNZ, and Skream. I hope that dubstep would get a bit faster though, so I’d be able to put it more into my sets.”

”Buraka Som Sistema have got a lot of potential. Also Bonde do Role have taken off well and toured a lot, but I’m not sure if people are ready for non-english music, if we talk about chart success.”

”In Baltimore Club Blackstarr is hot, he’s an artist who can sing and produce. Electro is big and bass music will also bounce back. Trouble’n’Bass from New York has a good rave twist on their breakbeat and grime style. Dancehall hasn’t had a good year, but you never know, it can surprise. My favourite producer from Jamaica is Stephen McGregor; his so young and such a talent, that something’s gonna come out for sure.”

”Punky band dance music is kinda dying out. Instead fast hip-hop like Spank Rock could be the next big thing. And all in all more hip-hop in dance music. R’n’B also has massive dance influencies. All my favourite records this have been r’n’b records, just because they’ve got really cool synths in’em. But you never know what’s gonna come out.”

Even though nowadays record business isn’t really the one looking at a bright future ahead with free digital downloading and everything, Sinden still believes releasing is worthwhile. ”I think it’s worth paying a bit extra to get good quality. I think mp3 is not gonna last, it’s gonna die out. People are gonna start demanding high quality files.”

The only good thing about mp3s is that they’re small sized, but in the future hard drive space will be so cheap, that it won’t be needed anymore. So people: Demand quality also when consuming music. And remember next time you go crazy on a tune in the dancefloor, that there are artists behind it. (And if it’s one of those rocking dirty house anthems with massive wobbling basslines, it’s propably Sinden with his pals Switch and Hervé...)


S. said...

Good work man!!!

Edwin Tam said...

Good stuff here. Time Out Singapore did an interview with Sinden during his stopover for the Heineken Green Room.