focus : Smyla

Regulars to the procedures of deadly deep subs and killing drumwork will hardly need any introduction to the mythical figure they call the Beast. Yet with a very recent album in his claws I couldn’t help but dare approach the manufacturer of the superb Asylm LP with all the whys and hows of modern beat chopping and bass mangling.

   Equipped with your fabulous new album, a fresh puppy and with summer slowly becoming reality – how are you?

Just recovering from whiplash after playing thrashing hard drum n bass set at a small club night in London last week. Other than that I am pretty happy….. Smyla is smiling!

   Let’s talk a bit about your album! What made you go for full-length in the first place, and how did it eventually all come together?

It’s always been a dream of mine. I have always felt that it is the ultimate challenge as a producer, to produce a set of tracks that fit into a bigger picture. Too many times I find that sitting in the studio, you take the approach of ‘write whatever fits your current mood’, but with a proper album, with a planned theme, it’s much more challenging to produce a track to create an intentional vibe.

   Why is it called Asylm? Did you have a bigger, probably mad concept for the LP?

Since day one I began with a blank book, and wrote down my thoughts and strategies with the LP. I always wanted to draw in my ‘die hard fans with my signature style’ dark atmospheric break driven jungle, and with the first 4 tracks I hoped I gave them exactly that. Each 4 of these tracks however I wanted to be different from the other, despite their overall energy. I did this by applying different engineering methods. Unhinged was sonically clean, with heavy use of VSTs and synths in the basses and atmospheres, and a modern tech break twisting with crunching amens. Before the Science was made completely differently by using only samples and running classic old school drum breaks through an analogue desk

I never apply the same approach twice, I always tend to try new and different methods when making music. Most of the time its done through a mess of processes in no particular order that create the vibe and bones of a track, but following that the bulk of the work is the refined details such as drum work, eq, and transitions from drops to break downs. I would say the final stages of the track, the fine details, take up 90% of the time I spend on it. For me, that’s where the real skill is required.

Moons of Neptune was the last of that calm before the storm, my transition piece, one that takes you into the final tracks of the LP, which I won’t need to explain any further…. if you listen to it you know full well what the final tracks intend to do.

On a whole the LP had the design of something that makes you lose control of your mind and your senses, and wipes the slate clean for me to ‘unleash the beast’ on you. I have to give full credit to one of my closest friends, who, weeks before I finished the final touches on the album, suggested the anagram of smyla…. ASYLM….. this fitted perfectly with what I had created. (Big ups Aden!)

   How did you realize it from a technological point of view, i.e. what equipment do you use how and why? Do you have a typical approach towards a tune, or how does it usually come together?

I never apply the same approach twice, I always tend to try new and different methods when making music. Most of the time its done through  a mess of processes in no particular order that create the vibe and bones of a track, but following that the bulk of the work is the refined details such as drum work, eq, and transitions from drops to break downs.  I would say the final stages of the track, the fine details, take up 90%  of the time I spend on it. As for me, that’s where the real skill is required.

 Smyla_ProketAnd how do your pets react to high-speed drum n bass music at outrageous volumes?

Sadly my pet rabbit Proket the Tecky Bunny only likes fast paced Teck drum n bass, mostly Offkey Recordings tracks….. the heavy amens don’t do it for him. I’ve often mixed high paced teck DnB like sect tunes and proket tunes and he will constantly dart around my feet.

   Despite the world of dnb always evolving from style to style, the amen-driven breaks and basses are standing their ground for almost two decades now. What’s their secret, why does chopping up breaks never seem to get boring?

I think all aspects of DNB sound fresh when producers pour their heart and soul into them. But with what many others and me call ‘the breaks science’, it is exactly what we call it. A science. Intricate details and constant advances in methods make that aspect of dnb constantly evolve to suit modern culture. I have so many versions of the amen break, but the key to it sounding fresh is when people create their own versions. The BEASTAMEN.rex is one of my proudest moments.

    Where do you draw your inspiration from, what do you do to get creative?

Any producer that makes the music they love inspires me immensely. I look to fellow friends and producers to inspire my current sound, but I also love any sort of music. I really love some of these new TV shows like Hannibal for amazing sound design and atmospherics. And the wonderful world of cinema always inspires my late night studio binges…. Many an evening I’ve jumped out of bed mid film to open up the sequencer!

    And what are the last three records you listened to?

Lacuna Coil – Manifesto of – I love the lead singers vocals in these tracks!

Bkey – Dirt for Dirt’s Sake – this old man of science is constantly pushing boundaries. This one is crunchtastic!

Widows – Green Tsunami – superb Nottingham based metal rock band you need in your life!

    Now, a question I keep asking everyone lately: do you think the world can still be saved?

Not until my rampage is over, if anything is left…… BEAST

   And what do you think about music taking a critical stance towards, well, the system, as artists like Misanthrop, State of Mind or Goreteks -to name just a few- have done recently, and your track Cannibal Consumers suggests? Can and should music change something or at least try to raise awareness, or is this approach too far-fetched and not its prime concern in your opinion?

I find most people who are creative try to impose their ideas on the world. It’s only natural. Be it religion, politics, love, death, fear, or happiness. Music is just another art form that can induce foreign emotions. And producers and artists alike will use music to speak their thoughts and ideas in whichever way possible. I tend to forget about the politics and business and society we live in today. As most music will always outlive generations to come. I’m sure many musicians over the years hated the system that controlled the world they lived in. But systems come and go. Music is eternal.

   So what are your plans for the rest of the year? Is there an Asylm tour planned?

I am definitely planning a tour. I have signed to a fantastic new agency run by Gein, Tech Itch and Reise. BadChemistryTalent!….Hopefully people will start asking for some dirt in their city soon. Until then I will consume myself in the studio. Head down! Claws out!

   Finally, I was wondering why the men of science despise the good old reese?

Old men know best……. Or do they? The new era is upon us, and I have already got some reese out of one of those men of science. You can’t refuse the Temptress!

Check out the continuous album mix below, get the album,  and don’t forget to socialize with the Beast!

More Smyla:

Further reading: Smyla interview over at Gotham City Blog (and quite a good one too!)

newsletterAt this point I again shamelessly implement the reminder to subscribe to the e-mail newsletter to get notifications of new interviews and articles here:

More interviews and sometimes mixes:

focus # 9 – Rawtekk Interview

focus #8 : Foken Interview + Mix

focu #7 : Enjoy Interview + Mix

focus #6 : Double Helix Interview + Best of 2013 Guestmix

focus #5 : Misanthrop Interview

focus #4 : Disprove Interview + Guestmix

focus #3 : Hybris Interview

focus #2 : Bowsar Interview + Guestmix

focus #1 : Thing Interview + Guestmix


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