The legendary drum and bass producer and DJ known as S.P.Y emerges from the pandemic recharged and ready to hit the dancefloor with his ever-essential sound. In a unique twist to the usual producer-ready-to-drop-beats-on-the-masses narrative, S.P.Y is kicking down the doors and going all in with the launch of his new DARKMTTR Records imprint as well.
Having originally moved to London from São Paulo, Brazil S.P.Y has since become a stalwart in the drum and bass scene, having graced the likes of Metalheadz, Soul:R, Spearhead, Critical and Hospital Records. Able to drop epic liquid anthems and dark and dirty dancefloor heaters with ease, the prolific producer is equally known for his collaborations and remixing abilities.
With three award-winning albums under his belt and known the world over for his skills as a DJ, the diverse vision and sound that has earned S.P.Y a place in the drum and bass pantheon of legends enters a new era as his DARKMTTR Records is launched with S.P.Y at the helm.
With the first single, “Bad Monday,” dropping today, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to check in with the man who seems to have the magic touch no matter what the vibe or sub-genre of drum and bass he touches. The tune itself is classic rave-worthy S.P.Y and sets the heavyweight tone for the full four-track DARKMTTR EP rolling out over the next couple of weeks.
Dive into the beats below and stick around for the in-depth glimpse into the past, present, and future of all things S.P.Y that follows. To stay connected and to lock in your own copy of “Bad Monday,” be sure to connect with DARKMTTR Records here.
Usually we’d open a piece like this by reflecting on all of the festivals, releases, etc. of the past year but this year has been a bit different hasn’t it?
It has definitely been a very strange year. When the pandemic hit in 2020 it felt like the world got turned upside down, there was a lot of uncertainty and things were changing quickly and constantly. My gigs were being cancelled one by one, some often at the last minute, and the national lockdown here in the UK closed nightclubs and cancelled festivals and no one really knew what was going to happen. It was a pretty stressful time, but the only option was to find a way to adapt to the situation.
Thankfully my studio has always been my escape, so I locked myself away and got to work. I tried to keep busy and focus on new projects, I produced a bunch of new music, started producing sample packs and, of course, began seriously getting stuck into setting up my label DARKMTTR. The effects of the pandemic have been totally devastating for many, many people and I think everyone is looking forward to recovering from this time and getting back to some level of normality.
I know the label has been something that’s been brewing in the back of your mind for a while now but it seems like the pandemic has also given you time to really pull the idea together and get it off the ground. Give us a sense of how the label came together and why you felt like now was the perfect time to launch it.
Starting the DARKMTTR label has been on my mind since 2016! I’ve wanted to start a label for so long now, but touring, studio projects and album deadlines have always taken priority. It has been surreal not touring this past year, I used to practically live in airports and hotels but now I’ve been spending all of my time at home. If I hadn’t had this break from touring I never would have had the time or the headspace to set up the label.
Right from the beginning I had a clear idea of how I wanted the label to run, what sort of brand I wanted to build and the sort of music that I wanted to release. I really wanted to build something for myself, to be able to release my own music and at the same time to have the opportunity to support and release music from other artists. I’m not sure if now is the perfect time to launch the label, but we’re ready to go and hopefully there will be a good response, I’m looking forward to getting some new music out there.
Give us a sense of the meaning behind the name and how it represents the vibe, philosophy, vision you have for the imprint.
With music it’s hard to put your finger on why you like a particular track, you don’t like it because of the sound wave that you can see or how the track was produced, you like it because of the feeling it gives you. That’s similar to dark matter in the sense that you can’t see it, but you can feel its effects. No matter what style I’m producing my tracks always seem to have a dark undertone to them. Even my more euphoric, summery tracks seem to hold onto this underlying gravity, firmly rooting them in my sound. Most of the time it happens unintentionally, but it’s always there. I’ve always loved science fiction and astronomy too, so it’s nice to be able to incorporate these into the name and branding for the label.
No matter what style I’m producing my tracks always seem to have a dark undertone to them. Even my more euphoric, summery tracks seem to hold onto this underlying gravity, firmly rooting them in my sound.
You’ve been well-known for your ability to flex on all the different subgenres in dnb (liquid, dark, tech, etc.) – is there a specific vibe you’re focusing on with the label? Is there any other thread that will signal to fans that this is a DARKMTTR release?
DARKMTTR will start based around my sound, as I will be releasing my own music, but as the label grows and we begin releasing music from other artists we will begin to shape a clearer vision and vibe. I don’t think it’s beneficial to be too restrictive in terms of the style of music that I’m planning to release, rather to launch from a solid starting point and grow the overall label sound more organically. I love so many different sub-genres of drum and bass and I have quite an open mind in terms of listening to new music. I want to curate the releases on DARKMTTR in a way that they are all linked in some way, but to stay away from pigeonholing the label into one particular sub-genre or sound.
It’s hard to believe the first release is your first solo outing in two years!
I can’t believe it either, time definitely does fly by. It feels fantastic to be getting the release out there, but there’s always a bit of uncertainty about what the reaction will be. Hopefully people will like it. Since my last solo release, which was “Dubplate Style”, I’ve had some releases on compilations and have been doing remixes, but the break in solo projects has given me a chance to think about the direction I want to take musically moving forward. I wouldn’t say that it’s been a reset, but it’s definitely been an opportunity to test new sounds and techniques in the studio and develop the evolution of my sound.
I’m continually being inspired by things around me, whether it’s a soundtrack in a film, sounds from a new synth or even just something I’ve read about, and all of this inspiration works it’s way into my music. That’s probably why I have so many hard drives filled with unreleased tracks and sketches – writing music is my creative outlet. I think as an artist you are continually growing and developing and this is so important, I feel like stagnation is the enemy of creativity.
One of the most important aspects of launching the label is going to be your new A&R duties as label manager. In many ways, this no doubt reflects a broader transition into your role as a mentor in the scene, right?
I am really looking forward to doing A&R, it’s such a great opportunity to pass on knowledge and support other artists and upcoming producers. When I was starting out I had plenty of ideas for tracks I wanted to write, but I lacked the technical knowledge to realise my vision. It was quite frustrating at times because I knew how I wanted things to sound but couldn’t quite get it right and everything I did seemed to be the longest, most complicated solution. If I can share the knowledge that I’ve learnt over the years, most of it self taught, but also learnt from other producers, it might help someone who’s in a similar position to what I was at the beginning.
I really want artists who release on DARKMTTR to retain their creativity though, I have no intentions of shaping or moulding producers too much, I just want to help them to achieve what they want to with their music. Just because I will be doing the DARKMTTR A&R doesn’t mean that I’m giving up producing though, I’ll still be releasing my own music as much as I can, I don’t think I will ever stop!
Talk to us about “Bad Monday” – how it came together, the meaning behind the name, but also how it establishes or lays down the foundation for future releases to build on.
I actually wrote “Bad Monday” quite some time ago now. I had been playing it out in my sets a fair bit and it always got a good response, but I never had the opportunity to release it. In terms of “Bad Monday” setting the initial tone for the label, I guess you could say that’s correct up to a point; it’s dark, it’s moody and it’s got a heavy bassline. I have some other tracks lined up to release that are all quite different, but I thought this one would be a good place to start.
I called the track “Bad Monday” because I wrote it on a Monday after being away all weekend touring. I was sitting in my studio completely tripping on sleep deprivation and realising what a contrast being alone in my studio was to the noise and crowds and club atmosphere of the weekend. The bad doesn’t have a negative connotation, I meant it in the way that bad means good. I was writing music and trying to recreate some of the energy from the weekend on what would have been a very ordinary, sleepy Monday.
Give us a sense of what else we can look forward to in the coming year from you and the label.
I have a lot planned for DARKMTTR this year. I’m currently working with some great vocalists and MCs and I’m collaborating with other producers on some new music. I’m keeping it all under wraps though, so that’s most you’ll be getting from me on this subject! You can sign up to the DARKMTTR mailing list to be the first to hear when we announce something new and the label is on social media too at @DARKMTTRRecords.
Last but not least, feel free to drop a shout out to anyone who helped you make it through the pandemic and any words to your fans out there who are eager to see you live in the coming year.
I want to give a shout out to everyone in the music scene: the other artists, promoters, booking agents, venue managers, bar staff, security, lighting and sound technicians, tour managers, festival crews and everyone who’s suffered from our live music scene being completely decimated over the past year. It’s been rough, I hope you’re all doing ok.
To everyone who’s keen to see me play live again, I can’t wait! I’ve been writing so much music during lockdown and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you and getting back behind the decks. Thank you for continuing to support my music, hopefully I’ll see you soon. Big love.