MDC Interview#44 "Smyla"
Known as the Beast, SMYLA will destroy any dancefloor with his deep and dark break drive drum & bass. One of the up and coming heavyweights of dark drum & bass, the beast has made an impact with his aggressive in your face Dj sets by interacting with the crowds in a way only King Kong can achieve. In the studio he draws inspiration and guidance from only the best in the scene and strives to produce the darkest drum n bass without losing the soul and vibe, which he hopes will take your mind on a journey into the unknown. Just don’t close your eyes for too long, cos the beast will strike when you least expect it.
Q. Where are you from? What environment did you grow up in?
I am from London, England
Q. What are the roots of your music?
I grew up listening to and doing uk garage music and heavy metal/rock music…. I discovered drum and bass when I was 18 and never looked back.
Q. What was the situation of Drum&Bass when you first met it?
I first discovered dnb in 1999/2000 when I was a student living in Nottingham UK. At first I heard the more mainstream dnb at raves like DetonateUK and the major uk raves like Slamming vinyl and Halter Skelter… it wasn’t until 2002 that I really started discovering more underground darker styles of dnb.
Q. Do you think the UK has a unique Drum&Bass style from city to city? Do you think cities and places have an impact on music production?
Not really. i would say you find a wide and diverse range of styles in every city in the uk. From dark to jump up, to liquid and commercial.
Q. Please tell me your Top 3 favorite DNB Tracks
Konflict - MESSIAH
Bkey - MAN OF SCIENCE
Proket - LOCOMOTIVE
Q. What is the most memorable Rave or Party experience you had as a teenager?
thats a tough question. I’ve been to many great raves all over the world in the past 20 years. But I always preferred the ones with the harder more energetic music! I do have great memories from many Jungle Syndicate UK events and also Amsterdams legendary Cheeky Mondays Events.
Q. When did you start making music? Did you make Drum&Bass from the beginning?
What was the first piece of equipment you used?
I started djing garage music with my brother when we about 12 years old. We had very bad belt drive turn tables which were very difficult to dj on. We eventually saved up and got Technics 1210s by late 1997. I would always buy records on the way home from school. This progressed to producing drum and bass around 2005. I started on a very old pc using propellerhead reason DAW software. And eventually ending up using Presonus Studio One v5 today in 2020.
Q. Where does the name Smyla come from?
my name is Steve Smith. In the UK people with the last name smith are often nicknamed Smiler…. I just decided to spell the name smiler differently… smyla
Q. You've been using Amen Break for a long time, what is the appeal of Amen Break?
Its a diverse and extremely fun break to use… and you can make it sound extremely dirty and raw… AMEN TO THAT BROTHER!
Q. Your music is brutal and powerful. What is the root of that energy?
I do find i am quite an intense personality. I have loads of energy and i find that translates to my music… Im definitely not a angry person though.
Q. Why did you start Mute:8 Recordings? What is the concept behind the label?
I started mute8 with my 2 friends Mark Fuller (DJ KLR) and Tom Lemeistre (Dyazide/Hostile MC). All we wanted to do was release our own music and push that dark drum and bass sound we all loved. From Techy Rollers to Hard amens.
Q. Please tell me about your music making process. What do you create first? How do you create complex beat patterns?
I usually start by finding a good drum break. Then I always chop that up with Propellerhead recycle and run that break using a sampler as midi. That way I can automate each element of the break from filters to pitch to resonance. This gives me loads of control over my drums in my tracks. once I find that good break (or bad break that I’ve automated to sound good) I tend to make bass and atmospherics and often vocals. I do love using vocals and choirs in my music.
Q. What's the most fun part of making music?
I can find it is quite a struggle to make music im happy with. But when i eventually do make something, the best part part is finally finishing that track and being able to play it at a rave soon after. Seeing the look on ravers faces is a great feeling!
Q. What's your special favorite Smyla release?
Temptress or Tantra. One track written with the legendary bkey. And tantra is a track that I never get bored of.
Q. What was the most memorable party you played as Smyla?
Jungle Syndicate Events, Cheeky Mondays Amsterdam, and Warsaw MEchanizm Poland (DOnt mention the tattoo!)
Q. What are your recent favourite Drum&Bass/Jungle labels and artists?
Artists = Section 63. DjE. Bkey. Scar. DubOne. Kitech. Limewax. Cervical Snare. Raiden. Squiff. Doomham. JungleSyndicate Crew. Dr Um. Proket
Labels = Mute8. Scientific Wax. Jungle Syndicate. AmentalistMovement. Prspct.
Q. How do you feel about the UK DNB scene in recent years?
The scene has always been strong, with Bristol City being the front runner in pushing great events and music. London i find has lost its way in the last 10 years due to many legendary clubs closing down.
Q. What do you do during a pandemic? Has this affected your music in any way?
Ive had more time to make music, but have struggled to finish stuff. Lets just say ive started a new album, and hopefully i can finish it by the end of the year!
Q. What are your upcoming plans?
When covid is over. I plan to dj as much as possible across Europe and hopefully USA and Japan.