As I finished my conversation with Brazilian drum and bass DJ S.P.Y, I couldn’t help but think what a pleasure it would have been to speak for longer. Without a doubt, S.P.Y has an enormous passion for self-expression through music; there’s no denying that he writes for himself and not just to get a few hits. Since leaving the poor suburbs of Sao Paolo and moving to London in 2005, S.P.Y hasn’t wasted any time in cementing his status and one of the best drum and bass producers on the scene. Yet, he is frankly one of the nicest and most unassuming musicians I’ve met.
Creating the first track he released after playing around on the very basic program Garage Band, S.P.Y proved that such innate talent can do without sophisticated software. This snowballed into a majestic repertoire of singles, EPs and compilation releases. In 2012 S.P.Y signed to Hospital Records – not a predictable move – and released his dazzling first full length album ‘What the Future Holds’ (Click to read our review of ‘What the Future Holds’). Here’s what happened when we met up:
Veronica: Is it true that your huge track ‘By Your Side’ was originally written for your wife and not meant for release?
S.P.Y: Yes it’s true. Like when I wrote it back in 2009, I wrote it for her and gave it as a present. And well, it was never meant to be released or anything and one day I decided to play the track out, just because I was kind of curious to see how the track would sound out. Then someone filmed it and put it on youtube (S.P.Y laughs). Then the record labels started to come up to me and, yeah. But it was never meant to be released or anything.
V: Do you regret that it got released?
S.P.Y: No I’m really happy you know. This was one of the tracks that got so much good feedback from people and I got so many emails from people saying like ‘oh this track is helping me to get through a difficult phase in my life’ or ‘this track reminds me of my wife or my girlfriend or my parents.’ For something that wasn’t meant to be released, the feedback is amazing.
V: Do you think you’ll ever release a By Your Side VIP?
S.P.Y: Yeah I was actually thinking, I don’t think the track will come out on vinyl but I need to speak to the record label. Probably I want to give the track away for free. One of the things I was thinking is so many people have supported it over the years. If the label agrees I want to give it away for free and see what happens.
V: What first got you into DJing and producing?
S.P.Y: Well into DJing, I started getting into DJing when I was like twelve years old because my father used to collect records and I had a lot of friends who were really into hip hop. So I used to spend all the day watching those DJ competitions, videos. I had my own little turntables and I used to try and copy what they were doing. I was one of the youngest of the group so I really got influenced by my older friends. And then producing, that was when I moved to the UK. I moved to the UK back in 2003 and in 2005 I started to learn how to produce music. I started to play around in 2005 in like February and by August I got my first track signed on Metalheadz.
V: Do you think that growing up in Sao Paolo influenced your sound?
S.P.Y: I think it does you know. I was born and bred in Sao Paolo and I grew up in the suburbs. It was a kind of like underground area and, you know, a lot of the things I do are sort of based on the sounds I used to hear when I was living in Sao Paolo. It was all underground music and where I used to live was quite poor so, yeah, I think there is a big influence in everything I do.
V: Was there a particular reason you recently signed to Hospital Records?
S.P.Y: I dunno, I was trying to try something different. I’ve been friends with Tony (the owner of Hospital Records a.k.a London Elektricity) since 2004 or 2005 and I have a really good relationship with everyone on the label. I just felt really comfortable. At the beginning it was a bit difficult to decide if I really wanted to sign to Hospital or not just because of the sounds. But then I spoke to them and they said ‘listen, I don’t want you to change your sound, I want you to just represent your music and leave the rest of it to us. That’s the main reason we want you for Hospital, because we want to bring another angle to the label.’ So I was like I’ll give it a shot, and I liked it because it was really unpredictable. Everyone was so shocked about the whole thing. But I think it’s worked for the best to be honest. They gave me so much support and said do whatever you want. Every single track on the album was the track I wanted to release. It’s really good.
V: Have you ever taken any risks when producing music?
S.P.Y: Well to be honest I don’t usually think about that because when I write tracks I write for myself. Instead of me trying to be someone like ‘oh I want to try and write like this because I know the crowd will like it,’ that never really worked for me. I write tracks for myself and I’m happy, even if the track is really weird. I dunno, there’s always someone somewhere who’ll like the track.
V: What are your favourite tracks off your new album?
S.P.Y: I think the two I’d have to pick are ‘What the Future Holds’ because it really means a lot to me and ‘Love Hurts.’ They’re two of the really personal tracks for me.
V: ‘What the Future Holds’ is very epic, almost sounding like a Hollywood Soundtrack. Where did this sound come from?
S.P.Y: Well how the whole composition was written, I had ideas for the melody and how I wanted the track to sound and how I wanted the main hook. Then I got someone specialised at writing soundtracks and a professional with musicians to do the whole composition professionally. But it’s all an original piece, the whole way through.
V: What’s the best gig you’ve ever played (if you had to pinpoint)?
S.P.Y: Oh so many. I think I’d say the Hospitality at Brixton Academy. That was amazing. If I could pick the best place in the world to play it’d be at Sun and Bass in Italy. The crowd is amazing, the organisation and the whole vibe. It’s a week drum and bass festival, really cool and relaxed as well. It’s a really cool place to go for a holiday and listen to some really good music.