This edition of our Chat & Mix series comes from Liverpool-based producer SPD (Will Dunbar-Sheppard), who teamed up with DnB producer The Steadyone to create this extended 50 minute mix for us.
How did you first get into making music?
I’ve always been interested in making music, but it wasn’t until I began to explore the development of dubstep that I began to imagine a sound that I could aim towards. I started mixing dubstep around 2008 and by that time there was so much variety it was just fascinating! I especially liked the atmosphere that a lot of the deep stuff created, and how all dubstep is fundamentally built around the bass. I realised that there was so much scope to push things forward, and how by using influences from other genres, particularly different types of percussion, the whole feel of a track could be so different (but yet familiar).
Djing in Birmingham and my hometown of Stourbridge helped me begin to understand crowd dynamics and the general flow and feeling of electronic beats. But I didn’t begin to learn how to use FL studios until around 2010, although I already knew what sound I wanted to go for. Moving to university gave me the space and time to really get to know what the software could do and how I could make the synth and bass sounds that I wanted. The local heads in Liverpool were incredibly inviting which gave me a network of people with similar interests and that encouraged me to get more serious about making beats. It really helped that my flat mate George (Mango Vice) got seriously into production at the same time so we used to bounce a lot of ideas off each other and work on tracks together.
Also I was lucky to have a couple of excellent critical voices round the corner from where we lived in form of Liverpool Grime legend Michael Wilding (Dj Horza) and garage producer Matt Waters (Dokr). Their feedback developed the structure of my tracks so I have to thank those guys and Mango Vice for pushing me forward.
Who would you say are your biggest influences?
I don’t think I could pin point what genres have most influenced my sound as I have had a pretty bizarre mixture of musical exposure. I was amazed by a lot of the earlier techier stuff that people like Martyn, TRG, Headhunter, Ramadanman, Appleblim and Pangea were making. I was raised by techno DJs so I guess that inspired my love for intricate percussion and well chosen sounds, I really got into people like Claude Von Stroke and The Field – I disliked the 4×4 template but loved the atmosphere.
Also I used to listen to loads of stoner rock when I was younger, bands like Down, Kyuss and Raging Speedhorn were my favourite and I guess listening to those moody, thumping tracks probably developed my love of bass. I suppose going to Kenya also expanded my taste as I listened to loads of Soca and Benga there (benga the genre not the producer). I also listened to a lot of Kenyan and other African choral music, I found the tone of the music so warm and I was amazed at how happy it made me feel, hence why I try and incorporate African vocal samples where possible.
You’ve just released your 3rd EP through Slime Recordings, how did you first get involved with the label? Any more releases lined up?
It’s great to involved with such a forward thinking label, Andy Bee (Slime owner) is an absolute don with his marketing and brand design! When I first thought I had a few tracks that were ready for release I started to look for up and coming labels with a good reputation. I really liked the direction of Slime so I sent Andy a few things. Initially I don’t think my productions were quite there but then I sent him ‘Tunwan’ and the rest is history!
I’ve also released through Haunted Audio and Basslight Records, and am currently working on new material. I think the next two things I’ve got lined up are a track for the Concrete collective, a Birmingham based collective run by Slime recordings producer Made and I’m also doing a track for the third Future Grooves compilation.
The second half of the mix is mixed by The Steadyone, can you tell us a bit about him?
I lived with The Steadyone (Ed Mills) in my second year at uni, he is the leading authority on dnb as far as I am concerned. He has played at Hit and Run, and prefers the dark, dubby and ambient side of things. Artist’s like Dbridge, Loxy, Consequence and Calibre are regulars in his sets. I really knew nothing about most drum and bass before I met him, so he has been a good educator and I think I have pointed him towards some of the music I love in return. It has to be said there are strong similarities in our preference for nutty percussion and deep basslines so I thought it would be great to get him involved in the mix. His talent is seamless mixing and amazing tune selection as you will be able to tell from the second bit of the mix!
Finally, for all of our music making readers, how do you go about making music?
I use FL Studios 9 (producers edition) and will upgrade to 10 once I have built my new desktop. Fuck laptops! I’ve got a standard midi controller but I normally just use the piano roll (never learned how to play the piano). I’m powered by some Rokit 6 speakers and my HD 215 Sennheiser headphones when people are in bed! I use the fruity 3 way oscillator (adding effects on the mixer) and Massive to make my synths and basslines. I use the Tessla Saturator to add warmth on synths and basslines and the Density MKII to add colour to pretty much everything. I really like the standard reverb 2 on fruity and the flangus effect, I’d recommend getting them to none FL users if you know how to convert the .dll file (ask a wizard!).
I record in my own samples for drums where possible using a Xone-1 microphone, but also have collected a various good quality samples. A tip I would give, is to mix down as your produce tracks although it breaks up the flow, as you generally get tracks sounding more professionally finished. Also I divide up my time between working on synth, bass and pad sounds and making tunes, I always think creating a selection of your own sounds ready for use is really helpful. I need to invest in an analog tape recorder next I think, need some more warmth in my life.
Check out Will’s mix below, and keep up to date with his music at www.soundcloud.com/shepparddub.
- SPD – Introduction
- SPD – Bypass
- SPD – Habitus
- SPD – Sunday Morning
- Anneka – Shut Her Down (SPD Remix)
- SPD – Idealist
- SPD – Wilstan
- SPD – Traverse
- SPD – Aight
- SPD – Leafcreche
- My Nu Leng & Majora – Hips and Thighs
- SPD – Tunwan
- SPD – Big Baps
- Tempa T – Next Hype (Organik, Mango Vice & SPD refix)
- Joy Orbision – Hyph Mngo
- SPD – Inshemat
- SPD – Heldhands
- LV (feat. Ruffest) – Thatha Lo
- Arkist & Kidkut – Vanilla Intimate
- Materia – Headspace
- Materia – Clouds (feat. Koast & Winter)
- Alix Perez – 1984
- Tokyo Prose – Lpk sound (Consequence remix)
- Dbridge & Instra:mental – Blush Response
- Mark System – The Voices