Sir Real is, quite frankly, a master of soulful d&b. Although he doesn’t produce, he’s managed to build up a following through regular mixes that he releases online through Soundcloud. They’re always high quality in every aspect from mixing to selection and arrangement, so we jumped at the chance to bag a guest mix from him! He was also kind enough to answer a few interview questions for us so check it all out below.
Hi Sam, let’s learn a bit about yourself firstly, what else are you into other than music?
Other than music I am into football (spurs fan), art, photography, food and fashion. As for my day job I teach English, IT and Art to 15&16 year olds who have been expelled from their local secondary schools, at college in central London.
Who would you describe as your main musical inspirations?
I would have to say Calibre and MJ Cole
How and when did you first get into d&b, and whats been your path through it since?
I first got into d&b at about the age of 14/15. It’s the age old story, my older brother and his friends listened to drum & bass and they had control of the stereos so I didn’t have too much choice. My friends and I then wanted to hear it out so we plucked up the courage and purchased some fake NUS cards and went to Mass in Brixton…since then, well I have never looked back. It wasn’t until my last student loan installment that I bought a pair of decks so I was quite a late starter. Then in the last 5 years I have just put mixes together and played out at various events and nights in and around London.
I understand you don’t yet produce? Is this something you’d be interested in getting into, or if not, how come?
It is one thing I really regret, as my closest friends use to spend hours teaching themselves how to use Logic and I would be sitting there playing Pro Evo or ISS as it was called back then. I have tried to make beats but I find it incredibly frustrating and mixing is so much more instant. I am hoping to learn more this summer when I get some time off.
The d&b scene nowadays favours producers heavily even when booking DJ sets, do you find it hard or frustrating to get gigs competing against artists who’ve build a name through production?
Yeah it is hard and it is very frustrating but at the same time they have put the work in in the studio and it has paid off as they are being rewarded with gigs. However, my biggest issue is with certain producers mixing ability. It is all well and good playing these tunes but if you can’t beat match no one is going to want to listen. I just wish promoters would take more of a chance on DJs rather than paying producers who can’t mix to try and DJ.
Yer, personally I understand how and why it’s taken that route, but to a certain extent I think it would be healthier for the two to be separate. What could we expect from a typical Sir Real set?
I wouldn’t say I have a typical set as it depends on the night and crowd but it’s got to have soul and make people want to dance and smile.
What equipment do you mix on? Would you describe yourself as a vinyl head or is it all about music rather than formats for you? I use Technics 1210s and an Allen & Heath Xone:32 mixer. I use to be a strictly vinyl head but have recently bought Serato due to the price of vinyl and not being to play tracks I’d been sent or any digital releases. I’ve come to the conclusion it is all about the music, if it sounds good and people are enjoying themselves then it doesn’t matter which format it is on.
You hold down a weekly friday night show on DifferentDrumz, how long have you been doing that?
I’ve been doing the show ever since I won their DJ completion, so it must be about 2 years or so.
How do you find radio different to playing out and uploading mixes, and what are it’s benefits and drawbacks?
Playing on the radio is a really strange feeling, you can’t see anyone like at club but you still feel a similar pressure to perform. You know people are listening so I still get a real buzz after I finish a show where there has been a bunch of people listening. The drawbacks are opposite if no one is really listening it can be hard to motivate yourself. You just need to remember there is someone listening.
Is there anywhere we can see you playing out in the near future?
It’s a strange one, in the last 6 months I have played out about 8 times but as for the near future I don’t have anything confirmed yet. We are planning another night for DifferentDrumz, hopefully sometime in the summer but we will have to see. So any promoters looking for a good DJ for free please get in contact.
You’ve recorded a guest mix for us, can you give us a short walk through of it? Any stand out tracks for you?
I have been working on this mix for a while now, adding tunes, taking out tunes, scrapping all the tunes and starting again, scratching Serato vinyl, buying new onesetc. But I am really happy it now. It is a soulful affair with quite a few vocals and a lot remixes on there which I just noticed when typing up the tracklist. It is also mixed in key which something I also try and do with my mixes as I often play melodic tracks and there is nothing worse than a key clash. There is a lot of good music out at the moment but I would have to say the stand out tracks for me are DKay’s Thinner Edge, Total Science & SPYs Past Lives, Muwookie’s Memories and Technicolour & Komatic’s Changeling.
Cheers mate! Any shouts or last words?
Thanks to Max and everyone involved with Broken Culture for asking me to do a mix. Everyone at differentdrumz.co.uk, you can catch me playing 8-10pm every Friday, the Wonderland crew, Crunch and anyone that has downloaded/streamed one of my mixes. SirReal.
Stream the mix from below or click through to Soundcloud to download!