TiD&B Interview: SerumPosted by Lady V on Thursday, April 26th, 2012
Maintaining a string of steady and successful releases over a number of years, particularly in electronic music, is no easy feat. Yet one artist who continues to keep expanding on his production output with a rich collection of both solo material as well as remix and collabo work is original junglist Serum. His latest release sees him team up once again with longtime studio partners and friends Northern Lights on ‘Get Mash Up’ featured on Audio Warfare’s debut various artists EP ‘Passage of Arms Vol. 1′, Lady V caught up with him to find out more…
TiD&B: Let’s jump straight in and talk about sounds of the past, as earlier styles of jungle/drum and bass have an undeniably huge influence in your production…
Serum: Yeah, it’s heavily influenced by the tunes that got me into the music all those years ago. When jungle first became popular, it didn’t sound like anything out there, whereas some of the modern sounds of today are very interchangeable – some artists are making house, dubstep and drum and bass using very similar sounds I try to use the type of sounds that you don’t get in other sorts of music. If you listen to artists like Ray Keith, Dillinja, Swift and a lot of the old V / Full Cycle material you’ll see that those tracks just wouldn’t work in any other genre. That’s not to say I don’t like other sorts of music. I just like each to be distinctive.
TiD&B: Do you have an all time favourite track? One you never tire of listening to?
Serum: There’s a lot of history in drum and bass and all the music I listen to so I don’t think one or even three tunes would sum it up well. But to get an idea of tracks that have influenced me, check out some of my mixes – my Mixcloud page has a big archive of mixes from different eras that I’ve put together.
TiD&B: Back to the here and now – you have a track on the current Audio Warfare EP ‘Passage of Arms Vol.1’..
Serum: Yeah ‘Get Mash Up’, a track which I made with Northern Lights shortly after our other collabo ‘Watch Out’ which came out on Shogun LTD. We’d gone back to a more hardcore influenced sound and both thought it went really well so wanted to build on it.
What we particularly liked about making ‘Get Mash Up’ was that it wasn’t about fancy production, just a good vibe.
TiD&B: You’ve collaborated with Northern Lights several times before, what’s a studio session with them like?
Serum: I’m quite picky about who I’ll work with and I have to know that the artists are on the same page and can contribute a lot to the track. With Steppa and Kitcha (Northern Lights) that’s never a problem. Although we’ve got different ideas about production, we’re able to co-operate in the right way and that’s the important thing. We’ve always been happy with the results so we must be doing something right!
TiD&B: You’ve also had a few releases with Bladerunner who has a track on the EP too – do you prefer working with other people when producing? How different is the process?
Serum: I’ve been working with Bladerunner for quite a long time now and we both have similar tastes and influences, particularly when it comes to the history of drum and bass. We often have almost the same ideas at the same time which means that we’re very productive when we work together.
Working with someone else means that you can bounce off each other as well as pick up useful studio tips. It’s also handy for inspiration, particularly if you’re struggling with writer’s block, as well as creating different styles of tunes. There are a lot more people I’d like to work with, it’s just a matter of finding the time.
TiD&B: What’s your favourite studio toy at the moment?
Serum: I just managed to pick up a pair of Dynaudio BM15 monitors which I’ve been after for a very long time. They instantly showed up holes in some of the mixdowns I’d been doing so I think my sound is going to improve massively when I get used to them. Other than that, I’m building a collection of synths and outboard gear at the moment and really like the sound of the Moog Slim Phatty, which I got hold of recently. Hardware does have a very different sound to software but you have to use it in a different way.
TiD&B: Are you the kind of producer who lives in the studio, or only go in there when you feel inspired?
Serum: I spend a lot of time in the studio but it doubles up as my office and houses my DJ setup and record collection so there are lots of things I can do in there. For me, the process of making music is about more than sitting in front of the sequencer all day – you have to get inspiration and that can come from a lot of places, like films, other styles of music or going out..you have to make sure you’re doing things that get you in the right frame of mind.
I’ve recently been spending time going through my vinyl collection and listening to a lot of the tracks that I haven’t dug out in a while. I tend to use CDs when I play out but it’s really nice to get records on the turntables – it’s just a shame so many clubs don’t look after their Technics.
TiD&B: So when you’re not making/exploring music, what else do you get up to?
Serum: I still have a job, but it fits in well with my schedule and I don’t have to worry about earning a living solely from music. I know a lot of producers find the idea of a normal job pretty horrible but in my current position, having to only make music would make me enjoy it less…if there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s that you have to do things in a way that suits you and the lifestyle you want.
Other than that, I’m a bit of a food fanatic so I like to get out and try new restaurants…and I’m quite handy on the BBQ as Steppa will tell you!
TiD&B: Bring on BBQ season! With Summer just around the corner, what else have you got planned?
Serum: I’m doing a few festivals this year, such as Outlook – playing on the Audio Warfare stage – as well as Boomtown Fair which I’m really looking forward to. In terms of D&B releases, not much music comes out in the summer as everyone’s spending all their money on holidays – that makes it a good time to relax and look at how things have gone during the last 12 months.
TiD&B: Any more good music we should be keeping an ear out for?
Serum: Aside from the current release on Audio Warfare I’ve got quite a lot on the way tracks on the Drum & Bass Arena, Chronic, CIA and David Boomah albums and a few remixes. My next solo 12” will be ‘Deadly Venom’/’Prototype’ on Dread Recordings, and that’s likely to be followed by a 12” on V Recordings once we’ve chosen which tracks to use. As usual I’ve got quite a few remixes on the go as well!
In terms of new producers to keep an ear out for, I’d recommend checking out Mr Explicit and Coda who should break through in the next year if they carry on like they have been doing. Outside of D&B, I’m quite into labels like Night Slugs and Numbers who put out a range of different styles of dance music.
But as always, when it comes to recommendations, I suggest people go back and find out where D&B came from, you could easily spend several decades listening through it all!