Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Groovepressure question Rob Sparx.

Groovepressure question Rob Sparx.

Q:   Your album “Trooper” was released in 2009 to great reviews and has raised your profile on the scene, tell us about your history in music up until the album? 

A:  I'm a classically trained double bass player with a bit of jazz knowledge too, as a kid I had lessons at the Royal College of Music, I started playing at 8 and by 18 I had a Grade 8 distinction and had also got quite good on the guitar and piano but by this point dance music had pretty much taken over and its been mainly synthesizers, computers and decks ever since. I've always been into lots of different genres of music, when I was very young it was live music mainly Indy/rock/metal but by the time I first started producing at 16 my main influences were dance artists like Massive Attack, Prodigy and Leftfield and labels like Metalheadz, Good Looking, Ram and Virus.
I got a lot of my production knowledge through being mates with Twisted Individual & Zen and I used to go smoke with them, Gdub, APB and Dubchild at the Formation studios, I picked up lots of techniques watching these producers at work. My first 20 or so releases were mainly drum n bass - in 2004-2005 I released a load of DNB tunes on Grid, Zombie and Up Yours and also a few tunes on Formation, Propaganda and Z-Audio. I ended up falling out with Twisted for a few years and got bored with the way the jump up DNB scene was going so I tried to get into the deeper, darker and dubbier side of DNB which originally influenced me but predictably I had difficulties with getting most of my output released so I changed direction and got into other genres of music and worked on improving my production techniques.
I used to go to college with Loefah, Mala and Coki and I knew in 2003 that they were working on a new genre that was like deep garage but the first time I actually heard it was when in 2004 Mala passed a cd to my house mate Tunnidge with all the early DMZ stuff on. I really liked the sound and I started experimenting with the genre although mixed with techniques I'd learnt from DNB so hardly purist. By 2007 Z-Audio were getting into dubstep and released the 2 Faced Rasta and Independent Life on DUBTING which both did pretty well, that’s when they asked me to do the album and dubstep, garage and breaks has been my main focus ever since then. 

Q:  How do you feel about the album now? 

A:  I actually finished the album in 2008 and it wasn't released until over a year later so I'm pretty keen to do another one to be honest, it took me ages to write some of the tunes on there and I'm happy with it and think it still sounds fresh but I'm very keen to start another one as my production has moved on a long way since then and albums are a good chance for me to write music that’s more soulful and interesting to listen to not just to dance to.

Q:  Has the release of the album changed your life in any way?

A:  In the last year or so since album promo started I've been outside of the UK a lot more times than in my whole life before. I've played gigs in Poland, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Israel, New York and Puerto Rico and I've got forthcoming in Ukraine, Budapest and a AUS / NZ tour being planned for most of September plus I've done an interview on 1xtra so yea I'm sure the album helped with that a bit.

Q:  You have carved a name for yourself as a dubstep producer but Trooper has a wide variety of influences, so can we expect to hear some different production styles in the future or are you 100% dubstep now?

A:  I might be having another crack at DNB soon because Twisted has asked me to do an album for Grid so that could be a good opportunity to return to producing and dj’ing in that style, which I've been meaning to do for a while. I'd also like to produce some house music with some of the ideas I’ve learnt from dubstep, I’m sure I’ll be doing that soon but how quickly that happens depends on what labels I get to know as I'm not interested in writing any more music that ends up sitting on my computer for years without getting a release, I've had way too much of that bullshit over the years, at the moment I’m sticking to music I can mix with so its being put to some use even if I can't get a tune signed quickly.

Q:  If you were going to have a night off and go out to a club which artist / dj would you like to hear?

A:  I've heard Mixmaster Mike is pretty good at beat juggling and scratching with dubstep that would be interesting to hear!

Q:  Do you get time to listen to other music and if so what music do you take inspiration from?

A:  I like a bit of minimal house, techno and electro or whatever you call it, the good glitchy stuff. I'm liking what Instru:mental and DBridge are doing with DNB at the moment, I still love some of the tunes on Trentemoller's first album and I've taken a lot of influence in the way I use my basses from Justice's chopped bass style. There's a pretty big dub influence from the classic producers like Lee Perry and King Tubby in my music especially the drums.

Q:  How does your production process work? 

A:  It’s different every time, I find its best to have drums first but often this gets in the way of being creative, sometimes I’m just messing about making a new preset or listening to some samples then I get an idea and that one preset or sample becomes a whole tune pretty quickly.

Q:  Do you use any hardware in your production or is it all made on computer?

A:  I've got a Moog Prodigy, a guitar and access to a pogo stick electric double bass but everything else is software

Q:  What projects and releases are you working on at the moment?

A:  I've got the 5th releases on both my labels (Sour Grapes & Migration) out next month, there’s also a Proptingz remix of Windscreen Sniper coming out on Z-Audio soon and I'm working on material for other dubstep labels and the Grid album.

Q:  What are your ambitions in music?

A:  I'd just like to get some really good vocalists and write music that’s more accessible but still with integrity, not sellout cheesy shite with no shelf life. I'd like to do a vocal project with an electro sound like The Eurythmics or New Order mixed up with all the crazy dance techniques I’ve learnt over the years but to be honest I could work with a whole range of different sounds and vocal styles, it would really depend on the vocalist.

Q:  The sales of vinyl have been dropping for years but compared to a lot of other genres dubstep has kept selling record units, as an artist do you get more sales from vinyl, cd or download?

A:  Its still vinyl despite shit sales, but digital formats are definitely catching up.

Q:  As a dj do you play records, cds or are you computer based?

A:  At the moment I’m playing 1/2 set vinyl 1/2 cdjs - I was purely cdjs for a year or two (after many years of just vinyl) but now I try to play vinyl where I can.

Q:  What makes a good party for you?

A:  A longer set on a quality sound system to a packed club who actually like dubstep and don't just want to hear spazzy filth.

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