In Session: Sir Hiss

today24/08/2023 7

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What have you been up to recently?

Between work, shows and holidays, I’ve just been in studio mode, to be honest. I’ve been feeling really reinvigorated musically and I’ve been making loads of demos. I’ve been fleshing out the outboard gear selection which is definitely driving a lot more inspiration and chances for experimentation, but the main thing is that I’ve just been enjoying making music – and making lots of it.

You’ve always been known for your productions in 140/dubstep – what drew you to that sound originally?

Since I’ve been seriously producing I’ve always been into grime – I started off just making dubs for myself and a few mates, but then some radio DJs started showing interest and it just snowballed from there. I always considered my productions to be grime, but beyond a certain point, everything became so merged that it didn’t really matter, and I just leaned into the dubstep sound more and more.

There’s such a hub for 140 in Bristol, why do you think that is? What is it about the city that births so many bass producers?

I think it’s the environment that leads to such a plentiful supply of all kinds of DJs and producers. People always go on about the ‘Bristol sound’ and so on, but it’s true – for as long as I can remember, there’s always been a real focus on music here. Even back when I was just starting secondary school, music was already so important to everyone – there would be people arguing and competing on who knew about the latest dubstep tune, or who made tunes with loops versus who was a ‘real’ producer. As soon as I got a dodgy ID I was going out three nights a week and was spoiled for choice by the sheer amount of regular grime, house, dubstep, bassline and jungle events happening. I think it’s an enticing place for young people to come to, which creates a feedback loop leading to an ever-expanding music scene. I think I read somewhere that one in every 76 people in Bristol is a DJ, artist, producer or musician… mad!

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Are you keeping track of the new gen popping up in Bristol at the moment? Who should we be keeping an eye on?

I’m keeping my ear to the ground as much as I can, but some people are bound to slip through the net. What I do know is Millicent has been making some absolutely incredible music on and off the label, same with Sylla who’s been doing great stuff with VRBL also. Axle’s recently launched imprint Dimeshift is an exploration into dark garage and adjacent sounds which you definitely shouldn’t sleep on. And also the blend R&B, grime and emo stuff the 1999 Records camp have been putting out is so cold.

You’re looking to move in a new direction now and step away from that 140 sound, can you tell us about that?

After I got back from an absolutely mental US tour with Sam Binga & Addison Groove, I had a chance to reflect and rethink what I want to focus on musically. We’d been playing a lot more high-energy club stuff across the tour which felt so freeing compared to what I had been doing solo. I think I just wasn’t enjoying making and playing dubstep, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was ’till I experienced something new. I’d already been dabbling in merging the sonic palette of grime with the production mindset of electro, but those moments in the clubs over there really made me know exactly what I wanted to do, it was like: “Yep! That’s me”.

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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