Bristol Spotlight: Samuel

For the benefit of a young talent from the South West we’re increasing the catchment area for this Bristol Spotlight; incorporating its smaller, often ignored neighbour. Bath might be able to boast a status as a world heritage site, but possessing an active and creative culture of House music it cannot. If ever 4/4 is talked about in Bath you can bet your right arm it’s more likely describing a Mozart than a Moodymann. I could go on, but the main point here is that finding music I’m into from this area of the West Country is a rare thing. So when I do, it’s worth giving it a platform that reflects it. Samuel is the moniker for Sam Smith, a Bath student whose debut release came out on the highly-respected brstl label, an off-shoot of Idle Hands. With a foundation in house, the double-sided 12″ also brings in elements of Disco and Afrobeat (check out Bala by Mr Assister if you’re into that kind of thing). He also runs a night called Recall, which is a must for any respectable House-leaning party-er in Bath, and has recently booked another Bristol Spotlight favourite, Tom D.

We caught up with Sam about how he started music, how he got involved with brstl and his views on the Bath scene. He’s also done a mix for us, which you can download below. brstl006 is out now, with some maybe still available at Idle Hands if you’re lucky.

 Download Samuel’s Bristol Spotlight

As far as I’ve found, your release on brstl is your first. What’s your musical story that brings you up to this point? 

I fell into music through mates at school, bought a pair of decks when I was 14 and started buying records, mainly hip hop at first but ended up getting into electronic music through dubstep at around 16/17. At 18 I applied to do a BTEC in music technology as it was my biggest interest at school, and was already playing around with production software. I listened to a lot of techno influenced dubstep, and it was at college my lecturer put me onto some of the basic channel techno. I started to listen to more 4/4 stuff around then and have done ever since.

Most of the producers we speak to are a few release into their careers. What’s it like getting that first one out? Is the feeling more of accomplishment or nervousness about what people will think about it?

It’s a mix of both to be honest. Its definitely a good feeling to know that someone likes your music and has enough faith in it to release it. But yeah I think there will always be a bit of nervousness about the response it gets. It’s nice though just to have your musical output documented on record.

How did you come to be involved with Chris and brstl?

A friend of mine passed on/played some tracks I had sent him to his housemate Shanti, who helps run the label. She then passed them onto Chris at brstl and they asked to send over some more stuff. It’s all been quite a quick turnaround though as this only happened late november/early december!

Was there anything that stood out about them as a label you’d like to work with?

I had been buying the BRSTL releases from the first one anyway and been a fan of the label, especially for the ‘no hype just music’ ethos. They’ve always put out great records, so its nice to be able to have a release alongside them.

You run a night called Recall in Bath. What’s the idea behind that? We see previous Spotlight guest Tom D played at your last one – do you make a point of supporting local talent? Also what’s in store for the next one?

It’s basically a night that me and friends started nearly two years ago, purely because there were no nights in the city that were playing the music we were into – we study there and used to live there also. The idea was to keep it a free entry event once a month and eventually start booking DJs to play for us. We try and invite guests down just to keep it a bit more interesting and they’re mainly friends of ours so will play for free ha. We’ve booked quite a few DJs in the past, Kowton, Tessela, Asusu, Outboxx, Paul Wooolford, but we do think it’s important to support local talent, especially because they will have lower travel costs if we book them. Our next party will be the last Saturday in February, and at the minute I think were going to keep it just a residents night. In March it’s our 2nd birthday so we will be planning something special for that.

I’ll admit I’m quite uneducated about Bath nightlife, outside its endless supply of pubs. Can you give a whistle-stop tour of who and where is good to look out for? 

Haha, I’ll be honest with you there isn’t a great deal to learn about Bath nightlife. It’s a bit of a joke and you’re probably better off just sticking to the pubs! The only decent clubs are The Nest (where we do Recall) and Moles (where we used to do Recall) and thats pretty much it. The problem is there aren’t many people concerned about pushing anything new or exciting, musically, as its not really that type of city. Theres a lack of an underground music scene so its difficult for nights to develop. There’s two universities and Bath’s full of students so most of the clubs are terrible, mainstream, high street places, but if you like meet and greets with the cast of Made in Chelsea then you’re onto a winner – I do that so can’t complain! Joke. But yeah, if you ever find yourself there on a night out, either The Nest or Moles would be the places to go.

Tell us a bit about the mix you’ve put together for us.

The mix is all vinyl recorded on a bit of a mish mash setup as some of my kits broken, but theres one 1210 in there and a stanton t60 and a behringer mixer, and odd needles. The approach was to record a mix that reflects the range of stuff that I play out and listen to at the moment, starting with some Detroit house moving through to some odd house and techno tracks, then some more dancefloor bits and finishing on garage. I wanted to build the pace up throughout as opposed to stick at a constant for the whole time. Theres actually a couple of my favourite records in there like the Karen Pollack track with the killer vocal and The Oliverwho Factory bit. I also really like the new Dynamo Dreesen thing, towards the start.

And finally, given Baths apparent dearth of talent worth shouting about (and given the name of the feature!), are there any Bristol producers/DJs who you’re into at the moment?

Yeah in bristol I’m a big fan of the falling up guys, really into all there stuff as djs and producers and looking forward to hearing more from them. Also Tom d’s a great dj and when we had him down he played one of the best sets we’ve had at recall. There’s also a guy called bruce who’s making some really great techno at the moment, formerly based in bath but now in bristol. Hopefully his stuff should see the light of day soon with a release, definitely one to watch out for though.

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