The trio Simple Souls is no longer just a rising star but shines among the top producers of the D&B scene already. After a year of hard work, they managed to get signed to the legendary label V Recordings. With their debut: “Set It off EP” round the corner, we couldn’t miss an opportunity to ask Peter a few questions about the release and the second edition of the epic boatparty: D&B on the Boat.
Hi Peter, it’s actually been a year, since we had our first interview. What has changed for you ever since?
Hi Lukas! Firstly, the style of my production has changed a quite lot. I work more with my musicians now. Our guitar player is also doing keyboard hooks and the sax player manages the whole horn section. I kinda got used staying in my comfort zone, sampling Jazz, Funk etc. and just having the guys record individual instrument solo parts for the tunes. Nowadays however, whenever I hear a good sample that inspires me, all 3 of us work together from start to finish to recreate it from scratch, and often end up changing it our way, which I find is a big step forward in our music.
So you found a new way of working?
Yeah. We’re also not doing pure liquidfunk anymore, but I’m also experimenting more with dark bass sounds lately. Feedback to that so far is great, and new stuff is already forthcoming. I really like the “call & response” thing in tunes where call is a liquid kinda funky thing or instrument, and response is a dirty synthetic bass sound. We always try to progress and push things forward, since it’s just boring to do the same stuff over and over again. And yeah, one more thing has changed for us. We finally get a bit more recognition on the scene overall, maybe soon enough to get free beer one day hahah.
You got the opening slot at Let It Roll Winter this year. What was the response?
I obviously tailored my set according to the time & place (which everyone should be doing IMO) and the LIR crew seemed to appreciate that big time, which made me very happy. The recording of the set is up on our SoundCloud and is getting lots of love so far. Overall, the whole thing pushed us forward, big up LIR crew!
Sounds like success. Just like getting your Set It Off EP signed to V Recordings. You are probably the first Central European – definitely Slovak – who made it to V. How did it all happen?
I actually mostly consider this as a success for good funky music to be honest. The tracks on the new EP have been done for a while now. The feedback I got from labels was good, but no one wanted to release anything since it “wasn’t the vibe they were looking for”. I kinda started having my doubts whether people still like real liquidfunk to be honest. The main trend now is melancholic stuff with sad sounding piano chords like Hybrid Minds do for example, and DRS rapping about breaking up with his ex or something. I must admit, I even had thoughts of “selling out” a bit and doing things differently on a few tunes in order to get more recognition. But then the bossman Bryan Gee noticed my music and he loved it. The feedback we’re getting at the moment really pushes us forward. For example, the legendary DJ Peshay hit me up saying he loves we are doing. I’m glad there still are people in the scene, who don’t follow trends and stay true to what I think the real sound of liquid funk is.
You wrote on your Facebook fanpage that you are proud of the Set It Off track, because it is the most professional tune you done yet. Why this one?
I agree on that with Bryan, who said it’s our strongest track on the EP. There tune is not inspired by any samples but started with me jamming chords and melodies on the piano, which made track foundation. Then Link joined in and added a hip-hop vibe and few other elements. After that, my guitar & sax player recorded their parts, but we felt the tune was still missing something. Link hit up Flotation, with whom he worked previously, and he agreed to write some bars for it. He’s is just a great MC. He sounds similar to T.R.A.C. and he doesn’t just rap about the same things you hear everywhere in D&B. His stuff is full of metaphors and references that have certain depth, which makes him stand out in my opinion. The whole thing is an organic cooperation of like-minded people, doesn’t get any better than that.
So how exactly did your music reach Bryan Gee?
A while back, I did a tune with the American producer I-Cue, who already released on V Recordings. He also runs a hip-hop label and, since I’m a real hip-hop head too, we are always on the same vibe. We didn’t have any specific plan for the tune and Ike sent it to Donovan Badboy Smith who picked it up and played it on his show on Bassdrive. He liked it so much that he asked for more tunes, which he then passed on directly to Bryan. My friend Rowpieces then hit me up saying, that Bryan opened his January podcast with the tune that Donovan liked, and I couldn’t believe it. I then sent a bunch of tunes to Bryan, but at the time his mailbox was flooded with congratulations to being added the Hall of Fame at the Drum & Bass Arena Awards, so the tunes may have gotten lost in there. I also sent the tunes for feedback to Rowpieces who absolutely loved them and offered to pass them on to Bryan too. I am super thankful to both Row and Donovan for helping us out. Actually, Paul SG helped Row in a similar way couple years ago. Beautiful, isn’t it? For me, it’s yet another proof that great music comes from great people!
That sounds great! So how does your communication with Bryan look like? Does he give you feedback?
Usually I send a couple new tracks we finish and then we talk on the phone couple days later, going through them one by one and if Bryan feels like anything can be improved, he tells me. Previously for example, I used to have vocal samples in some tunes, but now we also try to re-record and replace these too. Or when I first sent him music with darker elements, I went a bit too rough on it and Bryan told me I should give it more funk and not push that hard. I reworked it and an absolute funky banger came out.
You get excellent feedback from a person who has heard a lot of music.
Yeah. The sound of D&B is moving forward, Bryan knows it and can recognize quality. Cooperation with him is great. The first time I called him, my knees were shaking. I felt like a hockey player calling Wayne Gretzky to join his team. But it was all chill in a matter of minutes. Bryan spreads good vibes around him.
Sounds great! What would you recommend to newcomer producers?
It’s gonna sound cliché but stay true to what you love and don’t do what everyone else does. I see this is happening a lot nowadays and as a result, many generic tracks are released. These are tunes that you’ll listen to and immediately forget about. They got a tight mixdown, but that’s about it. I find that the technical aspect in D&B is valued a lot more over actual content. A regular listener will never ever care whether or not you got saturation on your hi-hats mate, he/she wants to hear and feel a certain vibe that is catchy and easy to remember. Do what you would like to hear in music, and it will come. I had my doubts too, but in the end, it paid off.
I like the way you think about music. What are your plans for the rest of the year?
One more EP on Liquid V most likely. Also a few tunes forthcoming on two great compilations, but I can’t tell you more about that yet. Also working on few remixes & fun bootlegs. As for gigs, we want to start performing as a more or less live act too, with possibility to book all 3 of us along with the Czech Sublime emcee and/or MC Trchi. The promo mix for the DNB on the Boat party kinda sums up what and how we would like to do this. I think it’s gonna be interesting for people to see something more than just another DJ set. Let’s see first however whether we’re able to get at least a few gigs during these crazy corona times.
What do you think about the concept of day parties?
I absolutely love and support this. I lived in the UK for a long time and went on many of these. You arrive in the sunny afternoon, get great food straight form the barbecue, the atmosphere is super cool and people are super chilled. Families with kids and D&B heads older than 25 enjoy themselves to great music. Last year, the D&B on the Boat party was a huge success so naturally this year other promoters in Prague are jumping on that bandwagon too. The whole concept to me is about vibes that are suitable for such an event. I don’t think neurofunk bangers fit a sunset ship cruise, but everyone is different, I guess.
What do you think of this year’s lineup?
Everyone is in for a treat! DJ Patife is one of the first producers/DJs, thanks to whom I discovered liquid funk. I started listening to D&B in about 2000, when stuff like Ed Rush and Optical was big. After a couple years I found out that Bryan Gee is pushing a lot of Brazilian music on V and Liquid V Club Sessions vol.1 was one of the first CDs I bought. I look up to the people who started the whole movement. Thanks to what they did twenty years ago and what they are still doing, my life has changed and shaped me to what I am today, not only musically. I guess some of the readers and boatparty ravers have experienced something similar in their lives, which will make them enjoy this lineup even more. Anyway, it’s a massive honour for me to DJ on the same stage with Bryan and Patife.
Won’t you be nervous in front of them?
I don’t think so. My time of being super nervous prior to gigs and having to drink a couple shots before my set, in order not to have shaky hands is over haha. I already played some gigs this and last year with quite a lot of people dancing, and the positivity Bryan spreads around him also will play a role in me staying chilled, I think. I’ve heard that Patife is a great guy too, so we all definitely have something to look forward to!
Peter, thank you very much for the interview and see you on board on August 15 in Prague!
Simple Souls – Set It Off EP – https://dbapp.io/go/lv087/
D&B on the Boat event – http://musicintelligencednb.com/2020/05/31/dnb-on-the-boat-2020/