If you don’t know about Safire, then it’s about time you were properly acquainted… Hardly a newcomer in the scene, he’s been an established artist and promoter in his own right for years, going on to launch his Plasma Audio imprint back in 2013, along with mixing and mastering through Plasma Studio.
2019 has been a special year for the Melbourne-based artist as his Plasma Audio imprint has gone from strength to strength with their biggest release to date featuring none other than Skeptical, Zed Bias, DRS and Morph, with multi-layered artwork made by his partner Akane (Muga).
Undeniably his most personal release to date, it was recorded in various sessions in Melbourne and Manchester, blending soul, jazz and other multi-genre influences that have shaped each of their careers. We caught up with the man himself to chat about the release and more…
Thanks for joining us! What were you doing before we interrupted?
Just been in the studio mastering our next Chilla Holla release!
Let’s dive straight into that release on your Plasma Audio imprint featuring Skeptical, Zed Bias, DRS and Morph… What a roster of names for a single!!! Getting these guys together for a release has got to be a bucket list collab surely? What is it about them all individually that made you want to work with them?
Firstly, they are all great people. Collaboration is about creating energy… If there’s a vibe and connection it’s very likely the end result will be something beautiful. I respect each of the guys so highly as creators, so to have the opportunity to work with them was such a blessing. Each of them represents a different set of influences and the periscope of music I’ve been listening to over the last few years has really widened, and this release shows a contrast of those various influences.
Take us behind the release and how it all came about…
The tracks basically came about during tour downtime – Skeppy and Del while they were in Melbourne, and the track with Zed during my time in Manchester.
We had Skeppy and DRS in Melbourne for a week around the Outlook Launch in 2017. ‘With You’ kicked off in my studio, we got some vibes out musically and Del brought his unique energy… We recorded vocals in the moment, fleshed out an idea and jammed around for a bit. I passed the project back to Ash (Skeptical) and he did his thing with it!
‘Set The Bar’ started in Manchester in Zed’s lab during my tour of Europe last year. I had a few days downtime in Manny staying with George Dub Phizix… He was building a new studio at the time and was quite busy so Zed welcomed me to his space like the absolute G that he is! Always such lovely vibes from him! We got on a beat, and DRS knew I was in town so he rocked up to Zed’s with a bottle of Hennessy XO… So many vibes around Manchester!!
This feels like a really personal release for you and the label – the artwork was hand-drawn by your partner as well right? Is there a story behind the concept of it all?
Yeah, it really is! Obviously the guys are highly respected artists, but it’s more than that now. They’ve become really good friends of ours in the past few years.
Akane (of QQQ Design) did the artwork and there are elements embedded into the design that tell a story / short piece of history. She has tattooed 3 out of the 5 artists involved, including myself!! Each tattoo features in the illustration, as does the Hennessy bottle and various other elements that maybe only we’d understand… 😉
It all relates to the story of our friendships over the years, though. Most of all the form and space of the drawing is what she felt listening to the tracks. I swear those tracks were on repeat weeks on end, and that’s after I had them on repeat for weeks doing mix-downs! All part of the creative process, eh?
Did DRS’ vocals come before or after the tracks we’re finished?
When I’ve worked with Del his vocals have always come out in the moment… It’s the fresh energy of being in the moment that make it what it is.
What’s the vibe in the Melbourne scene at the moment? It seems very healthy in terms of nightlife – you guys have had a wicked run of events yourself as well, what’s been your highlight this year?
Melbourne has been good, obviously a golden time for us was when we were running events full time as BBA Entertainment. We promoted over 130 events in 12 years hosting shows from Andy C, Goldie, Pendulum, Alix Perez, The Upbeats to many up-and-coming acts as well… That’s obviously how we built relationships being this far down under, it’s been really nice keeping friendships with the people I connected with though.
Highlight this year though was The D.O.T performing live outdoors in a lane way with DRS!
Any home-grown artists we should keep an eye on?
Is music full time for you? You seem to be across it all… Your production, events, and label stuff, plus you’ve re-launched Plasma Studio services with mastering as well as tuition, so it feels like you’re fully immersed in it all?
It is, in Australia there’s obviously less gigs so I’ve had to adapt and slot in to various parts of the industry. I love being around musicians…recording, mixing, mastering, and working on different music projects is just as exciting as D&B for me. I hope to take the studio outside of my house into a commercial space in the near future!
Tell us about your studio set up – it looks epic!
It comes from an audio background…. Initially I worked in a film post-production facility and that environment probably influenced my space I guess. I’ve set up the lab in a way that integrates traditional signal chains incorporating analogue equipment & patch bays combined with a modern (in the box approach).
I consider it a Hybrid setup which allows me to work with musicians, multi-tracking instruments as well as processing, mixing and mastering electronic music. I’ve started pushing the studio as a commercial space this year, this is where I imagine myself existing future when I may not be so interested in gigging and touring anymore. Check our site here.
So what’s coming up next for the label?
Those who follow the label know we like to keep a balance of half-time and D&B, and the next release is mostly half time / beats. It’s a remix EP of Mad Zach’s ‘Fortress EP’, which was released in 2017 and went down really well, especially in the States. We’ve got remixes from Dub Phizix, Hybris, myself and Chee & Yunis. It’s crossing into the US bass scene, which is a sound I also really enjoy.
After that we’ve got a few more singles from myself and a VA LP. I also just started a sister label in collaboration with my partner Akane of QQQ… It has even more emphasis on art and design, and we’re putting out anything from lo-fi, to hip-hop, garage and experimental. So far the first 3 releases have all been from really good friends and we’re loving the project so far. Check it out here.
And what about you – what’s coming up for the rest of the year and beyond?
I’m playing a few shows in NZ, I have a couple more releases and we’re about to start a new night alongside The Operatives. We’re going to bring all our influences together from hip-hop, bass, D&B, garage and more. I think it’s going to be very exciting for the Melbourne music scene!
Sounds like it! Any final shouts?
Much respect goes out to Skeppy, Zed, Del, Akane, Tobi DEfnative, and AK Morph on this last release. It’s definitely been a special one for us!
With You / Set the Bar are out now – get them here