With the world cup in full swing all eyes are on Brazil. A country rich with culture, sport, and vibrant people. And who could forget its ridiculously talented d&b artists? It’s difficult to comprehend just how many great artists have emerged from Brazil over the years, each harbouring their own signature style. One of the most prolific producers to emerge from Sao Paolo in the last ten years is one Carlos Lima, AKA S.P.Y.
A name synonymous with breathtaking production and a sound easily recognisable as his own, S.P.Y recently dropped his highly anticipated album Back To Basics, Chapter One to critical acclaim. We caught up with the man himself to chat about the album, his connection to Brazil, and his thoughts on who would be battling it out in the finals if d&b were a sport…
Big up Carlos! Where have we caught you today?
Today I’m here in my studio in Bristol, finishing the final touches for Back To Basics Chapter Two.
Chapter Two! What can we expect from the next chapter?
Chapter Two has more old school influences and I’m taking it in a more musical direction. I’ve done some more collabs and it should be a really nice continuation from Chapter One.
We heard you initially scrapped an entire album as you felt it didn’t reflect your signature sound.. How challenging is it to paint the sonic pictures you have in your mind, and is it difficult to bring those ideas to life?
The most difficult thing that happens when I’m trying to bring to life ideas is to make sure I’m staying true to my vision. When I’m producing tracks I want to get across my sound and my ideas and I try to put a lot of emotion in the music. If I think too hard about what other people want to hear then everything gets lost. I just focus on producing music that is true to me and then hope that people like it!
Do you have a favourite tune off Chapter One?
Riding The Void is probably my favourite. It was really fun to produce and I had to manually build each part by hand. Most of the elements were individually recorded from analogue synths so the track is quite unique.
You used a lot of live instruments on the last album; did you approach Back To Basics completely differently?
In a word, yes. With Back To Basics I wanted to go back to the way people used to produce, using synths, sampling and analogue techniques.
Awesome. Let’s focus on Brazil for a second… You are originally from Sao Paolo, which is the stomping ground of so many talented dnb artists! Why do you think that is?
Brazilian people in general are really passionate about things that they love. The guys that I know that make Drum and Bass in Brazil all do it because they really enjoy the music and the scene. No one is in it for the money; it’s a love for the music.
As a boy growing up what drew you to the genre and how did you get your big break?
Back in the day I started off listening to hardcore. I always liked the more underground scene rather than what was popular and commercial at the time. When I first started messing about with DJing I was really into hip hop, and this progressed into a love for Drum and Bass because a lot of the breaks from hip hop and soul tracks transferred directly across to D&B.
Who were some of your early influences?
My early influences and the guys that still inspire me today are; Altern8, Jonny L, Goldie, Roni Size, DJ Die, Krust, Photek, Source Direct, Doc Scott, Dillinja, Ed Rush and Optical. There are too many people to list them all!
You live in Bristol now, but is it emotional any time you return to Brazil to think how far you have come?
Sometimes I have a reality check in Brazil walking around my old neighbourhood and I think about how different my life is now. I am really grateful for everything that I’ve experienced in my career, it’s important to never forget where you came from.
If you could give your younger self advice in the early stages of your career what would it be?
To not pay so much attention to people’s negative comments. In the beginning a lot of people were throwing their frustrations with their own career on to me and it started to affect my production. Instead of finding excuses as to why my music wasn’t being heard, I looked for solutions. I spent a lot of time in the studio by myself, worked really hard and followed what I believed in.
Being in the scene for almost 10 years now, what do you think has been the biggest change in your production style over the years?
Probably the techniques that I use. I’ve never formally studied music production and everything that I know now I’ve taught myself. I’m always trying to improve my production skills and sound more professional, whilst still keeping the tracks really simple in composition.
Are you a big fan of football? If so, will you be heading home to catch any games?
To be honest, and this really surprises a lot of people, I don’t really follow football! I might watch the grand final if Brazil gets through that far, but I’m glad that I’m away from the craziness in Brazil at the moment.
You’re notorious for being quite eclectic in your sounds.. From the most beautifully arranged tunes with orchestral elements, to downright filthy monsters with creeping sub-bass. Do you find it easier to make liquid when you’re in a positive headspace and darker tunes when you’re not?
My music is really affected by my mood. I produce liquid tracks when I’m feeling sad and darker tracks when I’m feeling angry. I find it difficult to produce when I’m feeling happy, which has been a bit of a problem lately, haha!
When Hospitality returned to Matter earlier this year you played an incredible house/ garage set as Carlos Lima. Can we expect more of this in the future?
I’m really into house and garage and this set at Matter was just a bit of fun. I’ve been producing some house tracks over the past few months so let’s see.
So you produce other music in your spare time?
Mainly house and garage. It’s inspiring to get involved with other genres and learn new sounds and techniques.
What other genres do you draw influence from?
A mix of hip hop, techno and down tempo music.
If drum & bass were a sport, who could you see in the final battling it out for a world title?
This is a difficult question! In terms of production I would probably say Noisia Vs Calyx & Teebee. If it were a battle for DJing I would say Andy C Vs Marky.
Back To Basics, Chapter One is available from the shop.