Jamie links up with the man of the moment to talk about his new label Souped Up.
Where did the idea behind the label come from?
“I’ve wanted to get a label going for some time now. This has been in the planning stages, well in my head, for about 8 years now! I’ve had plenty of tracks saved for release, just no time to actually sit down and get things rolling.
I’ve always released on a diverse set of labels but I wanted to create a label that felt like a home for the sound I’ve developed.
If you look back to the original days of RAM, Ganja, Full Cycle – they all had their own sound that was associated with their label and they were built around a camp of artists working together.
I’ve got a strong group of artists around me so it made sense to bring them all in for releases. I’ve given it a distinctive look and it fits with certain types of tracks I make. If you hear a Souped Up tune in a rave you will instantly know.”
Why Souped Up?
“I produced a track called ‘Souped Up’ for Heist’s label many years ago and I’d say it was the first track where I fused the rolling jungle sound with jump up and that’s what the label is all about. The name means something to everyone, power up, gassed up, you know that kind of element! It’s like a cross between jungle and jump up with that instant flavour of Serum style production alongside my mates Voltage and Bladerunner.
What is really important to me is that it’s a fresh name with plenty of wicked branding and a strong merchandise range. I want it to stand out against other labels out there at the moment.
The artwork direction is awesome!
“Thanks! It’s a mix of mid 90’s influences with that hand drawn element. I really didn’t want a clinical approach like so many labels have these days as it doesn’t reflect my music or the vibe I’m going for.
I really like cartoons you know, the old skate graphics, stickers and such like. Some of the old school heads might reflect on the artwork and think back to the old Suburban Base style.
The first 4 releases will use the first hero characters with different colourways in the same kind of style as the old V releases.”
Do you plan on keeping it an exclusive label for your own production or will other artists feature?
“I’ve already lined up the legendary Serial Killaz for a track. Voltage and Bladerunner are also working hard for the label. Bassman, Spyda and some others are also coming soon and I have some very interesting things lined up that I’ll reveal later on down the line.
We also plan to do freestyle MC tracks over existing releases, for example Carasel and Inja have already put together lyrics for ‘8-Bit’ and ‘Gunfingers’. It’s something a bit different and way of showcasing their skills over some Souped Up production.”
Any plans to do a series of releases under a theme? For example the colour series from Formation Records.
“At the moment I’m just trying to build the brand but yeah why not! My vision for Souped Up merchandise is clothing, stickers, hats, maybe vinyl as that’s going really well for my releases on other labels – ‘The Finger’ sold out before it’s actual release date which showst’s still a massively supported format.”
‘Blow Them Away’ featuring Inja literally blew up overnight way before it’s actual release, did you expect that to happen?
“You never know to be honest, I thought it was a good tune and thankfully it took off. Inja’s vocal hook was on point and in line with the theme of the track and I think the sound effect style snare mixed things up a bit. I played Inja the instrumental and he was really excited to get something penned down focusing on that pistol snare.”
Can you confirm the snare sample? Was it from Timesplitters 2 on the PlayStation 2 or Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64?
“I went on Facebook and asked for a sound of a silenced pistol, got a ton of them and I picked the best one! I love getting my followers involved in what I’m doing..”
What makes a good, authentic mid 90’s bassline in 2017?
“Making the beats and bass interact, a lot of those tracks were always bass led – the bass provided the rhythm and kept the drums kept the pace. A lot of drum and bass now doesn’t have that same approach to rhythm. Everything is on the beat meaning you lose that interaction between the bass and drums that makes a real roller.”
Any plans for teaching?
“Not at the moment, I just don’t have the time right now. Maybe that will change in the future though! I’m mostly self taught and I probably commit tons of production sins that people would shy away from but that’s the beauty of it all, you have to teach yourself to some extent and if it sounds good, you’re on the way to crafting your own style and sound. Don’t get bogged down with the technical aspect of it, especially if you want to try and recreate that 90’s vibe.”
Drum&BassArena quick fire question time…
If MC Det was walking towards you would you get out the way?
“Probably yeah, he’s a big guy..”
Has he ever cried listening to reggae in an ASDA carpark?
“Yes I was listening to Kentucky Skank by Lee Scratch Perry while eating a whole rotisserie chicken”
Who else should I look out for in the jump up scene (not that I typecast Serum as only jump up), who can do it without the cheese factor?
“A guy from Manchester called Bou, he’s really nailed that rolling beat and using samples. Well worth checking out.”
What do you like to listen to when you’re not working?
“I try and seek out the weirdest I can find, I’m still always really surprised where samples come from. I listen to a bit of all sorts, garage, house, ambient, psychedelic rock, synthesiser music, hip-hop, as much as I can. Just no cheese.”
Should I open a tanning salon and call it Ray Parlour?
“Yeah, that would fit in – the whole interior would have to be yellow.”
What jungle classic would you like to remix that hasn’t been done already?
“I’ve been fortunate enough to remix a lot of the ones I wanted already but I’d love to do one of the old Dope Dragon tracks, maybe Splurt. Saying that, I’ve still got 12 remixes that are yet to be released.”
What were the first raves you went to?
“Where I lived there wasn’t really many events. The first DJ I saw was Aphrodite in Aberdeen when I was 16. That was at the height of Urban Takeover and everyone was going bonkers over the label and his DJ sets.
The first proper rave I went to was Flashback at the Que Club in Birmingham, a proper eye opener! Such a culture shift, such a rowdy and exciting crowd. The music and system were just amazing.”
How old is too old for a man to be seen wearing a baseball cap?
“I’ll probably still wear one when I’m playing to crowds in my 60s.”
Do you still go to clubs as a raver rather than as a DJ? If so, what was the last night you went to?
“To be honest I don’t have much time to do it, I do love a drink though so a night down the pub would be the one – probably an extremely wanky Belgian beer pub with fancy chalices.”
What do you think to the pedestrianisation of Norwich city centre?
“Dead against it personally.”
Kings of the Rollers Vol 1 is my mix of the year so far flows absolutely perfectly big ups. Any news on Vol 2 & host MC?
“It depends on if the others sort their act out! If not, it’ll be Inja and I.”
A massive number one single or the continued respect of the 20 remaining members of D&BA?
“I probably won’t get a massive number one so I’ll stick with the forum.”
Who is your favourite midget with a bum chin?
“I only know one, he’s a bit of a knob though so I’m open to offers?”
What’s the longest you have waited for a tune to come out (maybe Gangsta remix?)
“Probably that, it was a LONG time. I made that in 2011.”
DJ or MC you would most want to go back to back with.
“Randall with Stevie Hyper D or MC MC.”
Can you count to 200 out loud in 60 seconds?
“No, I can count to 20 really slowly though as I have a 3 year old daughter.”
“Chicken and chorizo.”
What was your first job?
“An assistant at a sound and light hire shop. I could have learned a lot about engineering there but unfortunately the owner was a bit of a bell end!”
Can you swim?
“Yeah, I actually did the 100m butterfly in the English Nationals in 1997. Didn’t expect that did you?”
Big shouts to Serum for taking to the time to discuss the label, a big up to Benny V and anyone else involved in the label.