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Four Things You Need To Know About: 501

501

Jussi Levasalmi (AKA 501) is an established member of the Never Say Die family and one of the most exciting dubstep producers around.

His glitch-infused beats, carefully constructed build ups and ludicrously big drops are just three of the reasons accountable for the praise he’s currently receiving from fellow producers.

And his musical prowess is particularly evident on his latest EP, Infinity, which dropped last week.

“The reception to Infinity has been really good. It took me a while to write the EP because I wanted to write something with sentiment to it – not just something that sounded recycled,” he says. “Lots of people who follow my music seem to like all of the synth layers and chord progressions in this EP and they’re not just commenting on the drops which is really cool. I’m very interested in trying to make each one of my releases a song – not just a build up to a drop.”

Surely, for a producer with a wealth of experience, music production is something that comes as second nature, right?

“Wrong! It’s never plain-sailing for me, music production is so painful!” he laughs. “It usually takes me a long time to write anything decent; it’s a rare occasion that a tune comes out in a day or two.”

Okay, so maybe we were wrong on that one, but what we do know for certain is that he’s got some very exciting things lined up…

“I’m going to continue writing music for Never Say Die. They’ve been consistently putting out good stuff for a long time so it’s a good partnership and I’m happy working with them. I can’t disclose exactly what I’ve got planned with them just yet unfortunately, but I wouldn’t expect anything less than more synthy goodness for everyone!”

We’re fully excited to hear what 501 has been cooking away in the studio. But for now, a few things about the dubstep don you might not have already known…

He’s from Finland…

“People always presume I’m from either the UK or the USA – especially promoters trying to book me for gigs. They’re always disappointed to find out I’m from Finland as it costs a lot more to fly me over to play for them! I’m still based in Helsinki and see myself staying here for quite a while due to my other life, which you’ll find out about in a minute…

“In Finland we’ve had pretty strong underground electronic roots for years but there’s also a mainstream side to our scene too which lots of people don’t realise. One of the benefits to living in a small country is that we’re pretty isolated, which can give you a unique perspective on music. I guess we take elements from the UK and US scene and put our own spin on it.

“Some people presume it must’ve been difficult for me breaking onto the scene coming from a small country but it really wasn’t. Back in 2008, when I was first getting noticed as a producer, the whole dubstep scene was very young and open and it was so easy to hook up with everyone all over the world and share ideas. There were a few other artists from Helsinki doing good things around that time which made it a bit easier for me too.”

He used to be a drum & bass producer…

“I think a lot of dubstep producers started out life as drum & bass producers to be honest, it seems to be quite a common route to take! I was quite big in the local scene as a liquid producer and my name was Contour. The good thing about drum & bass is that you learn lots from producing it, particularly the technical side of things. I learned about aesthetics when was cutting my teeth in the d&b scene; which means being focussed on a good sound rather than a new sound and not processing sounds to death.

“Back then there weren’t as many tutorials as there are now, so I had to turn to myself to find solutions when I was mixing or writing, which definitely helped my creative process in the long run. I think the high amount of tutorials around today is both a good thing and a bad thing…

“I’d love to make another drum & bass track but I guess it would be a bit odd if I suddenly went back to that sound! I enjoy listening to it still though, there’s plenty of good stuff around if you know where to look.”

He’s a lawyer by day…

“As a youngster I dreamed of being a musician but in my early twenties I realised it was quite ambitious, so I had to figure out what exactly to do with my life. I applied to study law here in Helsinki and luckily got in on the first try. I then landed a few jobs and I’m currently working for a Swedish multi-national as a legal counsel. I guess it’s a pretty boring job but the upside to having a career outside of music is the independence; I don’t have to be so mindful whether what I write will be to everyone’s liking. When the music doesn’t pay my bills I’ve got a solid career to fall back on.

“The other upside to having two different careers is the fact I don’t get bored of one or the other. I wouldn’t want to be a lawyer 100% of the time as it would do my head in, and likewise I think the same applies to being a musician. It’s really nice being able to escape music for a while and then coming back to it with a fresh mind. My first release on Never Say Die was called Escaping Monday – now you know why…

“However, the downside to having a career outside of music is finding the time to produce enough quality output. Ever since I graduated I never have a whole day to do something – I’d love to spend a full day or even a week mixing an EP but it just isn’t possible. I have to run with an idea whenever one comes to me and make the most of my inspiration. I’ve had to cut down on DJ shows lately and haven’t got any tours lined up as writing music is my main interest, so I dedicate most of my time to that when I’m not working.”

The song that inspired him to make music? The Final Countdown by Europe… of course

“This could potentially get awkward! I was watching MTV with my older sister when I was about 7 years old and then it happened… my desire to become a musician was sparked as soon as those classic synths began. Apparently I grabbed a hockey stick and pretended it was a guitar, that’s what my mum tells me anyway.

So there you have it; 501 is a lawyer by day, a former drum & bass producer and, perhaps most importantly, partial to a cheesy classic or two.

501 – Infinity is out now