The Return Of S.P.Y

Finally! The man behind some of this decade’s finest deep dark rollers is back…

Having emerged in the mid 2000s with a volley of releases on every label imaginable (Metalheadz, Ram, Soul:r, Liquid V, 31 Records, CIA, Spearhead, Innerground, Critical) then denting our souls with three albums between 2012-14, S.P.Y suddenly went a little quiet on the release front.

Very quiet. Besides his Nest HQ EP BRSTL Hardcore, a cool collaboration with Shadow Child and a selection of remixes (including his ubiquitous remix of Congo Natty that still remains on dub), we’ve barely heard a production peep from the Sao Paulo man born Carlos Lima. Until recently…

Cue: Alone In The Dark, an EP series that will reappear throughout the year and features his broadest range of productions and sounds to date. From the jungle and ragga blended beats in Soldiers, to the translucent melody in Keep On Searching that feels like a lucid day dream you don’t want to snap out of, to the murky bass line that runs through Black Ops – S.P.Y has pushed his boundaries and proved his production to be shockingly diverse and dexterous.

We caught up the man himself, who still to this day is as humble as ever..

Where have you been?!

You know what’s interesting, I hadn’t even noticed how long it had been since my last album. I’ve been busy touring, working on several remix projects and producing new music in the studio. But people had started to ask me if Hospital was stopping me from releasing music, which wasn’t the case at all. Then it clicked, Back To Basics was released in 2014, I knew I had to put some new music out.

Alone In The Dark part one is out so far. I’ve got to say, your style seems so much more eclectic now

I don’t really like to be attached to just one style. Sonically, most people that hear my music would recognise it as my sound, but I like to vary the style to keep it interesting. I also don’t want to just jump on the bandwagon of what’s popular either. I like a variety of everything and my music also depends on my mood.

Your mood inspires the style you decide to produce?

My mood really inspires my music. On my computer I have a lot of tracks that I’ve produced that feature quite a different sound, everything from liquid to neurofunk to minimal. When I was talking to Hospital about the Alone In The Dark project I wanted it to represent the way I DJ. I don’t restrict myself to any boundaries when I’m on the decks; I like to play a selection of different styles to create a journey.

Do you feel that Back to Basics was too much of the same sound?

Not at all, in fact all of the tracks are quite different. The Back To Basics project was a blend of all my favourite elements of the drum and bass sound at that point in my life. Each track is quite distinct, with the LPs flowing from liquid to jungle to dark rollers. Back To Basics helped me to grow as a producer by giving me the opportunity to really explore the different sounds within drum and bass and experiment with how I wanted to interpret them.

Tell me about Alone In The Dark

I came up with the title for Alone In The Dark because that’s how the majority of my music is created. It’s just me, sitting alone in my studio at night producing and vibing. I like to work in the studio by myself, at a time when I know that the majority of the rest of the country is sleeping. There’s something so peaceful about that and I feel really inspired to produce. I decided to release Alone In The Dark as a series of three EPs rather than an LP because I wanted to give each EP the time and space to evolve and grow as my life and the year progresses. It’s a bit of an experiment so I hope it works! The first EP is out now, with the second and third following over the next few months.

What are we going to hear from you this year that we haven’t really heard before?

This year I’m focused on finishing the Alone In The Dark project, which will give an insight into the range of different styles I’ve been inspired by lately. I’ve been listening to a lot of techno, house and old school jungle and incorporating these sounds into my tracks. I don’t like to be predictable, so I’m going to keep mixing things up in my releases and my DJ sets.

Touching upon what you mentioned before about neurofunk, are you trying to not succumb to doing what everyone else is doing then?

I feel like I’m often subconsciously swimming against the current of what everyone else is producing. It’s not to make a point or a statement, but rather to take the pressure off feeling like I have to change my sound to fit in with the current trend in music. I really like neurofunk, and I love to incorporate elements of the sound into my tracks, but it will always be adapted to fit with my style and my sound. My track Black Ops is quite inspired by neurofunk, but it has a lot of other elements to it. I don’t like to pigeonhole my music.

Am I fair in saying a roll out is your signature?

Possibly, I love drum and bass rollers, not only for the vibe but also because I know how fun they are to mix when you’re Djing. Alone In The Dark part two is full of rollers. I wouldn’t say that rollers are my signature, but a lot of people associate that with my DJ sets.

How often are you in the studio?

Quite a lot I think! I used to be in the studio from about 9am to 5am the next day. I have been trying to cut down lately though, because it’s not very healthy to sit in the same room for 20 hours straight. These days I will usually be in the studio all day, but then take a break in the early evening to have some dinner and maybe watch a film. But then I’m back in the studio until the early hours of the morning. Time flies when you’re having fun!

Geez! What exactly triggers you that much to get up and run to the studio in PJs then?

I think it’s because I feel the most inspired to produce music at night. When I’m in the studio during the day I like to mix down and master tracks or work on the more technical side of the music, but at night I feel really creative. Sometimes even watching a film or a good TV show will give me inspiration to write a new track. I’ll pause a film halfway through to take note of an interesting quote or soundscape. It happens so often that even my fiancée has started spotting some amazing samples!

What artists make you want to do more?

I highly rate Calyx and Teebee, they inspire me to improve technically and they are really nice guys as well. Noisia also inspire me, they are really technically skilled and they come out with all the craziest sounds. I try to listen to them and understand how they did it. On the other hand, Calibre has always been a huge inspiration for me. He has an amazing ability to perfectly capture an emotion in a track. His music is so beautiful and liquid. Every time I listen to music from these guys I feel like I really need to push myself.

What’s your relationship like with all the Hospital guys?

We are all really good mates and get on well together. The artists all support each other and we’re always sharing music. Sometimes if I’m stuck on a particular element of a track I’ll send it to one of the other guys to get their opinion. When you work in the studio by yourself it’s great to have second pair of ears to bounce things off. Hospital is like a big family.

Yeah it looks that way. No matter how big you get, you all seem to have your feet on the ground…

Well, drum and bass originated as underground music; it has unified people from different cultures and different walks of life and continues to do so based on passion for the music. I think it’s really important to stay grounded as an artist. I work creatively and I feel blessed to be able to share what I create with other people. For me, the music always comes first and I think that if I stay true to that, I will always stay grounded.

S.P.Y – Alone In The Dark Part One is out now (Part Two expected to drop very soon)

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