Shimon is back in the studio!

Quest. Body Rock. Night Flight. Huggy Bear. No Reality. Hush Hush. Screamer. Titan. These are just a fraction of seminal drum & bass anthems Shimon has produced and co-produced.

His stamp on drum & bass throughout the 90s and 2000s is undeniable as a solo artist, as a member of RAM Trilogy and alongside Andy C. You can’t talk about the Ram sound or its history without talking about Shimon. Here’s one of many reasons why…

Moving into the more recent past, he’s had a similarly influential presence in the much wider bass picture. His label AudioPorn has been responsible for early and breakthrough releases from the likes of Xilent, Dirtyphonics, Camo & Krooked, Hybrid Minds, High Maintenance and, more recently, rising stars such as James Marvel, Bl4ck Owlz and Benny L.

These two eras of his life in drum & bass are related: the reason we haven’t experienced anywhere near as many Shimon bangers in the last 10 years is because of AudioPorn. At first a vehicle for his own productions, it quickly developed into a platform for a new generation of artists. Some of whom, like Xilent, he’s gone on to manage and develop. All of which took up serious studio time, to the point he’s only released a handful of his own productions since the late 2000s. Until now…

As AudioPorn celebrates its 10th year and he’s settled into his role as label and artist manager, he’s found time to return to the studio and his trademark bulging and often toxic riff-heavy rollers are starting to contaminate the dance. What began with Monsters late last year (with Benny L) is gradually snowballing; last month he remixed Benny L’s On The Job, while July sees him dropping three new productions – Physio and Crystal Clear on AudioPorn and Believe It on Drum&BassArena’s The Breaks EP. Trust us, they all slap.

Rolling into August and Shimon will be taking a few days out of the studio to take part in the Beats Evolution Conference, Prague where he’ll be sharing his insight, offering advice and listening to demos. The world’s only drum & bass gathering of its kind where people from all aspects of the industry meet and help to develop the scene and forge stronger IRL links than any Twitter DM possibly could, Beats Evolution Conference (BEC) has workshops, masterclasses and discussions from some of the most experienced and creative individuals involved in the genre. It’s the perfect playground for aspiring producers or those looking to work in the industry.

The conference leads perfectly into Let It Roll festival where  Shimon and AudioPorn will be hosting a stage alongside label friends and family Xilent, High Maintenance, James Marvel & MC Mota, Trimer, Disaszt, Mediks and many more. Building up to the label’s tenth anniversary celebrations later this year, it’s another milestone for the brand that Shimon’s invested so much in that he’s only just come back to the studio.

Read on to find out how he never actually set out to be a DJ and why he couldn’t be happier with the current state of drum & bass….

Beats Evolution Conference: As someone who’s been involved in the genre since the very early days what do you make of it having its own conference? No other genre has its own specific conference like this.

It makes me really proud! It’s such a niche genre, the people who are into it are so into it, that’s what I think has given it longevity; it’s always there and it’s always got that dedicated, loyal following and culture. And you have to work a bit to get into it you have to do your research and dig a little to find the good parties, labels, artists and tunes.

I also like the fact that not everyone gets it. To the untrained ear it can be offensive but I like that. Not everything should be easy and sugar-coated and wrapped up in a bow for the masses. Even down to our name AudioPorn. At first I was thinking ‘hold on, do I really want to call it this? What will they think?’ But then I thought ‘fuck it, I really like the name and we’re not selling cupcakes!

Yes! You’re right on the hard work – not everything has to pop instantly, not everything has to kick off straight away. I’ve heard stories of loads of classics totally bombing for the first few plays until people got their heads around the track.

Definitely. Every now and again you get a tune that does instantly kick off but a lot of the time it takes a while for people to catch onto it. I played Body Rock for about a month and most people looked at me like I was mad. Then all of a sudden it started going crazy. It was like a switch had flipped. Totally unplanned, I’ve never sat down and said ‘right! Let’s make a banger!’ and then made a banger. They always happened kinda naturally, like happy accidents. Almost like you’re not in control and it’s got a life of its own. It’s that flow that producers are looking for and one that I’ve only just found again recently.

Yeah, about the gap in your discography…

Well that was the birth of AudioPorn, it took up a lot of time; getting it up and running. I felt that it was important to push the artists I was working with as much as I could. I didn’t want the label to be all about me. At first I had absolutely no idea about running a label but eventually I worked it out. I say ‘I’ when it’s really ‘us’ I couldn’t have done it without my partner Bonney who has been an instrumental part of the label, helping me while smashing out a music business degree at uni; I have to big her up a lot.

I also started managing Xilent in the early days of Audioporn which I love doing, he’s such a talented guy and a pleasure to work with so that’s another reason I had to take a time out, it’s only now, in the last few years, as Xilent has really established himself and the label is running nicely that I’ve found the time and the mindset to get back into the studio. I can definitely feel it starting to flow again. We’ve also taken on Trimer at the label recently which has been really great.

That man is a monster

He’s an absolute badman. We’ve been doing some music together and I think he’s going to be a strong part of the team. He’s someone else I can bounce ideas off musically and professionally. He’s also a sick DJ. So is Benny L as well – another one of the new guys who’ve become a strong part of the team.

He’s a monster too

He is. Such an amazing guy and he’s so into the music. He knows his tunes going right back to the old stuff. He’s done his homework and he’s just got his own sound that really smashes it, he’s already well on the radar of the elders like Goldie and Randall, he’s definitely destined for big things.

He’s right in the thick of that new roller/jump-up fusion we’re enjoying right now. Are you feeling that?

Absolutely. All the styles are coming back together again. I feel like we’re stepping back from the poppy sound a bit and moving back to the club sound again. That’s what I’m all about; foundation drum & bass. It’s what I fell in love with. Big rolling drum & bass. No frills. It’s what I’ve made the most of as a producer.

Let’s talk about those old seminal productions. Take us back there for a moment.

It was a beautiful era for drum & bass. Around the time Ram Trilogy was cranking, Bad company were smashing out tunes, Ed Rush and Optical seemed to have an endless supply of sick music and the Bristol guys were killing it. It felt like a really creative time for drum and bass also things were tighter back then and there would be some really good friendly competitiveness going on between all of us. I think the competition boosted us – we’d go home from Music House thinking ‘fuck! We need to up our game a bit!’ Hopefully some of our tunes did the same for them. Music House was at the centre of it all and it’s a shame we don’t have that meeting place any more where you can play things directly to heads and get that response. Sending a tune to someone online just isn’t the same.

Yeah to have that real time reaction and see their face when they hear it

Definitely. The personal connections were very strong and dubplates allowed tunes to build up organically and a lot slower. Having that tune that everyone wanted but couldn’t get is pretty much impossible now but that’s the way things are. Stuff has a much shorter lead time now but that’s also a good thing – it keeps everything fresh, there’s no waiting around or things getting stagnant. The immediacy of things is better.

It means people have to draw more and not rely on exclusives. There’s so much more music out there so you can make tunes your own

Absolutely. I’ve also found that if you play too much new stuff sometimes you can lose the crowd a bit, sometimes people want to hear a few things they know. I’ve been guilty of that myself; I’ve played sets full of dubs that no one knows and you play something that’s already out and everyone kicks off. It’s the reverse of what used to happen.

And a challenge for DJs to find that balance of keeping people happy and pushing things forward…

Yeah definitely. Technically I think the art is a little bit lost because digital tools can make things a bit easier, some of them sets back in the day in a hot club on wobbly 1210’s with drinks and people flying everywhere were definitely a bit more challenging to stay tight. I used to be impressed by big double drops and long mixing but not so much anymore, I’m less impressed by that than I am a good selection or when there’s music being dropped I’ve never heard.

Did you come through as a DJ or a producer?

Oh totally a producer. I had no interest in becoming a DJ at first. But then I made a few tunes and wanted to see them work on the dancefloor myself and before long I had the bug, I did find it a bit stressful in the beginning. I would get pretty nervous; knowing I’d be in front of loads of people and had to deliver something special and not fuck up. And international ones would be double stressful because I hated flying at first. For the first few years I thought ‘fuck! Is it always going be like this?’ But now its so natural and and for me an integral part of making music, that visceral reaction you get from the dancefloor from something you’ve just made is the best feeling in the world.

So… AudioPorn is 10 years old this December. How are you celebrating?

Mad isn’t it? Its been quite the journey with a few ups and downs but I wouldn’t change anything, I love it and I feel really enthusiastic about the future of Audioporn I feel like everyone’s on point at the moment, High Maintenance, Benny L and James Marvel are all smashing out some massive tunes,  We’ve got a big 10 Years of Audioporn album planned of new material and remixes of classics. We’ve also got Coppa’s album coming  which is sounding amazing with tracks from Madface, Current Value, Alibi, High Maintenance myself and Benny, loads more. And before that we’ve got my new single with Darrison, Physio and Crystal Clear. We’ve also got some parties planned and will be hosting a stage at Let It Roll which is incredible.

Yeah let’s wrap up with Let It Roll…

It’s outstanding. To have a festival of that size just dedicated to drum & bass. On paper it sounds mental and relentless, just D&B everywhere 24/7. But it really works! Everyone is there on the same vibe and really being part of the community. Going back to the original question about the conference, or Music House back in the day, having that collectiveness and that chance to meet in real life as a proper community is essential if we want to keep drum & bass as healthy and as unique as it is right now.

Join Shimon and AudioPorn at BEC & Let It Roll from just £91: Full details

Shimon – Physio / Crystal Clear is out June 30 on AudioPorn: Support

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