There’s nothing more divisive in electronic music than those times when an act that has developed a pedigree on the underground suddenly smashes the mainstream.
Case in point: the somewhat volcanic reaction on our Facebook page a few weeks back when we ran a news story on Sigma’s forthcoming live tour. One of the most consistent UKF headline acts (having smashed NYE and set to join us once again at Sea Dance this summer), we know Sigma smash it in the dance just as hard as they’ve battered the UK number one spot. We know their live show will smash it too. But what do they make of the occasional lashings of social media critique they’ve experienced of late? We called up Sigma’s Joe and asked him:
Writing a track that hits the dancefloor heavily is an art unto itself. But to write something a catchy hook and top-line that appeals to a much broader audience and goes to the top of the charts and sells millions of records is another craft altogether.
“We’ve seen it before with the likes of Fresh and Chase & Status getting slated. We were quite surprised it took so long for people to start slating us!” he laughs. “A lot of it is down to the fact you (UKF fans) are all purists. Sometimes purists aren’t open minded enough. I don’t think our music has changed much since we started. We’ve always written for the slightly more commercial end of the spectrum. Follow us from the start and you should have seen this coming.”
Good point, well made. But wait… Can we really consider tracks like Cylon something for the “slightly more commercial end of the spectrum?”
“We have done some heavy stuff before,” agrees Joe. “But we’re just heading in a different direction now. It’s nothing to do with the money, it’s to do with us writing music we really want to make. It’s a funny one; it’s amazing that people play your tracks and support you but if you support and buy into something you’ve done earlier in your career then they feel they’ve bought into you and should have a say on what you’re doing now. We’re just doing what we want to do.”
One expectation none of us can argue with is the widescreen appeal and accessibility of their forthcoming single Higher with Labrinth. Complete with a killer VIP we uploaded just days ago…
Whether it secures them a number one hat-trick or not, it adds to their cannon of big room, radio friendly D&B and is another example of their newfound super-hooky, songwriting process. A process, Joe is keen to point out, that is a lot harder to nail than slamming down mighty underground bangers…
“It’s much harder to write a track that can get to the top of the charts and be a pop success than it is to write a massive underground club track,” he admits. “I’m not trying to big us up in any way, that’s just how it is. Writing a track that hits the dancefloor heavily is an art unto itself. But to write something a catchy hook and top-line that appeals to a much broader audience and goes to the top of the charts and sells millions of records is another craft altogether. It’s one that we’re really enjoying and one that we feel we’re only really starting to get our heads around. It’s an incredible art that’s very inspiring to be involved in.”
The live show is another Sigma development that’s taken Joe and Cam a long time to get their heads around. Joe explains how the show will comprise live drums, synths and FX with largescale visuals, guest vocalists and their own MC Justyce and that their sole mission is to “turn up and give people a proper party”. The build of such a show, however, has taken them a lot longer than they expected as they’ve had to go deep into the archives and source every stem and patch from every track they’re playing. If you’ve so much as dabbled in production, you’ll know final project files can be something of a mess.
“I won’t lie, it was a fucking nightmare,” Joe laughs. “We had to go through all of our projects and find the final version and get all the parts we wanted to as audio and all the synth parts. It took an entire month to get all those bits together. Moving forward every time we write a tune we bounce all the audio and save all the patches – it will save us a lot of time.”
And, we can confirm, they’re writing a lot of new tunes. Joe has confirmed that a Sigma album is en route… It may land as soon as this summer and it might, just might, include some of the darker stuff that brought them to the attention of us purists in the first place.
“It’s such a big thing trying to finish up the album,” he states. “There’s a lot of pressure on artists with their first album. Especially if there’s been success with singles in the run up to it. There’s also the old argument about dance albums not really being received as well as people expect. So we’ve really thought hard about what we want to say with our album. A few deeper bits, a few tougher bits… It will definitely have some tracks that aren’t big singles so people can hear the other side of Sigma.”
And we’re definitely looking forward to hearing it. Catch Sigma on tour and hear some of their new material ahead of the release…
WEDNESDAY APRIL 15 : MANCHESTER – GORILLA
THURSDAY APRIL 16: BIRMINGHAM – THE LIBRARY
FRIDAY APRIL 17: BRIGHTON – CONCORDE 2
SATURDAY APRIL 18: LONDON – ELECTRIC BRIXTON
More details: Sigma HQ