Sovryn is a name that shot onto many people’s radars at the end of February with his debut Static Vision EP on Korsakov Music. Liquid, dancefloor, jump up, a J-Kwon Tipsy sample – it’s an EP that most likely had quite a few people asking who the hell Sovryn is, and how is he producing such a high quality of music already?
Well, the question that really needs to be asked is who the hell was Sovryn previously? As this producer has already built a reputation in bass music under his Barely Royal moniker. You may recognise the name from his Numbers tune being smashed in Friction’s sets and remixed by Turno. Or you may even remember his epic UKF On Air set b2b Pelikann and Shapes for Holy Goof’s Globes launch in 2019. Either way, Barely Royal was a project that achieved great feats.
But Sovryn represents an underlying motive that has always been there for Charles Broom – the ambition to work in drum and bass, a scene he has admired since his early teenage years. Just like many of us have done in this everchanging world we are currently weaving our way through, Charles has spent a considerable amount of time re-evaluating his goals for the future. Closing the Barely Royal chapter of his career with the intention of starting fresh as Sovryn was one of these goals.
UKF needed to find out more about this change of direction, so we caught up with Sovryn to uncover the story behind one of D&B’s newest talents.
The end of Barely Royal and the start of Sovryn! 2021 seems like an opportune time for a change of direction.
Absolutely. Timing-wise, it has worked out well because 2020 was the year I was planning to go quiet on the release front and switch things up anyway. Weirdly, I wanted to do this even before Covid was a thing… I thoroughly enjoyed my time doing the Barely Royal project, which I did for about six years, but I’ve always wanted to make drum and bass. Some people have been able to move into D&B alongside another project, which is amazing, but I think it’s a big ask. When you release new music people will always have the old music in their heads. I wanted to go into Sovryn with a clear perspective.
So you wanted Sovryn to be a new chapter, as opposed to an alter ego?
Part of me did want to keep Barely Royal going and have Sovryn on the side. That was what I originally planned. But after speaking to Elmar from Korsakov Music, he suggested starting from fresh on all my social media accounts. It stemmed from him asking me if I was going to keep releasing as Barely Royal, but I told him I wasn’t feeling inspired to make bass house anymore, so he said I should call it a day. At first, I felt sad because I have many lovely memories, but it makes complete sense. I don’t despise the project at all though. I definitely want to honour that era of my life. As much as it’s a new project, I want to have little nods to Barely Royal – like the way sovereign is a term relating to royalty.
How did you get into Barely Royal in the first place?
I fell into it by accident… This was around 2013 when My Nu Leng had signed to Black Butter, and Sly One, Bromley and those lot were creating the early forming of the UK bass scene. What a magical era. It was all centred around Bristol of course, and there was such a buzz to it. So I started producing it and one thing led to another.
It’s the way life goes sometimes. It takes you down those rabbit holes.
It does! You’ve just got to ride the wave and see what happens. I don’t know where I heard this, but one quote I always come back to is “Tarzan will never make the next vine if he doesn’t let go of the last one.” If I kept holding onto Barely Royal then I wouldn’t have been able to move onto the next thing. Times change, and you need to be ready to accept those changes.
Love that analogy. So where did the motivation to switch across to drum and bass come from?
Well, D&B has always been my first love. I remember someone showing me Pendulum Slam for the first time at school and that was it. My grades went downhill after that… Haha! I couldn’t figure out how they made a tune like it. I was always playing instruments like clarinet, piano and guitar, but it never really made sense – until I came across D&B. From the outset I wanted to make that genre, but I fell into bass house by accident. I had many good years, but there came a point where bassline wasn’t inspiring me to create anymore.
But drum and bass was?
Yeah. If you look at D&B the quality gets higher every year. That’s so inspiring. We all know about being in the dance too. Nothing quite cuts it like a D&B rave. I think with some other genres they’ve been too heavily influenced by other sounds over the years, and that has a habit of taking the genre away from its origins. Dubstep moving into brostep is a good example. I love brostep, but it took the genre completely away from what it was meant to be. Something similar happened to bass house. The scene went more towards the grime and bassline side, but that’s never what got me into it. I was always into the reeses, breakbeats and garage. The scene was going further away from why I started the project.
When was the actual moment you realised you were losing your love for the scene?
Well, the last real year of releasing music started off really positive and I had some exciting releases. Myself and Pelikann had a tune on a Holy Goof compilation, we did a UKF On Air live stream, and I released some tunes I’d been working on for years like Follow Me – which Levela did a remix of – and Show It Off with LØ. That tune was four years in the making. It was great releasing those tracks, but they didn’t land the way I wanted them to. That’s when I knew it was time to start something fresh.
I feel like the D&B signs were always there, especially when Friction got involved showing his support for your Numbers track.
That was amazing. At the time, I didn’t realise he was making music as FineArt. He kept it secret for a long time. He was working with My Nu Leng on the newly formed Maraki Records. I remember Dread MC initially put me in touch with the duo and they contacted me saying they wanted to sign Numbers to Maraki. I was shaking reading the email! We arranged to do a Skype call and I got an email from FineArt with his Skype details. I realised it was Friction’s account… I was like – wait, what? I’m going to be on a call with Friction? I had no idea until 10 minutes before the chat! Getting Turno on the remix was their doing too. That was a mental time.
Incredible! So how did the link up with Korsakov Music come about?
It was at the beginning of 2020. Elmar wanted artists for the Future Stars compilation and I thought why not give it a stab. I sent him some music and a few months later he got in touch saying he wanted to sign every tune I sent him… I couldn’t believe it. With his guidance and support, I was able to hone the Sovryn project. Until he sent me that email, I thought I was a long way off as Sovryn.
Your debut Static Vision EP is testament to your D&B capabilities. It’s a very diverse showcase!
I wanted to make sure my debut EP was diverse. Who knows what I will want to make a year or two from now. I love all corners of the scene, so it’s always good to keep my options open. DJing-wise, I couldn’t play a solely jump up set, but I also don’t think I could play a set without any jump up… For me, it all comes together as one. It’s all about taking the audience on a journey.
It sounds like the Sovryn project is going to be very geared towards the dancefloor.
Definitely. But it’s not just about heavy drops. Don’t get me wrong, I love a weapon as much as anyone, but for me the biggest drops are always following the biggest breakdowns. I was taught from a young age that music is all about contrast. The comparison between light and dark. If you have the biggest euphoric breakdown followed by the filthiest drop, then it’s going to make that drop seem so much more powerful. Static Vision was the perfect way for me to do this with melodies blending into heavier choruses. That’s something I want to translate across to my DJ sets.
It seems like melody and harmony will be a big part of your music going forward.
Absolutely. I’ve always loved melody and harmony. Just seeing the emotion and euphoria music can create is something special to me. That’s the one thing I’ve always wanted for my music. Working with Gid Sedgwick on Static Vision was incredible. The harmonies he came through with were amazing. Teaming up with Ruth Royall on Somebody New was fantastic too. The instrumental for it was actually the first beat I made when delving into D&B. I’ve worked a lot with the guitarist Tom Vernon over the years, and one day we were jamming together on what was originally a garage tune. A year and a half later I hit up Ruth and she smashed it.
I like that I can still hear the bass house influence in your D&B, particularly in Everybody.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget those influences to be honest. Those years are so dear to my heart. With all the Barely Royal productions there was a drum and bass influence to them. A lot of the time I wanted it to be D&B at 130bpm – especially Fire In The Dark with LØ, which was a very special track. I often referred to it as liquid garage, but it never caught on… Elmar has mentioned to me that I still make D&B like a bass house producer at times, but it’s something I’ve been trying to kick out as I’m here to make drum and bass!
You’re only at the start of this new venture though. There’s plenty more to learn!
Definitely. I’m just excited to finally be a part of a genre I’ve admired for so long. It has been a dream of mine to be on D&B line-ups and playlists, so the thought of it is overwhelming. I think the moment you stop being in awe of your peers and the genre is the moment the magic goes, so I plan to make the most of this opportunity and continue progressing.
That’s a positive mindset to have. So what else can people expect from the Sovryn project?
Well, in April I’ve got a collaboration EP with another Korsakov Music artist, then there are various other EPS and singles throughout 2021. All together I have nearly 20 tunes wrapped and ready for release… The dream is to start playing out at shows too. But even if that doesn’t happen, it’s still an amazing feeling to be finally getting this music out there. I know there’s a long journey ahead of me, but I feel happy to be here and on the D&B path.