60 Seconds with… Missing
Hi Sam, welcome back to the world of Dance Music, where have you been?
Ha, just some much needed time out and after C83 went on ice (the breaks duo I was part of) I wanted a little pause before launching back into solo productions again.
You've just launched your own new label 'Urban Habit Recordings', what made you decide to take the plunge and what can we expect to hear from the imprint moving forwards?
I have worked with some amazing and some less amazing labels over the years but there comes a time when you want to shape a label without compromise. On Urban Habitat you can expect to hear quality dance music, free from genre constraints and with high quality production standards on every release. I hope to have followers from around the world but its certainly a London label with a London soundtrack inspired by lifetime of inner city living – hence the Urban Habitat name and cover art by a local Hackney artist.
Your first release on the label 'Off My Mind EP' is a real amalgamation of genres, tell us about the tracks and the inspiration behind them.
Well I guess its all house music! but the different flavours reflects the diversity of my musical loves and influences:
1) Off My MInd – I wanted to make something that evoked the classic deep house that I grew up listening to but with Jamie George instead of Jamie Principle on vocals ha ha. The inspiration for the lyrics was I guess a break-up where the guy made a mix tape for a girl with classic house songs. He's asking if the music will stay with her. I tapped into my 13 year old self for that one!
2) Time 4 House – This is just a straight up club track, classic 90's house vibes with some 2016 sonics on the production. I was so deep in jungle scene in the 90's i never really went to any house superclubs of the era. I wanted to make something that could destroy a dancefloor in a cool Hackney Wick spot or regional town centre nightclub – credible but accessible.
3) Bun & Cheese – This is definitely a nod to my jungle roots. I grew up in an diverse corner of South London where sound system parties and dub and ragga was more my gateway into Jungle sounds than house. I had that kind of time and basslines in my head although the dub bass and dancehall toasts are set within a deep and restrained house track. Bun & Cheese is a traditional Jamaican snack i used to eat at mates house so the title is tongue in cheek – a simple fling down.. bass, drums, bun, cheese, come wid it!
4) Karma – for this track i was playing around with some cinematic chords and keys that created an epic 'american beauty' vibe and the vocals were written around that. The swung 4/4 beats and electro funk of the bassline just evolved and the two elements really sat well together. I added the chorus which brings it into poppier territory but really brought it together.
How did the collaborations with vocalists Jamie George and Heidi Vogel come about?
Jamie is a singer who's work I really admired and he liked a previous release (Two Decades EP on Five Fold Records) so I got in touch and he was up for a collaboration. I have been back and forth on this track for over a year so he is also the most patient vocalist around! Heidi is somebody I had always wanted to work with and managed to link with her for Like A Rush on the Two Decades EP. I hope to work with both again this year.
Who else would you most like to make a collaboration with?
Rakim! baddest living MC from back in the day and I know I could create something magical with his lyrical flow. I think Hip House is ready for a comeback too.
How do you go about writing your material and what's your favourite part of it?
I have always followed the same approach making music which started in the days before I had any equipment – I lay down ideas in my head and find clips or samples and don't go into the studio until I have some ingredients I am inspired to work with. I then lock myself in studio without distractions. inspiration comes at random times so the dictaphone in iphone is a life saver for not losing the gems.
What's your favourite studio toy?
right now its an old 1970's Ampex tape deck. some of the tracks are bounced onto tape and then back into the mix to give an analogue warmth that is hard to get from a plug in!
Back in the 90's you made a name for yourself in Jungle and Breaks circles as part of Kemet Crew and C83, what made you take the plunge into making House Music now?
House was what really got me into music and, to me, Jungle was a natural progression of the amazing "house – hardcore – jungle" journey that happened in under 5 years. When Jungle or DnB started getting so self referential I found the breaks scene offered a new outlet and being part of a small close knit scene again was great. House today has come full circle and its to me where the most interesting and progressive productions are happening. Its become the melting pot of sounds for people who have grown up with everything from UKG to Dubstep. As a genre it's never been as exciting IMO.
Tell us about one of your favourite memories from the Jungle scene back in the day.
Too many! My remix of Human Being's The Box (the Box Re-opens) was a huge track and on the legendary Kemet Crew "Champion Jungle Sounds" LP. It stayed on dubplate for over 18 months and you could only hear it if you heard one of the select few DJs who had a dub. At World Dance rave Mickey Finn was playing last set and the MC called for one more just as lights coming up. He dropped it as last track and crowd went ballistic. #junglememories
How would you compare dance music of the 90's to today?
The obvious thing is technology, internet and how that has changed the game. It used to feel more of a labour of love.. tracking down those tunes on vinyl, blagging studio time, being constrained by channels on a small mixing desk. The digital world has opened things up to a bigger audience and generation of producers and there is no going back, but I do miss those days all the same and despite the frustrations.
Which top 5 producers are rocking your world right now?
Redlight – his LP is outstanding and tough but polished sound.
Ivy Lab – genre crossing half time hip hop and jungle producers – great sounds.
Om Unit – another part of the 150-160bpm jungle scene
Green Velvet & Claude Vonstroke productions are killing it
Lockah – saw him live and love the 80's film vibes
Tell us something about Missing that knowbody knows..
I obsess about pasta sauce as much as i do my mixdowns. I make it just like the Goodfellas recipe with razor blades to slice the garlic and special tomatoes from San Mazano. Better hangover food than pizza.
What other studio projects have you got coming up this season?
Currently polishing two new tracks which are exploring a different genre – watch this space. Then i really want to explore a funkier side of house and bring some UK swagger to the Kenny Dope vibes. Its all sketched out in my head ready to go.
Missing 'Off My Mind EP' will be released on March 18th 2016 on Urban Habitat Recording.