Born in Leicester and still repping the LE postcode, Rich aka Soulful Nature has been into drum and bass since 1998 and is now making a name for himself on the circuit. I caught up him to find out more......
Q1) So it all started with a DJ Rap and Stevie Hyper D set? I guess that was a cassette tape back then? What captured you about jungle and dnb?
A) It was like nothing I'd even heard before and the rawness and energy of it drew me in. I initially wanted to be an MC after hearing Stevie Hyper but as I listened to more and more tapes I began to understand more about DJs and the different ways that they made mixes evolve. I ended up buying my first vinyl on the way home from a family holiday and I didn't even have any decks.
Q2) You went on to do music tech at college?
A) I'd finished my A Levels and messed them up really. I ended up going to college to do music because one of my best friends was going and I thought why not. I'd never done any sort of music learning so going to college with no prior knowledge was tough to begin with but in the end I'm glad i stuck it out.
Q3) Tell us of your early experiences of Formation Records, how that shaped the Leicester scene and the local record shop 5HQ.
A) Formation at the time when I was getting into drum and bass was a massive part of the city. There was the label, the shop 5HQ and also quality club nights at places like Po Na Na. The tracks coming out on Formation were amazing and really varied and of course SS also had New Identity running as well which was great for the liquid vibes. It's a real shame he closed the label down as it was a real favourite of mine.
Q4) What made you want to get into production?
A) Production came second to wanting to be a DJ. As the years went on I discovered I wanted certain things out of music and it was just natural progression from DJing into making my own music to play out.
Q5) What was your first DAW set up and what are you on now?
A) My first set up was a PC, headphones, basic internal sound card and a second hand copy of Cubas which I had bought from someone at work. Didn't have a clue what I was doing for a good 6 months before things started to click. These days I'm still on PC but use Ableton instead of Cubase.
Q6) Preferred DJ set up?
A) I still love vinyl and the feel of it so that ideally would be my setup with a DVS system alongside it. This of course isn't always practical when playing out as not everywhere has turntables so it's USBs with a select few vinyl in a bag just in case they have turntables!
Q7) Who are your top 5 favourite producers?
Random Movement, Marky, Mutt, Calibre and Eveson.
Q8) "Passing By" was your first track signed to NexGen written in Cubase. You switched to Ableton?
A) Yeah id been on Cubase for many years but i always felt the workflow quite clunky plus if you ever needed help working out something it was like trying to find a needle in a haystack on the internet. I'd always played down the abilities of Ableton as so many producers had said it wasn't up to scratch compared to Cubase or Logic. It all changed when I watched a Pennygiles computer music masterclass and it just sold Ableton to me. The ease of use for someone that uses samples compared to Cubase was massive.
Q9) Tell me what inspired you about writing "Doing To Me?"
A) After a day sampling I found this great guitar loop from a charity shop record. This track is based around that hook and was put together within a few days as can be the way sometimes when catching a vibe from a particular sample.
Q9) And "Lowdown?"
A) This track all came about after scouring the Internet for spoken word samples. After finding some on a random site I found a great link to whole host of other musical samples and one them became the main sample that Lowdown was based around.
Q10) How did you link up with Rob Sparx?
A) Rob was and still is a real mentor when it comes to music making. He's been making music for a long time so that there isn't anything that he cant help you with or give insight into. I still remember listening to a Grooverider show on Radio 1 when he dropped Robs 'Attack of The Wolfman' and rewound it twice. He helped my progress at the start when i was still using Cubase and he's still always about to give me advice. I still haven't managed to convince him that Ableton is better than Cubase though haha.
Q11) How do you find juggling music and a full time job?
A) It gives you a different mindset to making music to that if you're solely a musician. Don't get me wrong I'd love to be able to do that but it's just not worked out that way for me. With a full time time job you are constrained by time and for me means I have to be disciplined when in the studio and not dwell on the little things. I have to treat making music as my second job.
Q12) Can you tell us about Sous Sol Projet?
A) Sous Sol Projet is Dan Prangmans night at Sub8Ten in Leicester. I'd played out whilst at University but have recently got back into Djing now i have a little more time. Dan and Rob were putting on a label night for Kachina at Sub8Ten and booked me to play a set and it felt great playing out again. The buzz that you get from people dancing and having a good time is a great feeling. It's why I started on those belt drive Sound Labs all those years ago!
Q13) So you teach? Can you tell us about that?
A) Yeah i got into teaching by chance when I left University. A couple of musicians were looking for a music technology teacher to join their team. From there I ended up working with my best friend at the independent school he's the headtaecher of. The school caters for students with special educational needs and is a really enjoyable job. I work mainly with iPads using various apps to get the students engaged. There are so many great apps out there that help students experience making music.
Q13) Can you tell us about your vinyl releases?
A) I haven't had any to date but it is something I've wanted to do since I started making music as a 19 year old. I didn't expect to do it on NexGen as with most labels these days its mainly digital releases but it has a long history of vinyl releases from way back. So when D.A said he wanted to put a vinyl project together I definitely wanted to be a part of it. The vinyl project will feature the my track 'Indifference' and will be a mix of all the styles across NexGen, Migration and Affectionate Grooves.
Q14) You mentioned Sonic Boom being a moment you won't forget?
A) You go through life and you remember certain times and this for me was a period where I wasn't making a great deal of music but was digesting a lot by going out to great nights such as Sonic Boom. Alex (APB) who used to co run the night always used to to book amazing headliners. This was the place where I first heard a lot of artists who you wouldn't usually get to see play in Leicester, like Total Science, High Contrast, Marcus Intalex, Digital, Randall the list goes on! EZ Rollers, who were just coming off the back of 'Walk This Land' featuring on the Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels soundtrack, came and smashed the place to pieces. I'll always be thankful I got to experience those nights.
Q15) What gigs have you got coming up this summer?
A) Taking the summer off to get a whole host of the tracks that need finishing completed and then get back into the Djing side of things come September with a lot of dubs ready to go.
Q16) If you could collab with anyone who would it be and why?
A) Id like to collaborate with a lot artists. I like the way at the moment more and more artists are starting to work with each other. It's so easy these days to do it online and its great that artists that are doing different styles of dnb are working together. Everyone should be together in drum and bass, no egos. I don't care if you make liquid, jump up, neuro whatever it should be about the vibes and enjoyment that music making brings.
Q17) If you could take one tune on a desert island with you, what would it be and why?
A) One tune is tough ask! If i had to choose a drum and bass tune it would be DJ Rap - Spiritual Aura. Apart from being a great tune it was the first tune she played on that dreamscape tape all those years ago and it was the first ever drum and bass tune i heard.
Q18) Good choice of tune. Tea or coffee?
Not really a big drinker of each to be honest but if i had to pick it would be coffee.
Q19) Goals for the next 5 years?
Over the next few years i would like to get a more consistent pattern of releases. In the past I've been quite sporadic in getting tracks finished but recently I've been working in a new way and its helping massively in getting music finished.
Q20) Any shouts and thanks?
Thanks to everyone supporting my music and DNB in general.Thanks to DA and Rob at NexGen for believing in my music. Shouts to Roberto, Raggs, APB, Cyclic, Cutz, Carla, Prangman, Boomdoc, Wigz, Zurcon, Afua, Lako, Carrington, Constance P, Chris, Alex and Rich, Heist, Villem and of course, as always, my family who make everything possible.
Soulful Natures latest release:
Interview By Aliina Atkinson