JDNB Interview - Sovryn & AL/SO
Formerly known as Barely Royal, Sovryn is the new & improved Drum & Bass project from Bristol based Charles Broom. After taking 2 years to secretly evolve his sound to the next level, Sovryn has now signed with the infamous Korsakov Music and is ready to unleash his reformed pallet of sounds into 2021.
Whilst keeping true to the renowned Barely Royal signature style, the Sovryn project is a more refined and clear vision of Charles’ audiological ventures. Melody, energy and atmosphere remain at the forefront, but there is a new added attention to detail in the production
After kicking off the project with an official remix of Ed Solo & Deekline’s ‘Bam Bam’, on the prestigious Jungle Cakes Records, Sovryn has gained a wide list of support from some of the scenes pioneering figures and shows no signs of slowing down soon.
With an array of exciting releases in the pipeline, commencing with the Static Vision EP featuring Ruth Royall & Gid Sedgwick, this year is shaping up to be a momentous starting point for the Sovryn alias.
AL/SO by name, neck-deep by game, Elmar van Eijk plays many significant roles in this thing we call drum’n’bass.
He’s one third of newcomer heavyweight halftime supergroup Ancient Radius with AKOV and Multiplex. He runs both the Korsakov Music record label and agency representing and releasing music by some of the genre’s most respected and innovative artists. And – after years of fine-tuning his studio skills – he’s become a producer to be reckoned with in his own right. The dramatic theatrics of his soon to be released debut EP ‘Hypersonic’, with High Maintenance, represent everything AL/SO is about: formidable, high-energy, dynamic and musical bass music that crosses boundaries and juices up the dance. In his own words, if it slaps, he’ll play it.
And he’s pretty slap-happy if the truth be told. One of the very few DJs to emerge in the new-gen drum’n’bass movement and achieve international repute, regularly touring Europe, the UK and beyond long before any type of AL/SO release profile developed; his abilities and flare as a DJ alone have led to key residencies at the infamous Prague DNB mischief den Cross Club and the supersized premiership Rotterdam raves Korsakov. Watch him play and you’ll understand why…
A fierce slave to the dark art of mixcraft, AL/SO’s technique is a heady brew of four-deck devilry. Just as his name suggests, there’s always room for one more tune, both in the mix and at the end of the night. Just as his neck-deep game suggests, he is fully immersed in this thing we call drum’n’bass and he’s only just getting started…
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us! How have you been both been coping with the Covid-19 Pandemic and what have you been doing to fill your time?
S: I would be lying if I said it’s been easy but I’m sure that’s the same for everyone. Aside from doing music, I work for the NHS so I’ve been working full time since it started which has definitely kept me busy.
Last year was about stocking up on music ready for the launch of Sovryn so every spare second was spent in the studio.
A: I’ve mainly just been grinding in the studio and keeping Korsakov Music running. Had a bit of a depression in December after we sunk into the umpteenth lockdown and spent the entire month eating pizza and watching Marvel Movies, which was quite cathartic and then when I snapped out of it I started like 2 albums worth of tunage.
Where did it all start for you both musically?
A: I’ve always been fascinated with music, so my parents gave me a keyboard when I turned 5. However when I kept drumming on the keys they switched it for drum sticks and I picked that up hard. I got into Rammstein when I was 8 after hearing Sonne for the first time, then I graduated to SOAD, then Metallica, then ended up with Iron Maiden who are still my all time favourites and main inspiration for everything I do in life. I didn’t get into electronic music until 2012 when someone played me Existence VIP for the first time. Was hooked instantly on dubstep. Fucking hated dnb for years until I heard the Friction x Camo & Krooked remix of Sweet Shop. And now I do what I do.
S: I was brought up playing a range of instruments including piano, clarinet, guitar and drums but it was only when I first heard Pendulum ‘Slam’ at age 12 that I truly realised raw emotional potential music had and how powerful it can be.
I started producing and DJing at house parties throughout my teen years and then went to a music college at 18, which is when Barely Royal was started.
AL/SO, talk a little about your style, and your major influences for writing music?
My main inspiration has always been the death of my father in 2010. I had zero writing experience but was in the school band and then my guitarist accidentally played a sick riff which I turned into a tune in Guitar Pro. My dad actually heard my earliest concoctions. Then he passed away and I was completely lost in sorrow for years, so I just locked myself in my room and wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote. And wrote. And then wrote some more. After writing loads more.
All in all I got about 100 fully written songs or at least good enough ideas from that period to steal from, of which Fly is the first one to ever make it as a legit dnb track. All of that stuff is rock music so that’s why pretty much all my music has rock music structure and that’s why I’ll always aim to have eclectic stuff incorporating many live instruments. Definitely plotting a live show next year.
Sovryn, tell us a about your time as “Barely Royal” and your transition from Bassline House to DnB?
I did the Barely Royal project for around 6 years and thoroughly enjoyed my time under that alias but like all good things, it had to come to an end. I had just fallen out of love with that style of music and wanted a fresh start.
I realised this around 2 years ago and then spent a long time learning new techniques and skills to level up my sound. From there it was a case of experimenting as much as possible until I landed on something I was happy with.
AL/SO, Where did it all begin for Korsokov Music?
I kept pestering my Korsakov mates, for who I was artist liaison at the time to give me something to do and then Sami just randomly said oh mate why don’t you start a label. The rest is history. We became a sister company on my birthday in 2018 – 17 February – and the first release was The Korsakov Compilations Vol. 3.
Sovryn, How did you get involved with the label?
After working on this new D&B stuff for just over a year I had built up a fair collection of tunes. I noticed that Korsakov Music were taking demos for a new talent compilation they were working on so I jumped at the opportunity and sent over a load of tracks. Next thing I know, Elmar responded to my email offering me a record deal - it was quite a surreal moment!
From then on, we worked closely to refine my sound and put together a plan for the Sovryn project. The first release came out nearly a year after we started talking.
What do your studio set ups consist of, and what are your favourite plug-ins to use?
A: My studio is a joke, I got two cheap ass speakers – my headphones cost more than the pair but they’re insane, the Sennheiser 600s, and my acoustic treatment is so shit I might as well make tunes at the bottom of a well. I’ve got zero hardware and don’t see why I’d need it for the foreseeable future.
Plugin wise it’s probably Operator that takes the cake for me for bass design, and then I make literally everything else in Serum. For processing I will drag Trash and OTT on everything and fuck around with the U-He bundle, Runciter ftw, and then some more Ableton stock plugins. Definitely need to get my hands on DIVA though.
S: I’m actually in the process of renovating my home so I don’t currently have a real studio, which means any work I do is on the sofa using headphones. I knew this was going to be my situation the year which is why I wanted to make sure basically all my releases for 2021 were finished before it started.
I use Ableton Live and have done for years, I really love the workflow and ease of use. I still adore Native Instrument’s Massive but Serum and Omnisphere are other favourites. For processing, you can’t really beat the Fabfilter and Izotope stuff but there are some Waves gems I couldn’t live without. I do hope to get out of the box with some outboard and hardware synths once I get a chance to build the studio.
Talk to us about your creative process while working together, we've heard it can get a little heated?
S: Haha yes it was quite an intense experience but it was for the best. Nothing worth having comes easy and there definitely were some moments where I wasn’t sure this was going to get finished. After a while, I think we both knew that this was something quite unique and special about this EP so it was important we gave our all to making it as good as possible.
At the end of the day, we were both so passionate about the project that we just wanted what was best for the record.
A: Oh man it did. We are both incredibly perfectionist when it comes to our art and we will agree on like 98% of the tune off the bat, but we literally had a three hour heated argument over a 1/16th of a sound and we had a multi day fight over a chord that I believed should be like one semitone lower than Charles did it. We made the agreement early on that it was always gonna be business and we were gonna be brutally honest so we agreed to find the most creative ways to tell each other to go fuck ourselves if we disagreed. We Fleetwood Mac’d ourselves through it but we wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve had enough of his fucking bullshit and absolutely gorgeous bone structure for a while but I also can’t wait to start hating on him for putting one note wrong – in my own opinion of course - again soon.
Their upcoming EP 'Insanity' drops on Korsokov music on the 30th of April
Download Exclusively Here
Talk to us about your work flow while creating these tracks, What comes first?
S: So for this project, I reviewed some compositions Elmar put together when he was younger and used a couple of the parts/ideas to write the EP. Shortly after the genesis, I enlisted my good friend Tom Vernon to join the team with his outstanding guitar skills and it really elevated the bar for what was possible with this record.
Once the instrumentals were at a satisfactory stage, Marianna and Gid got to work with writing their vocal parts. As we expected, this didn’t take very long and was truly the perfect last piece of the puzzle!
A: I brought a bunch of writings to Charles, we went to town on them and all added our flavour, got singers involved who smashed their vocal parts, had Tom become the greatest guitarist of all time on 2 of them and now we got Insanity EP. Some ride it was. We pushed each other to create something we never would've created on our own.
Respectively, what would you say your 3 biggest achievements in Drum & Bass are so far?
A: 1. Building Korsakov Music from the ground up into what it is now, especially convincing huge talents and even established guys to sign with us and keep them so happy they wouldn’t even consider leaving for the world.
2. Becoming an international touring DJ before even touching a DAW just on DJ skills and a bit of networking alone. Even held a few semi regular residencies abroad, both in dubstep and dnb.
3. Finally finding the courage and technical skills to make all my incredibly personal music into drum & bass. These writings come from such an emotionally dark and intimate place that it’s giving me loads of anxiety releasing it into the world. It’ll absolutely shatter me if people hate it because I’ve been hearing all this music for 11 years straight before anyone else.
S: I haven’t been in Drum & Bass very long at all but signing to Korsakov Music has got to be my proudest moment so far!
It was an honour to be given the opportunity to remix Ed Solo & Deekline’s ‘Bam Bam’ for Jungle Cakes as the first official release as Sovryn, the Serial Killaz remix had been in my sets for years so to do my own was amazing.
Back when I was working under the Barely Royal moniker, I was lucky enough to have remixes from Turno, Levela and Pola & Bryson - some of these even got regular support from Andy C, Friction and other legends in the scene.
Without giving too much away, any news about upcoming projects from either of you?
A: I’ve got like 15 tracks coming out this year, about half of them solo stuff too – finally – with a lot more personal writings. A huge remix too for one of the sickest albums in years that came out early this year.
S: There are several more EP’s from myself coming to Korsakov this year, can’t wait to get all of this stuff out there as I’ve been working on it for a long time now!
Sovryn, you're from Bristol right? I love a good night out there! With the summer looking good for the return of raves, tell us, where are you heading out to first?Originally I’m from South London but I’ve been in Bristol for the last 4 years and it’s just my absolute favourite! You’re completely right, the nightlife here is tremendous - there’s always something to do!
Funnily enough, my first event back is the ‘Return of the Rave’ event at Old Crown Courts in Bristol on 25th June. Absolutely buzzing to get back in the dance!
AL/SO, Hails from The Netherlands, Where's your favourite place to grab a bite to eat and chill in Amsterdam?
I hail from a city just outside Eindhoven in the south, Should you find yourself Amsterdam definitely visit the Vegan Junk Food Bar, they got a bunch of those. For pizza, there’s a tiny place called Venezia Del Nord, address is Rozengracht 1 which makes the most amazing traditional pizza I’ve probably ever had outside Naples. For sushi definitely go to Sumo at Leidseplein. The sushi might not always be perfect but is still incredible, but the place looks like a Japanese palace on the inside. Plus you’re right in the middle of a sick cultural hub walking distance from all the best museums and a few dope clubs. There’s a lot of decent steakhouses and stuff like that around the corner too.
If either of you could spend 10 minutes talking to anyone past or present, who would it be and why
S: For me, it’s got to be Quincy Jones - music just wouldn’t be what it is today without his legendary work.
A: I’d choose my dad, just to tell him I made it alright. And I’d pick his brain real quick on a few of my writings! I’m sure he’d spend his time giving me some tips and thoughts on how to improve them haha, he loved being home with his family more than any other person I’ve ever met. Dude never wanted to do anything but be with his wife and kids.
In terms of historical figures, it would be fascinating to pick Hitler’s brain. Talk to someone that wicked and that far removed from reality, knowing the things it made him do?
What would you say you like most about the www.jungledrumandbass.co.uk website?
A: I love the passion. It’s clear you guys don’t give a fuck about anything or anyone’s opinion other than your own and just do this for the love of the game. Love that vibe.
S: I love how you cover the whole spectrum of drum & bass and not overly focus on any sub genre, that’s what it all about!
Thank you both for your time! Lastly, any shout outs or dedications?
A: Shoutout to the O.G. Baroniehof squad, my group of friends that has been together literally since I was born as we all grew up in the same street. Shoutout to AKOV, I hate him, don’t believe the rumours of any sort of bromance between us, he’s a disgusting human who is surprisingly comfortable to cuddle up to. Big up the Mandem, big up spectrum boy Droptek and Shelley From The Block aka Shelline Dion AKA The Marv AKA Coppa. Big love to L3mmy and everybody else involved in the label and my career and my life. I promise to try and shower more but will not make any hard promises.
S: Thank you for talking to us :) Special shout outs to my partner, Meg and little brother, James.
Interview and edited by DJ Onit