#031 – Strong4Life


Hello Tony mate, it’s been a long time coming but it’s a pleasure to finally have you featured on here. How are you?

I’m good thanks, it’s great to be involved with you guys at long last and I have to say a little nervous. I’ve been following the progress of OHOD for quite some time and the talent coming through here is truly next level.

Now, we know a lot about you already of course, but we’re going to do this interview as if we don’t! So first of all, can you please introduce yourself to our readers, tell us a little bit about yourself, and tell us what your favourite chocolate bar is?

Important stuff first then: Yorkie, the one with the biscuity bits in. I’m originally from Newton Aycliffe, been living in Newcastle around 12 years now, sadly not a local but I’ve said many times I’ll never leave so I hope that counts for something. It’s been around 4 years since I started making music and probably forever since I started listening to music. I’m canny old now but I like to think music keeps us all young in some way.

How did you get into music in the first place? Do you remember any formative moments or influences that got you on the tracks of making and mixing music?

I remember getting my first tape, like a cassette (just Google it people…) and it was full of rave and jungle. Charly Says by The Prodigy was probably the biggest standout tune I remember from that tape. I was thinking ‘holy shit, what’s that sound’. That was the bug really, started buying tapes and recording the Essential Mix on Radio 1, then that led to getting decks and records and now here we are.

Your tastes vary between house, dubstep, drum and bass and everything in between. But we know you best for your dubstep productions which have become seriously…serious in the last few years. Tell us, what’s your set up in the studio at the moment, and how do you typically go about producing a tune? Are there any elements you always start with or can inspiration come from random places?

The studio is a bit like a project in itself, it changes and grows over time, albeit slowly. Being a bit of a geek I picked out parts and built a PC, I was running an iMac but they’re crap for upgrading and maintaining so as it got slow I ditched it and jumped to Windows. Running with the popular KRK Rokit 5s, only second generation but still work really well in the space I’m using. Those are going through a Saffire Pro interface from Focusrite, which also has my KRK KNS6400 cans running through it. They aren’t the best but they have an almost identical sonic signature to the monitors so they work well for me. No big synth banks as yet but I use a last gen Oxygen25 midi keyboard, Novation Launchpad (again last gen) and a little Korg NanoKontrol2.

Almost forgot! I use Ableton Live as my primary DAW as well. I tried Reason and Logic but found Live to be the easiest for me to pick up so I stuck with it.
I played drums as a kid for maybe 5 years, so I feel like percussion is something I really enjoy and that’s almost always my starting point. Even on remixes I will start my own percussion from scratch every time. Rhythm is probably the best way to describe where my inspiration comes from, vibes from drums, bass or just a hook I might hear can spark an idea.

On the dubstep side of things, who do you take influence from? We’ve always thought if we heard one of your tunes, and someone told us it was by Distance, we’d totally believe it. Do you take inspiration from producers like him and do you tend to think of your output as residing in that same sort of gnarly, gritty dubstep bracket?

The entire Chestplate family seems to be a constant influence honestly. There’s a depth to their percussion and the way they control the low end is just mind blowing. I think anyone producing in that grime and bass scene around 2008-10 is who I look at. Even though my work might not sound like that, I like to take my ideas and feelings from that period, the sound was just so raw and fresh. I don’t think my sound is quite there yet but that’s my goal for sure.

A lot of this music has come out on Future Follower Records, which remains one of the most underrated labels going. How did the connection come about in the first place, and how is it releasing with them? Must be a good relationship if you continue to work with them on releases?

Future Follower Records is indeed underrated and it is also a pretty wicked family of producers/artists and DJs, with a large selection of them being in the North East. It came about through a fellow OHOD guest by the name of Shotem, someone I still look up to and go to for guidance. He heard an early track of mine called Ghost Town and asked if he could do a remix. From there FFR label boss Naza heard it and got in touch with me, the next thing I know I have an EP coming out and I’m being played on Fokus FM. I work pretty closely with Matt (Digital Pilgrimz) and Naza from the label, who are always really open and ready to push music forwards.

Although we hate using the word, do you think there’s a prospect of having any of your stuff signed to, perhaps, ‘bigger’ record labels in the future? Dare we mention Chestplate, or similar sort of imprints?

Holy crap, imagine that, picking up the phone and it’s fucking Distance on the other end! I think only time will tell. Yes, a release up next to my heroes would be pretty special but I like to stay completely grounded, there’s a good family of people around me at FFR and I will be releasing my first batch of house tunes on up-and-coming label Everything Bass so things are moving forwards.

As you know we’re a big fan of random, inappropriate questions. But with this being April’s mix, what would your perfect April Fools Day prank be? And perhaps more importantly, who would you pull it on?

I’m not very good at April Fools, but I hope someone tries something like this. I’d get a one of those fake plastic turds, and rig it with some kind of spring mechanism. I’d plant it in something like a basket of cinnamon Danish pastries at the supermarket, lurk nearby to enjoy the aftermath.

What is your approach and attitude towards mixing? We’ve whiled away long evenings baking cookies listening to your marathon streams in the past. What do you try and inject into your mixes when you put them together?

New music, I mean new to me. I love playing stuff I’ve only heard like 30 seconds of. When Flying Records was still open I’d come out of there with a bag full of vinyl having heard only snippets and then play them all at a house party the same night. You get a few standout tunes that end up at the front of the box for years and that’s a nice feeling as a music fan.

The questions we ask everyone…

What’s the most prized piece of music in your collection?

I would have to say my vinyl of Leftfield – Leftism, such a great EP and it was tough to get hold of when I bought it.

What tune would you have most liked to be a fly on the wall when it was being made?

Good question, honestly, anything from Masters At Work.

What’s your food heaven and food hell?

My food heaven is at a place called The Applecross Inn, it’s way up in the Highlands and all the food there is exceptional. It’s sits next to the water and you can literally see them bring in the fish it’s that fresh. Food hell is generally really hot stuff, like spicy. I’m a total weak sauce where chillies are concerned.

What one piece of advice would you give to anyone who wants to start making music?

Music is a feeling for a lot of people, so make what you feel not what’s popular.

In a four way Hell-in-a-Cell battle to the death, who would win: Sonic, Spyro, Mario, or Crash Bandicoot, and why?

Obviously Sonic is just going to run away, he is after all a little bitch. My money is on Crash for sure, the guy is mental, like messed up, look at his eyes.

And finally…

What’s your plans for the next couple of years or so, and what would you like to achieve in that time?

Keeping momentum is something I really need to jump on, especially over the next couple of years. I’ve got a bunch of remixes coming out this year, hopefully another EP on FFR and who knows maybe even an album (you heard it here first) in the works. I’m looking forward to working with Everything Bass Records and I really want to work on my craft, just keep pushing myself forwards. With that said I’ve been making a bit of DnB lately too, so we’ll see where that goes, and overall just working with other producers, making music, sharing the vibes with anyone who wants to listen.

Finally, we know you’re a big gamer, so tell us: in your opinion what is the best soundtrack to a game of all time?

Of all time? Holy shit, no pressure. The Halo franchise is a big one I think, always gives me goosebumps. Also some standout titles would be Hotline Miami, Dirt 2, Skyrim, Sim City 2000, oh man I better stop there.

How did you go about putting this mix together for us?

Honestly is was a lot of pressure. The standard is always so high and I have big respect for the crazy talent that’s been featured in the past. I guess I just thought about some tracks that I’m feeling right now, old or new it didn’t really matter, just good vibes. I like to pick the first track out of a wide selection and then just see where it takes me, with a little luck people will enjoy it.

Wicked mate. Well, once again, it’s been great to speak to you. Now is the time to send out any shouts to friends, family, acquaintances, favourite restaurants, or pets…

It’s been a lot of fun and a real pleasure. I’m humbled to be featured alongside so many talented producers and DJs. My partner Nancy is the rock that keeps me alive pretty much so big shouts there, Matt (Digital Pilgrimz) for keeping my music on track (no pun intended) and Naza (FFR boss man) for releasing my music out to the world.

Tracklist:

Dark Tantrums – Unborn
Smerf – Let it work
Digital Pilgrimz – The Mission (Strong4Life remix)
Kloudmen – Arcus
L.S – City (Strong4Life remix)
Sleeper & District – Innate
Strong4Life – Shifting Tides
Seven – Straight to the chemistry
Sleeper & District – War
District – The Worm (Strong4Life remix)
Sleeper & District – Psychosis
LifeSines – Headstrong
Strong4Life – First Contact
Clerk – Vultures
Sparxy – Antidote
Lowryder – Black Mamba
A$AP Rocky – Fuckin problem (Truth remix)
Cotti ft P Money & Blacks – Going to War (Arkotypes remix)

#031 – Strong4Life – Dubstep by Onehouronedj on Mixcloud

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