Hailing from Canada, this week’s interviewee has gone from strength to strength over the past year with heavyweight releases on labels such as Locus Sound, Duploc & Sub Audio Records. Please welcome, SBK…
SSC: Hi Tom – in your own words, who are you and what is it that you do?
SBK: Well I’m Tom, I’m 25 and I currently live in a small town called Trois-Rivières in Quebec (Canada). I produce and DJ under the alias; SBK. I’m also still in school, so I’d say I’ve been splitting my time between studying biology, working part-time and making beats for the last few years.
SSC: So, how was the journey? What started it all off and how did that lead you to where you are today?
SBK: If I had to really pinpoint a starting line to the journey, I’d have to go back about 20 years ago – when I was 5. I had music lessons where I got taught the basics of music theory and learned to play the piano. The spark was lit.
Growing older, I started messing with my mom’s bass guitar and also picked up the drums. I think my affection for rhythms kind of started developing from there. By the time I turned 16, I got into club music and DJing. I started at 17 when I got my first midi controller. After about a year of having fun spinning other people’s music, I discovered that you could actually make your own using a computer. A second spark was lit.
Fell into UK dubstep in 2014 after first being exposed to the more savage ‘Americanized’ version of it beforehand (like most of my North American fellows I believe). I created my SBK alias in 2015, around the same time I met the Musik Me Luv crew, who was one of the only crews in Montréal pushing the deeper, darker side of dubstep I loved. I started making more of it and in 2017, I began sending tunes to DJs and labels. I’ve worked with a few of these in the last years and here we are!
SSC: Who are the main influences for you, musically?
SBK: Within the 140 realm, some of the first labels I stumbled across were Chestplate, Osiris Records and Tempa. Producers like Distance, District, Kryptic Minds and J:Kenzo have influenced me a lot in my early dubstep days. Then I discovered guys like Commodo and Gantz. These two probably had the biggest impact on my sound, especially because they really opened up my mind on using samples in a creative way, as well as inspiring the kind of aesthetics I now aim for when I write music.
Outside the 140 realm, music from the middle east tugs at my heartstrings. Hence why most of my recent tunes display flavours from this part of the world. Last but not least, my producer homies inspire me a lot too. Seeing my good friends Wraz, SUBstance and Motus killing it out there acts as a big motivator for me to push my limits and work extra hard in the studio.
SSC: What do you consider the highlight of your music career so far, and why?
SBK: Getting to hold my first vinyl record in my hands has to take the number one spot. Special feeling. The support on this EP has exceeded all my expectations. Out to Archie and the Locus Sound family!
SSC: Any moments you’d rather forget?
SBK: A couple of smaller gigs that were quite awful but fortunately, no regrets!
SSC: Hailing from Canada, could you tell us a bit about the scene out there?
SBK: Well, as you may know, Canada is one hell of a big country with a quite small population! That being said, the 140 community out west in Alberta and British Columbia seems to be thriving, but I still have to make my way out there. On a more local scale, there is a relatively small but very supportive scene here in Montréal. The main actors currently pushing quality 140 sounds in the city are Conscious Wave and the Musik Me Luv crew. The latter has brought acts like Egoless, J.Sparrow for a sold-out official Outlook Festival pre-party, the Innamind vs System tour, Kaiju, Joe Nice and Sleeper in the last couple years. Out to Nadir, Noémie and Renaud! Big mention to the astonishing 40Hz Soundsystem in Toronto. Nothing but love for the sound and crew!
SSC: Anyone we should be keeping an eye on right now? Any particular artists/ DJs standing out to you?
SBK: So many to mention here but I’ll try to keep this short. First, my french slices Ourman and Quasar. These guys make some of my favourite tunes right now, nothing but flames from these two. Can’t go without shouting out some of the very talented producers we have in Canada. Abstrakt Sonance, Distinct Motive and ColtCuts have been killing it all around for years now. Quebecois producers like Scarz and Meddem are also currently massively underrated and make amazing music.
SSC: Other than bass-focused music, are there any other genres or artists you are particularly fond of currently?
SBK: I’ve been a big old school hip hop head for pretty much the last decade. I also love listening to jazz and funk, anything with a good drum break will do! I find myself listening to a lot of movie soundtracks to relax. My favourite composers being James Horner, Dimitri Vangelis and John Williams.
SSC: What’s on the horizon for SBK? Anything exciting coming up?
SBK: Can’t tell too much at the moment but 2020 is already looking good. In addition to the two EPs that I’ve released already, there are a few compilation features to come and a remix I’ve made for one producer listed above that I’m quite excited for. Also, a couple of vinyl releases shaping up above the horizon that I can’t wait to share news about. Oh, and I also started working on my very first sample pack!
SSC: And finally, if you could give one piece of advice for those wishing to follow in your path, what would it be?
SBK: Not sure if I’m really in a position to start giving advice, but since I’m given a good opportunity to share some things I’ve learned, I might as well use it! Passion, patience, hard work and a positive, open-minded attitude go a long way in this industry. You reap what you sow! Trust your ability and know your worth, no one will do this for you. Finally, you can make great music with little to no equipment. Great tunes come from great ideas, not a plugin or a piece of gear. Get to know your tools inside out and pull the most out of them!