Simma Interview

We love the vibes of your music! We have had it playing in our office. How would you describe the sound of this new album to the average person?

Hello and thank you! So if you were to take the rawest elements of 80’s digital reggae, add some dubbed-out hip-hop flows and sprinkle in some bass-heavy 8-bit chiptune – you end up with Simma Enters The Game

A big influence behind the project is the German label Jahtari and the Scottish soundsystem Mungo’s Hi Fi. This style of music is sometimes referred to as ‘laptop reggae’ where traditionally ‘live’ instruments are replaced by drum machines, circuit-bent synths and digital audio workstations.

If you are completely new to this world, I’ve actually just made a Spotify playlist full of my favorite tracks from this style, you can listen here. I would also highly recommend the book Collision and Creolization by Nicholas Nova

What did the album-making process look like?

I basically started messing around with music production in Ableton as soon as the first lockdown hit in 2020 and slowly but surely worked on putting together an EP. Fast forward to 2023 and the project was picked for some support funding from Help Musicians and the MOBO organization, so I decided it would be a good idea to extend it into a full album. The final product you hear today was technically made over a 4 year period, but realistically 80% of the work was crammed into the final month

I’ve got to work with so many amazing vocalists all around the world through the power of the internet! We’ve got Natty Campbell in Amsterdam, Nina Girassóis in São Paulo, Dandelion in Glasgow, Tenor Youthman in Moscow, then Indra MC & Who Knew down in Bristol. Plus Yorkshire’s own Danny T & Tradesman collaborating on some productions

The album artwork is fantastic! What inspired the visuals, and what was your involvement in its creation?

100% of credit for the art goes to Leeds-based @pstlcstl who I’ve been very lucky to work with on two of my other singles…

It will probably come as no surprise that we are both really into music and videogames, especially the more old-school arcade vibe! I graduated in computer science at Uni before fully committing to working in music. Then Em actually does work in game development and plays in bands, so it was a really fun collaboration. They 100% understood the assignment and fully ran with it!

The designs (I am told) are created in a specialist pixel-art animation software program called Aesprite – and if you want to see more of their work, you can check out these videos they made for Stealing Sheep + Miru Song

For Simma Enters The Game, I asked them to try and imagine a dub/dancehall soundsystem party taking place inside an arcade, that included all the vocalists in a ‘character selection’ style stance. And I reckon they nailed it! I especially love the attention to detail, you can look at it 20 times and keep noticing different things. My favorite parts are probably the Casio MT-40 Keyboard and Roland Space Echo on the table!

What’s your relationship with vinyl like and do you think the format enhances the listening experience of your music compared to digital?

I’m a big vinyl collector, it comes with the territory of working in dub + reggae. Whilst vinyl sales in general have historically been very up and down over the years, the demand for physical releases in these genres has stayed pretty consistent, with it sometimes being more unusual if you don’t press something to vinyl.

I run a few record labels releasing music from other artists so I’m no stranger to pressing records, but this album is the first time I’ve actually done it with my own work as Simma! Other than this very limited run of ‘polyvinyl’ for the Godzilla single last year – which were made by cutting directly into the discs in realtime, one by one

I won’t lie, if you did a blind listening test on me using the same speakers and played a record VS a well mastered WAV file, I probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. If it was compared it to a lower quality Spotify stream, this would be a lot more noticeable of course. But you can’t deny the convenience of digital music in day to day life, especially for a touring DJ like me who can travel with just a USB stick

The thing I love most about vinyl is the ritual of it all. Flicking through the racks, carefully taking it out of the sleeve, reminiscing about the record shop you got it from, reading the liner notes, making sure the turntable and hi-fi are nicely tuned and just sitting down and listening to something from start to finish, watching it spin round and around. You really appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into it and how many real people are involved who dedicate their lives to this medium, from the musicians, the engineers, the artists, the pressing plant, the shops… With digital music it’s very easy for it to fade into the background, which is fine, but you just can’t beat the experience of putting an LP on and listening in full!

What would be five Desert Island Discs you’d pick from your vinyl collection?

Hmm, very tough and probably something that would get a different answer on a different day… My collection is in two parts, half of it is quite niche dub/reggae for DJ’ing and then the other half is albums of all genres just for home listening.

so thinking about what I truthfully play most often at home, I think it would look something like this…

SAULT – Rise
Nightmares On Wax – Smokers Delight
Mad Professor – Dub Me Crazy
Xenia Rubinos – Black Terry Cat
A Tribe Called Quest – Midnight Marauders

How was your experience working with Press On vinyl, and what made you choose them for pressing your vinyl?

I’ve mostly gone through middlemen for my pressings in the past just to have someone else more in the know to handle the specifics. Then I saw there was a new plant less than two hours away from me and knew I had to get involved!

It’s definitely been the best vinyl pressing experience I’ve had. Everything has ran very smoothly and I haven’t had to chase anything. I especially like the instantly available quotes on the web form, so you can very quickly figure out exactly what sort of run with what kind of extras you can budget for, without having to send emails back and forth for weeks.

But of course, the cherry on top was the invite to come down and see the records getting pressed in person which is something I will never forget.

How can people check out your album?

The best place to support musicians is generally always Bandamp but you can listen now on all major platforms – find your preferred one here or go pester your local record shop to get it in stock!

What’s next?

I’m currently putting the finishing touches on an extended ‘mixtape’ edition of the album to be released on a cassette tape, with loads of new ‘dubplate’ versions of the tracks and remixes, which will be coming out in summer I imagine

Then on my record label Dub Junction, we’ve just released re-issue a track I put out a few years ago on a charity compilation called ‘Tour Dub Yorkshire’, a collaboration between myself and York’s DBC3, but now with some new remixes from Tubby Isiah for a full 12″ – which you guys have just pressed on a cool ice-blue vinyl! You can preorder that here:

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