The 275th episode of our 12 Questions segment features producer Suggy.
1. How old are you, where are you living and how long have you been producing and Djing?
I’m 40 years old and I live in Leeds, England. I haven’t DJ’d for around 15 years, although I do still have a few hundred records collecting dust! I’ve been producing for around 5 years, although it’s purely a hobby.
2. Where do your musical roots lie, what are your first memories of electronic music and when did you know you wanted to pursue it seriously? Are there any particular productions or artists from the past that really made you think to yourself ‘this is what I want to do.”
I was 14 years old and listened to a Carl Cox tape, which had probably been copied 100 times so the sound was terrible. That changed everything for me, I was now spending my weekends in records shops in Leeds, waiting for the next DJ Sy, Grooverider or Carl Cox tape to arrive.
I started buying old school garage records on labels like Hard Times and Strictly Rhythm in the early 90s. A couple of years later I listened to No Other Love by Blue Amazon and that was it, I was hooked on progressive house. That’s when I thought to myself, I’d love to be able to do that. Unfortunately back in those days music production wasn’t as accessible as it is now so it was just a pipe dream for many years.
A few years ago, a DJ friend of mine gave me a copy of Ableton 6. I was just using it to make mixes for myself, then I stumbled upon the bits that actually made sounds. That’s when I realised my dream from years ago could actually become a reality. After a couple of years messing about I’d made Apollo Creed, which was picked up by Stellar Fountain Records.
It was never about becoming ‘known’ as a producer, for want of a better word. I just love house music and always wanted to be able to make it, for myself. When Grey from Stellar Fountain contacted me about Apollo Creed it was the icing on the cake really, somebody else thought my music was good enough for other people to buy. It was a very special moment for me, at the tender age of 35.
3. How difficult was learning to produce for you in the beginning? Did you take any Audio Engineering programs or production courses to help you out or are you pretty much self taught? And did anyone give any advice early on that really helped?
I’m completely self taught, I don’t know any other producers. I watch a few YouTube videos, mostly to see if people are doing things the same way I do them, occasionally I pick some useful tips and tricks along the way.
I didn’t know what compression was until around the 3rd track I released.
4. What parts of the production process do you find the most difficult and what comes easiest for you? When you do hit a creative block what helps you through it?
I often struggle with drums. I usually create my own beats using Tremor and other soft synths, trying to not use samples or loops, which is a ridiculous idea really. I probably over process my drums but I enjoy tinkering with sounds as much as getting a track finished. I’m all about learning the hard way…
I enjoy playing around with melodies, often spending days just on pad and synth parts. I’m trying to learn chord progressions so when I create something that sounds good, it’s on purpose, not a fluke, like I used to do. It’s definitely not easy though.
When I have a creative block I stop trying to write music and just play around with one of my synths to learn a bit more about what it can do. Occasionally a sound comes out which sparks a bit of inspiration.
5. What’s a normal day like for you? Do you have a job outside of electronic music? And what do you like to do when you’re not working on music?
I’m a software engineer by day and a father of 2 by night so my normal days are pretty full! I’m a bit of a geek so I spend a bit of time learning new computer languages, I play of bit of golf as well.
6. Apart from electronic music what other genres do you listen to and who are your favourite artists outside of electronic? and do these genres or artists have a direct effect on your own productions?
My favourite non-electronic band is probably Elbow, they create some really beautiful music. I think their music is probably the reason why I’m trying to learn to play music properly, rather than just paint by numbers in the Logic piano roll.
7. What was the first and last physical (CD, Vinyl, Cassette etc) piece of music you bought?
I remember the first record I ever bought, it was Activ 8 by Altern-8, back in 1992. We all started out as ravers back then! I can’t remember the last piece of vinyl I bought, but it was a long time ago. I didn’t do down the CD DJ route, I just started buying music from Beatport.
8. Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people?
The first track I wrote that was signed by Stellar Fountain – Apollo Creed – is named after my dog. The second track – Madeleine – is named after my daughter. I now have a son called Joe but I’m not sure if that’s a catchy enough name for a record.
9. Which producers in your opinion get consistently overlooked?
I follow a lot of talented producers on Soundcloud, ‘overlooked’ is a very subjective expression. I would say it depends on the level of success an individual is striving for. I read articles by people who say you must have a certain level of social media presence before big record labels will even listen to your music, even if you’ve just written the most amazing track in the world. If people are looking for that then good luck to them. ‘Real’ labels like Stellar Fountain, Suffused and others I’ve worked with in the past, are simply looking for music they like. So back to the original question, I wouldn’t say anyone is overlooked as every producer I listen to has music released by record labels.
10. Which producers consistently inspire you? And where else does your inspiration come from?
I’m a huge fan of people like Henry Saiz and Guy J. When I was going to clubs I was listening to the likes of Sasha, John Digweed and Dave Seaman, so that style of music has always been what I’ve loved. I listen to a lot of downtempo electronica as well.
11. There are countless producers out there trying to find their way and create their own unique sound, what advice do you have for them?
Don’t buy a load of synth plugins and just use the presets. Get just a couple and learn how to use them to create your own sounds. It’s much more satisfying knowing you’ve created it on your own.
If your head is still nodding after you’ve listened to the same 16 bar loop for 3 hours, it can’t be that bad. Go with your gut instinct.
12. If the final DJ/live set of your career was next week what would your last track be?
Sunscreen – Perfect Motion (Boys Own Mix)
‘Alt Enter’ is out now on Stellar Fountain, you can purchase the release: here