Exclusive Guest Mix & Interview: Sicknote

Hey Lewis aka Sicknote!

How did you end up producing tracks, being a drum&bass DJ and also being a part of G.H.O.S.T? Tell us the the full story!

Hey!! Thanks for having me!

Has been a little while now, haha! I have been Djing for about 17 years and making music for about 8 or 9 years I would say. All started in Bournemouth for me, listening to tapes and then buying records from destiny and Avid records and then finally going out to raves when I was about 16/17. One of the first nights I went to was Destiny at the old fire station and I remember seeing Brockie and Mampi Swift for the first time and being fully in awe of those guys.

First memory of buying records was in Avid and Destiny in Bournemouth. I think the first record I bought was in Avid, DJ Zinc – reach out on True Playaz. Me and my mate used to start at Avid and then walk across Bournemouth town centre to Destiny and some times stop of at Standout on the way as well. Always remember Destiny, they would have music blaring out and you could hear it as you walked up the street. Good times!

As time went on I managed to play at a few nights in Bournemouth and put on a few nights myself with friends but nothing too serious. Around this time I was getting really into the heavy stuff, Current value, limewax and the whole therapy sessions sound. Me and my mate DJ Beast were playing at a few nights in town and abroad in Belgium for Mindsaw and I was keen to start making some tunes to play out. Started to play around with cubase and was also going to college studying music technology. 

After finishing my music technology course I moved to London to do my degree in sound engineering. By this time I had thought of selling all my records and concentrating on recording bands and making other electronic music but through the friends I made while studying I fully got back into drum and bass and bought my decks and vinyl up to London and started fully getting my head down into my course and making drum and bass. This is when the whole G.H.O.S.T project started. G.H.O.S.T originally was a 5 price crew which then later went down to being a 3 piece. Big shouts out to Tom, Will, Ben and Mathias! And that kind of brings us up to now where I’m mainly focusing on solo tracks and collabing with other artists and producers.

Where did you get the name Sicknote from?

My name comes from one of my favourite records by ed rush & optical on virus – sicknote/watermelon. My mate had the record at the time and we were playing it a lot when we were learning to mix on his belt drives & blue dog mixer set up on a old plastering table, which you had to climb underneath to get to the decks haha. Big up Dave!

What do you enjoy the most; producing, djing or raving?

I would say I like them all as much as the other, Haha. For me they are all a big part of the scene and the music we are into. I get the same buzz from Djing or being in the studio as I would if I was out at a rave.

For me the main thing that I enjoy is meeting and being with people in the scene. Whether this is in the studio doing a collaboration, out Djing or in a rave with all the crew at Launch or Rupture.

Do you have your own studio or how’s the set up like?

Yeah, well I have a studio setup in my bedroom. One day I will have a separate studio, maybe (that would be sick!)
I use a combination of computer software/plugins and out-board gear. 

There are some things I can do with my out board gear you just cant do in the box. I swear by my Mackie desk and EMU for certain sounds, especially on bass and drums it really does give this crunchy gritty sound I struggle to get in the box. Also at the same time, there are things I can do on my computer that is harder to obtain with gear (unless you have a endless budget for new hardware) so using both simultaneously is giving me good results at the moment.

What inspires you to make music?

Hmmmm, lots of things really. Films are always a good one for inspiring me to make a certain sounding track or a sound or sample I will hear in a film will make me think ‘yeah, I could use that or make a whole track out of that’.
Another one is going out to raves, this always inspires me to go in and try and make something like I heard out that night.
Also other people’s music from all genres. This always inspires me especially if you hear something and you think; ‘I can sample that and make a tune with it…’

Do you prefer to collaborate or making music by yourself?

I think I would say I like collaborating more. It is good to have two heads in the studio in terms of direction and making any decisions on wether and idea is any good or not. Along with having multiple skills and abilities in the studio to draw on.

Also it is just more fun in general than being sat in the studio on your own.

Not to say I don’t like writing solo tracks I just feel some of the best music I have worked on has been in collaborations up until this point.

What’s the hardest part of collaborating?

The only downside sometimes is when the person you collaborate with doesn’t say if they like what your doing or not. I prefer it if someone tells me if what we have made is shit or they are not feeling the vibe. This helps push the track forward and also can change the direction of the track completely.

Also good cups of tea got to be able to make a good cup of tea in the studio.

What else do you do with your life?

My life is taken up with music 24/7 at the moment. I work at SRD, which is an independent record distributor. I work in sales selling records to the independent record shops up and down the country. SRD sell drum and bass from the likes of virus/Dom and Roland/spearhead and Shogun audio to name a few along with a range of big techno labels such as Tresor/Ostguton/Kompakt. They also distribute everything from soundtracks and folk music to Punk and Metal. 
When I am not at work I’m either in the studio working on music or listening to records at home. Collecting records is a big passion of mine so I’m constantly on Discogs looking for records or when I can I will hit reckless and sister ray down in Soho to feed my addiction.

What did your family & friends think you’ll end up doing when you were a kid? What did you think yourself?

Haha! Not sure actually. I trained to be a carpenter when I finished school so I always thought I would do something with that. I was also a French polisher for a while but never carried on with it. When I quit that job, this was around the time I started college and decided that I wanted to take music a lot more seriously.

How would you describe your music?

I would say generally my music is quite breaks heavy and loud. Heavily influenced by the late 90s, from the likes of Dillinja, Optical, Technical itch and Dom and Roland to name a few. These guys are personal favourites and have definitely influenced my sound I think.

What’s in store for you in the near future?

I have a 12” coming out on Silent Force around March time and also a track on the next Dope Plates 12” which is out around March time as well, super excited to get these out there! Big shout out to Mark Cox and Alex Soul Intent!

I have a few more releases lined up for later in the year on Detrimental audio but I am not allowed to go into detail on them at the moment. Big up Will Token!

I have been collaborating with a lot of cool artists as well recently and hope those tracks get to see the light of day soon. Main goal this year is to work on as much music as I can.

What music do you listen to when you’re being ‘just’ Lewis?

I listen to a lot of techno when I am at work. Really into the Drexyia sound and the older Detroit techno from Juan Atkins and Jeff Mills, Shed is a sick producer, and his early albums are really good, the last Steffi album on Ostguton was amazing and I listen to that a lot. I really like the Empty Set releases epically Re-cur on Rasta Notton which is sick label to check out if you like experimental music.

Obviously I listen to quite a lot of Drum and Bass, haha. Lots of old skool DJ sets and tapes; these really inspire me to make music along with keeping up to date with the full spectrum of releases coming out.

Where and when can we see you play out?

At the moment I don’t have any bookings lined up, but I am sure something will come along soon. I would like to say big thank you to all the Promoters that have booked me recently though!

You’ve also done a mix for us, what can you tell us about that?

In the mix I have tried to play a mixed bag of music ranging from the mid 90s right up to the latest releases along with a couple dubplates that I cut recently. The Whole mix was done on the fly as I really don’t like planning mixes and I always try to play old and new records in my mixes as there are so many old records that don’t get played anymore that deserve a re-visit from time to time.

Hope you enjoy the mix!

Any famous last words?

Haha! Just to say thank you to you and Marry-Anne and big shouts out to everyone that has been supporting my music and me, means a lot. Too many names to mention but massive big ups to you all!

Special shouts to Will & Tom, G.H.O.S.T, Dissect, Mikey Soul Beat Runner and Rico

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