Skynet is back with new material, a sample pack and has just made lots of Stakka & Skynet’s Underfire and Audio Blueprint back catalogue available digitally for the first time, so we caught up with him for a quick chat about everything…
You recently moved back to the UK from living in LA, what were you were doing out there and why the return?
I was working behind the scenes in the pop industry for about three years, I was actually working with Babyface and his team at Brandons Way Studios which still consists of a lot of producers from the old world famous “Underdogs” production team (Rodney Jerkins – Darkchild, Damon Thomas, Antonio Dickson, Tim & Bob, etc) who have basically produced huge hit records for every major artist you could ever think of and hundreds of them!
Working in his studio was mind-blowing as every day staring me in the face were hundreds of gold records covering every wall in the building from every artist you can imagine. It made me step my game up to a level that was just incredibly challenging, I felt like out of my depth at times which was scary, but also I love a challenge as I tend to focus when under pressure, rather than fold.
While I was there I worked on producing young unsigned artists/performers. I wanted to expand my skill set and knowledge in songwriting and vocal pop production. I couldn’t of asked for a more talented team to learn from and to be around.
I had an amazing time there; unfortunately, my personal life dictated that I had to move. I guess life was telling me I was to be elsewhere and my time was up in that world. I do very much miss LA and those guys, but I’m very happy about my future, the skills and the experience I’ve acquired while working with those legends.
You’re making the legendary Underfire and Audio Blueprint back catalogue available on the Skynet Audio Bandcamp page, why now and what do you remember the most about the tracks you made in this period?
I wanted to make the catalogue fully accessible to everyone that might not have been around when it first hit the streets. That catalogue goes back to 1996, a long time ago. Some very crucial records in that catalogue and I felt it needed to be heard and available on digital format, but with modern levels and impact.
All those songs hold a very important stamp in drum & bass for me and I believe possible for many other people too. Of course, I do miss the days of the Underfire studios, but I now plan to get those vibes back again with my new stuff and my new studio that I am working on building.
In those times I remember just hitting new ground every time we went into the studio, pushing our sound and ourselves in every way. I always wanted to push the envelope with everything I touched, raise the bar, break the standard, not to rinse and repeat a formula every time which is what pop music does.
I wanted to be moved in a way that I hadn’t felt before. A lot of what was created back then I think is still trying to be emulated today, over 16 years later! That has to mean something! Us and a few other producers really raised the bar in those days, but now I think its time to raise that bar once again!
You’re also making the back catalogue from your Skynet and Discrete available digitally at the same time, what people can expect…
Before moving forward with new releases on Skynet Audio I needed to make sure everything behind me was up to date and available. As with the Underfire and Audio Blueprint catalogue, I felt it had to be brought up to today’s spec in levels and impact. Once I had completed these remasters I feel like I can restart and get on releasing all the new material.
You’re going on a Skynet Rebooted tour later this year, where can people check you out?
The Rebooted tour is starting in November after the festival season is out the way. Coming back into the scene after being away for six years I have to build my profile back up, it’s almost like starting over again which is refreshing but, of course, a lot of work too! With this tour I am showcasing all the new material that will be forthcoming along with a lot of classics to really highlight what I’m about.
Things are starting to shape up nicely and I’ll be hitting Europe and the UK in November, then moving on to North America early part of 2015 including Asia and Australia. Dates so far in November are Bristol, London, Poland, Plymouth, Germany, Belgium & various unconfirmed dates…
However, there are still available dates. If promoters are interested in being part of this tour, they can contact Robyn from Anger Management who is taking care if business.
You’re also about to release a sample pack, why are you doing one and what can people expect from it?
Yes, finally, and I’m really excited about doing this! I’ve be asked many times over the years to do a sample CD/pack and I always wanted and have been meaning to. So finally after getting back into drum & bass I was going through and re-arranging my old library from back in the Underfire and Audio Blueprint days and that’s when I decided to put some things together. I didn’t just stop there, I decided to go in and make some brand new processed sounds as well to give a wide scope of usable sounds.
The sample pack is called Skynet Neurofunk Foundation and contains over 1gb of Skynet sounds old and new. Over 50 drum loops, percussion, hits, 50 basses, synths, FX and much more… I’ve taken my time with constructing this pack as I want it to be gold for producers that are lucky enough to get it.
My idea with this sample pack is going to be different from any other sample pack though. I am going to sell this myself through Bandcamp and keep the number of downloads VERY LIMITED with a slightly high premium, this way I feel it makes it more special for its buyers, giving those producers more of an exclusive same pack.
I also believe it will reduce the chances of sharing it or uploading it to a torrent which will keep the samples very rare, valuable and useable for many years to come. I find with most major sample companies they are selling to over a few thousand copies, then within a week or so it’s on a torrent being shared by another thousand people making the samples quickly lose its rarity and value.
This sample pack is not aimed for masses, it’s directed at a serious and prestigious market of producers. I want people to feel like they have something special and rare, I want it to be like the Ring… PRECIOUS. I’ve always found that important to me over years when buying sample CDs. Many times wishing that no one else had bought the CDs I had all to myself!
What producers are you feeling at the moment?
As always with DnB there are a lot of great producers, but the ones that I can relate to, in no particular order, are Audio, Optiv, BTK, Noisia, Dom, Tech Itch, TeeBee & Calyx, dBridge, Gridlok, Inside Info, Mefjus, NC17 and various others.
For me I don’t prefer the pop sounding stuff, it’s too commercial, just not the right vibes for me. Dance music for me is best kept in the underground as Dan Aykroyd once said… “Don’t cross the streams”.
As I mentioned earlier, with the sample pack, I like the feeling of having something special, exclusive, something a little sacred, certainly not something that my mum or someone’s granny listening at the mall is going to enjoy, kind spoils the rebel/punk ethos with in the expression of our sound.
If I want to work on pop tracks with vocals I’ll go to LA and work with those cats behind the scenes as part of a team and not water down the music I’m passionate about. But each to their own I guess.
Anything else you want to tell us about?
I’ve just remixed Dom & Roland’s Take Them Down for his new remix album that’s coming out in September.
I’d also like to thank you guys at Knowledge for the amazing support you have given me over the past 15 years. I truly appreciate it. As I do with all the true supporters of my sound, thank you for helping me to continue to create what I love to do.
I have a lot of things planned for this year and next, so please stay connected via Facebook and Twitter and sign up on the Skynet Audio website mailing list to keep fully updated with all the latest developments. Bless.