Cal Sorensen - July 03 2020
Simula: About The Producer
We’re big fans of unique, different sounds here at By The Producer, that’s something that really sets the pace in terms of production; a sound that you truly make your own. It’s hard to do, and it takes an unfathomable amount of time to lock down, but it’s safe to say that Simula has achieved it. Instantly recognisable in the dance, Simula’s productions have been deservedly elevated into the dizzy heights of the 174 spectrum.
Equally adept at creating jerky, Jump Up howitzers like ‘If You Love Me’ and the superb Annix-collab ‘The Light’ as he is at whisking up bubbling pots of stripped back, darkness-etched bleeps and bloops on ‘Run This Place’ and ‘Keras’, the Godalming-based don has been lighting things up for what seems like ages now. That’s without even touching on the 18 million-strong Spotify streams he’s picked up with Bru-C on the stonecold, anthemic ‘You & I’.
Now, he’s back with a fresh new single and his first ever, all-encompassing sample pack that stretches across a plethora of sounds and sonics, perfect for any calibre of producer, whether newcomer or established. There’s really something for everyone. We caught up with Simula to check on just what makes him tick production-wise.
You’ve just dropped your first ever sample pack with us here at By The Producer, how did you find the process?
I found the process really enjoyable! I’d always wanted to do a sample pack so it was good to finally have the opportunity to do one that was high quality. It was gratifying to put my 10 years of sound design into a pack for people to enjoy.
You’ve really brought the hammer down with the sheer selection of content available, across drum hits, bass sounds & movements and ruthlessly technical FX & glitches, as well as more in-depth, synthesis-based melodies, atmospherics and carefully-crafted presets for use in Massive & Serum, how did you tie each aspect together in one pack?
If I’m honest, i didn’t try to tie them together at all. I think providing a large variety of completely different sounds allows new producers to be totally creative.
Was it all easy sailing or did you run into any difficulties? It seems like a mammoth task to curate and collate it all, both creatively and time-wise! It’s a really top project that shows your knowledge of this tempo & sound.
It was time consuming and stressful in that aspect, but I wouldn’t say I ran into any difficulties. Years of practice and persistence really helps you hone your skills and apply them quickly and efficiently.
You’re one of those unique artists where you can listen to a sound and instantly think, “that’s definitely Simula”! Is that something that came naturally to you or is it something you had to work towards?
It’s 100% something I worked towards. I’ve always wanted to create my own thing and I have the utmost pride in it. I spent many years trying to be different, to be at the forefront of progression in the sound of Drum & Bass and I think this is something that every producer should value.
It’s not something to take lightly, one of my favourite moments on the dancefloor is when a tune drops and you turn to your mates exclaiming which artist it is, especially the grotty ones that stand out that bit more! Can you pick out any other artists that have that signature, defining sound?
I could name loads! I’ve always loved the producers that take a unique approach to their music, such as Urbandawn, Annix, K Motionz, Mefjus, Phace etc.. I love the feeling of hearing a dub on the dancefloor and thinking ‘i know exactly who that is!’
Two of the things I love about your production is that signature Simula crunch and that all-important sub that drives underneath quite a few of your tracks, how do you work those in from tune to tune?
I won’t say much about how i make my tracks, all I’m going to say is that tone and timbre are SO important in arrangement, as well as sound design!
You’ve also shown an artistic willingness to head down into the deeper, sublow 174 frequencies on cuts like ‘Lifeline’ & ‘See It Through My Eyes’, your musicality is always on show in your tunes but on those tracks it cuts through that little bit deeper. Do you find it easy to flit between those different sonic levels? Any preference?
I love all drum & bass and I've always made all kinds of styles (even though I've only released a set few). I don’t just find it easy to flit between the styles, I find it necessary. There’s a lot to learn from different genres and subgenres. I wouldn’t say I have a preference, but jump up and liquid will always have my heart.
‘Lifeline’ saw you work with Sydney on vocals, and we’ve also seen you work with Bru-C & Evil B as well, all of whom bring completely different vibes to a track. How does having a vocalist change your idea of a track? Any tips for budding producers when it comes to working with an original vocal?
I think a good vocalist can turn a dance track into a real song, and people love real songs. It’s important to work closely with the vocalist so you can both understand each other's vision and create something amazing.
Do you usually have an instrumental ready or do you build the aspects up around the vocal?
Either or! Usually I’ll have a track in mind which I can send to a vocalist, but at any point I might scrap it and make a new one. This was the case with Bru-C and ‘You & I’, the original track was actually my track ‘Us’ which came out on Crucast.
I’m intrigued by another technical aspect of that - does your work process, mixing & mixdown change depending on the vibe/energy, and also whether the vocals are male or female?
There are different techniques that can apply to different styles, but my process mainly stays the same.
We need to talk your huge new single: ‘Don’t Leave Me’, which dropped exclusively on Beatport. How have you found the release during lockdown? That’s going to absolutely hammer the rave when clubs are back open.
The release has done really well! I was very unsure how well music would sell during lockdown but it looks like it’s selling better than ever. ‘Don’t Leave Me’ reached number 6 on the Beatport Drum & Bass charts which I was extremely happy about! I’m really looking forward to seeing how the full release goes.
It’s got that stripped back, minimal Jump Up vibe that you’ve made your own on licks like ‘Run This Place’. Production-wise, how do you find those tracks where each element is really out in the open; is it more of a less-is-more approach?
Definitely! Less is always more in my opinion, trying to over-complicate things never works. I think this style is something that very much suits my vision of Drum & Bass, where it’s simple and effective.
Finally, it’s been really interesting to see what everyone’s been up to in lockdown. I was locked in for your Stay At Home festival set, as well as your standout on-location set with Goat Shed & Onyx on Monday, how did the set go? The setting looked insane!
It’s been really interesting to get involved with these guys and a lot of fun! If I’m honest the biggest incentive for me to do these livestreams was just so i could perform again. Myself and many other artists really miss being able to do our job, and getting involved with these projects helps get that satisfaction.
Big thanks to Simula for taking the time out to chat with us here at By The Producer, you can grab his exclusive Sample Pack from our store now, and there’s plenty, plenty more to come from us, across the entirety of underground UK music. Keep it locked. Keep it BTP.
Head Writer at By The Producer