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DJ, Producer and Engineer, Jason Cambridge (aka A Sides) has been producing music since 1990 and has released well over 500 tracks to date across many of the scene’s biggest labels.
With tracks released on labels such as Metalheadz, Valve, True Playaz, Bingo, Innerground, Violence, Hardleaders, Allsorts, Grid, Reinforced, Advanced, Strictly Underground, Advanced, Just Another Label, Reel 2 Reel, Liq-weed Ganja, Clear Skyz, Spearhead, Human Elements, and Hospital to name but a few, A Sides has a discography of truly epic proportions.
A Sides established his own label Eastside Records in 1996 and has since put out over 85 releases, including two compilation albums (Eastside Jamz Volumes 1 & 2) as well as the A Sides 3 solo albums ‘Follow The Groove’ ‘Worldwide’ and “Mysterious Vibes’
Currently pushing his Quart Sector series, with Sector 5 upcoming for release, I stop by to have a chat about his life, music and thoughts moving forward.
Thanks for taking time out, and big up on your latest Quart series, some beautiful music coming out there. Can you go back to when you were growing up, what music you were into and how you found dnb?
I was born and bred in Dagenham which sits on the Essex / East London border and was raised on my family’s records which were mainly Rock, Reggae and some Funk & Soul. I discovered Old School Electro in the mid 80’s then progressed into old School Hip Hop and the journey continued from there.
Production has changed a lot since 1990, so 25 years in the game now… can you go back to what you used to produce on and what you’re on now?
I started production on a Roland W30 workstation doing everything inside the box then moved onto an Ensoniq EPS16+ and an Atari 1040ST computer running Creator with a Korg M1 keyboard, Roland Juno 2 keyboard and a Studiomaster mixing desk and some shitty Peavey monitors. That was the core set up for my early material before i began to expand.
Nowadays I am running mainly inside the box with Logic Pro X running on a Mac Mini Server with 16GB ram and SSD drives. I run an 8 core UAD system which is spread between an Apollo interface and a thunderbolt Satellite system. I monitor on Dynaudio BM15a’s and I also use Adam A3x for cross reference. I do have some outboard compressions and summing units but i’m enjoying using the software versions a lot more nowadays and it’s a lot less hassle
If I gave you £10k to spend on studio gear, what would it be and why?
I’d love to buy an new Mac Pro for more processor power. Then i’d take a nice outboard EQ like a Manley Massive Passive and a Manley Varimu Compressor to sweeten up my mixes with some decent analogue outboard. I’d buy a nice Rode Mic and a decent preamp for recording vocals and live instruments nicely and if there was anything leftover i’ll take a Fender Rhodes Electric Piano just because I want one
You have collaborated with the likes of Calibre, Makoto, Jenna G, Break, Deeizm, Peshay, Digital, MC Kemo, KJ Sawka, Mark de Clive-Lowe, Dj Randall, Goldie, DJ Marky and Nathan Haines (under the guise of Sci-Clone)… that really is an epic list… is there anyone in dnb you would love to colab with?For sure I would still like to catch up with Total Science, Spirit, Marcus Intalex, Dillinja, D Bridge, TC, Alix Perez and Serum (Which is on the cards)
And anyone out of dnb to colab with?
Bob James, Herbie Hancock, Bernard Purdie, Carl Macintosh, D’Angelo, Pete Rock, etc. Anyone who I feel is great musically I could learn a lot from.
So your Quart Sector series ending in sector 5… can you tell us about the inspiration of this and how the idea came about?
The album is to celebrate 25 years since my first vinyl release in 1991. I though it would be adequate to have 25 tracks on the album including some revamps from producers who i am inspired by and also bring in some of the Old School crew too. As for the sectors i think it’s a great way to prolong awareness of the project and to give a little gradually rather than everything at once which nowadays is mainly forgotten about a week or so later.
You talked to my dear friend J Swif at DNBHQ recently that mixcloud ban any mixes or radio shows with more than 4 tracks on it, and that’s why you’re spreading it all out over 5 EPs… can you tell us about your positive experiences of soundcloud / mixcloud and youtube but also why these platforms can cause problems too?
It’s actually only an issue in the USA if you have more than 4 tracks on 1 mix by the same artist it’s not playable in the USA. That was nothing to do with the reason i did the LP over 5 sectors though and the reason why is in the answer of your last question.
I think Mixcloud and Soundcloud are great platforms to expose your music. I put a lot of mixes on my Mixcloud page and have a lot of followers on there so i get good exposure. I don’t really agree with how there charting works at times as it seems to reset weekly so sometimes chart positioning can be strange too. I’m also not a fan of premium accounts either so i just have a standard Mixcloud account as I think the premium rates are too high for what they can offer me.
I never post my own mixes on Soundcloud as I believe it’s more of a tool for promoting your music. I wish we had more space on there to upload audio but last time I checked it was pretty restricted but again it’s a great promotion tool especially if you have a lot of followers on there like Makoto
Youtube is also great and I actually use it a lot for digging’ out samples sometimes i’ll listen to music on there and hear a sample and source the original track afterwards so for me it’s a great way to find inspiration. I’ve never really had any negative experiences with any of these sites though. The only thing that i don’t like is when some people think it’s ok to go and post your unreleased music on Youtube. I don’t mind if my old material is up there but please let the recent stuff do it’s thing first!!
You’re playing yearly in Australia and New Zealand, how do you find flying and how different is the scene there to here?
I really hate doing that flight direct it’s such a long way and i don’t think you can fly any further either. Most times i will break the flight up with a layover either in Asia somewhere or in California as they are both nice stopover locations and i can normally play a few shows en route too.
I feel like you are appreciated more in New Zealand and Australia as you come from so far away and people are really tuned into the music over there too. New Zealand actually has it’s own really great music industry and they stand behind there own out there. I would never ever consider going up against Concord Dawn or State Of Mind out there because it don’t matter who you are everyone will support the locals iv’e seen it happen many times and it’s a great thing!
You are so well traveled, where is your favourite place to play?
Sun And Bass Festival in Sardinia has to be the highlight of my year. Very special!
You did a USA tour this year! What areas did you hit and for the readers, can you tell us how different parts of USA vary completely different to here in the UK.
What is your favourite place in the UK to play?
Fabric is always nice but nowadays it’s all about Launch, Innersoul and Soul In Motion for me.
Sun and Bass BBQ in Dubai this year, can you tell us about that?
Delicat who is one of the founders of Sun And Bass wanted to try out some new concepts outside of the festival and Sun And Bass Recordings events so we came up with the Sun And Bass BBQ idea. There are a lot of crew from Dubai who come to Sun And Bass each year so we though it would be good to link up with them and try and do an event serving brunch on a hotel rooftop and then progressing into an evening club session. We had a great weekend there and was taken great care of by the Bassworx Crew.
You take your parents to Sun and Bass, so they love the music or just a bit of a holiday?
Yes I do and they are absolute legends there who will be seeing in there 10th Sun And Bass next year. The actually love both the music and the atmosphere and have made many friends there over the last 10 years. Sun And Bass is nice like that
You do A&R for many labels, including of course your own imprints Fuze and Eastside, and was among the first to recognize and nurture the talent of producers such as Break. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing him… can you tell us what he is like to work with?
Break is great and he is still a real humble guy and loves what he is doing. It’s been good watching his career develop and seeing him grow into one of the best producers in Drum & Bass and one thing i love about Charlie is that he never forgets where he came from. We sit on the phone talking for hours sometimes both geeking out lol. I was actually introduced to him from the Social Security guys and not long after that he made Cocktail which was his first release and featured on the Eastside Jamz compilation. I’ve not done a colab with Break for a long time but one day i would like to head up to Bristol and have another studio link with him. It would be educational for me for sure.
You added remix duties to ‘Lego’ for UK Rap sensation Lady Leshurr… shes just won a MOBO – you must be pleased to see people you work with containing to grow and achieve so much?
To be honest with you I never paid it much attention until you just mentioned it I’m stuck inside my own box sometimes and it takes people to mention things for me to realise! However Lady Leshurr is great and I enjoyed doing the remix for her too. A good friend of mine Richie Montana works very very closely alongside Tinie Tempah doing his production and development and he used to work with Lady Leshurr which is how the project came about.
You have made so many tracks, what is your most memorable or favourite?
I would have to say Lucid by Sci-Clone as it helped me get through a pretty difficult part in my life. It’s a very personal track for me.
What studio tips do you have for our readers that you can give us on mono and stereo, and also on any eq frequency’s?
Kick and bass down the middle – Golden Rule
Try and use a spectrum analyser too and look out for those highs and lows that you can’t even hear but can’t create havoc with your mix and EQ in moderation. Never too extreme!
Top 5 tracks in your bag at the moment?
Calibre – A Sides (Spirit VIP Remix)
No Light – Alibi, T.R.A.C & MC Fats
Monsters – Benny L & Shimon
Thunder VIP – Emperor & MC Fats
This Is Your Time – A Sides & Vanessa Freeman (Break Remix)
Top 5 all time?
You And Me – Goldie
Champion Sound – Q project
Babylon – Splash
Circles – Adam F
Roll On – Andy C
And from that, what goals do you now have over the next 5 years?
To continue to keep making and playing music that i love and to stay inspired and enjoy what i do.
What’s up next for you?
A Serum Colaboration and to head to New Zealand at the end of the year to wrap up a new Sci-Clone ep for Metalheadz.
Any shouts and thanks?
Thanks to mum for being guarantor for my first turntables when i was 15 years old. Shouts to all my friends and family throughout the world and sending big ups to anyone who has brought my music, payed to see me play or booked to dj me over the years. it’s all appreciated <3
Many thanks for your time!
Interview by Aliina Atkinson (Missrepresent) 2016
Listen to the audio interview below at 54 minutes in.