Known for their hard-charging and straight-up bubbling rinseout tunes, the duo known as Samy Nicks & Rekwest continue to make big moves on and off the dancefloor. Having just been tapped by none other than bass-guru Tyke to kick-start his new Holographic Audio imprint, we touch down with the mighty duo to see what kind of heat they’ve got cooking in the lab which they were proud to share with us in the form of a grimy mix chock full of specials that are absolute fire!
But before we jump into the beats, let’s take a look back at how far they’ve come from the early days of sneaking into Fabric and figuring out their own path to the top of the dnb elite.
Introduce yourselves and where you’re hailing from in the world. For those who don’t know give us a brief sketch of what kind of vibe/style you represent and some labels or releases that you think capture what you’re all about.
Howdy, Sam and Tom here! Going by the name of Samy Nicks & Rekwest, we hail from Surrey, just outside of London. People that have heard our sets know we’ve always been more in to the aggressive dance floor vibes – but as we’ve matured, so have our tastes! The initial tunes that gained strong support were “1965” from Crystal Clear’s label, Cold Blooded, and “Curtain Call” on Levela’s Multifunction. Over the years we have worked with a variety of different labels and artists as well as receiving support and encouragement from many more.
The other day we sat down and totaled up over 25 releases including singles, remixes and EPs! The list can be found on our Facebook artist page for anyone who’s interested. We then realized our back catalog of unreleased music went into the hundreds! Enough of that for now though.
Take us back to the early days, what kind of music were you listening to early on and how did this pave the way into drum & bass.
We both grew up in different backgrounds, each listening to an eclectic variety of music. Tom has a very musical background, appreciating all forms, and Sam very much stuck to hip hop/rap.
Over time, we both grew into the idea of drum & bass, attending the London events regularly. What we loved most about it was the community of ravers within the scene that would always be at the events no matter where you’d be in the country – it felt like being a part of a large family.
Do you remember the first time you heard d&b? Give us the story and any specific tunes you hold responsible for pulling you down this twisted path you’re now on.
(Sam) As cheesy as it sounds, probably ‘Tarantula,’ ‘In Love,’ ‘Slippery Slopes,’ ‘Drop it Down’ and ‘All That Jazz’ were the first tunes that got me into the music, I won’t ever forget these. First time I heard these was in the back of a friend of a friend’s car who introduced me to whats commonly known as…… a sub woofer. That’s when my music tastes changed!
(Tom) Mine would have to be ‘Cold Turkey,’ ‘Original Nuttah’ and ‘Hand Grenade,’ I think I got dropped into the underground a bit quicker than Sam by the sounds of it. Always loved loud bass as I grew up with it, but the first time the dnb did it for me was when I got into Fabric at the age of 17!
At what point did production enter the picture and when did you two link up?
Before we knew each other, we started DJing on turntables and were always first in line at the record stores on the days the new whites were released. Sam had residencies at different clubs and promoted some of his own events, booking the likes of Pleasure and Logan D to name a few. This was also the first time we met through mutual friends. Tom DJ’ed at house parties, weddings and played occasional gigs in live bands around London. Drums and guitar were Tom’s forte. Shortly after this we realized that anyone could learn to DJ and play other people’s tunes in order to satisfy the dancers. But where’s the fun in that? At least if we made our own, we’d have the advantage of originality on our side. Furthermore, the satisfaction of seeing the crowd reactions with your own beats made it all the more special.
So we started making beats together at uni in 2011. It was just a bit of fun until our first releases seemed to hit it off nicely which encouraged us to continue. More to the point, we formed a strong friendship through spending hours/days/months in our student accommodation focusing more on music than we did our coursework!
With regards to the production, we both have strong roles to play – for example, Sam’s best aspects are structure/layers, bass lines and initiating fresh ideas, whereas Tom’s most creative with drum programming, mix downs/engineering and musicality. Our main motto is think ‘Out of the Box’ – we get an idea down and keep changing it about for hours until it fits. We ensure that none of our music sounds identical (…we hope!) – so you are unlikely to hear similar synths or drum structures throughout our tracks. The usual routine nowadays is to get in the studio once a week, commonly known to us as our ‘dungeon sessions’ and we never leave until we’ve made one or two new well written tunes (normally finishing around the 7am mark).
At what point do things start to pop off for you guys and who were some of your early supporters?
Throughout university, we gigged regularly around Brighton, London and South England. Without needing to name drop em all, the first artists to message us when we first opened our SoundCloud were TC and Bass Brothers! Hehe…
On the music side of things, we worked closely with Levela and the Multifunction camp for a couple years releasing an EP and probably our most well known release “Curtain Call.” Even now, we thank Callum greatly for helping us progress to where we’ve got. Levs also exposed us to the Belgium scene which we have visited three or four times a year since!
After Multifunction, we jumped between labels hoping to slowly accomplish our achievements of earning respect from many artists in the scene and gaining wider exposure. To us, each label has been an extra rung to our ladder and the only way is up.
You guys have been in the trenches for a while now, establishing your sound, knocking out the tunes and putting in the work – what sort of advice can you give to other DJ/producers out there just starting to make their own mark?
Perseverance is key, don’t lose sight of the goal and be vigilant. We have experienced a lot of people who have tried to put us down, but don’t have your dream belittled by others.
We have very much been in the background, doing what we do. We aren’t really a part of any clique or group in the scene, so we have always worked off our own backs. So our other bit of advice would be to do things for yourself and let the music do the talking. And most important of all…. Have fun.
Talk about this release with Holographic Audio. Let us know how you linked up with Tyke and the label and how it all came together. What’s your understanding of the vibe of the imprint and how your first release sets the stage for what’s still to follow.
Sam has spoken to Tyke for years now, getting occasional tips on production. As with everyone previously, we decided to personally message Tyke with this latest track of ours. Consequently, the release came about when we heard him play ‘Medea’s Lair’ on his FabricLive mix. We exchanged words about the idea of a release with him which we were thrilled about, of course, and here we are.
“Medea’s Lair” has a nice jump-up and neuro vibe all rolled into one. It seems that even though you guys have your sights set on the dancefloor your approach to genre is refreshingly fluid. Talk a bit about how you see yourselves combining genre influences and how this one came together.
We are both fans of Ulterior Motive and the darker side of the drum and bass scene. Therefore, we try to incorporate that sound as and when we can, whilst appealing to the ‘jump up’ listeners. As with previous successful tunes, we were quite spontaneous/open-minded about our ideas going in and, aided by a special concoction of alcohol combined with musical inspiration, this track seemed to fall into place rather quickly (be it at 4 in the morning).
“Disillusioned” is straight rolling bizness – love the vocal elements on this one – talk a bit about how this one came together and how it’s been going down on the dancefloor.
We always try to compensate a dancefloor release with a darker and more passionate tune. We do this to try and expose our skill-set and attract a broader spectrum of listeners. We enjoy coming up with different varieties and more importantly, love working with vocals. Usual procedure, Tom wrote drums, Sam made basses and we layered a perfectly smooth roller that is ‘Disillusioned.’
You guys also have a big mix for us as well. Give us a sense as to what kind of vibe we should be expecting and if there are any extra-special goodies we should be looking out for.
Currently, we are working with Jaydan, who took an EP off us last Christmas for Smokin’ Riddims, and Tyke, who has given us the honor of kick-starting his new record label. It’s been a major privilege to work with artists that have been influencing us for so long and intend to continue working with in future. Therefore, we will be showcasing these tracks for you along with some of the new artists we’ve been supporting. As always, peace and love. Thanks for reading.