Q: Who is Deelay?
A: Deelay originally started off as a DJ beginning from 1999. I held various residency spots around Leicester city in the UK and primarily focused on playing UK Garage as well as RnB & Hip Hop.
As I went to study a degree in Multimedia at Nottingham Trent University I started to get more involved with learning audio and visual technology and spent some time in recording and broadcasting studios. This provided me with an opportunity to hold a weekly radio show with the university station Fly FM. Got to admit I always dreamt of holding my own show when I was at school so this was a big achievement for me. The shows really showcased my personality not just in style of mixing and genres of music played but interacting with listeners.
After university I wanted to carry on playing on radio stations but at that time all the pirate radio stations were off air so I continued playing gigs and really got in to house music specifically soulful house, tech and electro. Luckily for me I came across online broadcasting on Mixlr and set up my own show for a few years. On Mixlr there was a channel called The Underground Sessions that played an unbelievable amount of great music fitting the name of the channel too. I became addicted to listening to many shows specifically DJ Caspa and Mood Indigo who both had unique styles. I really wanted to be part of the group and worked hard to raise my profile and be true to myself and was patient enough to get a weekly slot.
As years went by I wanted a new challenge and felt learning how to produce music would be a perfect opportunity to showcase my own style of music.
Q: Who would you say is/are your biggest influence/s?
A: Wow so many people to mention across the years! I must start with my early days when I was in school and came across 2 Garage mix tapes that paved my inspiration and career in music, the first one was an event called Hocus Pocus with DJ Mike Ruff Cut Lloyd with MC Juice Man and the other tape was an event called Stush with the same DJ but with MC Blakey. I religiously replayed those tapes hundreds of times and can remember all the tracks in sequence as well as the MC’s lyrics!
I mentioned about dreaming to play on a radio show above which leads on to my next influence from where that ambition came from, 2 radio stations in Leicester called Fresh FM and GCR FM. DJ Lombardo, MC Feva and DJ Glamour were artists that blew my mind as they played Garage music like the pirate stations in London so to have that in my home town was special. To this day I still want to get MC Feva to host on my show, maybe one day!
My favorite DJ of all time is of course DJ EZ, he was a massive influence on me to become a DJ, his style of mixing and delivery was so exciting to hear and watch! He also was the DJ that played a lot of Todd Edwards tracks who is the producer I adore the most, they don’t call him the god for nothing!
In recent years I must mention artists like Alex Agore, James Johnston, Ross Couch, Leigh D Oliver, James Dexter, and Timmy P were artists that I followed heavily and influenced me to get into producing too. For me I have many artists that influence me in general regardless of their profile, as there’s so much talent out there.
Finally must mention DJ Caspa as one of my influences as he was the one who got me on to The Underground Sessions and he is a DJ who has helped so many artists gain recognition and push their music and that’s exactly what i would like to achieve as a DJ. He has shown that being a true gent and supporting artists can be highly rewarding. I hope I can be just as influential like this to other artists too.
Q: When did you start making music?
A: I started making music in 2014 officially, which in my opinion was very late in my career, I wish I had started sooner! There was a time I played around with a few bits on various DAW’s but that was just for fun and I never managed to finish a track, just played around with a few loops.
I really got into checking out video tutorials online and got confidence to start making tracks. My first release was in 2015 with 3 tracks called Cynthia, Lunar Mercury and It’s In The Word, I was really surprised with getting those tracks signed as it was very early in to my career and I was very much in the learning stages.
Getting tracks on Crazy Monk Records is definitely very rewarding for me recently as you just have to look at the quality of music and artists on the label so it’s a huge privilege to be apart of this lovely label and very privileged to doing this interview.
Q: What are currently your main challenges as a Producer/ DJ?
A: This is an easy one for me, its time! Mainly when producing music rather than Djin as I hold a weekly show on The Underground Sessions and a monthly show on House Junkies, which is easy to manage.
Finding time to produce music when having a full time job as well as doing other activities such as taking piano lessons is really difficult for me. I tend to produce tracks when I am on holiday or have a weekend off from work.
I suppose another challenge that applies to DJin and getting my music out there is the fact that there is lot of competition compared to when I was younger so you really have to be patient and talk to the right people. I don’t like to use the word competition but suppose there are so many artists out there that it can be difficult to raise your profile or get interest in your music. Saying that I have great friends and family that support me so I am blessed to have all that networking around me.
Q: How would you describe your production process?
A: This really depends on my mood as I like to change things up often to keep me refreshed with ideas as I really struggle with the creativity side.
In general my process usually always starts off with listening to a whole heap of tracks from my favorite artists and get a feel for the style of music I am looking to produce. This usually determines the BPM I will start off with as estimation when I am ready to make the beats. Once I have made the beats, it gives me a clear direction of what style the track is going to possess, from this I can start creating melodies or throw down a few chords. As I am learning to play the piano I use what I have learnt in my lessons and apply them to a track to see if it will work. I usually like to get a few scenes/loops together before I lay the track down with any vocals. Choosing vocals to sample is something that takes me time as I search through various bits before I’m happy to chop them down. This then leads on to constructing the track from start and building on it by adding various elements as I go along.
Personally I spend 3-6 hours when I have a day off from work to produce and usually a lot of the magic happens early hours in to the morning! If everything goes well and the sessions are consistent I can finish off a track in 3 days but mostly I stumble upon the odd mind block that halts the production process and can lead to tracks being finished over 4 weeks.
Q: What kind of gear do you currently have in your studio?
A; I have a very basic setup in my studio to be honest even though I have been producing for 3 years. The DAW I stand by is Abelton only because I used it briefly in my university days where I use to record band sessions so it was something familiar to me. I have a Korg Micro Key 37, which is the first midi keyboard I bought when I started producing but mainly got it for my piano lessons. As you can imagine this was not very practical when I was taking piano lessons so decided to get something more bigger by purchasing the Arturia Analog Lab 61. This is my favorite piece of gear as it’s like a classic synthesizer that has a vast amount of control for today’s digital environment. In addition I have an Akai MPD 218 which I like to use when I have created a number of vocal chops or melodies.
Q: Is there a particular device/ plugin that influences your sound and you cannot work without?
A: My go to plugin for sure is the Korg M1! I came across this plugin when I was learning to produce and watched a lot of video tutorials by Danny J Lewis, he used this plugin in a lot of his tracks. I loved all the various sounds it had in its library especially the pianos, organs and pads. It reminded of those 90’s elements in Garage and House so felt natural to use those sounds.
Also I have the Arturia Analog Lab 2 plugin which came with my midi controller which has a vast amount of sounds to pick from just like the plugin from AIR Music Technology Xpand 2.
On my drums I use Satin from u-he a lot on my tracks as it has that nice tape saturation sound as well as useful FX modes.
Going forward I really want to venture in to some more plugins and treat myself to Native Instruments Maschine as that’s one device I like to get grips with.
Q: Tell us a little more about your latest EP. How long did it take and what makes it a great release?
A: The Make Me Feel Ep has tracks that I describe as bumpy with those classic garage elements especially the original mix with the organ and rolling bass line and stabby synths.
The remix takes a different route where it has more of a deeper feel to it but maintains that energy to keep it groovy accompanied with some nice choppy vocals which fitted in well with both mixes. I wanted the EP to have a bit of variation in terms of the style of each track so it can create those mood elements for the listener.
The original track took me the longest to make because once I got the bass down I had about 3 different melodies on top of it which I couldn’t decide upon, luckily one of those melodies ended up being used in the remix. The original took me 2 months where as the remix was 3 days.
Q: As an artist how do you define your own success or how will you know when you have made it?
A: In terms of my successes I can say I am really proud of the releases I have had to date and can only hope to have many more going forward and expanding my musical knowledge and creativity.
Even though I have been producing for 3 years I still feel I am in the early stages of a producer because of the learning time I have spent, so maybe in a few years I can define my success more in detail.
I feel as a producer there are so many ways you can challenge yourself and learn new things with every track you make and its nice for others to judge those and feedback.
Q: What more can we expect from you after this release? Any events, live performances?
A: Well for starters working with Crazy Monk Records going forward where I have a release already coming up with some really top producers on the compilation called Global Indulgence Vol 2, deffo one to watch out for as the track I have made is heavily influenced with the oldskool garage vibe from the 90’s.
Also in terms of releases I will be putting in more time in the studio and will be collaborating with some artists and will be working on a few remixes so watch this space!
I will be part of some events with a night called Deetek in Leicester, UK this year where I will be playing deep underground house with some tech. I was invited twice last year and each night was off the hook, the people really know how to rave!
And finally hope to announce a few more events with the crew at The Underground Sessions.