2008: Rob Smith

In September we spoke to Bristol Sound Legend, Rob Smith.

(photo: relaxmax)

What do you think of the Bristol scene at the moment?

Really exciting..! So much new stuff coming out everyday.. I can hardly keep up. Joker is killing it at the moment.. Pinch, Pev, Gemmi, also great stuff from guys like Phaeleh, Time, and much more, I could go on and on..

Music is one of Bristol's best exports, do you agree?

Yes without a doubt.. it's always been that way from as far as I can remember. Singers, Producers, DJs, Bands.. Bristol is a place to be proud of and there's nowhere else like it.

Clubwise, where is the place to play at the moment?

Hmmm.. at the moment I'm not sure.. it does change quite quickly in Bristol but personally I like small places like Cosies, Native, Croft, I like the intimate vibe.. although, watch out for clockwork..!!

Of all the DJs I cut dubs for you have one of the broadest tastes, is there any one theme that runs through all the music you cut and play?

I learned about making music from a reggae point of view and the productions always come from that aspect. The treatments are always with dub attitude because that's how i likes it..!

What's the most caned dub in your collection?


What's the hottest dub in your bag right now?

Theres a couple.. I was given a CD in Croatia last week from a guy in Sheffield.. I don't know the artists name (he said he would email me..!) or the track title but boy it's a killer!! Also the Papa New Bootleg thing is dropping wikidly at the moment.

What's your format of choice from Dub Studio and why?

Vinyl 10".. I just like 'em.

What's in the pipeline release-wise?

12" on R8 coming soon (On Deck / Accepted) and Tectonic 12" in October (Over It / Forward Youth).

What gig are you most looking forward to/did you most enjoy this year?

Can't wait to get back to Japan! Also Sonic Warfare in Amsterdam (November 1st). Most enjoyed was the night at FWD earlier in the year and the Smith & Mighty show at Shambala.

How important is using dubs and vinyl from a production and DJing point of view?

I think for DJ control, vinyl is the best, also I don't think you can beat the sound of vinyl through a good system but I do play CDs sometimes.

Do you always request record decks at a gig or do you ever settle for CDJs?

Yes decks always but I like to have at least one CDJ.

And finally, some questions from the floor...

How did you make the bassline on Kingfisher?

Closed my eyes and hit the keys.

1. I just want to know about the influences; it's obviously bass music but some of it's great because it's so scratchy and trebly.

2. Treble also seems to play a big part in what you do too, is that a conscious thing?

The format that I could see by listening to reggae and dub was hi-hats at the top, chip guitars, keyboards, vocals and brass in the middle and bass and bass drum at the bottom. I know it's not just that, but as a kinda rule of thumb this was an easy way to get my head around it all, and from then it was like building something with a floor and a roof.. with stuff in the middle.. that's the thing that I see in my head. Also when we (Smith & Mighty) set up a studio, we would monitor on sound system speakers and use reggae and sound-system tapes as references.

How do you choose vocalists - there's such a wide range (all good): Madeleine MCFarlane, Alikat Perrera, Ninji 4D, Rudi Lee, Flynn and Flora, Andy Scholes, Felix (a personal fave), Tammi Payne, Carlton.

Mostly from friends introductions..! I/we have been really very fortunate to work with such great vocalist and it's pretty amazing to find them all in the hometown too!!

How do you stay so fresh? You were in a reggae band in the 80s, then Smith and Mighty, your 2-step stuff is great as is your dubstep AND your new (UK Style) roots.

Thanks for saying so..! I don't know the answer.

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