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Jack Smith

After dropping a monumental VIP of one of 2012’s biggest tracks ‘Love So True’ on his own imprint Symmentry Recordings, Break has kindly taken the time (whilst on holiday! work hard, play hard…) to give us his Five Steps, from bootleg tapepacks, DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing through to the present day and beyond.

Step 1: Origins

A good friend of mine Marek introduced me into production, he had these bootleg jungle compilations from Camden Market on copied tapes so I loved all the tunes on those. At the time I hadn’t realised that they were tracks like Babylon and Terrorist which blew my mind back then, from then on all I wanted to do was chop up Amens. Hearing DJ Shadow’s early music and the Endtroducing Sampler EP was really the moment when I knew I really wanted to make tunes, and realised how to do it. I’ve made a lot of tracks like that which never came out, more for pleasure and learning.

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Step 2: Introducing

To be honest my first 100 tunes before I released any thing weren’t rollers, I was much more into amens and chopage, but by the time I got my first tune out, which was all amens and oldskool breaks, the jungle sound had kinda died so I had to force my self into the new tech stuff. But listening to Kemal and Rob Data, Bad Company, Digital & Spirit and No U Turn stuff really got me into the darker sound. Just from making a lot of tunes and listening to loads of Dub I learnt to condense things down to one killer groove, once you’ve got that, the tune will keep rolling with the right edits and arrangement. A-Sides put out my first tune, and a lot of my other latter tracks he would suggest there’s too much going on and it’s hard for Dj’s to play with loads of sounds going over the drop, that advice helped me to refine my sound to the crucial elements more.

Step 3: Foundation

I don’t think I’m one of those producers that just had one massive tune that represents their career, it was more constant steady quality throughout the noughties, Let It Happen and Ringing Ears were big at the time, Evil Twin is also one of my personal favourites. I never wanted one exact formula to be my sound, so that every tune sounds similar, its more the content, style and overall sound that made my tunes have a distinct character.

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Step 4: Present

[For ‘Love So True’] I found a cool dub vocal sample which was the starting point for the track, I harmonised some rhodes piano with this vocal to create a new progression. Once I had this basis it was a case of building this up as a tasty musical intro with the intention of dropping into a heavy minimal bass drop after a cadence from the keys, with vocal delays drifting over as in many dub tunes I love. With the VIP, I just felt there was more embelishment I could add to intro, and was keen to change the chord progression, as so many sequences worked with the vocals. I added a few of my own backing vocals to adorn the spread of the vocals as a digital harmonizer sounded rubbish. Playing in new bass and piano parts all in a reggae style was a real help, but needed to treat them in a way so they sounded like classic reggae parts. I lost some plugins that I used on the original so it was a challenge to get the mix as good or better than the original, I felt I could maybe get even more bass in the VIP so that was one of the aims when I started it. I don’t think much to my goals in making tunes has changed , other than skills and tastes maturing, I just find it slightly easier to get the sound I’ve imagined in my head.

Step 5: Future

I’ve got some great music signed from other producers due for release in 2013, such as an Xtrah E.P, a sick colab from Villem, Fields, Mako and Hydro, tunes from Detail & Tiiu, NC17 and possible tracks from L33, DLR and several other, a remix from Calibre should hopefully be on the way soon. I’m always getting new tracks from producers and have a selection of Dub, House and Chillout vibes by myself for release on the label to bring some other flavours to the Symmetry sound. Any previews will be available on my website or on our Soundcloud page.