Following a monumental back to back set with Craig Richards at The Nothing Special’s last outing in Room One back in March, London’s Sam Russo is back in the selections this month alongside Trevino, Radioactive Man and of course, Craig Richards. Renowned in the game as an audio engineer, Russo has spent the last year or so not only working behind the scenes on some of the UK’s slickest records but he’s also been developing his own array of releases on labels like The Nothing Special, Stock 5 and his self-conducted imprint, Caught London Sleeping. Although this deems as an official introduction for Sam, the audio maestro is a good friend of the fabric family having warmed up in our Farringdon spot since 2011. So to get to know him a little better, we’ve delved a little deeper and asked him a few probing questions as well as grabbing this new exclusive mix.
Hi Sam, please can you quickly introduce yourself and tell us what you’ve been up to the past few months….
Hi I’m Sam, I play and make records. The past few months I have been working on lots of new material, most of which is a sound I will not have been associated with before. I'm pretty excited to get it all out there.
How would you describe your sound and what you do?
I would describe my sound as electronic music but I find it difficult to categorise what I do. Over the last few years my tastes have changed drastically, I think this is due to a combination of things such as collaborating and engineering for a variety of artists.
What do you do other than music?
Other than engineering, DJing and producing, I am a carpenter. It's the polar opposite to my known trade but I feel it really helps me to stay focussed. Until last year, I hadn't worked with tools for seven years but I decided to go back to help keep things busy. You can become very time rich within music, so for someone who struggles to do nothing, working an everyday job keeps me grounded and takes the stress away from times when music hasn't been so fruitful.
What can we expect from you this year? Any releases in the pipeline?
My schedule is pretty jam packed for this year, I have two EPs coming out on The Nothing Special as well as a collaborative project myself and Craig Richards have started. I also have an EP on Munich based label Stock 5 and the launch of my own imprint, Caught London Sleeping. I'm actually in the process of readying my live show to work alongside the label, a venture that is based as a platform for me to release the music that I feel represents me best as an artist, so the live show will display that in a continuous flow. So this year I will be mostly releasing music and adding new material to both the live show and the label.
When did you first start playing records? Was there anyone or anything that influenced you?
I was bought my 1st set of decks at age 12. Although I wouldn't say I was playing records as such more listening to music and making a train wreck of mixing. It was fun, I would have mates over and it was never serious. I never envisaged myself being a DJ I always thought a pro skateboarder or Astronaut suited me.
What sort of equipment and gear you used to produce on?
I use a mixture of hardware and software, with the staples of my set up being my Dave Smith Tempest and Mopho, A Roland TR 606 - this is such a beautiful sounding drum machine and being 30 years old, it can have some surprising characteristics. I also use a yamaha DX 21 and a Waldorf Blofeld. I use Logic as my host to record along with Waves and SoundToys plugins for effects.
Who’s your favourite producer/Dj to work/play with and why?
Working with Craig Richards is without a doubt the most interesting project I have. Craig really does bring out the best of my ideas and helps nurture what I have. Being able to work alongside such an influential person within our scene has of course, boosted my confidence and my increased my knowledge. I recently played a back to back set with Craig at the last The Nothing Special party and it was a truly amazing experience - playing old electro records and testing our new music.
How did you get involved with Craig Richards and The Nothing Special?
I was introduced to Craig by Matt Tolfrey whilst I was studying for my masters. We hung out at his studio and home in Bournemouth, and just started playing around with different sounds and it all took off from there. We work well together and as I mentioned earlier he really does bring out the best in my music, as he has an amazing ear for sound and especially placement. There's a lot of general sound mixing rules being broken for results I would have been too regimented to attempt going solo.
You mentioned your forthcoming label Caught London Sleeping, can you tell us more?
The label is a joint venture between me and one of my best mates Lewis Chenery. It has been in the making for around 3 years but we have never had the right sound until now. There will be a lot of solo music from myself as well as aliases I have been working on for many years. We are also releasing music from a very close friend and sometimes collaborator Eleven8, Dominic Ridgway, Jono Allen and Lewis. We are all from very different backgrounds with Edd (Eleven8) and Dominic coming from Rrum and bass and Dubstep. There are no boundaries with the label, if it's good music we will put it out there. Keep your eyes peeled.
Who are you rating right now?
We could be here all day with this! XDB , DeFeKt, Claro Intelecto, DJ QU, Bobby O Donnell, Big Strick. There has been a lot of smaller labels launching over the year that have really stood out to me including Until my Heart Stops, Yumé, Strobe Wax and Mora Music. Definitely keep your eyes open for future releases from those guys.
You’ve recorded an exclusive mix before you join us in Room Two soon – can you tell us a bit about the mix please how did you go about the track selection process?
Having not released any music for a while I thought I'd record a mix of all my latest music, including tracks from both Caught London Sleeping and The Nothing Special. I feel it's a good opportunity to show people what I have been up to behind the scenes the past year or so. It's taken me a while to be content with the music I make and this mix showcases just that. It's a taster of my upcoming schedule and lots of previously unheard music.
You’ve played at fabric since 2011, what does fabric mean to you and what can we expect from your set this time around?
Having been involved in the London scene for a long time now, playing at fabric is a milestone achievement for me. I had been attending the club as a punter for many years before so I was completely beside myself when the phone rang to ask me to play in Room One. For me, fabric has played host to some of my most memorable nights including seeing Ricardo for the first time and getting the chance to play on the Rotary. A lot has changed with my sound since 2011, both with what I produce and play and the learning curve has been indefinite. Expect lots of good music.