How cool is this? …along with the super awesome release of my remix of Killa Sound for the Dub Pistols, we also snagged this phat premiere with Australia’s Big Bass Party. They have interviewed all kinds of awesome bass music producers but for this one we flip the script and interview them. Kelly Ross | Agent 137 takes on the mission to wrangle them from the outback and find out what they are all about!
Interview with Sang Pham [Sangers] by Kelly Ross | Agent 137
Tell us about Big Bass Party:
Big Bass Party is a radio show on Radio Metro 105.7FM on the Gold Coast in Australia. It reaches Brisbane as well as the two cities are very close. The show airs weekly and is recorded and podcasted on iTunes. We have over 2000 subscribers to the podcast and it’s downloaded in something like 80 countries around the world, but most popular in Australia, USA, Russia and Germany. We play every kind of Bass music and focus on brand new music. We never repeat a song, unless it’s a special episode like a finale, and sometimes feature interviews with Bass artists or premiere their new music.
How did it all start?:
We’ve had had the opportunity to run a radio show on Radio Metro for a while and we had always passed it up as we felt we were too busy with our production and shows. After I guest hosted a radio show in Perth one weekend, I realized how fun and easy it could be; there were lots of benefits, so Ra and I decided to give it a go. When the two of us started the show, there was dance music on mainstream radio (in Australia) but not as much as there is now. These days, dance music dominates the airwaves here. Australia is very isolated so our music scene has its own trends; we take leads from the UK and the states but often a genre can be more popular here. I didn’t feel Bass music was getting enough exposure on the air here and saw that as an opportunity for Big Bass Party to fill that gap.
What music works on the show?:
Genre-wise, all kinds of Bass music, from Trap to Breaks, Hip Hop to Drum and Bass – everything. As DJs, we tend to collect music that’s dance floor focused. We tend to ignore or sleep on tunes that are too chill or in the wrong key. The radio show has given us a completely different perspective on dance music as it’s an opportunity to play music that just sounds cool. Some of the best songs we’ve aired have just been very pleasing to the ears and not dance floor bangers at all. So personally, hosting the show has really expanded my musical palette.
Three seasons in, has the show evolved?:
The approach is quite the same, but the genres we play more of and the presenting cast have been through some changes. I started the show with Ra. Right now, we’re going in different directions musically. We’re still great friends, we talk heaps and we still work on projects together – we just put an original song out recently. But musically we’re on different paths. Ra stopped doing the show towards the end of Season One, so I asked Dave from Datadex, to come on board. Dave is an old friend of mine from ADICTS – an events promotion business that we started about 10 years ago here in Brisbane. Dave and I did the show for a season and a half and had Katie Karma as our interviewer / field reporter. Whenever Dave was away, Kaite would fill in. Dave moved to the US after Season Two, so we decided to swap their roles and have Katie in the studio and Dave do interviews from LA. Katie brings a different dynamic to the show with her love of Bass House and it’s always nice to have a female voice on the air.
How do you choose your tunes for the show?:
We’re always on the hunt for tunes that fit all the different sub-genres of Bass. We try to represent all the different demographics and cover the entire globe. If there are tracks that cross genre barriers, that’s a bonus. Often we’ll be inspired or excited by a new artist we’ve just discovered, we find a few of the tracks they’ve just put out and we’ll play one on each show over the next few weeks. Also promos come through from labels and sometimes an artist will hit us up directly with an opportunity to debut one of their tunes.
Tell me about your connection to Wes Smith:
It seemed that Wes came out of nowhere. As a breaks fan, I’m generally aware of who’s doing well in the scene and who’s doing well in the Beatport charts. But I only started really paying attention to him once he hit #1.
Since I’ve been exposed to him, Wes has been pretty solid in my eyes. When Barry [from the DubPistols] sent us the remix pack for their new tune, Wes’ remix was the one that really stood out. We also featured one of his tunes on the Punks Special and that episode was on track to be the most listened to on the Big Bass Party SoundCloud page, until it was taken down.
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Wes has established his position in the Breaks scene in a very short time, which is pretty hard to do these days since the Breaks scene is fairly well established now. For anyone that was at that top tier when Breaks reached its peak – like Stanton Warriors [Punks], Plump DJs, Krafty Kuts etc – they’re always going to hold position on that top rung. I can’t see anyone breaking that top tier of Breaks really. It’s all about getting on that next rung down and somehow Wes came out of the pack and very quickly established himself at that level, which is HUGE. Breaks is starting to see a bit of a revival and if it gets back to where it once was, I can definitely see Wes rising to the top along with the scene.
What advice can you give to someone breaking into the industry?:
One thing, is perhaps taking lead from Wes: he’s genuinely a great guy; he’s very approachable, great to speak to, is passionate about his music and seems genuine. It’s a small scene and everyone knows each other very well, so getting along with one another is vital. You’re not going get far if you are an asshole – being a likeable person really helps. We’re all trying to help each other and push something together and if you’re easy to be around and supportive of others in the scene, people will tend to want to be around you and want to see you succeed.
Do you have any advice for new producers?
You really have to love the music and I urge you to really consider if you really want that life. It’s going to be hard – passion is the only thing that will push you through. You have to act on every opportunities you’re given because they might not come around again. Even if you think you’re not 100% ready for an opportunity like a remix or release, do the best you can and let the label or artist you’re remixing decide if it’s not good enough. These things have a habit of spawning other opportunities. Production wise – find a balance of doing what you love but also make sure there is a market for it. In order to break into a scene, there has to be a scene to break into. You might be lucky if you’re a genius producer and are able to create a whole new genre, but in most cases, if you want to play gigs, you’re going to have to fit into gigs that other DJs are already playing. That said, don’t sell out and lose yourself and your style – it’s all about balance.
Whats next for you?
Touring the USA! I have wanted to do that for a long time. I’ve been touring Europe every year for the past four years and the gigs keep getting better and better there but I’ve realised it’s now or never to try to break into the US scene. The bass scene in the states is growing quickly right now and I really want to be a part of it in its early stages. Musically I’m going at my own pace right now. I don’t set any production deadlines for myself like I use to. I don’t put any pressure on myself to get a release out at any regularity. I just hop in the studio whenever I’m inspired by something or get an idea. I’ve learned over time that I used to overcommit and place too much pressure on myself to meet self-set goals. Learning to say no to remixes or production requests was really hard to do at first but finding that balance has made me happier and in turn made it easier to make better music. So I have a few things in the bag both by myself and with Ra but I won’t promise you’ll see anything soon, I’ll just surprise you!