Recently being signed to the legendary Steve Lawler’s VIVa MUSiC label, SEFF is making huge waves in the scene right now with his distinct crossover style of fresh, underground Deep/Tech House and Techno with tonnes of attitude, swing, swagger and full of energy with both his productions and skilfully constructed DJ sets. Although a fairly new name to the underground House and Techno scene, SEFF is by far no newcomer to the underground scene as a whole. From a very early age he has been brought up in the underground scene and now for more than half of his life has been truly dedicated to perfecting his style as an artist. Running numerous successful record labels over the years has made him very involved within the scene gaining countless BBC Radio 1 support and working alongside an array of big named artists from around the globe who have supported him massively over the years and has been lucky enough to have played right across the world from Japan to Ibiza to Ireland and Scotland on numerous occasions and of course throughout all of the UK. Being signed to Steve LAWLER’s VIVa MUSiC label with his track ‘In My Soul’ which has reached high positions in many of the big charts and received huge support from right across the board, this is an in-angle in which he has many plans and ideas for the future and already has a major following for his sound.
Mindmaze Music is the brainchild of SEFF as a platform to release his own productions and other already established artists material as well as bringing fresh, new talent to the forefront to showcase their music to the masses, Mindmaze stands for true underground House and Techno music, which is why it is rapidly turning into such a great label and the favorite of many underground music lovers around the world.
SEFF also hosts his own monthly podcast ‘Mindcast’ in which he showcases the very best selection of releases from which he has been playing throughout the month with the occasional classics thrown into the mix for good measure and of course previewing exclusives from Mindmaze Music itself and hosting guest mixes to an array of top artists. With big things in the pipeline, SEFF is certainly an artist to watch for the future and beyond, stay tuned.
Hi SEFF, thanks for finding the time to chat. So 2014 has started with a bang, tell us whats been happening so far this year..
Hi Damion, no problem at all thanks for the opportunity. Yeah 2014 has started really well so far! I’ve had a 2 track EP released on Sanity Recordings again (as I also did last year) which is run by Cuartero in Malaga, the title track ‘Breakin’ from the EP is currently flying up the Tech House Top 100 on Beatport and is currently in the top 20 and has had some great support from a lot of my idols which I’m extremely happy about. I’ve also released another 2 track EP on my own Mindmaze Music imprint already this year ‘Samsara’ which has also had a lot of great support. I’ve also just signed another 3 track EP to Material Series, done a remix for Dave Seaman to be released on Great Stuff Recordings and lots more that I can’t say too much about just yet.
You got your ‘big break’ being signed to VIVa Music on the back of your single ‘In My Soul’. It got support across the board which is no doubt great news for you, but do you find now there is greater pressure,either from your self or the labels to write another big track like that?
At first yes, I honestly thought that I’d never be able to top that track but since then I’ve written some equally big tracks that have gone on to do much better and get a lot more support and my sessions in the studio just lately have definitely been proving that not to be the case. I think that ‘In My Soul’ will always be a special track for me though as like you say it’s the track that got me my ‘big break’.
As well as VIVa you’re also signed to Selador and a few others. How do you write for different labels? or do you make a new track and send to all and see who picks it up?
I always have a label in mind when writing a track as it really helps me with the writing process but sometimes I do just write something that is so out of the box that I do have to send to various labels and just hope for the best.
How difficult was it to initially become signed? What was it that you think you had that made the difference?
Not very difficult at all to be honest, I sent the track to VIVa and they replied within a week saying that they wanted to sign it and it’s been plain sailing from there really as other labels are always approaching me asking for material and I’ve built up some really good relationships with the labels. I think signing to VIVa MUSiC first gave me a great start though and would of been a lot harder if I hadn’t. I’m not too sure what made the difference I just try to keep to my own style and not get to influenced by others, maybe that’s what they liked.
So turning to the studio, whats the current set up? which DAW? hard wear too? Any favourite toys?
My current set up is the new MacBook Pro running Logic Pro X that I’ve recently switched to from PC running FL and Cubase rewired which I’d used for years. I love this new setup and Logic, I run 2 thunderbolt cables from the macbook to my dual screen monitors so that I have 3 screens to play around with. Hardware wise I use a pair of Mackie HR824 Mk2 studio monitors and 2 Alesis MK2’s as well (which were the first monitors I ever had) going to my M-Audio FasttrackPro sound card and all wired through the Mackie Big Knob. I also use an Access Virus TI hardware Synth and an Akai Max 49 Midi controller and not forgetting the heart of the studio, the beer fridge.
How much has your writing process changed over the years? Do you still start each track the same way, or have you discovered some tricks to aid with workflow?
This changes from track to track depending on what ideas I have in my head at the time, sometimes i’ll have a riff in my head so i’d start with that first and sequence the drums around that to fit and other times i’ll have a groove stuck in my head and head straight for the beats and work from there, as soon as I get a good groove going I won’t stop until the track is finished apart from going back to it days or even weeks later to tweak the mix in places and to master after I’ve listened on as many different sound systems as I possibly can including the car.
Imagine for a moment, you’re having a less than creative day. Nothing in this new track seems to sound right and you’re having a writers block. How do you get past it?
I’d just delete it and start again, there’s no point in wasting time trying stuff that isn’t working. But when I have serious writers block I’ll give it a rest for a few days and listen to different genres as it really seems to help a lot with inspiration. Saying that though I wrote ‘In My Soul’ when I thought I had writers block so sometimes it can be a blessing in disguise.
Lets talk about Mindmaze for a moment. Its your own label and there’s a podcast as well. What challenges have you faced setting up the label and how did you overcome them?
Yes Mindmaze and the Mindcast are my pride and joy. To be honest I’ve not really had any problems with the label as I’ve run various other labels in the past when I used to produce under different alias’ so I pretty much know all of the ins and outs of running a record label, the only real things I find challenging is finding music that I like enough to actually release on it and also finding the time to release my own material on it as I’m releasing on so many other labels a lot of the time.
Given what you know now, would you still have started the label? What would you have done differently?
Of course, but the only thing that I might have done differently is to have gathered more decent music before I put out the first release so that I didn’t have to play catch up for a couple of months. The label has lots of great releases coming out this year from some great artists so keep an eye on it.
Lets move on to the DJing. How did you start and who were your idols and influences growing up?
I actually started when I was 8 years old, I had a set of decks for my eighth birthday and started off playing stuff on the likes of Defected etc. I then went on to start playing and producing a lot harder music for a few years under different alias’ as the South West where I live has always been very hard music orientated and now I’ve gone full circle and can’t get enough of the proper underground House and Techno, I wish I’d done it a lot sooner to be honest. As for idols, I had so many as my taste in music has always been so broad.
Have you had an opportunity to play with any of them and if you could do you think you would be star struck?
I have yes and I’m always starstruck when I do, but they always come across as such friendly people and am now really good friends with a lot of them, there’s still so, so many that i want to play alongside though, here’s hoping that this will all change soon and I’ll get the chance to do so.
DJing is a funny old game at the best of times, How do you deal with the ‘hard to please’ crowds? what secret weapons have you got to win them over?
I always have my secret weapons that I just know will go off wherever I’m playing, 1 that has been doing this job very well for me recently has been the classic ‘Thrill Me’ by Junior Jack.. the crowds go nuts for it when that big build up finally drops. I always like to throw a classic in here and there to keep things interesting as I play a lot of fresh unreleased stuff also.
Any interesting tour stories you can tell us?
As SEFF, I haven’t really had the opportunity as of yet to do a proper tour apart from the odd gig here and there but I’m hoping all that will change this year, fingers crossed. In the past though there’s been plenty of ‘interesting’ things whilst touring but not very internet friendly to be honest ha.
Speaking of touring, it can really take a strain on the mind and body. What do you do to relax between gigs?
I’m always in the studio, making music is my therapy for everything in life, if I’m having a bad day i’ll fire up the studio and everything is soon forgotten about.
Whats your current top 10? any artists caught your eye recently?
My current top 10 in no particular order…
Patrick Topping – Holiday [Hot Creations]
SEFF- Breakin’ [Sanity]
Detlef – New Class (Steve Lawler Remix) [Circle Music]
Hot Since 82 – Like You (Audiojack’s Ruff Cut) [Get Physical Music]
SEFF – Elev8 [Mr. Carter]
SmashTV – When I (Cuartero Remix) [Get Physical Music]
SEFF – Samsara [Mindmaze Music]
Matt Tolfrey – Turn You Out (Laura Jones & Gavin Herlihy Remix) [Leftroom]
Tim Green – Don’t Like Me [Cocoon]
SEFF – Hold On [Mr. Carter]
So many artists always catching my eye there’s such an array of great producers around at the minute, it’s a really exciting time for the more underground House and Techno sound right now.
Thanks SEFF for chatting with us, one final question, with the 20th anniversaries of Cafe Mambo and Manumission this year, whats your Ibiza season looking like at the moment? Any parties you’ve heard about you can share with us?
VIVa Warriors at Sankeys is definitely the best party on the Island along with Paradise at DC10. Also a brand new event hitting Sankeys this season called ‘Mental Genius’ that everyone should keep an eye out for! Apart from that I’m still waiting to see all of the line-ups like everyone else and also hoping that I get booked for some hehe. I’m sure Cafe Mambo are going to be outdoing themselves this year with it being their 20th anniversary.
01// Riva Starr & Horace Andy – DubLife (Alexkid Dub Mix) [Snatch! Recs]
02// Jimi Jules & Oliver $ – Soggy Cereal [Hive Audio]
03// SEFF – White Mirror [CDR]
04// Tim Green – Don’t Like Me [Cocoon Recs]
05// JP Chronic – I Know What U Did Last [Chronovision Ibiza]
06// Matt Tolfrey Ft. Ya Kid K – Turn You Out (Laura Jones & Gavin Herlihy Remix) [Leftroom]
07// SEFF – Breakin’ [Sanity]
08// Detlef – New Class (Steve Lawler Remix)[Circle]
09// SEFF – Samsara [Mindmaze Music]
10// ONNO – Used [Quartz Music]
11// George Fitzgerald – Bad Aura [Domino]