In 2017, Sir Hiss’ music career was catapulted after a video of Commodo playing out his then-unreleased track ‘Danny Uzi Vert’ made the rounds. The Lil Uzi rework (taken from the rapper’s 2016 track ‘Ps & Qs’) now remains a forever-dubplate, but its legacy at Outlook Festival where many first heard that fateful cut, still lingers. “It's crazy considering that when I made that tune, I didn’t even know what a sub-bass was, so Commodo had to put his own in to be able to play it out,” Sir Hiss recalls. “From then on, things really started blowing up for me within the dubstep world.”
While the track never received an official digital release, it sold out 500 copies in just 30 minutes on its first 12” run and still to this day remains in the archives on YouTube picking up plenty of reworks some five years later. In the years since, the DJ and producer - who started out with a focus on grime productions - has become a pivotal part of Bristol’s bass scene, linking up with the likes of Hamdi, Kahn & Neek, Mala, and Manga Saint Hilaire over the last half-decade.
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More recently, Sir Hiss launched his own record label, No More Mailouts, an operation sourcing the best new talent in Bristol and a hub for his own singles and EPs, and headed out on tour earlier this year alongside Pineapple Records crew Addison Groove and Sam Binga, hitting multiple stops in the US. With his recent development of sounds that draw away from dubstep but still pack a punch, Sir Hiss is regenerating, and he’s looking to switch things up at the five-year mark.
We caught up with Sir Hiss to find out why he’s making the move away from dubstep as he provides us with a red-hot grime-meets-electro mix. Check it out below.
What have you been up to recently?
Between work, shows and holidays, I’ve just been in studio mode, to be honest. I’ve been feeling really reinvigorated musically and I've been making loads of demos. I’ve been fleshing out the outboard gear selection which is definitely driving a lot more inspiration and chances for experimentation, but the main thing is that I've just been enjoying making music - and making lots of it.
You’ve always been known for your productions in 140/dubstep - what drew you to that sound originally?
Since I’ve been seriously producing I’ve always been into grime - I started off just making dubs for myself and a few mates, but then some radio DJs started showing interest and it just snowballed from there. I always considered my productions to be grime, but beyond a certain point, everything became so merged that it didn’t really matter, and I just leaned into the dubstep sound more and more.
There’s such a hub for 140 in Bristol, why do you think that is? What is it about the city that births so many bass producers?
I think it's the environment that leads to such a plentiful supply of all kinds of DJs and producers. People always go on about the ‘Bristol sound’ and so on, but it’s true - for as long as I can remember, there’s always been a real focus on music here. Even back when I was just starting secondary school, music was already so important to everyone - there would be people arguing and competing on who knew about the latest dubstep tune, or who made tunes with loops versus who was a ‘real’ producer. As soon as I got a dodgy ID I was going out three nights a week and was spoiled for choice by the sheer amount of regular grime, house, dubstep, bassline and jungle events happening. I think it’s an enticing place for young people to come to, which creates a feedback loop leading to an ever-expanding music scene. I think I read somewhere that one in every 76 people in Bristol is a DJ, artist, producer or musician… mad!
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Are you keeping track of the new gen popping up in Bristol at the moment? Who should we be keeping an eye on?
I’m keeping my ear to the ground as much as I can, but some people are bound to slip through the net. What I do know is Millicent has been making some absolutely incredible music on and off the label, same with Sylla who’s been doing great stuff with VRBL also. Axle’s recently launched imprint Dimeshift is an exploration into dark garage and adjacent sounds which you definitely shouldn’t sleep on. And also the blend R&B, grime and emo stuff the 1999 Records camp have been putting out is so cold.
You’re looking to move in a new direction now and step away from that 140 sound, can you tell us about that?
After I got back from an absolutely mental US tour with Sam Binga & Addison Groove, I had a chance to reflect and rethink what I want to focus on musically. We’d been playing a lot more high-energy club stuff across the tour which felt so freeing compared to what I had been doing solo. I think I just wasn’t enjoying making and playing dubstep, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was 'till I experienced something new. I'd already been dabbling in merging the sonic palette of grime with the production mindset of electro, but those moments in the clubs over there really made me know exactly what I wanted to do, it was like: “Yep! That's me”.
Tell us about your label, No More Mailouts - how did it start?
It came about at a time when I felt I was in a bit of a dip release-wise, I was making loads of music but none of it was sticking with the labels I was sending stuff to. I knew it was good enough and I was getting frustrated that nothing was getting picked up so I just decided to start my own thing. I think the tongue-in-cheek name is a reference to that as well - if you want the music, don’t expect a mailout anymore… make sure you cop it!
What’s the ethos behind the label, and where do you see it going moving forward?
I guess the label ethos is quite a simple one - I want to push top-notch club-focused music from like-minded people. The way I see the label now is that it’s built around my friends, and I want that feeling of community to continue as the label expands. In the future, I want to start taking on bigger projects to give people more cohesive bodies of work to express themselves. I’d also like to expand the mix series and in turn, maybe even dabble with doing some events, but finding time to think about that at the moment is proving difficult.
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You’re releasing a new two-tracker on the label soon, ‘Set Speed’. Will that amplify the new sound you’re exploring right now?
Absolutely, before ‘ADRL’ from my recent EP on Pineapple Records, these two tracks were my first exploration into the merging of grime and electro, and both were finished pretty much right off the back of that insane US tour. I feel I really hit the nail on the head with these two as they're two sides of the same coin when it comes to what I'm trying to explore - ‘Set Speed’ being the proper club banger, and ‘Boom Sound’ being the more vibey and eyes-down one, yet both of them feel like they could be heard on a pirate set on Deja [Vu] 92.3 in ‘04, or in a warehouse back in the day in Detroit.
What’s next for you?
This is always a hard one to answer - I can’t give too much away as nothing’s announced yet. However, I’ve got a couple of big features on some forthcoming vinyl releases, one of them in a place you wouldn’t usually hear an 8-bar grime tune, and the other a reimagining of one of the biggest 2-step anthems of 2022. I've also got some vocal tunes coming with some old pals of mine in the near future. With SWU.FM’s recent relaunch, I also can’t wait to get back on the airwaves - catch my show every third Wednesday of the month from 21:00 - 23:00, kicking off in September. With all the demos I’ve been making as well, I’ve been starting to think about maybe pooling together tracks for something long-form, but that project is pretty much in its infancy at the moment.
Can you tell us about your In Session mix?
I tried to record an all-encompassing mix filled with everything that I feel represents me as an artist at the moment, although it’s quite club-focused, I had to chuck in some more introspective tunes and some obligatory unreleased stuff from myself.
Gemma Ross is Mixmag's Assistant Editor, follow her on Twitter
Sub Basics - Seismic
Anacronym - Violet Moth Item
SBUERS - In _ Out (Instrumental)
MJSKEE & Riko Dan - One By One
Sir Hiss - Untitled
MPHS - Mirandela (Groovy Mix)
Aloka - Inta
Footclan - Basic
Michael Burkat - Running Blade
Moscow Legend - Heart Attack
Sir Hiss - Geist
Oddkut - Check Em Out
Axle - Gunmetal (ICENI Remix)
Kutz - Big N' Bad
Mez x Skream & Scratchclart - X Rated
Burna - Floresta
Leon P - Baile Grime
Geeneus & Slimzee - Log Off
Sub Basics - Untitled
MJK - Size 12
Moogie Fox - Biochemical Stasis
Sir Hiss - Shocking
Siu Mata - Untitled
Skee Mask - TR Nautila
Cesco - Move Too Slow (Sir Hiss Remix)
Sir Spyro - Solder Wire
Tàgi - Monga
TMSV & Danny Scrilla - Uplink Terminal
Sir Hiss - Mothership 100.3
Aloka - Convex
Chris Guillotine - Wanna Flex
Sir Hiss - Wile Up
Longeez - Less Ordinary
DMX Krew - 2 More 606es
Fork and Knife - Obtuse
Sub Basics - Untitled
GYRO! - Dreamland Dance (SertOne Remix)
Toma Kami - Ritmo Actual
Sir Hiss - Boom Sound