In the world of drum and bass we are gifted with many names that we all recognise as gods and goddess’s in their own right, many of them known to of created not just a name for themselves but have also proceeded to establish record labels such as New Playaz recordings and its veteran owners Hype and Pascal.
This week under the power invested in them, the New Playaz team have released a much anticipated EP, it’s contents so heavy it gives Hypes’s classic filth anthem ‘Super Sharp Shooter’ a run for its money, this past Monday was the release of Shimah’s “Original Sound” EP.
Hamish ‘Shimah’ Laing, is an artist who has followed the footsteps of titans and now walks proudly among them.
Original Sound is a monster release accompanied by 3 more just as brutally composed tracks that are a must for not only drum and bass DJs but all bass music enthusiasts alike.
Raise your scrolling fingers in the air for New Playaz, underground legend, SHIMAH!
Shimah, I cannot stop listening to your new EP, its all out fire, did you play any of your tracks at Drum and Bass Arena last week? If so what was the reaction?
I played a few of my tracks, and the reaction was great. Getting to hear your music played at such high levels alongside tunes that you love and inspire you to play and make this music, has always been the motivation which lead me to DJ & produce in the first place.
DNBA is a massive event, especially while celebrating 20 years in the game, can you tell our readers what it feels like to play to such vast numbers of people?
Its always a pleasure to play to large numbers, especially at such a prestigious event like DNBA. It was quite an intimate room, which creates such a vibe when its packed out, and the crowd in there at DNBA were so knowledgable with their music. When other people get the same feeling you do through the music you’re playing, it makes it really special.
Its not just Drum and Bass Arena who have a birthday this year, Playaz recordings are also 20, how does it feel to be releasing your music on such an established record label?
The first exposure I had to drum & bass was a DJ Hype World Dance tape from 1996. It was a couple of years later that i heard it, but to eventually have music released on the label the man himself is behind, it was a real achievement. I’m so grateful for the opportunity I’ve had with them, an all round great team of people to be involved with.
Being at a record label with artists as big as DJ Hazard, Original sin and Sub Zero, is there anyone who has seriously influenced your work?
The list is endless, I’m inspired by so much music, I listen to everything from metal to hip hop, jazz to techno, so I’m constantly being inspired musically. Its the same with production. The production level in D&B is so high I’m always blown away by the powerful & dynamic mix downs some producers manage to achieve. If i had to name some D&B old & new, i’d say ED Rush & Optical, Cause 4 Concern, Konflict, DLR, Break, Noisia, Xanadu, Dom & Roland, Bad Company, Amoss, Calibre, LSB, Lenzman, Alix Perez, Serum and obviously like you mentioned Hazard, Original Sin and the rest to the Playaz Camp, Its really difficult to list it all as there’s so much well made music out there that inspires me to work a bit harder.
Next Friday (December 3rd) I see you’re playing at Andy C’s “almost sell out” event in Hull, your hometown. Now that your name is all over the place, does it make a difference when playing a gig at home?
I’ve been a resident at ShinobiDNB in Hull for 10 years now, hosted primarily at the Welly Club which has felt like a second home for me to DJ in. Shinobi is quite an institution in the Hull scene, the vibes in there are always so friendly and all about a good time, its such a comfortable environment to play in. Getting to play alongside so many big names in the scene over the years has always been an honour and I’m so grateful for the opportunity Alex (who runs Shinobi) has given me. We’ve got Andy C, Randall, Voltage & Myself, with Tonn Piper & Rafta on mic duties in the main room http://airmail.calendar/2016-12-02%2012:00:00%20GMT, and then Celebrating 15 years of ShinobiDNB in February with a monster line up which is yet to be announced…
What would you like to see more of at DnB events?
To be fair I think the scene is pretty healthy at the minute overall. There’s always an event on somewhere which appeals to a variety of tastes within travelling distance, and the production value of events also seem to have gone up a lot lately. But the key for me has always been the venue. Recently in Hull we’ve done some events at a converted warehouse call Gate No.5, which I’m a big fan of. Its more about like minded people and the music, which creates a special atmosphere. The guys behind Gate No.5 understand the importance of finding a good space to put an event on and found something really unique in the city.
What would you like to see less of at Dnb events?
Mosh pits. I’m all about people having a good time, and coming from a background of metal music, I get it, and those people are enjoying themselves, but the people who are just trying to have a rave without being knocked in to don’t see it that way.
If you could work on a project with any artist of your choice, who would it be? And why?
Any of the people I mentioned above in the influences. Even just to sit in with them to see how others work and throw ideas around. Production is a never ending learning curve. Its always interesting to work with others musically and take their vision on board and see what results you get. I’ve been working on a few projects recently with some other producers which have resulted some really strong ideas, just the time constraints and locations slow the process down.
What would you say to anyone that says your music is “too hard”?
If its not your cup of tea, that’s all good. Music is a personal thing, if something doesn’t resonate with you, you have the choice not to listen to it. For me, even if I’m not into something, there’s usually something you can take away from it. Whether it’s well written, well produced, well performed… I’ve often sat in the car with radio on hearing some by the numbers chart music, not liking the music, but amazed at the quality of the production.
Your last major release was ‘Shadow of the Bat’ on Playaz – The Flavours Vol 4, which back then you where pumping tracks out, Do you have any hidden gems your fans should be looking forward too hearing in the near future?
I had a load of tunes I wanted to work on written at the time of ‘Shadow of the Bat’, ‘Swordfish’ & ‘Electrostep’, but unfortunately some computer malfunctions halted that progress. For now I’m focusing on new music, and have some new material nearing completion.
What is your favorite production tool and why?
I moved to Ableton a couple of years ago as I’ve found it the most intuitive DAW for my work flow. I find it such a powerful tool for getting ideas out. My set up is primarily software based, but I’ve always wanted to get in to some hardware, there’s something about it that calls to me so I think I may move in that direction at some point.
Before you sit down to make music, do you have any strange or wonderful preparation techniques?
Nothing ritualistic, maybe just a listening session to get inspired and my ears tuned in. Sometimes going into the studio with an idea or the type vibe you want to achieve can help, but sometimes you can go in a completely different direction with something, that’s just the fun of the creative process.
I’m sure many people are wondering, where did the name “Shimah” come from?
It basically came from the fact I had my first release coming out on Hazard’s R-Sound label and I needed a name. My friend and I were thinking and he said “what’s Hamish backwards?”, and it just became Shimah as apposed to Hsimah from there. So its just an anagram of my name.
Well Shimah, it has been a pleasure, congratulations on your new release at New Playaz Recordings, I wish you all the best for the future, is there anyone you would like to thank?
First off id like to thank you guys at DNBMuzik for the kind words and asking me to do this interview. Big shouts to Hype, Pascal & the Playaz camp, and a shout to Alex and the extended Shinobi family. Most off all, Thank you to everyone who has supported not just me, but the whole scene, whether its buying music or a rave ticket.
Release date was 21-11-2016
Interview by Ben Jackson 2016