Originally earning his stripes as part of the duo known as Heavy Hittahz, the Los Angeles based Replicant has quickly made a name for himself on the solo-tip with his signature hard and heavy dancefloor sound on imprints like Grid, System Shock and Multifunction Music. With support raining in from the likes of Subfocus, Crissy Criss, The Upbeats, Tantrum Desire, Nicky Blackmarket, and countless others, we touch down with the new-school killer as he unloads a massive jump-up burner in the form of “Times Up” alongside a wicked 3-deck mix he’s cooked up for the System Shock Mix Series. As if that wasn’t enough, label boss Callide stops in for a guest appearance as well with some words of advice for those looking to replicate the impressive rise of the one like Replicant.
Introduce yourself to the DNB VAULT family:
My name is Steve and I go by Replicant. I’m based out of Long Beach, California. I’ve had releases on System Shock Recordings and Multifunction Music. I mainly represent jump-up/dancefloor aka the rowdier side of drum and bass.
Take us back to your roots – what kind of music were you listening to as a youth and at what point does electronic music and dnb in particular enter the picture?
I grew up listening to 90’s hip-hop and R&B until I was about 15 or 16, when I went started going to raves and getting into house. I remember going to a rave in downtown LA off of 8th and Spring Street, at a venue called the Orion. I stumbled into the basement and discovered a room that had sweat dripping from the ceilings and a completely different vibe than what was going on upstairs. I asked someone who was playing and they told me it was Total Science. After that I was hooked.
At what point does production enter the picture? How long did it take you to get your productions to a place you were happy with?
Soon after I discovered labels such as Formation, Playaz, Frontline, Reprazent, and Dope Dragon. I was listening to a lot of DJ Hype, Bryan Gee, Roni Size, Jumping Jack Frost, Krust… I’m sure you can tell I was feeling the jump-up. *laughs*
My love for the music led me to start producing in 2004 under the name Heavy Hittahz with my good friend Ray. My dad had bought me a computer for Christmas and I got my hands on a copy of Reason. I was using this boombox speaker that had no bass… go figure. I basically turned into a hermit for a couple of years.
A few equipment upgrades later, I had my first vinyl release in 2008, and in 2010 I won a remix competition for Twisted Individual which landed me on Grid Recordings.
Talk about linking up with Callide and System Shock in general – this isn’t your first release with the imprint is it? How far back does that relationship go and at what point did it develop into signing tunes?
I linked up with Callide in 2007 when him and MC Dread came out on holiday (shout out DJ Scooba for linking us!). From there we sent music back and forth for years through AIM. A couple years later, he returned to LA to play a rave and I picked him up from the airport, took him to In-N-Out and we talked music. It was then he told me to start something to send to him so we could collab. That’s how “Step in Line” came about, which saw a release in 2012 on his label, System Shock.
Speaking of the devil, look who just stopped in! It’s Callide, owner of System Shock himself! For those who don’t know what’s the vibe of the imprint?
CALLIDE: System Shock is all about the raw and rowdy sounds in dnb. It takes its influences from pioneering labels such as Charge and Valve Recordings and is a label where I have released some of my craziest tracks and more recently opened it up to artists who I think share that unique sound.
This next bit you’ve got lined up with Replicant is a proper banger – give us a sense of how this one came together and why only the one tune – would love to see 2 or 3 tunes from him unleashed on us!
CALLIDE: I personally felt that this tune was strong enough to stand alone, it’s as simple as that. I’ve known Replicant for many years; he’s a top bloke, a brilliant producer and he’s one of the few producers who still draw on the same influences and sounds that I do. As for this tune in particular, the hype on it has been growing exponentially since we first started putting feelers out on it last year. Juno have snapped it up as a featured release and I think we’ll have no problem topping the charts with this absolute slammer of a track!
Part of your evolving role in the scene seems to be about discovering and showcasing new talent – for those out there considering submitting some tunes your way what sort of advice can you give to help them stand out from the crowd?
CALLIDE: Be unique and forge your own sound. It may seem hard seeing that the scene is saturated, and that the quality of sample packs is so high now, many producers have forged success just from copying and pasting sample pack loops and samples in to their own arrangement.
My advice: Pick one synth, learn it inside out; pick a distortion unit, learn it inside out…. pretty soon you’ll have your own very unique flavor. Quantity is just as important for a new producer as the quality, so don’t start releasing until you have a nice batch of tunes, that way you’ll keep your audience engaged. If you have some thing that sounds like a System Shock release, I’d love to hear it.
Steve, give us a quick glimpse into how this tune came together and how it’s been going down on the dance floor.
REPLICANT: I was kind of in a slump and wasn’t really happy with my sound, so I scrapped my old kits and basses and started over from scratch. I took a 90’s hip-hop sample and chopped up the vocal. I wanted to create a little bit of the old with the new, hence the old-school ravey intro, befre dropping into what Dan [Callide] calls “jump-up neuro cross-over.”
The tune has been getting some great support from the likes of Drumsound and Simon Bassline Smith, Nicky Blackmarket, AMC, Kane, Tyke, Macky Gee, Logan D, Prototypes, and AK1200. Dave (AK) actually got in contact with me to tell me he was about to drop it at his show in Paris, which caught me by surprise!
You’ve established yourself as the go-to man for heavy dirty bangers and I’m imagining this mix you just cut for the System Shock Mix Series is no different!
Dan asked I keep the mix rowdy… and I did: upfront bangers on three decks.
Before we get into it hit us with any final shouts and let us know what other projects/gigs we should be keeping an eye out for.
I’ll be playing Xcellerated in May with a massive headliner that hasn’t been announced yet, but it’s going to be a big one, trust me. As for projects this year, you might see a softer side come out in my music as I’ve been working with a vocalist so look out for some non jump-up.
Final shouts to Dan and everyone at System Shock. Big ups James and Jeremy and the crew at Xcellerated and everyone that makes the SoCal scene what it is.