We continue the 'Step Forward' series in place of our 'One to Watch' series and take a look at some of the future stars of dance music. Who will be the new Sven or Morillo or Paul Van Dyk? Who doesn't want to be any of them, but will be massive anyway.
Who: Sam Russo isn't a stranger to the UK music scene with his rather impressive list of gigs and residencies from capital to coast. Here Hannah Davies finds out more about the Essex lad who is supported by the likes of Huxley, Matt Tolfrey and Craig Richards.
When did you first turn your hand to DJ'ing and producing?
My parents bought me my first turntables for my twelfth birthday, I remember them well... Soundlab DLP Pro! The production side of things came a lot later.
You started off in the London music scene although you spent time in Bournemouth, did the capital ultimately guid you to your success?
I’m originally from a small town in Essex around 40 minutes away from London, hence starting out in the London scene. I would say that getting my teeth stuck into a bigger and more vibrant scene taught me a lot when I was growing up. I did relocate to Bournemouth, due to my study commitments and it is a beautiful place although very quiet. Living there provided me with a tranquil setting to complete my Masters degree and also time to focus on making music.
You also had a residency in popular Southampton club Junk, how did this experience help you to become more established as an artist?
Whilst I studied for my Undergraduate degree I managed to obtain a part time job at Junk Club. At first I was helping out in the office and setting up the membership scheme, which is still in use 5 years on. I never told the club I was a DJ in London as I wanted to earn money and didn’t want them to think I had other motives. It was after I let slip I was playing at 54 in London that Junk asked me for a demo, a week later I was warming up for the Superfreq gigs! Being given the opportunity to practice on such a good system and of course warming things up for some of my idols taught me endless amounts about being a DJ. It has without a doubt contributed to my career.
What has been your favourite event that you have played at to date and why?
23rd July, Tyrant at Fabric. I played room 1 for the 2nd time, I was supposed to be warming up but something happened with the schedule and I played 1.30-3.30… Need I say more!
How would you best describe your sound?
That’s a tough one... dubby, sexy, house and techno.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Inspiration comes from various places for me; holidays, club experiences, people I meet, books and art. I have to say though I feel extremely inspired after a good night out.
You have strong relations with Tsuba artist Huxley and Leftroom label boss Matt Tolfrey, tell us how these came about?
Huxley and I have been mates for a while now and I cannot remember how it started, something to do with a remix I think. We seemed to get on and our similar backgrounds helped. We are both garage boys at heart and I think that built the foundation of our working relationship.
I have always followed Matt as a DJ and have respected what he does since I was 18, I used to go to Fabric to see him play but I doubt he remembers me back then. I always sent Matt my demos before anyone else as I knew he would be totally honest with me, and that he was. It took me almost 2 years to get myself on the Leftroom roster and I am glad I held out as Matt has done nothing but guide me ever since. Our relationship goes from strength to strength as does the rest of the Leftroom family.
Vinyl or Digital?
Vinyl if I could afford it. I use both formats these days and I feel lucky to be able to as a lot of newer DJs have never held a piece of wax in their lives and I feel privileged to have started when digital was just an idea.
Have you got any new productions that you are working on at the moment that you are able to tell us about?
Yeah! I have a few exciting things happening right now. As well as the release just out on Air London, I have another solo EP dropping on Leftroom this summer and a collaboration between Huxley and myself. Halo has just started his new imprint called Surface Records on which I have a Solo EP and a couple of remixes. I’m super excited about this as Halo is another of my idols.
If you could collaborate with any one artist who would it be and why?
The list is exhaustive I would love to work with Appleblim, Will Saul, Ramadanman, Midland and George Fitzgerald. I have a project starting with Jack Dixon and I cannot wait for this to bear fruit. The only reason I would want to collaborate with any of the above is due to music and these guys are rocking it for me right now.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Everything I have done so far is an achievement, and I always remind myself how lucky I am. Working with Huxley, Matt Tolfrey and Craig Richards is massive for me but it goes to show that hard work and sleepless nights do eventually pay off.
Will we be seeing you in Ibiza this summer?
Definitely although I can’t release any dates yet.
What are your plans for 2012?
Work harder than the previous years and enjoy myself. I have to prepare for 2013 and achieve the goals I have set out.
Who is the most played on your iPod at the moment?
Deadbeat – Something borrowed, something blue
And finally what flavour do you get on your chicken at Nando’s?
Hahaha Lemon and Herb I’m not one for spicy foods, maybe that should be in my plans for 2012…. Man up!
7th April: Riffraff presents Sam Russo at The Medicine Bar - Middlesbrough
6th May: Watergate 10 Year Anniversary Warehouse Party - London
14th September: The Zoo Project Festival - Hythe
Sam Russo ‘Violet Town / You Need’ is out now on air london.