LEVELA Joins The Team
:: Announcement 3/6: Back once again with some more exciting news! An exclusive signing to our new team of Sample makers and tutors is the master vibesman Callum Smart aka Levela!
He’s a guy with a long standing passion for music – getting into DJ’ing at just eleven years old and progressing to music production by the age of thirteen. He’s now been releasing music for over a decade to a very high level, and has his own imprint ‘Multi Function’.
The last 12 months have seen Levela make guest appearances on high profile labels such as Vision Recordings, Critical Music, Technique Recordings, ProgRAM and Get Hype. His productions have also taken on a new feel in the last couple of years, formerly known for writing straight up jump-up bangers on labels such as Corruptive, Radical Beats, and of course his own imprint; in his newest work he’s maintained this fun, and lively aspect but now alloyed it with a slightly deeper, sometimes darker coating. These two influences working together really do create something very special indeed, something that masterfully blurs all the sub divisions and genres of Drum & Bass.
Callum is someone who has substantial experience, not just as a producer but as a DJ too, and this is a deadly combination when it comes to tuition as it means he really does know what works. We’re over the moon to have him as part of our new team and know for sure his input is going to bring a fresh angle to the year ahead. Hype!
We got the lowdown from Levela in some pre-season questions…
Welcome aboard! It’s really exciting to have you with us for this next season. From what we understand this is your first time doing samples and tutorials?
Thanks, I’m really excited to be involved! This will be my first time really getting in-depth about my processes and sharing what I’ve learnt over the years.
What was your path to success like as a producer and how long was it before you were making music that you were personally happy with? Also, did you learn production completely on your own or did you have any guidance back then?
I started DJ’ing and learning to mix UK Garage when I was 11 and got myself a copy of Dance Ejay when I was 13. That was my first taste of learning how dance music was made in terms of arrangement and what elements go where etc, and it’s just progressed from there. I’m totally self-taught and have had to learn how to do things simply by trial & error and experimentation. My first release came out 11 years ago and although I was super hyped about it at the time, I look back on those early releases now and know I wasn’t ready yet haha. But with that said, every early release I did put out was all steps to have lead me to where I am now so I don’t regret my journey at all.
Your music has really evolved and changed over the years. It’s always been of the highest quality, but has definitely taken a new direction in vibes in recent years. How would you describe your changing tastes and how they have been reflected in your desires to make music over the course of your career?
For a long time I was ‘jump up’ through and through, I didn’t really listen to anything else. I just loved the cheeky, playful side of D&B which I still do, but the catalyst was my track ‘Exhale’, a deeper rolling tune I wrote it in just a few hours. I sent it to some DJs and within a couple of days, it was played on Noisia Radio which lead to me getting messages from DJs who wanted a copy and labels that wanted to sign it! That was definitely a turning point in my sound as it really inspired me to work outside of my usual box, and I kinda never looked back. Although I still think my music definitely has a ‘jump up’ influence still.
What’s your favorite kind of gig to play?
I’ve been extremely fortunate in my career so far to play some insane places, from the huge Rampage in Belgium, to a festival in the mountains in Venezuela… but you can’t beat a small 300 capacity club! Those dark, loud, sweat boxes with the DJ booth on the same level as the crowd, getting right amongst it and really feeling the vibe. I’ve ran events for 10 years at a club in Brighton called The Volks and although I’ve played there more than any other venue, when it’s right in there, the vibe is unbeatable.
Your latest EP on Critical is so good! How long did that take to write?
Thank you, I’m really happy with how that project ended up sounding. When working with Critical, I just write a load of ideas and they all go into a pot, and then when it’s time, me and Kasra pick what tracks will make the best EP and I get it all finalised. The whole process of getting the ‘Axium EP’ from conception to fully finished was around 4 months.
What can our members expect to get from you in terms of sample inspiration, and what categories of the Sample Pack are you most excited to be working on?
I’m going to be as creative as possible with all the different sounds I’ll make, but for me, the drums are paramount. I love making new drum kits and processing old breaks in new ways to give them new life. Finding groove with strange percussion and detailing in on all the bits in between the kicks and snares.
In terms of tutorial concepts, can you give any hints at what you might be thinking about covering, and in terms of your personal skill set what do you feel is your strongest hand?
I’ve got a few ideas in mind for my tutorials with you which are mainly around my post processing techniques. I’m a big fan of sample manipulation and really twisting things up from their origin. Even with synthesis, I’ll normally create a pretty basic sound in Massive or Serum but my resampling and effect chains are what really bring the sound to life.
I converted my garage into a home studio a few years ago and I love having a dedicated space to get creative. But in terms of tech set-up, mine is incredibly basic, just a PC running FL Studio with Yamaha HS7s. No outboard gear, just a crazy amount of samples and plug ins.
In terms of Drum & Bass, can you give 5 tracks that never leave your record box?
SO YOU HEARD IT FIRST! SAMPLE GENIE SEASON No.6 KICKS OF FROM 2 -7-20
More BIG announcements coming soon! 😀