Being a major player in the drum ‘n’ bass movement is one thing, but continuing to push boundaries through an ever-changing sonic versatility is quite another. In a career spanning almost two decades, Simon Bassline Smith has been at the forefront of it all, setting new standards with his Technique Recordings label and rinsing dancefloors with ruthless, stealth-like precision. Together with razor-sharp duo Drumsound, the group have slam-dunked drum ‘n’ bass into the 21st century releasing some of the genre’s most pivotal club killers, whilst maintaining a DJ cred second-to-none.
Wind it back to the beginning and Simon Smith (who later adopted the middle name of ‘Bassline’ after destroying his fair share of speakers) fell in love with music as a 16 year old, visiting record stores every Saturday to buy up big on electro, jazz, funk, soul and house records. The Derby-born youngster would also spend his weekends travelling up and down the country with mates to attend ‘all dayer parties’ where they’d put their breakdancing skills on full display. It was during one of these ritualistic missions that Bassline got his Djing big-break, by getting the chance to take command of the dex at Nottingham’s Rock City club.
As the rave scene grew throughout the 90s, Smith was right there at the forefront, winning over crowds and promoters alike with his ball-tearing brand of hardcore and jungle. As his reputation swelled, he began being booked by some of the UK’s biggest dance organisations including Perception, Mythology, Raindance, Dance '91 and World Dance & AWOL to play slots alongside fellow contemporary jungle stars Grooverider, Fabio, Mikey Finn & Jack Frost.
In 1991 Bassline Smith launched his own record label Absolute 2 – one of the early pioneering d’n’b imprints. So astute was the man’s ear for a quality tune, that the label birthed future stars Doc Scott, Nookie, Ray Keith and Danny C (Twisted Anger/Primary Motive), releasing Doc’s seminal ‘Surgery EP’, Nookie’s ‘Give a Little Love EP’ and Keith’s controversial ‘News at Ten’.
In 1998 Smith’s career took a massive turn skywards, when he met the Drumsound duo of Andy and Benn G. The trio’s chemistry was instantaneous, with the decision being made to launch a combined imprint in which to showcase their shared musical vision – it was then that Technique Recordings was born.
Since its inception the label has gone from strength to strength, with Bassline and Drumsound utilizing their knowledge and enthusiasm to build an imprint of global proportions. Over the past 10 years the label has released over 40 high quality dancefloor killers and sold 150,000 units globally from some of the world’s most respected d’n’b artists including Roni Size, DJ Fresh, MC Tali, DJ Friction, Teebee and many others. The label is also involved in nurturing the talents of up and coming artists of the calibre of Phetsta, Skyver & D Jon, Youngman, Terravita.
Amongst all of this, it’s been Bassline’s stunning production work that’s shined the brightest. Having first ventured into the studio in the early 90s to knock out a couple of early d’n’b anthems ‘Music and Life EP’, ‘Palomino’ and ‘Midnight’, the Brit’s career has continued to build with each new year. Together with the Drumsound lads, Bassline has dropped two critically acclaimed LPs ‘Nature of the Beast’ and last year’s ‘Street Technique’ that ripped up the drum ‘n’ bass rulebook with contributions from Roni Size, DJ Friction, J-Magik & Wickaman, DJ Fresh and many others.
When it comes to dishing up a red-hot anthem, the trio have plenty of experience under their belt too. In 2004, they dropped the all-time classic ‘Odyssey’, with the track reaching no.1 in the UK dance charts and Mixmag judged it the ‘10th biggest all-round dance anthem’ for that year. No surprise Grooverider snapped it up for his legendary Prototype label. Recently, their form has shown no sign of subsiding, with a blazing ‘Street Technique’ re-rub of their ‘Skumbag/Booty Call’ bombs going straight into the drum ‘n’ bass charts at no.4. Their ‘Cold Turkey/Stories of the Future’ cuts are also shining brightly, receiving big support from Hype, Roni Size, Grooverider and Zane Lowe & Annie Mac on Radio 1.
Along with a string of club bangers on Technique, Bassline remains one of the most versatile men in the d’n’b game, with releases on virtually every major label in the genre including Protoype, Full Cycle, BreakBeat Koas, V Recordings, Good Looking, Creative Source and Trouble on Viny /Flex.
As a DJ, Smith is prolific as ever, spinning the Technique sound over virtually every continent, including appearances in America, Canada, Australia, France, Italy, Germany, Russia, Iceland, Spain, Holland, Sweden, Ireland, Czech Republic, Brazil, Poland, Switzerland, Uruguay, Norway, Italy as well representing for some of the biggest UK organisations such as Slammin Vinyl, Accelerated Culture, One Nation, Detonate, Movement – the list goes on.
Currently Smith is hard at work playing out every weekend in the UK and abroad, whilst spending his weekdays locked away in the studio with Drumsound focussing on producing tracks for their next album out in 2008.
With so much going on, it’s almost unbelievable to think Simon has time to run his famed Interface club night in Derby, yet true to form, the multi-talented man throws some of the finest d’n’b shindigs in the country. With so many strings to his bow, there’s little doubt this pioneer will continue to set the standard for years to come.