In the ever-expanding landscape of drum & bass, it’s a rare occurrence to discover an artist whose unique and innovative style manages to break through to the masses and captivate a contemporary audience. With his exceptional fusion of futuristic sounds steeped in a retro aesthetic, Samurai Breaks has achieved precisely this. Allow us to introduce Sam Langley Grattan, recognised across the globe by his alias, Samurai Breaks, a virtuoso of the 160 “FootworkJungle” scene. His groundbreaking beats and basslines have sent seismic ripples throughout the realms of Jungle, Breakbeat, and Drum & Bass.
Born in Scotland and raised in Yorkshire, this multifaceted DJ and Producer has witnessed a meteoric rise in the post-pandemic era. His ascent culminated in sold-out performances across the UK and Europe, including a mesmerising appearance at the prestigious stages of Boomtown and Glastonbury.
Samurai Breaks has been a formidable presence in the nu-jungle movement, sharing the limelight with luminaries such as Fixate, Sherelle, and Sully. His unwavering commitment to high-energy, fast-tempo breaks over a decade, through the genre’s fluctuations in popularity, has cultivated a dedicated fan base of fervent junglists.
We had the privilege of catching up with Sam before a show in Brixton to delve into his forthcoming release on Bristol’s Born On Road, his introduction to Jungle music, his skyrocketing popularity, and his collective venture, Super Sonic Booty Bangers.
What was your introduction to music production and DJing? Have you always been a junglist?
My musical taste and upbringing have been remarkably diverse, as is the case with many artists. I was introduced to DJing by my friend CreamT, a genre-blurring maestro who instilled in me a carefree and open-minded approach to music from day one. Other honourable mentions go to Anders from Samson Sounds, who introduced me to my first decks, and Junglord, the first person to join me in producing a tune. His unique approach to choppy drum patterns sparked a fearless attitude toward intricate drum patterns.
Jungle music has always resonated deeply with me. The fast and unpredictable drum patterns, the smooth and minimalistic vibes, they can take many forms and always stimulate my creative senses in a profoundly gratifying way.
When did you start taking your production seriously? Also what is your process like?
Well first of all I’m an avid Ableton user, I find it the easiest DAW to find a pure flow state where I can just throw down ideas as quick as possible. I spent years writing the drums and bass first, but recently found the key to make a track slap is to start with the “magic”. By that I mean finding a unique sound, whether it’s a vocal chop, stab, boink, foley etc. that gives the song character. Then I build the track around that vibe.
Everyone’s heard vocal chops, jungle breaks and rave stabs, but when producers create an identity of the track, that’s what interests me… I wanna be fully immersed in the concept of a track, every sound painting the picture in more detail. For example if you want to make an aggressive dingy rave tune, you would combine a minor heavy rave stab with hoover sounds, amen breaks, Distorted 808’s and agro soundclash samples or hip hop cuts. In contrast if you started with a euphoric piano rave stab you are going for the uplifting Euphoric / Ravey vibe and it’s better to have vibey happy vocals, think Breaks, four to the floor kicks, offbeat 909 hats, vinyl scratches and daftness.
My technique is to just write whatever I want and keep that idea going for as long as I can. I can’t work linearly. I’ll do like 3 Jungle tunes, then get bored and do a Juke or Footwork tune because I’m sick of hearing Amens. Then once I’ve about 20 tunes, I can then start seeing which tracks go well together conceptually and sonically. I think that is vital, to have tracks that work well together conceptually. Then after I’ve filtered out a few tracks and can stick an EP together, I can navigate which labels I can send them off to.
You run a party called “Super Sonic Booty Bangers.” Can you tell us about the origin of the name and the essence of the collective?
The name “Super Sonic Booty Bouncers” originated as I was trying to define the genre of my music. It evolved from there, and together with D’tch, we decided to transform it into a label and events brand. Three years later, we’ve organised 15 events in five cities, numerous festival stages, and takeovers. This year, myself, Polo Lilli, and Syntax played to our largest SSBB crowd yet at Boomtown, and it was truly exhilarating.
Our focus is on high-tempo party music that’s fun and distinct from the overplayed DnB prevalent in the UK fast rave culture. Expect a vibrant blend of rave, booty, 4×4, jungle, bassline, acid, grime, all moving at a thrilling 160 bpm and beyond. Our past and future headliners include Mandidextrous, Sully, Fixate, The Glitch Mob, Naina, Mantra, Pete Cannon, Itoa, Dwarde, and more. We’ve got some big plans in 2024 that we’re not quite ready to unveil, but trust me, we are cooking!
You’ve had a whirlwind few years. Regarding your gigs, which one stands out as your highlight so far?
Festivals have always been a significant part of my year, and I feel incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to perform my unique music on larger and larger stages each year. This summer featured standout shows at Boomtown, Glastonbury, Balter, Secret Garden Party, but my 2022 back-to-back with Fixate at Boomtown remains etched in my memory as my favourite set to date. Stepping up alongside one of my idols to perform in front of approximately 6,500 people was nerve-wracking, but we brought our A-game. I still get goosebumps when I see photos or videos from that set – it was electric.
Who are you repping in your sets right now? Any producers we should keep an eye on?
Mandidextrous takes the top spot, hands down. Mandi’s fearless genre-blending approach is so inspiring for me, totally refusing to adhere to the rules and forging their own path. Their pioneering work in Speedbass has been a significant influence on my sound, and Mandi has offered tremendous support and helped connect me with some amazing opportunities.
Napes is the quintessential junglist grime technician, and he’s been killing it for a minute now. We’ve been collaborating in the studio, so watch out for an upcoming SSBB EP and our long awaited “Wavelord Bizniz” Collab which is getting a vinyl release.
Eram is the Brazilian queen of baile footwork mashups. I’ve had the privilege of playing with her and even hitting the studio together.
Novacheq, the UK’s foremost expert in stompy booty business techno, is always suited up and slapping those big do offs. His sets are a riot of ravers and silly donks.
Bruk, techy jungle Reese master known for overly loud bangers, this lads been cooking up a storm
I’ve been playing a lot of Slinki, a true wizard of 160 bpm bassline and grime madness.
Morelia, a powerhouse booty blaster from LA, is known for his bumpy bass, thick beats, and party vocal flavours. I always reach for a Morelia track to ignite the dance floor.
Rea, a Bristol producer and DJ, has been pushing boundaries with her grimey footwork and electro fusion.
Cheetah, a Demo Squad Badlad known for the freshest jungle techno booty cuts, keeps ears peeled for forthcoming collabs as well!!
Lastly, Toby Ross, another young Bristolian, has been crafting some seriously techy and raucous jungle rave tracks. His forthcoming SSBB EP is shaping up to be a beast, and we’ve been busy cooking up lots of new tunes together.
Any advice for young producers and DJs looking to break into the world of Jungle and Breakbeat music?
Dive into other genres and explore vintage material for samples and inspiration. Consider setting up a vinyl deck to experience the 90s style. Avoid endlessly relying on the same overused sample packs.
Learn synthesis as soon as possible; it’s your secret weapon for adding a unique flavour to your sound. Keep in mind that even the simplest techniques, like basic waveforms with a saturator, filter, tremolo, and pitch bend, can yield incredible results. They are surprisingly easy! Become proficient in processing breaks. This step is crucial for achieving a full and layered sound without unwanted rumble or clutter. Properly cutting up and reconstructing breaks is the key.
Tell me a bit about your release ‘The Wickedest’ on Born On Road.
I’ve known Kelvin373 and Aries for about 7 and 8 years now through the festival circuit. I’ve been sending tunes to them for a number of years now, but nothing really stuck at first.
This EP took a long time to get right as I was trying to balance between the Samurai Breaks sound with Born On Road’s. It took a long time to try and make my sound Fat and loud like their last few releases. It took a lot of learning and reprogramming of how I produce. ‘Check This Out’ was one I was working on that was the first that clicked and I knew what to do. The rest came easy after that. Initially I wrote the bassline that was intended to be for a 4×4 speedy bassline tune, but then I switched the drums up and it clicked into that Born On Road sound..
So, What’s on the horizon for Samurai Breaks?
Release wise, it’s pretty chocker! I’ve a follow up Jungle Techno EP coming out on Pete Cannons N4 Records. I’m currently writing my highly anticipated 3rd album for Off Me Nut Records. Me and Napes will FINALLY be releasing our long awaited collaboration on Time Is Now Records which will be coming out on vinyl. We started that two years ago so cannot wait to see it out and about. Oh and been cooking up some new stuff for All The People, The Glitch Mob’s new label.
In terms of releases on Super Sonic Booty Bangers, we have some exciting releases lined up with Toby Ross, Bruk, D’tch, Rea, CLA, NovaCheq, Cheetah and way more to come. We’ve also just been asked to do a takeover at Outlook Festival next year, we have a bunch of other exciting festival partnerships to announce soon alongside a string of club events up and down the country in true SSBB fashion.
Apart from that, I’m just getting stuck into my tunes, planning events and trying to prepare for 2024.
Follow Samurai Breaks: Spotify/Soundcloud/Super Sonic Booty Bangers
By: Dónal SharpsonTitle: We Need To Talk About Samurai BreaksSourced From: ukf.com/words/we-need-to-talk-about-samurai-breaks/37267Published Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2023 15:09:48 +0000