Foundations: Sinden

Producer on five essential, influential records...

A man of many guises over the years, Sinden is a slippery character to pin down to just a single style of dance-based sounds.

So rather than do that, Clash’ll just simply leave it as: the man has made some damn good music, be that as half of The Count & Sinden, his collaborative project with Hervé, with Switch as Solid Groove, or under his own solo banner.

Sinden is also the boss of Grizzly Records – home to releases from Bassanovva, Distal, Bohdi and Elizabeth Rose, among several others – and has played the remixer role for the likes of Willy Moon, Passion Pit and Santigold.

Long story short: he’s a busy man. But not so busy that he can’t come and call at Clash’s special night at London’s Supperclub venue on June 7th, alongside Ben Pearce and Roska. Click here for event details and tickets.

Over to Sinden for five records that have helped to shape him into the DJ and musician that he is today…

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Three 6 Mafia – ‘Da Unbreakables’ (2003)

It’s not the best Three 6 Mafia album by any means, and it’s not really pushing any lyrical or musical boundaries, but it made a lasting impression on me.

In 2003, I realised rap music was more than LA and New York, and I fell in love. My friend pushed a whole bunch of Southern rap CDs on me. Crunk was just starting to happen with the rowdy Lil Jon tracks, and so I got switched onto Memphis rap and then Houston with Mike Jones and the Swishahouse camp.

The production just blew me away – it wasn’t jazzy boring NY rap music, it was modern, slow, 808 hi-hat rolls, Southern drawls, candy paint and chopped-and-screwed tempos.

‘Ridin’ Spinners’ on this record really epitomised it for me, lyrically and stylistically with the beats. It really influenced me to change my approach to the way I made dance records. It blows my mind that Juicy J has managed to stay so relevant, he’s still so creative and consistent with his music.

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Public Enemy – ‘Yo! Bum Rush The Show’ (1987)

This was the record that switched me onto rap, and I think I may have dubbed it off a friend onto cassette. I remember trying to buy rap cassettes from Our Price, but I wasn’t 16 and the guy in the store refused to sell them to me.

Public Enemy had mad attitude and a really tight look with the military S1Ws on stage, crazy Flavor Flav and Chuck D all in black with his LA Raiders cap.

It was music with a message, but I was also feeling the production drum machines too: sparse and raw, just like the menace and energy of the tracks. Public Enemy had a strong hold on me; I went on a school trip to France, and we came back wearing African pendants and target PE T-shirts.

I was envious of a kid at my school because he had a dope Def Jam bomber jacket. I was really deep into hip-hop from early on, and it’s crazy to see it evolve over the years. I still go back to this record and find myself falling in love with it again. It will always be timeless to me.

My favourite cut is ‘Public Enemy No 1’, with the Fred Wesley ‘Blow Your Head’ sample. Everyone was sampling James Brown at the time; it made me realise he was the most important musician ever.

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Prince – ‘Lovesexy’ (1988)

I was obsessed with pop music when I was a kid. My sister and me would set our alarms to get up and watch Casey Kasem on the American top 40 at like 3am. He would count down the biggest tracks in the US with all the videos. It was before our family had satellite TV and MTV, so we had to rely on this and shows like The Chart Show, which we would record onto videocassette.

I remember seeing the video to ‘Alphabet Street’, when that dropped. I thought, and still think to this day, that Prince was a cool MF. He had his own sexy style, dance moves, dress sense, and was driving that convertible through the alphabet galaxy. Prince, and James Brown, were the two bosses for me. They had the funk, and really that’s the foundation.

Producers are still doing Prince now, his influence will never die. When I listen to Prince in the ‘Lovesexy’ / ‘Sign O’ The Times’ era it feels like it’s the ultimate pop music that can never be topped.

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Marvin Gaye – ‘I Want You’ (1976)

Obviously I got into Marvin Gaye way past his prime, but having been obsessed with rap music I managed to rediscover his music through the sampling lineage. I began to collect a lot of old records, and when I discovered ‘I Want You’ I flipped out. It’s as perfect as music comes from start to finish, the arrangements, musicianship, vocals, lyrics.

Everyone always cited ‘What’s Going On’ as the best record ever in polls, which I also dug a lot too, of course. ‘I Want You’ was more up-tempo I guess, and less heavy, but still spiritual. At the time I was collecting a lot of vinyl disco music, old soul, reggae, jazz – really rich black music from over the decades. There’s so much to discover there; I feel like you can immerse yourself in old music and still just be scratching the surface.

I became a bit of a completist, to try and collect all this wonderful music, putting down money on originals. I don’t think there was any record that I bought, maybe with the exception of Shuggie Otis’s ‘Inspiration Information’, that I loved and played so much.

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Gwen Guthrie – ‘Padlock’ (1985)

I bought a reissue of this record on one of my frequent vinyl trips to London, when at university, from the charismatic Jean Claude in Release The Groove, who had a great ear for selecting tracks for the store. I really got into disco through these visits about 15 years ago, and was always trying to seek out something a bit different, aside from the campy chart stuff.

The only thing I knew about Gwen Guthrie was ‘Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ On But The Rent’, which is a killer by the way. ‘Padlock’ is a disco record that she made with Jamaican producers Sly and Robbie, who got the dub and disco mix spot on. It’s a mad hybrid. ‘Seventh Heaven’ still sounds fresh. It’s one of my favourite tracks ever made, and makes me want to be time-warped to a sweaty Paradise Garage dancefloor to listen to Larry Levan play a long edit of this.

The space in this record is just amazing, I’m just waiting on every moment, every bass lick, vocal or delay. Producers can really learn so much by listening to this. I like to put it on when I take a break from a session just to remind myself not to crowd my tracks too much, to pull back. But then I get envious that I can’t make tracks as great as Sly and Robbie, the masters.

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Find Sinden online here.

Sinden plays Clash’s special Supperclub night on June 7th, with Ben Pearce and Roska. Head here for details and tickets.

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