I’ve noticed that those who have an amazing ear for music – especially those championing that ’90s-tinged garage sound – tend to be the modest ones with little or no publicity hype. Kool Vibe, Alex Agore and Ross Couch are prime examples. Stevie B (aka Snazzy Trax) is yet another hidden gem that needs to be brought into the public eye.
I have been a big fan of your music and I believe I first took notice of you via the Urban Dubz PR firm. For a long time I assumed you were working with Jeremy Sylvester’s label… so Urban Dubz is both a PR firm and his label?
Yes that’s right! I was sending him promos, then in early 2013 he asked for some of the new Snazzy Trax stuff I had on my Soundcloud page to release on Urban Dubz. I was absolutely gob-smacked, being an old skool Nice n Ripe fan. So it wasn’t long before I put out a 4 track EP The Snazzy Trax EP and a 12 track album Snazzy Trax – The Album. I got some great responses through Urban Dubz from the likes of EZ, Disclosure, Mosca, Cameo, Matt Jam, Grant Nelson & Andy Ward.
It’s been great working with Jeremy and I owe a lot to him and his PR firm for getting me out there and spurring me on with my new production alias (Snazzy Trax) and label (Snazzy Traxx Digital).
You are a little bit the man of mystery… can you give us a rundown on your background?
I think it was Dave from Sound Box Records who let me spin my first Jungle/Hardcore mix in a record store which led to my first taste of pirate radio on Touchdown FM when I was about 10 or 11. I went on to play near enough every big Pirate radio station in London with long term stretches on Lush FM and Unknown FM. New Jersey Garage, Chicago House, Detroit Techno, UK Garage & French Disco were always firm favorites for me back in the ’90s.
When I was old enough to start playing out in the clubs, I used to run my own Saturday night in the West End and I think I must have played at some point on almost every single DJ booth in the West End. However it was the big clubs that I really took a shine to like Pacha London & The Egg Club. My favorite will always be The Cross – playing alongside some of the world’s best in a small intimate venue is in my book unparalleled, you could connect with everyone easily and the vibe was always absolutely fantastic. When the Cross closed it was almost like a part of my soul had been ripped out, it really was my home.
When I was about 21 or 22 I got an intern job at Morgan Khan’s Studio MWA (Music With Attitude) working with Matt Foster. That showed me the mastering skills I needed so I could get to properly connect musically with the world in terms of production.
It’s been a hard long road and slowly but surely I’ve built up a small dedicated following of fans as far afield as Japan and Australia. I first released in the States with Oscar P, then a few in the UK, but the last two years has seen some major movement for me, after Jeremy Sylvester with the final realization of my dream to release my own imprint. This year I put out an EP on Matt Jam Lamont’s Solo Music Label which was a massive honor for me as I’ve always played and been a big fan of all the early Tuff Jam stuff! The biggest highlight was working with James Johnston and shortly thereafter Alex Agore. They’re great guys at No Matter What and they’ve taken me on board to master all their music for them. It’s like a lot of my dreams have just come true this year and I really feel humbled.
One thing I love about your music is that aside from giving that ’90s garage sound a new and modern twist, everything is so clean and well mastered. That’s always been a challenge when spinning UKG tunes…
The mastering is really important to me and the pre-masters as well. I mean I take so much care and pride to make sure everything is as good as it can possibly be both before and after. In fact I think I’m probably a little bit OCD about that part of the process. I enjoy working with other artists too and offer as much advice and help as I can to people sending in demos so that I get the best results for the artists and for the label. I also do a lot of the mastering for 124 Recordings as well as other respected labels so I get plenty of practice.
Snazzy Traxx! I love the versatility of your tunes… you can literally put them into any set and they can help bridge a gap if you’re trying to go from say techy to soulful and vice versa… Tell me about some of the guys in your label.
First and foremost I’m a DJ so for me it’s all about making my tracks DJ friendly. Artist-wise we’ve been really blessed with some great demos, it’s given me the opportunity to sign up some great acts like James Johnston, Lombard Street, my label friend from Urban Dubz (Groove Riddim), 47Sounds, Jon Fernandez, Mr Mageeka, Reece Johnson, James Winter and we’ve got a load more stuff in the pipeline. Originally I simply wanted a label to release my own stuff, I have too much of it and waiting for offers to release my stuff can be a little bit frustrating when you just want to get your music out there. But when the emails started coming in with such great stuff I had to do it justice.
I’ve always adored the ’90s and UKG. But I’ve become a little overwhelmed and tired because every producer seems to be jumping on that boat. How do you feel about this and would you like to keep Snazzy Traxx going in the same direction despite all the winds of change?
Yes I think at Snazzy Traxx I’m very focused on what I put out as a label, our sound is mainly based on that early ’90s NJ Garage & Chicago House era. It gave me so much inspiration and it’s where I developed my trade and honed in my skills. Plus the simple fact that only the music I love gets released and I only ever try to go with things I really believe in. I mean you couldn’t even pay me whatever to remix a tune I don’t like.
I’m happy a lot of people are getting back on this vibe, or even just getting into it for the first time. Of course it makes the scene stronger and able to flourish a little more.
What’s next in the pipeline? What upcoming collaborations, tracks and projects do we have to look forward to?
Oh, so much still to come. I’ve just finished a remix for Jeremy Sylvester from the chart-topping female group Sweet Female Attitude. Also I have a few remixes for Victor Simonelli including [his alias] NY’s Finest’s “Do You Feel Me” under my Snazzy Trax alias forthcoming on his Bassline Recs imprint. I just finished a remix for Lowtone coming out on All Over It Records. Plus for Snazzy Traxx Digital we’ve got a couple of tracks from Alex Agore lined up. I’m also putting together a definitive Snazzy Traxx Digital VA compilation featuring a few new tracks from some of the artists we’ve released so far and a few little special single tracks that we have received in the last couple of months, stuff which really, really needs to see the light of day.
So… have you ever been to the States?
Not physically, but a lot of the first House & Garage records I bought were imported from the States so I’ve always really felt that US influence in my tracks and I’ve always wanted to go. So the answer to that is no, but I feel like I’ve been there in spirit through music! A gig in the USA is however definitely on my DJ bucket list, so if the label grows to an extent where it can bring me that opportunity in some way then I will be grabbing it with both hands and coming over. Plus I’ve always wanted to see the Hollywood sign close up. I’m not exactly sure why – it’s always fascinated me!