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INTERVIEW

SAIGON

05-02-2021

SAIGON is a producer duo from Liverpool UK. After Tom and Dom met on an extended holiday in Ibiza in 2010 they decided to DJ and eventually produce beats together. It was after a spontaneous b2b-set where the initial spark was lit after which they now have released on various labels previous year. The blokes have an outspoken love for basslines and grooves whereas their sound also marks classical housey roots. In this in depth interview we focus on various topics and specifically on their production process where we discover some great advice. Read on below.

Could you briefly introduce yourself and could you tell our readers how it all started?
“We are Tom and Dom and we are both from Liverpool (UK). We got some DJ decks at the ages of 13 and 15 and crossed paths during various DJ jobs in Liverpool. Later on in 2010 we stayed in Ibiza together for a couple of summers and worked as DJs together. We also started a party together in Ibiza that was going on Sundays during those summers.
In general, we started SAIGON because we were unable to play music we liked playing ourselves under our former aliases. Eighteen months ago we obtained the studio we now operate in and started producing together in this SAIGON project.”

So, why the SAIGON project? Why the name?
Well, we used to DJ a lot of gigs already and when we rented the studio we went more into the sound we liked and when that got serious we also looked into branding. We went through quite some names but eventually SAIGON was born due to watching American Gangster with Denzel Washington. He always had to go to Saigon and we think that was quite cool actually. But basically, with the word SAIGON we can go into multiple avenues since it doesn’t have any particular meaning to us.”

How would you guys describe your sound?
“Groovy. We always build our tracks around a groove bassline and we keep it close to the classical house fundamentals. We put quite some thoughts and efforts into the keys and melodies. We tend to keep it more classical instead adding a more minimal vibe to it. Besides this, we still try to evolve our sound and try new things, but in the end it is all about that groovy bassline.”

What are elements in the tracks that really can identify SAIGON in itself?
“We tend to use vocals a lot. And we also use a lot of sample packs of which we think not many people tend to use them. For instance, we will use a Hip Hop or Drum ‘n Bass sample pack in our house tracks. We also go down rabbit holes to search for new, original and unused vocals and other vocal elements. Sometimes when you look for a vocal you don’t find one, but when you search in new ways suddenly the right one appears. Happy accidents like this can turn out nice and spark new creativity.”

And what would be the most important element?
“Definitely the bass. The bassline is utmost important to us. If it has got a nice bass groove to it the track will work itself out, for most of the time.”

How do you approach making those basses?
“Uhm, we tend to try a lot of bass synths. We also categorise a large folder containing the samples and previously made basses which we came up with and might want to use later. Sometimes it just comes around as you just play around with it.”

Are there some organizational aspects into your music production?
“In a way. Yes. There is a certain specific organizational aspect to our music production. Surely we are getting more organized along the way since it’s something that we’ve built up over time and we’re always kind of tweaking it. We believe that when it all has been organized, especially once you come into the studio, you can just be creative and don’t waste too much time on opening new channels and getting set up. 

If the elements are already there on the template you can immediately go on onto the creative side and get going with your basslines, drums and other elements, and just make music. We will also have some pre-loaded plug-ins on the delays and other effects like that so you can just get everything done straight away.
So yeah, I think organization is there with us to help and improve quite some processes for us as well.”

Do you have a routine in music production, and if yes, what is that routine?
“Yes and no. We don’t really have a set way, but it usually starts with a sample and we probably build some synths around it. When we finish this we tend to build the bass and eventually get on with the drums. Sometimes the process is in reverse order whereas we first build the bass and get a nice groove on it and start working on the synths. It doesn’t really feel like we have a set way. In essence we tend to use multiple approaches to these processes.
Nowadays we also spend a lot of time in our workweek in our studio where we try to do something everyday to keep our momentum. When we finish a track we take some weeks time for review and relistening in order to fully tweak if any irregularities come up.”

What hardware and software do you guys use in your production?
“We have an Ableton Push 2 and we tend to buy a lot of sample packs and samples really. We also explore quite some Hip Hop sample packs like the DMC drum packs in order to make our house sounds a little bit more unique. We are also fond of the sample packs of the likes of Demarzo and Aron Volta. Oh yea, and we also attend this community group of Demarzo.”

Oh that is nice to mention it. We see that quite some producers attend these community groups. What is your take on these and what do you like specifically about it?
“We did a lot of online masterclasses with quite some names. It is good to see how a lot of different artists tend to share their own styles and workflows. We don’t like to copy a lot of stuff directly, but it is very helpful in developing your own unique way of working on music production.
We also think this is a result of the Covid-period, because of this DJs and producers – who would normally be touring – actually have the time to do this. It is really nice to see that these professionals share their knowledge, and how they share value to the community in their own humble ways.”

Let’s talk about the track Bill Murray! What was the idea behind it?
“Yeah, well, we kind of built the track already. We started with the groove and came up with this nice bassline and drums. The vocal was the last thing added to it. We just sat there in the studio and agreed on the fact that it was a good track and it has a very nice groove to it. However, it missed that final finishing touch. Something had to be added in order not to be like a generic groove track. So Tom went on Christmas holidays and came across this crazy Christmas song from a band called Phoenix. I suddenly realized Bill Murray was talking into the intro of this song and when I added the vocal to our track, somehow, it instantly fitted. It was like the icing on the cake.”
The idea is based on the main synth, and the groove of the bass and the drums. We had a lot of sounds before we finally came to the right ones. It was this high synth organ sound where we built a nice pattern around on the Push.”

What do you really like about this track?
“Easy. The bassline. Haha. And also the name really: we like it when people try to learn about the sample and learn about the speaker and actually go like: Huh, is that Bill Murray. I didn’t think of it that way.”

So guys, where do you envision this track to be played in the real world?

“We have been to Amsterdam a lot of times. We attended festivals in Spain and Ibiza, but we really like the festivals in Amsterdam. It is just the music and vibes of people here really, so in a way we envision it to be played at festivals in Amsterdam.”

That’s awesome guys, guess you came to the right place! Thanks for the interview and looking forward to Bill Murray coming out on UNMUTE001 – AMPLIFY on the 28th of February!

Releases:

My Love (Original Mix) – Pitch Records VA001, Pitch Records (2020)
Don’t Stop (Original Mix) – It’s Obvious Vol 1., Obvious Records (2020)
Elevate (Original Mix) – The Movement Vol 1., Power to the People Records (2020)

Bill Murray (Original Mix) – AMPLIFY: UNMUTE VA001, UNMUTE (2021)

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