In Conversation With SYSTEM Music Boss V.I.V.E.K.

28 January 2016

Not many people have dedicated their careers to perfecting thier art, in the way that has been done by SYSTEM Music boss Vivek Sharda.

The acclaimed producer, DJ and label owner will play in Delhi tonight (Thursday 28 January) for the fifth chapter of ECHO – a series of clubnights we began last year with the aim to push sound system culture and old-skool, wall cracking (original) dubstep to the masses. ECHO’s last edition with prodigal Deep Medi signee Compa in particular, was one for the books and made for one of the most memorable night’s we’ve had in a while. Thanks to Mumbai based KRUNK, V.I.V.E.K will subsequently perform in Mumbai (Bonobo) and Bangalore (The Humming Tree).

This isn’t the first trip to India for him (he also performed at the very first edition of Magnetic Fields Festival in Alsisar Mahal, Rajasthan), but few artists coming down have had us as stoked as self-confessed basshead V.I.V.E.K. The London based producer has been DJing since he was a teenager before he initially began releasing heavy, brooding dubstep through Mala’s Deep Medi Music in 2009, going on to launch acclaimed record label SYSTEM.

As a producer, V.I.V.E.K tends to explore a heavier, deeper side to dub than his contemporaries and is often described as being vast, cosmic and spatial. This is for fans of dirtier, thicker dub with pulsating sub bass so deep it's virtually impossible to hear till you plug it into the right system.

V.I.V.E.K is as close to a perfectionist as it gets when it comes to sound. His frustration with clubs and the apathy shown by promoters and venues when it came to hiring good soundsystems led him to start his own SYSTEM nights in London, which includes his own custom-built soundsystem. V.I.V.E.K’s SYSTEM nights soon turned into a record label that has been releasing some of the most forward thinking sounds in dubstep since its 2013 debut EP ‘Asteroids’.

With the fifth edition of Echo slated to take place tomorrow, we got in touch with the man himself to talk about what to expect tonight and the future of SYSTEM music.

How’s it going?

Can’t complain. 2015 was a very busy year for me. Not only music but life in general. I’m looking forward to 2016 as there is a lot already planned.

You had previously performed in India at the first edition of Magnetic Fields Festival in 2013 - tell us a little bit about that experience.

The whole experience is still one of the highlights since I started travelling. I guess a lot of it is the fact that I’m Indian but it really was spectacular. Credit to you guys for pushing something like that. For me, it was an India I had never seen or contemplated before. I remember meeting some guys who had travelled from Chennai to see me play (1700km from Delhi). I definitely left India with a Cheshire cat smile.

What was the motivation behind the SYSTEM label and club nights?

The motivation has always been the music. I remember playing out and the venues always seemed to have rubbish sound systems. No promoters were hiring in sound systems. I’d play my tunes out and always come back thinking, its not supposed to sound like that. So I decided it was time to take a risk.

The label really came about after the night started, but its something I always wanted to do. Also I was getting sent so much music that it only made sense to do it.

I think it’s safe to say that you’re considered to be an extremely prominent figure in dubstep – have you ever considered venturing into different musical territories?

Not really to be honest although I do write different tempos. I have been writing a lot of dub music and I’ve been messing about with some drum and bass. It's all music, the tempo doesn't really matter.

What initiated your love for bass music? How did you first start DJing and producing?

I find the term ‘bass music’ a funny one as all music has bass. But, looking back, it was a mixture of jungle and roots, which are linked anyway as the old-skool jungle was heavily dub based. Being from Southall, I had easy access to all the big sounds - Shaka, Aba Shanti-I. There was at least one dance a month. I remember vividly, going to see Aba Shanti-I at the Southall community centre. The physicality gripped me and I was hooked.

I started DJing when I was 15, but I was collecting records at 13 and still am. Production came a lot later down the line, but it just seemed like the next logical step for me.

What advice would you have for aspiring producers in India?

Whether you’re in India or Timbuktu please be original. That’s what sets you apart from everybody else.

I saw on an interview with Dubspot that you’re not a very big fan of uploading your music onto platforms like SoundCloud. Why is that?

I just don’t see any benefit from it. Also I prefer to keep things exclusive so slapping it across SoundCloud would be the polar opposite. However, I do put up the music from the label. In that sense it is beneficial.

What defines a good club night for you?

Good soundsystem and no dress code.

Are there any new artists on your radar at the moment?

Yes, Foamplate. He’s making some really good stuff at the moment. Also a guy called Ital Mick. He’s actually a friend of my brothers. He's making serious UK dub. I’ve signed a few tunes from him.

What can we expect from you at ECHO?

My sets start with UK dub and work their way to dubstep so expect to hear new fresh music. It’s a shame I couldn’t bring my MC Dego Ranking but you can expect to hear some collaborations we have done.

What’s in store for System music and V.I.V.E.K in the future?

The next three releases have all been mastered. The next release is from Foamplate, which will be available on 1 February. After that the next couple releases are UK dub. I will also be releasing a project I have been working on for some time. Details to follow!

**Echo #005 takes place tonight (Thursday 28 January) with V.I.V.E.K and Delhi Sultanate at antiSOCIAL in New Delhi. Details here.**


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