“Oh mio” in Italian translates to “Oh My!” – which is the name of Spag Heddy’s latest EP that delivers a hefty dose of a bass lover’s need for filthy, wonky and juicy tomato dubstep. The 28-year-old Holland-born bass phenom is recently coming off a massively successful North American tour and festival season. With over 90+ track releases, Spag is known to fill his sets with big synth riffs and heavy-hitting bass hooks that leave the crowds wanting more.
The trick to his grimy bass sounds and layers rests upon his ears whenever he produces – a pair of Sennheiser HD 25-1 IIs. “I don’t own any monitors. I wish my sound design and mix downs were better but this is my option and I’m really comfortable with it; my Sennheiser’s are great for producing and DJing. I use them both so I know what the track will sound like. I did use monitors back in Holland but it was a student house so I couldn’t have them playing loud all the time. I just got used to headphones. I know a lot of producers who work this way. It’s not unique, it’s how you’re comfortable. The most important thing is knowing your shit and your set-up” (ukf.com). I think we can all agree his method of choice has provided us with countless hours of beautifully mastered tracks.
Now calling Spain home, Spag’s musical roots span much beyond the bass music realm. Back in 2011 when Holland was just getting the dubstep bug, he was making hip-hop beats for rappers to purchase. After being inspired by the spike of popularity in bass music, he took to the studio and produced a slew of meaty tracks that skyrocketed him to fame.
Drawing inspiration from Zomboy, Virtual Riot, Skrillex and even newer acts such as Tisoki and Eh!de, Spag Heddy has been bringing tons of energy and new sounds to his sets since festival season hit. With his newest releases, “Operation Z”, “Love Us” with DatPhoria, and “Ruffest Sound Around” with xKore, it’s clear we have more wobbly and filthy dubstep to expect from Spag as 2016 comes to a close.
I was able to catch up with Spag before his crowd shattering set at Big Dub.
How did you first come across dubstep and what got you started as an artist?
I’ve been producing hip-hop since I was about 16, but did not consider it to be something I’d do for a living. When I discovered dubstep in 2010 and tried creating it myself, it felt really good. I had lots of fun making it and got greatly inspired and started getting the need to create music and be creative. Still, it was just a hobby and something I did next to my motion graphics degree. Very soon after though other people seemed to pick it up and I rolled into it.
This is your first big US tour and festival stops, how have you been preparing for the upcoming madness?
It’s hard to prepare for a tour in the US living in a tiny quiet town in Spain with no (underground) dubstep around for 1000 miles. What I surely did is arm myself with as much original music as possible. I’m a producer at first and always will be. Very important is that I have a great team behind me that is doing everything they can to make the whole ride as comfortable as possible for me. The shows and the madness are extremely fun and inspiring, but it’s also often overwhelming and exhausting.
Tell us a little about your background (i.e. where you grew up, favorite artists, what you wanted to be besides a dj).
I grew up in a small town in the Netherlands in a musical family, so music has always been a big part of my life. It has always been a secret dream to be a musician, but never a realistic thought, until about 2011-12. Until that time my biggest passion was video/film making, I finished a degree for motion graphic design on the Art Academy. While doing this there were these guys called Rusko, Skrillex and Excision pulling me to the music world. In the beginning, I combined my video, music, and dish cleaning jobs, but in a short-time I made the choice to completely focus on music, which turned out to be the best choice of my life.
Touring is a main part in being an artist, so what are some of your favorite places you’ve played and what are your secrets to surviving the touring life?
That I’m able to tour with my music is the greatest blessing ever, and I enjoy it extremely much, but creating music will always be my main thing. As a simple and shy bedroom producer, the touring life can be overwhelming, but like I said before, having a good team behind you helping you out and taking care of you, it’s very doable. The shows and experiences are absolutely amazing, no matter how big or small. Traveling the world and meeting people who enjoy the same weird music and like my cheesy productions is the most beautiful and inspiring thing and I wish it to everyone.
What goes into the process of creating a regular show set, as opposed to a festival set?
Honestly, there’s not much difference for me. The biggest part of my sets are my own productions and that doesn’t really change. When prepping a festival, I do keep in mind what the time and day of the slot is, and who headlines. Regular shows obviously have way less artists/headliners so people are more likely to be there just for you. In general, people know that if you book me you can/should expect a high-energy set, with lots of my own cheesy melodies and yoi basses.
You’ve released on labels such as Never Say Die, Firepower, Rottun, and Disciple, did you ever imagine having this type of success when you started out?
Absolutely not. Just dreams. I’ve always made songs out of love for the music and an obsession of creating. It’s crazy how fast it can go once you get picked up by the right people and certain dreams become a reality.
You started releasing music on Soundcloud 5 years ago, how do you feel your style and the dubstep scene have changed since then?
Five years ago, well, a little longer than that dubstep was still relatively new to the world outside of the UK, so there were way less producers/artists and shows to look at, whereas nowadays the scene is oversaturated with it. Producers that is. Dubstep disappeared out of the mainstream world but gained a steady, devoted following. I think my ‘style’ hasn’t changed much. A little less playful and more serious I guess. That comes automatically when more eyes start looking at you. The sound of dubstep progress and so do I too I think.
This is your first time playing Big Dub festival, can you give us any hints as to what your set will be like?
A wild ride on the Pastanistan Express through the worlds of heavy dubstep and cheesy sing-alongs. Expect lots of my originals and remixes, with fresh never heard music from both myself and friends.
What is your favorite spaghetti and sauce to use?
This changes every day, at the moment I’m really into linguini with shrimps actually. But hey nothing beats a classic tomato sauce.
Who is your dream collab?
With myself, that would be with Skrillex, yes I mean Sonny.
Who are some artists you listen to outside of the EDM genre?
Wow, I have a hard time thinking of non-EDM artists haha, I’ve been sucked up in this tour life. But I still love listening to Tourist, The Kite String Tangle, and oldies like Dire Straits and The Doors.
What are your plans for any future EP or releases after the summer?
There’s at first a bunch of remixes coming out, including one for Modestep & Trolley Snatcha. New originals and collabs sporadically here and there too, surprises! The cooking never stops.