5 minute read
Interview: Sam // Words: Ollie
“If you do what you love, it’s not really a job anymore is it…?”
Cameron Edwards, AKA Cam, one half of award-winning British drum & bass duo Sigma, talks to us about developing a taste for music, growth & what the future may hold for him & his music partner in crime Joe.
Cam continues, “When you do what you love in life, you don’t have to set yourself huge goals”.
New Beginnings. //
Cam starts by talking about finding music: “I remember at a young age getting a pair of decks from a friend. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, I didn’t want to be a DJ or anything. I used to go to HMV & just buy whatever was on sale because I didn’t have much money…a lot of it was a load of crap!”.
He states, “I began enjoying creating new stuff by mixing & my parents eventually bought me a Gemini PT-1000. It was a lot of money, so I kind of had to step up my game. At the time, I started going to friends’ houses & they would listen to heavy, aggressive drum & bass so I started mixing that. I enjoyed the rebelliousness of the sound”.
To Cam, discovering the world of drum & bass was when the magic began: “I started discovering clubs that played the genre, so ended up going there religiously. That really opened my eyes to the music & how incredible it sounded on the loud systems used in nightclubs”.
Around this time, he went off to study at the University of Leeds. This didn’t prove a hindrance however, quite the opposite as Cam details: “Uni is a great place to go. It is great for studies obviously, but it’s also somewhere to meet a melting pot of people. When you are in a strange city you haven’t been in before, with people alike you, it provides a great opportunity to forge camaraderie. I’m quite a social person too, so it was easy for me to get on with people”.
University really proved a catalyst for the musician’s career. “I started doing events while I was at Uni with someone who is my agent now. He was doing drum & bass parties at the other Uni in Leeds (Met), so I got involved in organising those too. I remember booking Joe, who was a talented hip-hop DJ back then & he played in a back room with a few other DJ’s from that genre. We got chatting from there & got on very well. We are from different backgrounds, but we shared a collective passion for music & desire to become great producer’s & DJ’s. He was doing a course in music production at Uni, so he showed me the ropes & after buying a PC, we took it from there & started making music together as Sigma” explains Cam.
“We want to create music that makes people feel good…music that is uplifting…or what’s the point?” says Cam.
When asked about Sigma’s creative process, Cam replies: “We used to always start from samples & build a beat from there. As we progressed, it obviously has opened us up to do dedicated sessions with artists. Joe would lay down some chords & they will write & provide vocals for it, then leave us to produce the track. It’s quite exciting starting from a blank canvas & not knowing where you will go with it”.
Having worked with the likes of Paloma Faith, John Newman & Ellie Goulding to name a few & having achieved two UK number 1’s with internationally famed singles ‘Nobody To Love’ & ‘Changing’, you may be forgiven for thinking Sigma’s elevation to the very top has been plain sailing.
However, Cam tells us a little of the lesser seen side of their rise: “There was a point when I was living in Manchester with my ex where we were getting regular radio play via Annie Mac, but we just weren’t getting booked. I remember speaking to Joe & saying look, I can’t live on 12k a year, we need to revaluate where we are going if this carries on. Anyway, I was messing around with a Kayne West track at the time & I said to Joe I was going to try something with the tune. I sent it to Jo & we went to the studio, producing the finished song by the end of the day. Nowadays you must go through radio execs, but back then we just sent it to Annie Mac & she played it that night on the radio…from there, things really blew up & we were back on track again. Sometimes it feels like you almost have to reach the point of giving up, to dig in & give things a proper shot, When things are running smoothly, you can just sit back, but when you have to make things happen in times of hardship, you find what you are really made of & if it’s the right stuff, something good will happen”.
Talking further on what he learned from that period: “Jo & I have always strived to be the best at what we do. In every creative industry, there are a lot of rejections & setbacks. You constantly get criticism & bad feedback from someone, so you learn to grow a thick skin. One of the defining factors of Sigma is the fact Joe & I have each other when things are a struggle. It’s important to have a good circle of people around you, because ultimately they help define you both as a person & as an act.”
2020 & Beyond. //
With Covid-19 still rampant around the world at the time of speaking, Cam is honest on the difficulties this has posed: “It’s been a bit shit to be honest because all the big gigs have been canned for the summer. The reason we make music has almost been taken away, namely the performance aspect, which doesn’t exist anymore”.
While there are many drawbacks, Cam is able to take the positives: “It has been good in some ways because it makes you revaluate what is important. Everyone has had to adjust & learn the hard way…but still fingers crossed we will go back soon to a bit of normality”.
Thinking beyond the pandemic, Cam is coy when discussing the pair’s end goal: “We don’t really have one. I mean, there was no reason for us to have the success we did. We just did music because it was what we loved to do. Joe & I never sat down & stated we wanted to become an international DJ / production act. Obviously, as it started happening, we have had to see it as a business & be savvy to become self-sufficient. We have been able to do that for over a decade now which is great”.
When pushed on what is to come, Cam remarks: “Again, it’s difficult to answer. If you asked me 5 years ago, I would never have thought we would have had two number 1’s, an album that has done really well & had the commercial success we have had. To be honest, we just always want to push forward, whatever that means, & continue to awake an ever-larger audience to the beauty of drum & bass. It’s come a long way, but there is still more to do”.
Cam finishes the interview by offerings some words of wisdom for anyone aspiring to emulate his success: “My advice is to be ready to be real with yourself. You hear stories of things happening overnight…you may have even heard that about us & our success, but the reality is it took 10 years to get to where we are at now. You really must bed in & learn your trade & if you really love something, it’s never a chore. You must be positive in your mindset & not second guess yourself, because otherwise other people will. Just stay committed to what you are doing & it will happen for you”.
With a new single just released with John Newman, Sigma will continue to shine a huge light on the drum & bass scene & we expect big things to follow in 2021 when the world opens again.
Sigma’s new single ‘High On You ft. John Newman’ is out now
Follow Sigma @sigma