Musicians have had a tough time of it over the last year, but as a producer, Sulli (a.k.a. Sentido) has had the time to get into the right headspace as an artist. ‘I feel like [the lockdown] kind of saved me in a way,’ he says. ‘It was difficult for me to visualize taking a year out before any of this happened. If I hadn’t I wouldn’t have had the time, or energy, to really dedicate towards [my music].’ Despite having played around with electronic music since school, it’s Sulli’s recent hard work which has therefore been paying off: ‘over the last 11 months I’ve come so far with my technical abilities and songwriting,’ he reflects. ‘If you do something for like a year, every day, the amount of progress you can make is crazy.’
But like any artist, it’s been a long journey for Sentido in getting to this point of being so confident in his approach. ‘Especially in this day and age, there's so much pressure. On the Internet it doesn't really matter what it is, but if someone's pushing their project in front of you, you're only seeing the best 5% of it. That can be really disheartening if you see your idols throwing out a banging track every month whilst you're feeling like 90% of the stuff you’re making is crap… so it's not really helpful to anyone to just keep up this image of everyone being perfect,’ he explains. ‘If you just kind of take a step back and realize that not everyone's [super productive], then I think it's a lot better that way.’
This image brought the London nightlife scene to bizarre new heights too: ‘before, you’re having these huge, insane light shows at Printworks and stuff, these global lineups, which were absolutely nuts,’ Sulli recalls. ‘But what really was that? Does it really connect with your community, or where you live, or like, your friends?’ Instead, the last year has seen big DJs’ professionally shot and edited posts slowly replaced by more candid videos experimenting at home: just like the rest of us. ‘It's completely gone back to basics, which is interesting I think. During the pandemic we’ve had the time to remember why we like doing this in the first place,’ Sulli says.
Being a bass house producer in the UK switches up the dynamic further. ‘Being in the UK and doing bass house is kind of a weird one, because it’s more of a US-slash-European kind of sound,’ he explains. Indeed, on our side of the pond, the nostalgia of homegrown UK bass and garage often remains closer to people’s hearts, so ‘in terms of actual bass house nights there aren't really, like, any.
I’ve seen people that are big in the bass house scene that wouldn't get a booking here in the UK and that to me is like… you need to think about how you go about this going forward, so it's yeah it's an interesting one.’
But Sentido’s versatile style doesn’t hold him back, and as a DJ he sits somewhere between the two sounds, whilst channelling his love for bass house into his writing. His latest remix of Belly Squad’s ‘Long Time’ on Bass Camp LDN is a perfect example of his harmony between UK melodies and his signature juicy bass energy.
He’s still sitting on a lot of exciting material currently awaiting release, some of which is already being played by the likes of AC Slater, Dr. Fresch, Bijou and DJ Q. That said, Sulli’s dedicated equal time to getting to know the ins and outs of the industry, looking to release some tracks under his own steam. ‘[Record labels] aren’t the be all and end all of whether your music makes it or not,’ he’s realised. ‘I've kind of worked out how to put out your own music, do the artwork, make sure you've registered in the right places…it is really boring, but at the end of day it’s your money.’ Now, he’s getting to grips with which deals are worth it or not, as he tells me, ‘it is easy to forget that you’ve spent like twenty, thirty hours making a track, because there’s just this weird idea that music is basically free.’
Part of his grounded attitude also comes from the support network he’s had since he began to produce, through UCL’s Electronic Music Society. ‘EMS was so great,’ he says, nostalgically. ‘It's hard to put into words really because, like… before EMS I'd never played in front of anyone, ever. I would have never got that opportunity if everyone there wasn’t so nice and open.’ Sulli owes a lot to his friends in the society, and the first night he played was for Manjosh, then-Head of DJs: ‘if someone had come up to me with the set that I played, I wouldn't have taken a chance on myself; but he did. That’s something that really stuck with me.’ He’s still in touch with the tight-knit EMS community, even after graduating. ‘Ben, the president when I joined, and Jordan [then-Head of Production] were always really open to what I was making, and Kulv, Josh, and Cam too…’ As a result, Sulli quickly surpassed his dreams of playing to an audience, ‘even if it was ten people’, to holding packed out crowds at XOYO. Finally, being elected EMS president in 2019/20 gave Sulli the chance to do for others what the society had for him. ‘It was a really big honour, that in my last year I was able to kind of lead everyone and run it with the committee.’ The hard work culminated in early 2020 as Synergy, the society’s packed-out club nights at Corsica Studios, repeatedly sold out. ‘Yeah it was pretty amazing just seeing people having a good time; I’ll always be proud of that.’
Sentido can now also boast supporting bass house giants Malaa, Habstrakt and Honey + Badger at Ministry of Sound. ‘Yeah, shoutout Kris from Relentless events for inviting me – that, for me, changed everything because the crowd were so into it, and a lot of [my friends] showed up too, which was nice. It kind of made me believe that I could really do it, you know. It made me realise that it could be so much more than this if you actually try.’
Sentido’s dedicated attitude will hold him in good stead as we move forward into London’s revived music scene. After his time away from the decks, find some of his new and unreleased tracks in his latest mix for SUPER Bleached.
Sentido’s latest remix of Belly Squad’s ‘Long Time’ is out now on Bass Camp LDN.