This month's Artist Spotlight falls on Australian-based Severity Zero, whose smooth melodies and liquid vibes have been bringing the sunshine with impressive consistency. Since his debut launch on the site with the highly-rated Lip Service, he has repeatedly scored in the 70s and 80s with his subsequent releases, showing a mastery of his art that should catch the attention of the major labels before long. Please introduce yourself to us.
Hey Guys! My name's Leo de Oliveira. I was born in Brazil and grew up moving from country to country. I was blessed with opportunity to live in places such as Brazil, Spain, USA, Bolivia, UK and Australia, which I now call home. I earn a crust as an IT Network engineer. IT is a fast paced career, so it's no surprise that it doesn't leave me with much time for Drum and Bass production.You describe yourself as a latecomer to the drum and bass world; what were you doing before, and what finally brought you around to the drums and bass?
Music has always been a part of my life. I remember really being into rock and bands as early as when I was 9-10 years old! I went on to sing in a school choir, picked up a guitar at 9, gave up, then picked it up again at 18 and never let go. I've tried (and failed) to start rock groups with friends. My musical past was very much rock-focused but as I got older I developed a more varied taste in music. Having grown up in a Brazilian family, it's no surprise that I'm a fan of Brazilian music, and that's had a great influence on me. For example, if you listen closely to the beat of Billable Hours
you might notice that it is actually a bossa nova beat. My first real contact with DnB was when I moved to London in the early 2000s, though I didn't really get into it until 2008, when I heard Pendulum's "Hold Your Colour" album, which really reignited the flame. I know Pendulum gets a lot of flack but I think they really need to be commended for opening the doors to DnB to a lot of people, myself included. I have them to thank for what I've achieved.Could you explain what Severity Zero stands for?
I wanted my stage name to say something about myself. Working in technology, sometimes shit happens and disasters ensue. When that happens, incidents are classified in degrees of severity, ranging from say, 4 (not a big problem at all) to 1 which means a disaster and it's all hands on deck to get it fixed. It's a bit of an inside joke within the profession. Let's just say that "Severity Zero" is IT-speak for a massive disaster.Tell us a little bit about your studio setup and music-making process.
My studio set up (if you can call it that) is very minimalistic. The only equipment I am using at the moment is a white Macbook, a copy of Ableton Live and a pair of Senhheiser HD202 cans. I don't use any VSTs at the moment, though I've done so in the past. These days, I try to use as few tools as possible and squeeze the most out of those tools. DnB on a shoestring, indeed!Why do you make music? Is it just a hobby or do you have professional aspirations?
I found that there's an element of challenge that comes with music production that is very, very addictive. Also, music is my escape. I think everyone needs a creative outlet, so this is mine. It sure started as a hobby, but I sense that it's now taking on a more serious meaning. I'd say these days I do have professional aspirations.How do you go about promoting yourself?
I look for other artists that make similar music to mine and exchange tracks with them. I also try to collaborate as much as possible. I find that a lot of producers/promoters/DJs are on AIM, so if I like a certain label or listen a DJ on Bassdrive or DnB radio, I will send them my tracks. Also, I love the "From the bedroom" sessions that DJ Bailey runs, shame the timezone makes staying up to listen to all 6 hours of it pretty much impossible!
I think the most important thing is to meet people in your local scene, and I've made an effort recently to do this as well by attending DnB nights (often on my own). It's important, I think, to support other up-and-coming artists as well. This means listening to their music, giving feedback and promoting their work, too. It's very much a case of "you get what you give."
Last but not least, DNBScene has also been critical to the promotion of my work. I'm really very glad that you've taken the effort to run such a great website for those DnB artists that are starting out. We have much to be thankful for! Aw shucks! - EdWhat is your proudest musical achievement to date?
I think my track Fever
is my greatest achievement so far. It's probably the only track I never get tired of listening to. It got recently signed and it will be the first track that I've made which will be professionally mastered.What's the drum and bass scene like in Sydney?
I think it's pretty decent. There's something happening most weekends, and it is very much an underground thing. The most recent highlight have been an Andy C / MC GQ boat cruise, Hospitality on new years day and DJ Marky. And all of that happened in January alone!What do you hope to be doing in 5 years?
I want to learn how to spin and to become a regular DJ in the Sydney DnB scene. I also hope to meet lots of local producers, and learn as much as possible from them by collabing face-to-face. I also hope to get a few releases out and, with some luck, some UK radio exposure. Most important, in 5 years time, I want music to be as much fun as it is now, if not more.Finally, since I am writing this on Valentine's Day, is there a significant other in your life?
I've been with my wife Blanka for 10 years now and our 9th wedding anniversary is this year. I'm also the proud father of two young lads, Bruno (4) and David (18 months). And let me tell you, the boys can skank to DnB ike it's going out of fashion! Although admitedly not her favourite kind of music, the Missus also enjoys Drum and Bass, especially the Hospital sound and artists like Netsky and Danny Byrd.
Check out Severity Zero's forthcoming releases:http://soundcloud.com/sevzero/sets/forthcoming/
Where to find Severity Zero http://soundcloud.com/sevzero/http://www.facebook.com/severityzero