In Conversation: Sumgii
Sumgii is not an easy musician to pin down and that’s no coincidence. Constantly refashioning his approach and refreshing the platforms he controls, he has nevertheless succeeded in accumulating a solid fanbase for his work who travel with him no matter what. His moves as a label head have proved prophetic since the start, signing Chase and Status to his label Potent Funk in 2004 for an ep. Since then he has continued to stand at the gateway between various different styles, refusing to be pigeonholed. In fact the only time you might see him raise his voice is when a genre tag is attached, as evidenced by 2019’s Who Is Genre Anyway EP, which appeared on Swamp81. We caught up with Sumgii following his remix of Ikonika’s What Kinda Pain?
Semtek: Where did it all start for you as a producer? What was the first release you appeared on?
Sumgii: My first official release was a track called La De Da which came out on vinyl in 2002 I think. I wasn’t yet called Sumgii, I was actually known as Lazy J at that point.
S: You launched your label Potent Funk in 2004 with an early Chase & Status release. How did you end up working with them?
SG: My good mates went to uni with them in Manchester and they started putting on parties and started a crew called Londonzoo which I became part of too.
S: To begin with you were known as a jungle and garage dj. Who are your favourite producers when it comes to those styles?
SG: Junglewise I would say DJ Die, Roni size and the whole V Recordings era. Garagewise I’d say Groove Chronicles.
S: A number of the artists you have written beats for have gone on to big things, notably Milkavelli. What was it that made you believe in Milk’s potential when you first heard him?
SG: Im not sure I was even thinking about anyone’s potential at that time , I just knew he sounded good on my beats from the Piff Gang days when he was known as Don Silk. We have been working together ever since.
S: You co-founded DVL/616 in 2014, what made you want to roll out a new label for your projects at that point?
SG: It’s because we thought that the music we was making didn’t quite suit any of the labels we were all a part of, including Blah, Potent Funk and Bad Taste. We thought well it’s a new sound so needs a new home.
S: Who are the other members of Cult Mountain?
SG: Lee Scott, Trellion and Milkavelli.
S: You recently did an hour long live studio session with Pete Cannon for Fabric. Where do your tastes and Pete’s tastes coincide?
SG: I think we defo have a lot of similar tastes in music, for example jungle and some hip hop but there’s a lot of difference in our production styles which makes collaborations much more appealing and fresh. We defo enjoy alternative approaches to music too so I think that’s where we coincided to make something so different but familiar at the same time.
S: You and Pete have both appeared on Swamp81, Loefah’s label. How did you end up working with Loefah and do you have plans for more releases on Swamp?
SG: A mutual friend (Oliver Sudden) was chilling with Loefah one night doing the YouTube wormhole thing and Loefah started to play Cult Mountain songs to Oliver saying this production is sick. Oliver then told Loefah that he knows me and coincidently was putting on a club night in Peckham where I was booked to play. Loefah actually came to the club to meet me and pop his head in when he was on way to the airport but I missed him by 5 mins because I had gone to the chicken shop! But not long after that day Outlook festival happened and I was sent loads of messages and videos of Loefah playing my Cult / 616 tracks in his Outlook set and I was blown away that one of my idols was playing my rap music at such a huge show. Anyway me and Loefah finally linked up and we lined up my EP and everything worked out amazing. It was all very natural and mutual. We got plans of another for at some point. Swamp81 is family.
S: Problem Child is the name of the group you are in with Dabbla. Where does the name come from and what do you have planned next for the group?
SG: The group was really more of a project than a band name and I’m afraid is no more. But we all still work together in some way. Actually me, Dabbla and Illaman have made an album and it features a track with Dubbledge. I have no recollection on how the name came about though.
S: You also work as a mix and mastering engineer for the hip hop community and others aside. You even ended up working on a Method Man track at one point, how did that come about?
SG: I can’t talk too much about it as it’s not my song or project but basically I mix and master as a day job and one of my clients has collaborated with Method Man. I was asked to mix the whole song including Method Man’s vocals.
Sumgii – PEWPEW EP is out now via the Pew Pew Baum Baum bandcamp
Photographs: Jackie Dewe Mathews