With his diverse and forward-thinking production that never fails to pay homage to its roots, Berlin-based producer and DJ Suff Daddy has been behind some of the most exciting beats to come out of Germany in the last few years. We caught up with him after his debut show in Amsterdam earlier this summer for a quick interview about his career in music, current projects, as well as his plans for the near future.
Who is Suff Daddy? Can you tell us something about yourself and where do we know you from?
I’m a Homo Sapiens living in Berlin, I spend quite some time composing music or DJing, but mostly I just hang out with my dog.
How did you become a producer? Take us on a little tour of how everything got to where it is for you.
I had been listening to my older brother’s records when I was younger. Mainly hip-hop records. In 1999 a friend of mine showed me a sequencing program for my first PC which I just got that same year. At first I didn’t really know what to do, but I always had a lot of fun with it. So I stuck by it and 17 years later here I am.
What other producers, songwriters and/or artists do you see as your primary inspirations?
In the 90s I listened to all the usual East Coast suspects, like DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Large Pro, Eric Sermon and so on, but I also listened to a lot of West Coast artists, stuff like N.W.A., Ice-T, Snoop Dogg, DJ Quik. They definitely had an impact on me in general. Nowadays there are so many producers and artists out there that I admire, I cannot possibly mention them all.
I’m not sure if this is the best advice I've ever been given, but I met Count Bass D last year and he said: „Don’t change shit“.
What about a real-life situation, can you share one that acted as a trigger to create?
I never thought about getting into music production, and I never thought I had the ability to write music. But since I had been listening to music my whole life and started DJing in the mid-90s, the connection was always there. To be honest, I cannot think of one situation that got it going.
Describe yourself in 3 records.
· Snoop Doggy Dogg – Doggystyle (1993)
· Bobby Caldwell – What You Won’t Do For Love (1978)
· Marvin Gaye – I Want You (1976)
What is your current studio set-up?
My setups usually are not that impressive at all. I do a lot of work on my Windows 7 PC and Sony Acid. At my home studio I have a Moog Little Phatty, a microKorg and I just bought a MiniNova. I like those small synths with the small keys. But at the moment I use Arturia VSTs a lot. And then there is the external studio in which I moved in a few months ago, and that one is filled with old synths and other gear (not mine, but I can use it). I play a lot on the Prophet 5 these days.
How about your favorite piece of software or gear at the moment?
Right now I’m having the most fun with the vocoder section on the Novation MiniNova.
We came across an interview from not long ago where you say you used to sample everything in your tracks, but lately you’ve been using more and more gear. Has your practice changed over time?
Yes, it has. In the beginning I didn’t know how to create my own music, so I only used samples. Then I had a period when I used a sample as a foundation and then added stuff to it. Nowadays I do a lot of my beats without samples. It’s more challenging, it gives me more satisfaction, and I don’t have to clear any sample when it comes to licensing. But I still use samples from time to time, like on the ‘Blunts With My Crew’ 7″.
Can you describe your work process on that one for our readers?
Usually I start off with a sample or some chords, search for drums that fit, and then I add a baseline and some synths. Of course it’s not always like this, sometimes you start off with the drums or something. The ‘Blunts With My Crew’ 7″ represents my old way of beat-making. It’s somehow just a mashup I did for the live shows, I didn’t intend to put it out on record when I made it due to sample clearance issues. But that’s how I always used to do beats, make a catchy one and add some vocal cuts to it. I don’t use vocal cuts too much any more.
You mentioned the issue of sample clearance, where do you stand on that?
I never thought about it, but nowadays I try to avoid sample clearance issues, at least for the releases. For my DJ or live sets I still do some heavy sampling here and there.
Any recent digs you would recommend?
How did you end up premiering your remix of Lion Babe’s ‘Wonder Woman’ on the Gilles Peterson show?
They didn’t ask for the remix, I just did it for myself because I’m a fan of Lion Babe. When I sent it over, everybody loved the track, and so we thought a proper premiere would be nice. My management took care of the rest.
What do you like to do when you are not producing music or working?
I hang out with my dog, Karl. He’s a mix between a German shepherd and a Dachshund. I spend a lot of time in nature and take long walks around the neighborhood. Besides that I try to chill with my girl, which is not always possible because our working hours are so different. I always enjoyed video gaming, but somehow I don’t do it anymore, maybe because all the games are the same.
What’s the story behind your name?
That was a stupid name a friend of mine gave me because I used to be the guy who always had a beer in his hand. ‘Suff’ means something like ‘Boozing’ in German. So when I signed up for Myspace ten years ago, I used that name because I didn’t know what to call myself as an artist. Even though I feel I kinda outgrew the name nowadays, I’ll still stick to it until I have a new, brilliant idea.
We know you like gin, cognac and Pilsetten. But what about food, do you have some special secret ingredient that gets you going? A favorite place you would share with our readers?
I am a simple guy when it comes to food, I don’t like anything experimental or fancy. I really enjoy fish, lentils and everything that contains a lot of onions and garlic. Besides that I love Indian food, if it’s made well.
You have IAMNOBODI and Mayer Hawthorne on for your next project, and recently Fashawn said he would love to rap over one of your beats. What are you currently working on and what can we expect from you in the near future? Any secrets you can spill?
I’m working on a new LP at the moment. IAMNOBODI and Mayer will be on it, my good friend Dexter is on it as well. I still haven’t reached Fashawn yet, but I think he’s playing a show in Berlin soon, so I’ll try to catch him and go to the studio then. Still waiting for two features to be confirmed, but even if that won’t happen, the album will be good nevertheless.
The reason we delayed the LP is because I’m also working on a new Betty Ford Boys EP right now, which we will release for our upcoming tour in November. We put out two LPs and two EPs in the last two years, now we will drop our third EP, but after that I want to focus on my solo shit again. It’s been a long time since I released my last album and I think the time is right to do it again. Other than that, I’m always working on remixes for different people.
Can you tell us something more about your collaboration with Brenk Sinatra and Dexter (Betty Ford Boys)? How do you all work together, can you give us an idea of what that’s like?
When we worked on our first LP I was living in Sydney, so we had to send files back and forth and everybody was at home doing their own thing. That was cool, but for our second album we wanted to be in one room, we wanted to really make music together. So after I came back from Australia, we rented a small house somewhere in Bavaria and made about 40 beat drafts in one week. We all brought our computers. Dexter brought his Mini Moog, we had a lot of percussion elements and strange instruments with us.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
I’m not sure if this is the best advice I’ve ever been given, but I met Count Bass D last year and he said: “Don’t change shit”.
Everyone has a wishlist, so can you name something off yours? Could be anything that you would really like to get your hands on, a piece of gear, a rare record, anything!
I’m waiting for this virtual reality device, the Oculus Rift.
Last question, which is not to be taken a 100% seriously. Are you planning on releasing anything on AVA Records, under another name perhaps?
There are no plans yet, but you never know. I always liked house music, and they release great stuff, so if I ever make some house tunes, I’ll send them their way.
Thank you for taking the time to answer these for our readers, and thank you for your wonderful first ever set in Amsterdam!
You’re welcome! I had a great time in Amsterdam and I can’t wait to get back.