Ahead of his latest release on the label, we spoke with Common Occupation aka Sam McNally about his inspirations, workflow and what's next once we're allowed in clubs again!
Photography By David Coleman
When we first heard the unreleased tracks by Common Occupation, one that instantly stood out was Without You, a powerful synth driven masterpiece which has a breakdown that takes you straight back to the Summer of 2019 (you know the one with Festivals and non-restriction holidays). Ahead of his debut release on the label we discuss inspiration, advice and the future.
Hey Sam, tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a London based dj and producer. It was many moons ago that I first got into electronic music, after listening to a rave mixtape in a mate’s car. I bought a set of turntables and a fixation soon developed for buying techno and trance records as well as summers in Ibiza. Over the years I’ve organised and DJ’d at various parties in the UK before locating to London where as well as DJing and producing, I co-host The Afters, an electronic music podcast. In terms of sound, I’d say my musical style is a warming lattice of melodic synths and euphoric grooves.
For everyone reading this, The Afters podcast is a must listen. What's been your inspirations so far?
A big inspiration for me are the musical journeys that are created by DJs in their sets, and any kind of music that evokes emotion through melodies and warming baselines. I tend to listen a varied assortment from movie scores to nu-jazz depending on my mood, all of which I draw inspiration and ideas from. Also general daily sounds can inspire me, for example I was recently at someone’s house and this cooling fan was making some really eerie noises - perfect to sample for some subdued beats.
Without You is a stunning track which is why we picked it up straight away, could you tell us more on how achieve your end results?
I’ll always work on the melodies or lead elements first, testing out different instruments adjusting accordingly to get the sound I’m looking for. Then I’ll play around with samples be it one-shot instruments or vocals. It’s only when I’ve got those parts working together that I’ll focus on the percussion. I don’t tend to jump around different tracks at any one time but stay focused on one track until it is finished. Then there’s the mix down, getting all the components of the track at the right volume and frequency, allowing them to “breathe”. Sometimes I’ll spend as long on this as I do on writing the track - it’s so important to get this part right.
What advice would you give to producers starting out?
To begin with, keep your choice of equipment and software to a minimum. Get the demos and watch tutorials then select a few synths, instruments, drum machines or plug-ins to work with. When you’re starting out you don’t need all the gear. If you have too much, you risk spending more time staring at your screen making noises rather than writing music.
What's next for Common Occupation?
There won’t be much djing over the coming months for obvious reasons but expect more releases later this year. There’s also a couple of remixes I’ll be working on soon which I’m excited about, as well as a potential collaboration.
'Without You' by Common Occupation is available to stream and download across all major platforms Friday 28th August. Check out the artwork below as well with visuals coming from incredible Finnish photographer Timo Lemmetti