Ones To Watch: Soundboy Cookie interview

Next in our Ones To Watch series is UK Garage producer Soundboy Cookie. Hailing from Surrey in England, he has released a plethora of records on labels such as Vex and Gather over the course of the year. Soundboy Cookie, whose real name is Andrew Cook, studies a PhD in cyber security of public infrastructure.

We sat down with Andrew, so as to delve into his journey in UKG so far, his setup, his visions for the future and some of his favourite garage tracks.

The sampler of Soundboy Cookie’s latest ‘Shut Down EP’, which saw a limited vinyl run

Hey man! How have you been over summer?

Luckily all good my end. Been cracking on with work and music! Trying to keep healthy and keep a daily routine going.

The last 18 months has been exciting time for you musically with your first release on Vex Records last year, followed up with multiple releases on Vex, Gather and more in 2020.
To start with tell us about how you first started listening and producing UKG?

I got into garage properly when I started uni back in 2014. Before that I was heavily into dubstep. At uni up in Sheffield it was all about techno. Techno and bassline were both deeply ingrained in the underground music scene there, and there wasn’t really much love for garage. Most people hated it. Playing it at pre’s or after’s got you kicked off tune duties.

I had been messing around in FL Studio since I was about 14, but when I heard Perception’s weekly show on Vision Radio, I got very inspired to start producing UKG properly. At the very beginning, it was exclusively for his show.  I hopped on Fl Studio and after a few months sent Perception a few tracks, including one called ‘Too Much Coganac’, which he actually opened his show with.

After that, I kept sending tunes to Perception as well as Vex Records and El-B, both of which sort of took me under their wing. Then Vex and I put out our first EP and just kept going from there! Everything I make I still send to Perception for his show.

Soundboy Cookie & DJ Perception with Vex Records

How would describe your production sound at the moment? How do you see it progressing over the next 12 months?

I try to make it a mix. I make mostly 2-step, but I’ve got a few more soulful bits as well, as well as sub-bass heavy stuff too. When I started it was pretty much straight inspired by Chris Mack, El-B, and DEA Project, but I’m also inspired a lot by the recent crop of garage producers. I also absolutely love hip hop beatmakers like Alchemist, 9th Wonder, Araab Muzik, and lo-fi producers too.

I’m mostly sample based, and I try to mimic my sampling style from the old hip-hop producers, sampling soul and disco snippets from the 70s but sort of “imperfectly” so it sounds rough. I think over the next year or two you’ll see some different styles – I’m trying out some hip hop beats under a different name too which I’ll put out when I’ve got a few more done. I would also love to try doing some dancehall and jungle properly at some point.

Soundboy Cookie’s show on Threads Radio

What set up do you use and home, and how do you go about making a track?

I just use FL Studio, a pair of studio headphones, mouse and keyboard. I keep everything as simple and basic as I can. I’m not that interested in the technical side of producing or creating complex sounds, I prefer the buzz of hunting for and finding samples.

Making a track normally starts with chopping out chords and bass plucks from a soul track or chopping out a voice clip from a film/video game and seeing how I can fit it over drums so it sounds good. Bassline and other sounds I add after that. I have the bass synth ‘Massive’ but don’t use hardware or anything.

Normally I get inspired to make a track if I hear a mega rare garage record that there’s no way I’m ever going to afford or get a hold of, so I just make something that sounds a bit like it for myself to cheer myself up a bit. 

The UKG revival has been going from strength to strength over the last few years. Which producers/DJ/releases have you particularly enjoyed?

Prescribe Da Vibe is a huge one for me. His drums are some of the best I’ve ever heard, particularly his track ‘Clearer Now’. Masterplan, Bigdrum, Para, and California based producer Jared Jackson are all blowing my mind too.

For DJs, I’ve got to shout out the guys behind the Shuffle ‘n’ Swing Sessions streams which you can find at ModeratorUK on Youtube, putting out absolutely wicked UKG mix streams. I also caught Eliza Roze at a Keep Hush party pre-lockdown and she tore it up.

Release-wise, there’s so many to name but ones that have particularly stood out to me are:

‘Mood is Right’ by Island Routes:

Highrise – ‘Take Time’:

The Stab Mechanics – ‘2 Step Deepus’:

Fièvre’s ‘Let Me Tell U’:

Perception’s ‘Safire’:

‘Hoodlum Heritage’ by Ease Up George:

Bailey Ibbs‘ ‘Strikers’ remix (read The Noise Narrative’s interview with Bailey Ibbs here.)

Zero FG – ‘LDN State of Mind’:

There’s so many more from so many more people that I love, but those ones I’ve got a personal love for.

We understand you’ve got quite a few projects. Are you able to shed any light on what to expect from you in the next few months?

The next one coming is a collaboration project from myself and UKG producer On1, which we are self releasing. I’m really excited for it, it’s a very bass-heavy, dark EP that we think sounds totally unique, and the artwork and everything should look sick. We’re working hard on getting this one to go up for preorder early to mid October, then drop about six weeks after that.

I think that might wrap up the year, then for next year I’m hoping to do a mix of solo EPs and VA contributions with various labels which will drop when they drop. I’m trying to release only on vinyl, which obviously has a much longer production cycle, but it’s always worth it in the end to me.

We’re all dying to get back on the dancefloor soon. If you were able to organise your dream event for when clubs open again, who would be playing and where?

That’s a great question. I think Corsica Studios is a great venue, as well as Venue MOT. The South Circular events at Lightbox were also amazing. I think Enchanted Rhythms b2b with Eliza Roze would be pretty mad. I would also love to get Jared Jackson over to the UK for a set. He’s a wicked DJ who’s really into turntablism and hip hop as well as his love for house and UK Garage. I think it would be a great set.

Jared Jackson with Soundboy Cookie’s ‘My Production EP’

Finally, were there any songs that you had on repeat as musical therapy over the lockdown period?

I think when I think back to the beginning of the lockdown period, I’m gonna remember most listening to mixtapes by badboy jungle producer Phineus II while out bike riding or just going for walks. He produces ’94 style darkside jungle with all the kit that was around at that time, like the Commodore Amiga computer, old school sound tracker software that were around before fancy DAWs like Ableton and Fl Studio, floppy disks of samples and breaks and so on. There’s a community out there that preserves these old techniques, but he works absolute magic with it. His track ‘King Kong’ is absolutely ridiculous.

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