As you may have noticed, we recently released our latest collection called Stay Thirsty. The inspiration behind this entire capsule collection is hustle and people who go after their dreams head on, people who are always “thirsty”.
On this occasion we joined forces with the talented DnB DJ Simon Sykora, who goes by the stage name Absu_NTQL. Simon took us to his Prague studio where he guided us through his creative process. Of course, it didn’t end in the studio and we headed to Darkshire, a DnB event that this time took place in a church and where Simon was one of the main performers.
If you are interested in the background of the DnB scene and how Simon got into music, don’t miss the interview in which Absu_NTQl talks about his musical career, but also about the state of the DnB scene in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Hi Šimmy, thanks for inviting us to the studio. We’ll start with a classic question: Who are you and what do you do? Can you briefly introduce yourself?
Okay, so my name is Simon Sýkora. I’m a producer and DJ, primarily focusing on Drum and Bass. My artistic name is Absu_NTQL, or it’s a combination of two pseudonyms. The first pseudonym NTQL (Not Equal) is with two other people Viktor and Robert. Who are very close friends of mine and are like my right hand man. Absu is a thing that I do on my own and hence my solo work. It’s stuff that I like and I do on my own.
I’ve been doing music for about 10 years now. Five years ago I moved to Prague, so the last 5 years it’s picked up a lot of momentum because my whole sound technique has changed. I’ve had to move up in quality especially in terms of expression. And at the same time, how I approach music and what I actually want to prove to the people around me but also to myself has also changed.
10 years is quite a long time. Do you remember how you got into music? Did you start right away with DnB or did you pursue another genre?
I originally got into it by being at home, that was sometime in seventh grade in elementary. I was watching some videos on youtube and a tutorial on FL Studio 8 jumped out at me – how to make a beat. I think it was house or something like that. So I clicked on it and I’m like “wow, dude is making music in the program”. I finished watching the whole video and immediately went to download the demo version and started clicking exactly according to that tutorial. And that’s when I was like, yes that’s it. Then my brother came home and I showed it to him, to which he told me it was cool and that I should keep doing it.
So for the first 2-3 weeks I worked in that demo version, which wasn’t ideal because it doesn’t even just save projects. And then one day he called me over to his place to play Xbox, well when we finished playing he was totally random talking to me: “watch this kamo here I found a program where you can make music”. Well when he opened it up it was FL Studio but it was cracked haha…
He somehow managed to crack it, so I got right into it and did like a 30 second loop. He told me it was mega cool, so then I cracked FL with his help too. Then I spent the summer at my mom’s house, where I was still just working in FL Studio and just trying plugin after plugin after plugin. That’s actually how my first track was made, which is still on youtube, but it’s really shit haha…
I didn’t really start out with DnB, back then it was the time when Skrillex and Martin Garrix were rocking, so of course I wanted to do what they did and gradually my style shaped up to where it is today. Then when I moved to Prague in 2018 and saw how the scene here works, I realized I had to give it a proper step up. These 5 years have really toughened me up in this music and I’ve slowly started to step out of my comfort zone. So for example I started to do more punk sound together with Dusan Vlk and RNZ. The whole thing kind of caught on and the rest is history. So shout-out to Dusan and Ronza.
Today we’re going to the Darkshire event where you’re playing your set, can you give me a brief description of it?
Sure! It’s an experimental Drum n Bass party. That means the headliners try to cover the whole spectrum of that genre from neurofunk to deep and everything in between. It’s very essential to keep the genre between genres. It’s kind of very complicated to understand, but something similar is going on like in techno. So someone who listens to techno will understand, sometimes those producers just jump between genres and change their sound.
The whole Darkshire collective is made up of DJs who have been around the block and the whole thing is conceived exactly as it’s called. So it’s very dark and in places where you don’t usually party, so churches, forests, caves and so on. It’s always in some other interesting place and it always sells out quickly because the line-up is so packed.
What does the Drum and Bass scene look like in the Czech Republic and Slovakia? Is it already developed here in some way?
Honestly, I haven’t met enough people to have a comprehensive opinion on it yet. But I can definitely say that the Drum and Bass scene in the Czech Republic is much healthier and more developed, at least in terms of frequency of events. I also perceive that those people are much more educated in the subject, whether producers or listeners.
In Slovakia it’s a bit different, of course most of it happens in the west, where I haven’t spent much time, so I can’t speak specifically, but it seems to me that it’s more commercially oriented there. So I wouldn’t say it’s already developed, but it’s not in its infancy either, and everybody can find their own thing in it.
Is it possible to make a living as a Drum and Bass DJ/producer?
Yes and no. I’ve definitely been very lucky because I’m still doing what I want to do and what I enjoy and people can appreciate that. That makes me extremely happy and I hope it stays that way. But other than that, as I say, often you can’t do it without the commerce. Because if you’re going to do that kind of commercial Drum and Bass that you’d play to your mum, for example, that there’s a girl singing and stuff, then you can definitely do it, the moment it gets on the radio it goes. I don’t know exactly how much it fits, but it’s definitely doable. But it’s definitely more challenging than if you’re doing what an EKG does, for example.
We’re here today mainly to talk about our new Stay Thirsty collection, which you’re already wearing. What do you think, do you like it?
I sure do! All the stuff I’ve tried so far is mega. The cuts fit me mega well, nice material and cool prints. Honestly I was extremely surprised by the sweatshirt, I really didn’t expect it to be so heavy. I personally love streetwear, but I don’t have much time to shop for it because I spend all my time on music. Just like someone goes to work or plays sports for example, I kind of nerd out to music that sounds like a drill. And that’s why I’m mega happy to be a part of this project and to be fresh as fuck thanks to you guys.