Sheffield stars Toddla T and S Dog step into ‘The Steeze Factory’

In his West London studio, Toddla T provides a space for fellow northerner and rapper S Dog to shine

Toddla T and S Dog in the studio

Toddla T and S Dog in the studio, shot by @shotbywez

Sheffield hero Toddla T is an energetic, characterful collaborator who’s produced for an impressive array of rappers including Aitch, Roots Manuva, Skepta, Wiley and Ms. Dynamite. So, when rapper S Dog, a fellow northerner and Bad Boy Chiller crew affiliate (as pointed out by T’s die-hard BBCC fan son) came into his inbox, his authenticity, he says – and the fact he had a song called Yorkshire – meant the collaboration was a no-brainer.

Heading into Toddla T’s West London-based studio named by T as ‘The Steeze Factory’, the producer and rapper instantly bounced off one another, nodding to their Northern roots with a collection of garage and bassline bangers. MusicTech speaks to the pair about the collaboration and discover how Toddla T sets up an environment in his studio for vocalists to shine.

Toddla and S Dog, this EP is nuts! These tracks have a bassline flavor to them. Is bassline a genre you both hold close to your hearts?

Toddla T: I’m from Sheffield, so bassline is in our DNA, whether we like it or not. Growing up, it was the sound of the community, hugely influential to my sound and DJ sets. It’s never left the city; it’s an easy win for the dancefloor to this date.

S Dog: I’m completely the same as T. I’ve always grown up around bassline and have always been a massive fan of it. My younger self would have never believed I would be making it with Toddla T! There’s definitely a revival happening at the moment; the south side is finally catching on.

S Dog
S Dog, shot by @shotbywez

Tell us about the linkup.

Toddla T: I was offered the session and checked out S Dog, and the first thing that jumped out was his authenticity. I particularly liked the fact he had a tune called Yorkshire.

S Dog: As soon as I got into the studio with T, I immediately knew something special was on its way. Bringing DJ Q in for a remix was the cherry on top.

Where were these tracks made?

Toddla T: It was all done on the spot in The Steeze Factory, lyrics and beats, minus //Brighter Days//, which was an idea from a while back. The Steeze Factory is my spot in West London.

How do you use your studio, Toddla?

Toddla T: I sublet a room in a complex. I don’t need much equipment-wise: M1 MacBook Pro, UAD Apollo 6x, UAD Sphere DLX mic. Ableton Live is the membrane.

Vocals are the most important thing to capture right. I voice in the room, as it’s the culture a lot of vocalists come from, so I want to make it as comfy as possible. Vibe over quality, always. I cannot stress how amazing the UAD C VOX is; it takes the room out of the recording on the way so well. I can have the air con on, kettle brewing, the lot. You don’t want to be setting up a booth when the vocalist is ready! I track into Ableton and have an Ableton Push by my side.

I have an upright piano, which is just a great vibe and also good for writing on. I got it off Gumtree for £50! The more expensive bit was transporting it and tuning it, as it was a full tone out. It records really well; the imperfection is what makes it vibier than any VSTi. I wack the UAD Sphere mic in the mic on stereo mode. No long ting.

S Dog
S Dog, shot by @shotbywez

S Dog, do you enjoy collaborating? Working with people in music is important in the music industry. In what ways have you become a better collaborator over the years?

S Dog: I’m a big collaborator when it comes to music; I’m not much of a producer myself, so I have always worked with other producers when it comes to making my tracks. I’ve definitely opened up to more sessions in recent years, including with Toddla. T’s production is quite different from anything I’ve spat on before, but it worked so well, and we got on like a house on fire.

What atmosphere did you try to create in the studio?

S Dog: Toddla T and I are both energetic people, so we were constantly bouncing ideas off each other. T had a bunch of beat ideas ready to go and constantly spurred me on to try something out on them. His big energy definitely helped me be more creative in the studio.

S Dog
S Dog, shot by @shotbywez

S Dog, what would you say to any upcoming MCs wanting to take their ideas to the next level and actually get music out there?

S Dog: Keep pushing your boundaries, man! Try things out that you wouldn’t usually do. Keep collaborating and try out ideas you wouldn’t have thought of before; you never know what might come out of a session.

Check out the rest of S Dog’s tunes and Toddla T’s productions via Spotify.

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