By Amanda Ross
Dayvid Sherman doesn’t seem phased by his title – “The Godfather of Hardtrap.” If anything, the L.A.-based DJ/producer (known professionally as SAYMYNAME) seems to embrace it. But that’s what happens when you’ve essentially invented a sub-genre that’s quickly drawing fans.
Since bursting onto the scene a couple of years back, his trailblazing trap productions have turned heads, seeing his work crash-land on prestigious labels like Mad Decent, Armada and Spinnin’. SMN’s most popular track, “Wanted,” an uptempo collab with Mercer, received support from Martin Garrix and took off. But he’s mostly known for his remixes.
On Mad Decent, it’s his ominous take of Slander’s “Dead.” SMN took the original lead and twisted it up with his trademark super saw waves for destructive results. Last Summer’s anthem on Armada, “Follow” by Mike Hawkins featuring Disfunk and Oisin, received a naughty SMN hardtrap rework that maintains the magic of the original vocals. And earlier this year, his rattling remix of Breathe Carolina & IZII’s otherwise poppy “Echo” came out on Spinnin’. His latest Spinnin’ release, “Swerve,” goes in with a savage vocal flex from Crichy Crich, while arena-filling synths and crystal-clear hi-hats create the vibe – just in time for festival season.
Accelerating through 2017, SMN continues to captivate with his over-the-top stage presence, searing Dutch-influenced synths and a flair for the dramatic. With a busy release schedule coupled with an even busier gig itinerary, we sat down with Dayvid Sherman to discover his preferences behind the glass and at the controls.
DJ Times: When did hardtrap come about?
Sherman: At the beginning of SAYMYNAME, I had first started experimenting with what some call trapstyle. I had called it hardtrap, but a lot of fans prefer trapstyle, literal for taking a hardstyle kick and switching into the 808 trap beat – and it just worked. It picked up with artists like Yellow Claw, Flosstradamus and others, but I think the winning combination that brought hard music into the scene was taking that hardstyle lead and really utilizing it over the 808 kick in a trap beat.
DJ Times: How were audiences reacting to the blend of styles?
Sherman:: Since trap is more familiarized in our scene out here in Los Angeles, even if the fans weren’t into hardstyle, they were able to connect with the trap aspect of it. The harsh screech leads and the detuned saw waves¬¬ were camouflaged into the trap culture, and that’s how hardtrap really kinda just took off.
DJ Times: DJing or production – which came first?
Sherman: I started DJing in the 5th grade when my father gave me his Numark mixer and two Technics 1200 turntables. He taught me how to mix and scratch, and I would come home and practice every day in middle school.
DJ Times: What’s your ideal DJ set-up these days?
Sherman: Three Pioneer CDJ-2000NXS [digital DJ turntables] and a Pioneer DJM-900NXS2 mixer. I’ll have two CDJs left of the mixer and the third on the right—channels 1-2-4.
DJ Times: When did the beat-making come into play? What were you using, originally?
Sherman: I started when I was 14, on a Mac, just arranging samples on GarageBand to make beats. I still produce on a laptop, but now I have [Propellerhead] Reason, my M-Audio keyboard and monitors.
DJ Times: What was your last a-ha moment in the studio?
Sherman: I forgot to quantize one of the synths in my melody. It was slightly offbeat, which created this cool delay effect.
DJ Times: Do you have a favorite key to write in?
Sherman: D minor!
DJ Times: How do you like to organize your workflow?
Sherman: I start with a melody and the break, which is the foundation of the whole track for me. Then I create the build and drops. I’ve always saved the intro and outro for last, but my process can change sometimes.
DJ Times: When do you normally get to the studio for work?
Sherman: I’d say, 1 p.m. I really prefer to write music between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.
DJ Times: Are there any genres outside of trap or hardstyle that you feel have influenced your sound recently?
Sherman: Yes! I’ve been listening to a lot of trance lately, mainly on the Who’s Afraid of 138?! label. A State of Trance releases and dubstep is also influencing my sound at the moment. I just wrapped up a hybrid dub/hardtrap original tune.
DJ Times: Where is your dream DJ destination?
Sherman: Defqon.1 [festival] in Australia.
DJ Times: Who are some DJs that you look up to?
Sherman: I look up to DJ Snake, Skrillex, Carnage, The Chainsmokers, and Martin Garrix. They’ve shown so much love and support for my music in the last year.