With the drum’n’bass duo playing our second gig in association with Lynx anti-perspirant, we chatted to the pair about nailing the feel-good formula
Sigma were born in the underground. On weekends, they’d trawl clubs for drum’n’bass nights. On weekdays, they’d go to the studio to meld their own beats – on the off-chance their favourite DJs would drop them into their sets.
Now you’re just as likely to hear a Sigma track on Capital FM as at a drum’n’bass night. Ever since 2014 smash hit Nobody To Love, Cam Edwards and Joe Lenzie have found a winning MO – marrying beats, honed on the club circuit, to uplifting choruses sung by rising British talent you can expect to find on a Spotify Discover Weekly playlist. In short, it’s music purpose-built to make you burst into song, pump your fist and bring a grin to your face.
Ahead of their 48 Hours To... gig in partnership with Lynx Anti-Perspirant, we sat down with the pair at ShortList’s local chippy for a chat on what gets their endorphins flowing.
What’s your go-to feel-good tune?
Joe: Disco. Cheryl Lynn. James Brown, a bit of funk.
Cam: The latest Chance The Rapper album [Coloring Book] is wicked. That’s really uplifting.
J: Our Spotify playlists are all over the place – jazz, big band, soul, funk. We always play different stuff in our DJ sets, too.
No matter the genre, is it all pretty much feel-good stuff?
C: Yeah. Our album Life sums us up. There are club tunes and tracks you can chill out to. We don’t play the chilled stuff live, though – we like to get the energy up. There’s nothing better than seeing a crowd go wild.
Why is dance music so suited to making people happy?
J: The energy. With drum’n’bass, especially, it’s the tempo – it sets it apart. If you dance to every beat you’d have a heart attack after 10 seconds, though. That’s probably why it hasn’t taken off in the US – they dance to every beat. No concept of the half-step. They just go mental.
C: I was into dark drum’n’bass as a kid. I listen to it now and it’s so sh*t. But then I’d hate what we’re doing now [laughs]. It’s way too happy.
Why did you move into pop after years on the club circuit?
J: We had to progress. We got together in 2006. We moved into songwriting four years ago. We like nice melodies – they’re more fun to work with.
C: We’d release stuff on DJ Fresh’s label. Everything was on vinyl. One side would be more clubby, the other more girly with vocals. We’ve just enhanced that side.
How do you get a crowd jumping?
C: By playing Nobody To Love. If that song doesn’t go down well, you’re f*cked.
Which area has the happiest crowds?
J: Cornwall loves jump-up drum’n’bass – Boardmasters in Newquay this summer was sick. Estonia seems to love us. We have a massive following in Belgium.
C: When we played there during the World Cup they gave us Belgium shirts with our names on the back. Everyone went nuts.
Two years on from its release, what’s the secret to Nobody To Love’s longevity?
J: A lot of it’s down to that Kanye sample. With Bound 2, people heard the hook rather than the tune. It’s so infectious and feel-good – that’s why we sampled it. We were like, “That’s a wicked part of a sh*t tune.”
You really think it’s sh*t?
C: It sounded like someone having an epileptic fit to music.
J: That hook didn’t fit with that tune.
C: We talk about it a lot. There’s not much difference between that and our song Stay; really catchy, similar lyrics, with a female vocal instead. It didn’t do nearly as well. Sometimes, it’s just timing.
So there’s an actual technical process to making a song uplifting?
C: We try to work it out. There’s a certain thing to it, yeah. Big choruses and strings. The catchiest tunes are the simplest ones. But if we really knew the formula, then every tune would be as big as Nobody To Love. That song opened doors for us. People hate on us now, but that’s natural when you’re successful.
And you have Stranger Things’ Eleven, Millie Bobby Brown, in your new Find Me video...
J: What actually is Eleven? What is it?
C: Her character from Stranger Things. You need to watch it.
J: Oh, right. I knew she had a massive profile, so that’s great.
How do you want people to feel while they’re at a Sigma show?
C: Feeling a whole lot of energy and witnessing a massive party on-stage.
(Photography: Antonio Petronzio)