As a long-time grime producer, DJ, radio host and remixer for over a decade, Sir Spyro has never lost the hunger to succeed. Whether you know him from Rinse FM, where he has hosted his own show since 2005, as Tinchy Stryder and Ruff Sqwad’s tour DJ or as the producer behind some of grime’s biggest underground anthems — see Ghetts’ Dun Know Already, Side By Side, Capo Lee’s Mud and latest club weapon, Topper Top — Spyro is one of grime’s most visible, but paradoxically, understated figures.
“What else have I been doing? Ah yeah, I’ve just been stuck in the studio to be honest — literally locking myself away,” he says on the phone after getting home from Liverpool, where he’d played the night before. It’s worth noting that the studio hasn’t always been Spyro’s favourite space, particularly since he decided to turn more attention to his radio shows and DJing at the back end of the 00s.
It was actually a remix of Bok Bok’s Silo Pass, released in 2012, that rekindled his love of producing. “After a while, I thought to myself I need to flip open Fruity Loops and start making stuff again. That Silo Pass remix was the first thing I’d made in years”, he explains. With instrumental grime quietly bubbling up in London’s clubbing spaces, the remix opened his eyes to how far his music could travel on its own.
"Sometimes I don't know what I'm looking for but when I hear it I just know"
Four years on, and although still admittedly ‘getting used’ to the acclaim that’s come his way since that point, Sir Spyro remains a markedly humble and appreciative figure. “It doesn’t feel real to be honest. Even at the height of my career, I didn’t expect this sort of thing to happen. The attention I’ve had, especially just because of tracks I’m releasing, has never really come my way before on this scale.”
Exactly what has sparked people’s recent frenzied interest in his music is hard to put a finger on, but a shift from more 808-driven beats that used to cater for MCs (see Nightshift with Footsie for example) to the darker, harder club sounds of tracks like Topper Top with Lady Chann & Teddy Bruckshot, have struck a chord with ravers and labels alike. It was through Kahn & Neek — the Bristol duo renowned for lethal club sets and a penchant for dubplates — that Mala first heard the track. “[Kahn & Neek] were the first guys to book me in Bristol in 2008, so I often give them stuff to test out. Mala got wind of it through them playing it and that was it. Deep Medi is such a big deal to me and I [couldn’t] wait for people to be able to buy the record.” And buy the record they tried, so much so that the pre-order website crashed multiple times before copies eventually sold out in less than an hour.
As well as playing nights and releasing music, his dedication to two hours of radio every week is also a notable part of Spyro’s make-up. The Grime Show, which airs every Sunday night on Rinse FM, is generally MC focused and over the past few years in particular, has given next-gen lyricists a much-needed platform to perform. “It’s a really big commitment doing radio every week,” he says, “especially because I’m having to try and find new spitters to come on. Sometimes I’ll throw in the odd instrumental show or just play whatever I like, but spitters are a big part of it.”
Of these spitters, North London’s Capo Lee — one of grime’s rising stars — is someone Spyro has invested a lot of time working with. Having provided the beat for Capo’s single Mud, the track peaked at #57 on iTunes with zero PR or label backing, and should end the year as a defining grime anthem of 2016. “That tune nearly never existed you know?” Spyro says with a chuckle. “We were in the studio at midnight going on 1am and I was like, ‘I wanna go home’. Capo was like, ‘let’s give it 20 minutes and if we can’t find anything that works, we’ll duck’. I agreed, started to write the beat and we ended up in there another six or seven hours until it was finished.
“Sometimes I don’t know what I’m looking for but when I hear it I just know,” Spyro says. “When I heard Capo for the first time I was like ‘what the fuck is this?’. The thing is, I wasn’t even looking for him, I was minding my own business.”
And while minding his own business might be something that Sir Spyro has done for much of his career, people are finally starting to mind his. Armed with his ‘Sounds Of The Sir’ producer tag — a cult vocal snippet that punctuates the beginning of all his beats— Spyro is conquering new spaces, winning new fans and, perhaps most importantly, demanding instant reloads in the clubs across the land.