As he continues to shake up British clubland, one soundsystem wobbler at a time, we spoke all things Bristol bass music with Sam Binga.

For such a small city, Bristol’s always had a rich musical heritage. From reggae to dub and electro to hip-hop and jungle to DnB and dubstep, the never-ending list of scenes pulsing from its soil can’t go unnoticed. All the aforementioned sounds tie back to the arrival of soundsystem culture during the 1950s, when the Windrush Generation, a mass Caribbean migration movement that came to rebuild post-war Britain, brought over their unique and omnipresent music values. 


History lesson over, and fast-forward to 2024, you’re only ever a stone’s throw away from a DJ, promoter or club in Bristol. The DIY spirit of the city’s past still lives on today, as electronic producers hunker down in their hobbit holes to make some of the most forward-thinking club music our country has to offer. One of those artists is Sam Binga, who has lived in Briz for the last 15 years and finds himself at the epicentre of an experimental, multi-genre production wave that joins the dots between Bristolian and global club sounds.  


After his work in the breakbeat scene under the alias Baobinga, the Hull-born polymath started releasing on prestigious record labels like Critical and Exit, bringing a completely different vibe to the table. His cascading eclecticism saw Chicago footwork collaborations with Addison Groove and wonky half-time link ups with Om Unit, both of whom reside in Bristol. More recently, Sam’s been focusing on his imprint, Pineapple Records, which has a simple and striking philosophy: putting people onto fresh and funky dance music from all around the world. Nikki Nair, Bianca Oblivion and Sir Hiss are just a handful of names from a roster of artists who exonerate this chameleonic stance, morphing sounds as disparate as baile funk and Baltimore.  


As he continues to shake up British clubland, one soundsystem wobbler at a time, we spoke all things Bristol with Sam Binga, from mind-blowing musical moments of the past to who’s next up on the scene. 

What’s the biggest misconception of Bristol’s music scene?

That it’s some kind of totally united music city – I think there is actually a huge divide between the dance and modern Black music scenes, which I think is a shame and limiting to creativity. I don’t know exactly how you’d go about bridging that gap, but we’ve got to try, or everyone is missing out. How come there hasn’t been a breakout vocalist on the scale of Tricky since the ’90s? How can a city like Coventry produce a Pa Salieu, yet no Bristol rapper has created a uniquely Bristol sound and gone clear with it? I’ve got faith that Emz can step up to the challenge though, and I’m gonna keep trying to link with sick vocalists from here, but yeah – I’d love to see more musical mixing again!

What’s the truest stereotype of Bristol’s music scene?

That you can throw a stone and hit a DJ or producer. If I leave my house, within a ten-minute walk I could choose to knock on and have a cuppa with PinchPeverelistHodgeDJ Die or Dave Harvey, who runs big events like Love Saves The Day. Om Unit used to be in that ten-minute walk club, but he’s selfishly moved slightly further away, so I’d need to get on my bike to go and annoy him.

Which sound or artist were you first infatuated with from the city? Your music spans so many different club genres…

As a stereotypical Northerner, I’ve always been drawn to scenes and groups that did their thing away from London, and for me, the OG Bristol jungle/DnB label Full Cycle was an amazing example of that. Everything was on point: the music was groundbreaking, the record designs were slick, and they created the perception of all the artists being like a gang, hanging out in the studio building beats, duppying raves together and putting out the coldest music. ‘Snapshot‘ by Roni Size, and ‘Clear Skyz‘ by DJ Die are two personal faves that still stand up to this day.

Thinking about it a bit more, there have been so many mind-blowing musical moments that I got to experience being involved here. Like my first time hearing Joker’s use of melody and saying to myself, ‘Holy shit, I didn’t know you were allowed to do that’, or seeing Headhunter turn into Addison Groove and rewire bass music with ‘Footcrab’, or watching Julio Bashmore make the journey from local house DJ to the guy with the hottest dub around, ‘Battle For Middle U’. Because it’s Bristol, and it’s tiny, no one has too much of an ego. You’d knock about with all these people in the pub, or down at Dubloaded on a Wednesday.

Bristol’s scene is incredibly varied, with strong ties to UKG, jungle, dubstep and just about any other British bass genre that’s birthed over the years. What makes it such a melting pot for these sounds to thrive?

There are a couple of geographical and historical reasons that have helped create the roots of a strong music scene here. Firstly, Bristol’s near enough to London that you can easily access the heart of the music industry while being far enough away that you’re able to develop a unique identity. It’s big enough, with enough students, that the city can sustain venues and record shops and attract fresh talent, but it’s small enough that you’ve got the chance to meet people easily. There’s always been a strong Afro-Caribbean community here, who value soundsystems, bass and toasting. 
For a long time, it was also a fairly cheap place to live, but the housing crisis is hitting here hard, and I think it’s now the second most expensive city outside of London – which makes me worry whether the city will be able to still have space for the slightly laidback, creative loafing that has created some of the best music over the years. 

Where’s the best venue in Bristol to discover great music that you won’t have heard before?

I’ve got to give a huge shout to Strange Brew, who put on everything from pounding experimental techno to gigs by  Children Of Zeus and modular synth workshops. Trinity Centre is a slightly larger space where you can see anything from Channel One teaching dub to the Sofa Sounds rinsing DnB. They also do a lot of community-focused events, and provide a space for Rider Shafique and Khali Ackford’s Black Creatives meet-ups.I’ve got to give a big shout-out as well to Rishi, who’s behind the no_one events, which take place in various venues and are always extremely forward-thinking. He always puts a huge amount of thought and care into his parties and makes sure to push lesser-known talent that he believes in. 

We’re down in Bristol for the day. Where would you take us record shopping, and for a quick pint afterwards?

Since the much-loved Idle Hands shut, my record buying has become much more sporadic, sadly! My lunchtime routine was to buy a tuna melt from the café across from the studio, then argue about politics with the owner, Chris Farrell, while he complained about the smell of my sandwich. Wanted Records does great work, and it’s also near my current lunchtime food obsession – Tia Julia Brazilian Food Stall. After that, maybe back towards Stokes Croft for a quick nerd-out fiddling with the synths in Elevator Sound, then off to Mickey Zoggs for a pint, and to see who’s playing on Noods Radio in the corner.

You’ve been putting people onto some sick producers via your Pineapple Records imprint. What do you look for in a collaborator when making records?

It’s pretty simple – they’ve got to be someone whose music I love and would play, and they’ve got to be someone I can catch a vibe with. That’s the case for everyone on the label.

Who are some up-and-coming DJs and producers from Bristol that we should be keeping an eye on in 2024?

He’s not the newest any more, but I’m really excited about Sir Hiss’ new musical direction. He’s working on this amazing mix of grime, electro and techno, which is super exciting.
Amy Kisnorbo is one of my favourite DJs in the city – sick booty/juke sounds that are played and sequenced perfectly. Her first EP for Pineapple Records did really well, so she’s currently working on a follow-up, which is sounding properly dope. 
Vocally, Emz is having a moment with his work in the DnB scene, but he’s got so many more strings to his bow. I think he’s one of the best lyricists in the UK, and he’s got the voice and flow to match. Sylla from south Bristol is also wicked. Some of the stuff he’s been doing with his crew blends drill with Jersey club while keeping the UK vibes. 

What does Bristol’s scene have that other parts of the UK haven’t? So much great music has come from the city over the years…

I think a healthy lack of pretension makes success feel more achievable. You can see someone making amazing music, getting recognition for it worldwide, but still knocking around the usual spots. Although, that can be a negative at times, as people get comfortable bimbling along in the Bristol bubble.

What’s one bit of advice you’d give to someone looking to start DJing and making music in 2024?

The same as I would for anything creative: your goal should be to create a world that people want to visit. It’s never just about the music you create; it’s the narrative around it, the sense of it all being part of some bigger vision. 

What’s next for Sam Binga? Having already been announced for Outlook Origins, what else are you looking forward to in the coming months?

I’m currently going ham in the studio before touring begins in earnest. I want to get the releases for Pineapple Records locked in. Me and Sister Zo are up next, then a collaborative EP from jungle Don, Settle Down, and Hong Kong-based garage whizz, Lovely. After that, it’s back to North America and then Asia and India in the spring. I’ll be releasing more collabs with people that I rate, more merch and events… I’m excited!

Listen to 'Won't Do It' by Sister Zo, Sam Binga now: