Youth Music NextGen Fund artist, Sanjeev Mann, aka Supermann on da beat, is a Disabled Scottish producer making music across pop, hip-hop, metal, and more.
Sanjeev realised his passion for production during lockdown when he started making beats at home. A few years later, he's released a slew of singles and even an album, receiving multiple BBC radio plays in Scotland.
A prolific collaborator, Sanjeev regularly teams up with fellow emerging artists such as randombrownkid., Denizens, Áine Curry, and ENJI, to name a few.
As well as his flourishing production career, Sanjeev runs Hip Hop Scotland, a platform amplifying underrepresented Scottish artists in the genre, and is an A&R with Imvaize Music Group. On social media, he raises awareness around issues facing Disabled people. Recently, Sanjeev led a vital campaign asking the UK Government to provide funding to make venues fully accessible.
Youth Music caught up with Sanjeev to hear more about his creative process, inspiring the next generation of Disabled artists, and much more.
Your single ‘Capsizin’ was featured as BBC Music Introducing Scotland’s ‘Track of the Week’ recently. How did it feel when you found out? Does public recognition of your work inspire you to keep creating?
Yeah, I was so excited when I found out. I was at a show that night supporting Darren McGarvey, so I didn’t actually realise until I was heading home. It was a really emotional moment because it showed me that all the hard work was paying off. I think it’s easy to say that you don’t need public recognition or validation to succeed but it definitely gives you a helping hand mentally. It gives you the confidence to keep going and push forward. It’s always nice to receive positive feedback and it definitely gives you the inspiration to keep creating. Although the main thing that drives me is definitely to change how people perceive and think about Disabled people. Also, I’m aiming to try and inspire the next generation of Disabled people and artists, because there is a complete lack of role models for us, and of course, if you don’t see anyone like you doing something, then you won’t believe it yourself.
As a producer, you’re a keen collaborator. How do you choose which artists to work with?
I really love collaborating, and I think it’s the key to collectively growing together, whether that’s your platform, fanbase, or anything else. It also helps to improve, get feedback from peers, and experiment with different sounds. It really gives you a new and fresh perspective! In terms of choosing artists to work with, I like working with artists across different genres and backgrounds and I don’t really have a barrier in terms of the type of artist. I want to keep working with the same passion, enthusiasm, and work rate. I need to work with people that care about the music. That’s what I really care about, I love creating unique sounds, and collaborating really helps you do that.
Give us a window into your creative process – how do you usually build a song?
I usually make most of my tracks at home because I feel so much more comfortable and relaxed, which makes it a lot easier to be in that creative space and work on music. I also ironically prefer to make beats alone without distractions unless it’s with another artist. In terms of building a song, I always start with the melody, whether that’s sampling or looking for a sample that I can build on (usually an electric guitar 99% of the time haha). There is something that always attracts me to dark guitar sounds, probably because grunge and metal have always been a huge influence, along with trap, boom bap and Indian percussion like the table. After finding a melody and adapting/chopping it to how I’m wanting it to sound, I chuck in a drum sample more to help me to visualize in my head where the track could go and to give me inspiration of what I could add. This is when I start to think about structure and how a vocalist could fit over it. Then I would start to add elements to the melody, before I change and adapt the drum pattern. Once I have a clear structure and idea, I usually end with the bass/808 and start mixing and levelling.
I always listen to the beat the next day and I think that is where you really find out what it sounds like and if it needs any tweaks.
You’re planning to use your Youth Music NextGen Fund grant to create a 4-track, self-produced EP about issues facing Disabled people. Can you expand on the ideas and execution behind the project?
So the project will be called ‘BREATHE’ and will consist of 4 tracks and 3 interludes, all talking about different issues talking about issues facing Disabled people in the UK, like inspiration porn, living costs being so much higher as well the care crisis, the medical and social model of Disability, the institutional mentality towards Disabled people, self-belief, manifestation and much more!
I’ve invested so much energy to make the project the best it can be so I’m super excited to release the project. It’s also the first time I’m on the mic which is really exciting but also quite nerve-racking. I think it is really important that we see more Disabled people in creative spaces especially in the music industry, because there simply isn’t enough and it just isn’t a clear reflection of the society we live in also as a Disabled person I want to show and inspire other disabled people. But it is also about showing society that we are just as capable as everyone else. There still seems to be an institutional belief that we don’t contribute or do anything out of the ordinary.
Sonically the project is a combination of Punk, Spoken Word, Trap, and Hip Hop so it is a real fusion of all my influences blended into one, and I don’t think anyone will be expecting this sort of sound. It will be dropping at the beginning of 2024 so keep your eyes peeled across my socials!
Your platform, Hip Hop Scotland, highlights emerging local artists in the scene. What inspired you to create the platform, and what have you achieved so far?
So, I actually took over the platform in June 2022 from the creator of the platform Jonathon Rimmer. It was actually founded in 2010 and the platform was mostly written content like articles and features, but when I took over I had the idea of starting regular lives shows to highlight all the amazing talent that we have on our doorstep here. It’s growing from strength to strength over the past year and we have really got the backing of most of the scene which is good to see.
Since taking over, we’ve done about 12 shows, and in the next few months, we are planning on average two shows a month, which is exciting not just for me but for the whole scene. There are some big shows being planned so again watch this space for details on our socials. We also have a few playlists that we update regularly focusing on fresh releases from hip-hop-influenced artists in Scotland, and also a regular podcast that I host. So there is plenty going on and I’m hoping the rest of the UK starts to take notice! I think there is still a long way to go for the scene here in terms of how people are taking to it but it’s improving every day, and there is a number of artists that are so close to really popping. There are artists like Bemz, Chef, and Billy Got Waves to name a few who are really leading the charge, there are too many to name and I think it is only a matter of time before we start making dents into the UK and global hip hop scene.
Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring producers?
- Just to get out there and don’t be scared to contact artists that you want to work with on Instagram or whatever platform.
- A lot of the time it comes down to self-belief and being confident in your ability.
- Communication is so important, and I think often producers underestimate its importance. If you are easy to get a hold of and communicate well then that’s a good start.
- Your ability to make beats and be unique always helps, especially having your own sound that blends your influences, and being open to different sounds and genres.
- Try and do something musical or make a beat every day to really hone in on your craft. I think that’s why I’ve come so far in such a short space of time, and it really helps you improve and find that unique sound.
- It’s important not to focus on what other people think or what artists want, but instead think about how you want it to sound.
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The NextGen Fund has been made possible thanks to generous support from TikTok, Dr. Marten's Foundation and players of People's Postcode Lottery. We are also grateful for our vital support from the National Lottery via Arts Council England.