James Smith, aka High Maintenance, may appear a relative newcomer to the drum and bass world, but he did not need time to catch the attention of some of biggest names in the game. Shortly after releasing some digital tracks in 2009, this producer’s producer began to hear his tunes on John B’s podcasts; it wasn’t long before he was sought after by a number of respected drum and bass labels. In early 2011, High Maintenance opted to sign onto Shimon’s Audioporn Records... Read more
James Smith, aka High Maintenance, may appear a relative newcomer to the drum and bass world, but he did not need time to catch the attention of some of biggest names in the game. Shortly after releasing some digital tracks in 2009, this producer’s producer began to hear his tunes on John B’s podcasts; it wasn’t long before he was sought after by a number of respected drum and bass labels. In early 2011, High Maintenance opted to sign onto Shimon’s Audioporn Records and DisasZt’s Mainframe Recordings, kicking off with a tremendous remix of Ed Rush and Tali’s “Dark Days,” the lead track from Tali’s album, ‘Dark Days, High Nights.’
High Maintenance began his ascent into music at the age of thirteen with the guitar. “I’d put on an album and learn it all in an hour.” When this became banal, High Maintenance decided to pick up a new instrument: the drums. Soon the fifteen-year-old maverick and his newly formed band began playing events in his hometown of Haywards Heath, England. Writing tracks with the band gave him his first taste of his own musical abilities, but having to compromise on his aural vision proved frustrating. “I just wanted to compose a whole piece by myself without having to rely on other people,” he says, “so I started producing.”
High Maintenance soon became impressed with the sounds coming out of the electronic music scene, which led to his first production: a remix of Daft Punk’s “Harder Better Faster Stronger.” The realization that he could turn his love of music into a career didn’t come about until a number of years later though, when he produced a track entitled “Sun Flares.” He says, “It was the first track that I had produced through active monitor speakers. They definitely changed my life.”
Aided by the support of YouTube channels such as SkankandBass and Neurofunkgrid, High Maintenance found that drum and bass DJs and aficionados quickly embraced his energetic and heady tunes. “I like to make loud and rowdy tracks with screamy bass, but that still use nice musical melodies,” High Maintenance says. “It gives the music two kinds of emotions.”
In spite of the rapidity with which his music has been embraced by the drum and bass world, High Maintenance is not content to simply make a big tune and rest on his laurels. Pushing to master all aspects of the music that he loves, he has educated himself in everything from mixing and mastering, to live recording of bands, to composition.
In addition to excelling in music production, High Maintenance also has his hands in event production. His bi-monthly event, Frequency, is consistently over-capacity, and he is regularly invited to bring his talents as a DJ to events including Devotion, All Out, Evolution, Autopsy, Spiritual, and Element. Holding his own alongside the scene’s biggest stars, including J Majik, Shimon, Teebee et al, High Maintenance admits that “there is no better feeling than playing your own track in the club and seeing the crowd go mental for it.”
2011 was a breakthrough year for the young producer, collaborating with DisasZt on “Try Me Again,” taken from his ‘Shadow & Lightning LP’ on Mainframe Recordings, as well as releasing his debut single on Audioporn Records, “With You” / “Nowhere.” High Maintenance’s reputation as a DJ also came to the forefront with blazing sets on D&BTV, Panda Drum & Bass YouTube, and Annie Nightingale’s BBC Radio 1 Show.
High Maintenance guest mix for Annie Nightingale on BBC Radio 1 (9-12-2011) by high maintenance
Forbidding the momentum to slow, High Maintenance has already made his mark on 2012 with the release of the “Don’t Lose It” EP, out March 26 to much acclaim. The EP was created “after a big night at Frequency in Brighton,” he tells K Mag, and was "definitely made with summer party vibes in mind." The Fresh young star has also put his talents into remixes of Camo & Krooked's "Watch It Burn" on Hospital Records, and Manufactured Superstars' "Take Me Over." High Maintenance will be touring Australia and New Zealand with legendary DJ/Producer DJ Fresh, before heading back home to Brighton to complete his forthcoming release due out on AudioPorn Records later in the year. Show less