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UBB Interview: A Quick Conversation with Pyxis

Pyxis musician

Newcomer producer pyxis is no stranger to drum & bass, having worked for some of the scene’s biggest labels and producers for over 20 years. Having lived and breathed drum n bass for all of her adult life, she has done it all from running vinyl to distributors and record shops, marketing, writing for magazines, managing studios, artists, events, and nightclubs. She now runs S2K Music with her business partner Laura, and together, they have signed over 1,200 artists and represent a catalog of over 25,000 songs.
As if that wasn’t enough, in 2019, pyxis picked up an old hobby and started making music again, with her first release on Mitekiss and Mr. Porter’s label Goldfat in December 2019. Started her label ‘Beats In Mind’, which she set up to release the Headsbass series, to raise funds and awareness for mental health charities.
To say Pyxis has done a lot for the drum and bass community is an understatement. And it shows in the amount of worldwide support she has received for Beats In Mind. 

Headsbass Volumes 1 & 2, which you can grab here, have featured tunes from Chris.SU, Furney & Lady Emz, USDnB artists Winslow, Theatrix & Dip Vertigo, United By Bass favorites Ben Soundscape with SOFi MARi, and Collette Warren with Facing Jinx and Loz Contreras. Volume 3, which drops on Friday, August 28th, is yet another stacked collection of tracks by the likes of Mixmaster Doc, Leniz & Henry, Peshay, and, of course, Pyxis herself.
With 2020 being… well 2020, we wanted to learn more about this awesome project that brings awareness to mental health through drum and bass from around the world. So we sat down with the head of Beats In Mind and mastermind behind Headsbass to find out how the project came to life, the collaborative efforts behind the album series, and what we can do to help.

For those who haven’t heard of it, tell us about Headsbass. How did the whole project start?

“It was an idea that came to me in October 2019 on World Mental Health Day. I saw so many of my producer friends posting up their own stories, struggles, experiences, and messages of support for others. I thought I’d love to do an album with some of these guys and donate the proceeds to mental health charities. As life does get in the way, I sat on the idea for the rest of that year, and in January 2020, I kickstarted it by posting the idea up on my Facebook page. I got a tremendous response, so many people wanted to get involved. Resound said he would master it for us free of charge. Mitekiss offered to do the artwork. I spoke to Cygnus Distribution about the idea, and they asked, “Why do only one album? “ I said, “Why indeed!” So we strategized together, and it went from there. We pulled Headsbass Volume 1 together by April, Volume 2 by June, and here we are on Volume 3 for August,. Volume 4 almost finished for October and Volume 5 planned for December.
ZeroZero mastered Volume 2, Guzi mastered Volume 3, there are so many lovely people around us in the drum n bass scene willing to help and rally round.”

That's so awesome! It’s always amazing how the scene can pull together for the greater good, especially for a cause that affects so many people. How did you go about choosing who would be on Volume 3? Did you have artists in mind, or were people generous there as well?

I’ve had so many messages from producers asking if they could contribute and be a part of the Headsbass family.About two thirds  have come to us with their music and then about a third of me reaching out to producers I really get on with and respect. Pretty much everyone has said they’d love to. Not everyone has had time to submit yet, so I’m hoping they do soon. I never dreamed we’d get to Volume 3, let alone Volume 5!

Five volumes is a huge undertaking! What can listeners expect from Vol 3?

Volume 3 is much as we’ve been – a real mixture of styles. I haven’t done the whole A&R thing with this project, and I haven’t told anyone their songs aren’t suitable, because it’s the full expression of their production style. We have everything from old skool vibes to full-on jump up. We’ve had missledz doing her first liquid track for Headsbass, boy/girl collaborations, which is a much-needed aspect to drum & bass, we have two on Headsbass 3 from D-Struct & Chickaboo and myself (pyxis) & Mixmaster Doc. I think Headsbass has been crazy inclusive across the board, and I’m proud of that aspect especially.

Yes! Listening through the album, I loved how diverse each track is. There is a little something for everyone. I especially liked your remix of Phoenix. How was it remixing that track?

Phoenix is a track I wrote about 20 years ago. Back then, the song wasn’t called Phoenix, and I wasn’t called pyxis. It wasn’t released so I sat down last year and re-wrote it. I had a couple of versions, one of which was used on Headsbass 1, and I was chatting to Mixmaster Doc a few weeks back about doing a collab when I remembered Phoenix V1 was sitting there on my laptop, unfinished. So I suggested he take the stems and finish it. He was well up for it, and he asked Favata to do some guitar riffs for it. The Guitar Dub Mix was the result. Doc was so easy to work with, I love the fact I can send a bunch of stems to someone in America and receive back a finished track a week later.

It must have been so cool to watch an old project come back to life! And be able to collab with someone on the other side of the world to do it too. Ultimately, what is your goal for the Beats In Mind project?

The goal was only ever to do one album, so the ultimate goal has already been reached, in essence. The first five albums in 2020 are some achievement, considering I’ve never run a label alone or curated any music. Next year I am slowing it down. We will do albums in May and October for World Mental Health Week in May and World Mental Health Day in October. I might do some singles in between, or maybe some remixes of past releases, but this has been an awesome experience. Very bonding and cathartic. I’ve made some fantastic connections with people through music, that was always the intention. It’s the one thing that is undoubtedly medicinal for any situation.
The goal was always to raise funds, but with the way downloads and streaming platforms pay these days, we will be grateful for anything we can raise. But in the time we’ve been doing Headsbass, we’ve raised something money can’t really buy – to show everyone that they have someone who will listen, who understands and who cares.

Is there a way for supporters to not only buy/ stream the album but also donate to Beats In Mind directly?

I set up a GoFundMe page, and at the time we released the first album, the pandemic hit and we went into lockdown. But it’s still there if people can manage it. I also went onto prepare a limited edition of care packages that include a sleep spray, candles, free downloads, and a bunch of other stuff to help you relax. Those are available via my Bandcamp.
As much as we want to raise funds, the key thing has been showing support and understanding, both from a sympathetic and empathetic viewpoint. We have the YouTube channel that has all the videos for the singles. It also has full documentaries up with mini mixes running behind them, which gives highlights from not only the producers on the albums but also other artists in the scene contributing to show their love and support.

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