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We talk to the legendary Iration Steppas

iration steppas
Photography by Amy Cochrane

From bringing you the worlds top heavyweight sound systems, to spinning dubplates ‘in a year 3000 style’, the Iration Steppas are recognised worldwide for a good reason.

Initially set up by Mark Iration during the early 90s, the Leeds based sound system first began promoting their avant-garde music style at their temple of Subdub - infamous for its speakers packing enough bass to bring down the walls of Babylon… If you’ve seen these guys live, you will know what I’m talking about.

Since then they’ve continued to pump out fresh dub vibes with a futuristic twist, mixing analogue and digital to craft their signature sound. The Iration stamp on sound system music has helped bring the foundations of reggae/dub into the twenty-first century, giving them huge credit within its community.

Tell us a bit about how you’ve developed your sound from original roots reggae with your original project, ‘Ital Rockers’ to your new Year 3000 style music that Iration Steppas has become so well known for?

Ital Rockers developed from my passion for dub in my school days, but when I built my first house track Ital's anthem, I used the reggae roots style sounds and synths to create that hybrid sound. I then progressed to the year 3000 Style by evolving the original roots vibe with certain things that have happened and influenced me in the past to create the future sound of dub.

That’s what I really enjoyed about your style. When I came to see you recently, if you were an outsider who hadn’t listened to how reggae has progressed over the years, you wouldn’t think it even came from the same genre!

What we’ve done to make it sound that way is to use sounds that you often wouldn’t find in reggae or dub music. It made that sound more now, more current, more futuristic, rather than just keeping it the norm! Even with an album we made 20 years ago, it’ll still sound current, just like all of the stuff coming out of Jamaica in the 1970s still sounds current. We said to ourselves we’re going to make tracks that aren’t thrown away.

I was reading a lot about how you’ve combined digital software with analogue hardware to create your characteristic sound?

The secret is, I’m not a computer buff. I’ve got certain guys who teach me about all the digital. We know the analog, and the interface of the modules that we use. We’re still old school, we use all the old equipment to get the old sound - all the flavour is in the old, analog stuff. Digital sounds a bit too clean and crisp and doesn’t have that warm vibe which is what it’s all about. But as you said we link it with the new school, digital. I still mix off my big mixing desk, I love mixing live, I’m not a fan of mixing with a mouse because you miss the vibe. You can’t beat live because you’re right in the moment of whatever sound your feeling at the time. It’s all about creating that vibe right there and then. It’s like DJing! I play for the crowd rather than myself. You’re creating something right there and then with the mix you do, which won’t ever be recreated again unless you do it right away!

When I see you play with the system, I enjoy how you switch between your standard mixer and the sound systems preamp to really work your sound system.

I’ve been using the Allen & Heath mixer for the DJ side of things, which obviously others will plug into when they’re playing off the system. I control the preamp though, and all sorts of little sound effects only I use! It gives it that flavour, creating and revamping the tune's live, meaning every time a song is played it’s a special version exclusive to the crowd.

I know you’re very passionate about your house, techno and hip hop as well, do you take much influence from those various genres?

When I got introduced to Chicago house back in the 80s it was a new thing. When I first heard house on my sound system it was like dub and I was like “wow”. So them guys, namely a guy called Mackie Miller, introduced me to house in the 80s and from then I never looked back. When we were doing our Iration Steppas stuff, I was talking about bringing in different sounds we’d taken influence from before, which we took from house and hip hop that made the dub more unique. A lot of people talk about how we changed the dub scene in a way that it bought variety to dub, which I’m proud of.

There are people out there who have fused their sounds differently in dub already, their using lots of digital sounds now which makes it sound quite technoish. A lot of the tunes can work in a festival. I call this sort of music European Dub; it’s sort of got a digital flavor that they control.

I guess that’s just because it started so much later for them - when it started for them the music was past the analog stage. Digital was where it was at when they started so that’s where they progressed from.

Totally, they weren’t around when analog was analog in the 80s. A lot of these people are quite young so they came after the live was the thing. It’s getting easier for people to create tracks now, they can do it in their house and on their laptops.

Can you tell me a bit about your involvement in Chapeltown Carnival? I know it’s the longest running carnival in the UK.

We used to be involved, back in the 90s and 80s, when it was real carnival. We used to have our sound system on the bottom of the street. That was the best time of carnival ever - to walk down the street and have different sounds playing, different music and a posse of people dancing and properly enjoying themselves was great. We did that for quite a few years with Ital Rockers. When the gangs in Manchester, Leeds, Huddersfield started to form together and gathered together at the carnival, the vibe became not so nice. The carnival blamed the sound systems for involving these gangs to get together, which is when things kick off. It wasn’t actually nothing to do with the sound systems, it was just feuds which were already happening. Since then the sound systems stopped and carnival wasn’t the same. That’s why I do this thing called Unity Day - it’s a free thing for a purpose to unite the community together again after all this gang stuff. I was there when it was a gang ting, and I’m trying to see how I can move it away from that.

With Unity Day they don’t release the date. Is that purely so people only in Leeds know about it?

The thing about that is that when they released the dates back in the days, people literally came from all over, even overseas! We used to have loads of people there, and more people means more police. The police asked me to not advertise it and to keep it quiet, basically, which means that when the date comes up, the people who really know about it will turn up. If you’re local you’re gonna know it’s Unity Day!

Can you tell me a bit about how you’ve integrated the younger scene, the younger sound systems, DJs, producers and MCs to help keep the scene growing?

There’s always gonna be a revolving door in any music. The thing about Leeds is that it’s a student based city, and an evolving city, which is building up everywhere we look. In the next 5 years Leeds will look even nicer! If we keep doing our job properly and making our nights good, then there’s no reason why the revolving door won’t keep opening to keep new people coming in. We’ve got to keep our side top so the punters can come in and enjoy themselves. It’s about putting on nights for Leeds and to keep Subdub running. We’re doing it for the people!

Are there any particular artists really grabbing your attention at the moment?

I’m just glad that MCs are coming and grasping what this scene is about. You’ve got to realize it’s an underground scene so people can come and go. It’s about holding your own and being consistent in what an MC can do. All I want is for people to keep coming and to take it serious - it’s not a joke, do it seriously and you can prosper.

I love how Subdub keeps the culture alive, and is predominantly based around sound system culture when it’s at the West Indian Centre. That’s how it was all about originally at the carnivals wasn’t it?

When we first started Subdub, we wanted to keep the tradition of sound system. At West Indian Centre we only really use one turntable, so we’re not constantly mixing. We play and then we talk to people, get them involved, then get another tune on. It’s new and it’s unique to many people round here. Bringing sound system culture to Leeds we had to keep it real and do stuff for Subdub, for Leeds.

Must’ve been really ideal for you guys to get the West Indian Centre seeing as the carnival scene developed out of Chapeltown. Having a venue within your actual local area must make it much easier to get a good crowd in.

You have to realize as well that we’re talking Chapeltown. Back in the day it was given a bad name and we didn’t like that because it wasn’t. People stir things up sometimes, so we had to break it in nice and easy so that we got tunes and the people of Chapeltown linking together in harmony. West Indian Centre got it’s own tradition because it’s been there for years and it’s a nice little venue. People have realized it’s a community down there, and everyone who goes there talks good about it. It’s in the heart of the ghetto in Chapeltown, yet all that mystery is gone because people know they can go down there and have a great night.

Catch Mark at Subdub meets Jungle Jam, for the biggest party this year!

Check the Facebook event.

 

  • Category: Interviews
  • Hits: 3040

Hip-Hop Un-rapped - TPS Fam

TPS Ship

TPS Fam have started to make waves in the hip hop world and the quality of their last release, Hot Water Music, makes it essential that we get to know them a bit better. These guys are well worth checking out if you haven’t heard of them, and if you have heard of them, this interview might give you a better insight into their influences, biography and upcoming releases.

Give us a brief bio of all the members of the group?

The Strange Neighbour (TSN): Strange Neighbour. I'm from South London and rap & produce for the team!

Jack Diggs (JD): I take care of half the production alongside Strange, as well as rap.

Big Toast (BT): I'm Big Toast. I rap, I make our videos and I handle a lot of the label stuff. I've been making music for over a decade. Not too great about talking about myself unless I'm drunk or in rhyme form so if you want to know stuff about me check the music or buy me a drink.

How did you guys come to meet and start performing together?

BT: We formed back in 2006. First show was at Bangers in Croydon with Oliver Sudden. I know Jack ‘cos he's my younger brother! Him and Jay met at College.

JD: Me and Toast were making music before the forming of TPS, being brothers and into the same music it was as natural as it could be. TPS came a few years later but we all got on well and had the same ideas and direction so it just gelled together naturally as well.

TSN: I met Jack Diggs at an induction at Croydon College for a music course we was applying for. Chatted a bit about music, realising we had very similar interests in music and styles. Started the course then started making tracks together. Jack didn't live to far so started coming to my shoddy build home studio at my mum’s house & started bringing Toast as he rapped too! Finally built stronger then decided to form a crew. From there it’s got bigger and better.

What do you think makes the music you guys produce unique?

TSN: I don’t know actually. I guess having all similar views on life and being as tight as we are, we literally just express us. It’s a sound we've naturally adapted over 10 years, rugged, raw and not conformed to any style. I really like the sound and concepts we work with. Dusty crate digger shit!

BT: We just do our own thing. I don't think there's many people who sound like us. We each sound different vocally and come with different styles. I like to write about what I see day-to-day, picking apart the characters of all the soggy inferior people and the pointless shit they do.

JD: We all got different styles, as Toast said. Vocal tones, delivery and lyrics are all our own. We don’t sound like each other, you know whose verse it is when it comes on, but we’re on the same level when it comes to writing, we just put our own styles to a concept. A lot of UK crews sound like they all have the same favourite rapper whose styles they’ve adopted! It’s unoriginal! How you gonna bite an extremely distinctive style and attempt to carry it off as your own? This shit’s all about style, you gotta have your own!

Although London dominates the U.K. hip-hop scene, there is good hip-hop coming from all over the U.K. Which scene do you rate the most?

BT: Not so sure London is dominating as much as it has done before. It's a huge city so is always gonna be represented, but the UK scene seems pretty diverse right now. In terms of a particular scene I'm not sure Britain is big enough to divide up like that. There's a load of acts I rate coming out of Bristol at the moment. I like all the Blah lot too. Now with social media and all that bollocks, there's not really a separation between this city or that city. We've played a few other towns and there's talent in every area. I think with places like London though there's so much competition it drives you to really push yourself and improve. It also makes it hard to be heard but it's all swings and roundabouts…

TSN: I would like to agree that London dominates things, but it seems a bit slow right now. Artist-wise, we have undeniable talent and skill but it seems like all the fans are outside London and those fans tend to follow local artists, or artists that sound like them. I gotta be real though, I love that grimey inner-city rap whether it’s the Blah lot up north, Split Prophets down south or the Triple Darkness lot from London. Shit just seems more real to me!

JD: I agree with the other two, at the moment I wouldn’t say London is the force it has been. There’s a lot of quality here, but there’s quality everywhere and there’s people pushing music more consistently in other areas in my opinion. I like what’s coming out from up north. Manchester has some good shit popping off right now, like the Mouse Outfit, The Bluntskins got style too. I like the northern accents on a beat, it has a nice gritty sound to it. Lee Scott’s been killing it with the releases as well. Blah have real variation now. It’s good to have a label trying to add another dimension to this scene, and actually succeeding as well!

I know you guys do most of your own production. When producing an instrumental do you have a clear-cut idea of how it’s going to end up before starting the process?

TSN: I still shock myself sometimes. From the mystery of the dig not really knowing what samples I’ve dug, to coming home and making something happen. 80% of the time after hearing a sample you know the general direction but sometimes it flips on its head and what goes from a summery jazz sample can be flipped to a dark horror hammer. Gotta love that shit man!

JD: To be honest when I put I record on, I hear a sample that captures my attention and I just think about where I’m going to chop it. I tend to make at least 40 chops to a sample, which could only be 16 bars long. Every individual note gets taken, so if for example it’s a track with a singer on it, there may be a bass note or piano key in the second the draw for breath, I’ll chop that, and do that throughout the song. Then I try and form a melody from what I’ve got. I always have an idea of the direction I want to take, the vibe I want a beat to bring, but a lot of the time the melody will just fall into place. When I do have a melody in mind it very rarely forms exactly how I picture it! I do like to try and keep relatively close to the vibe I was given when first hearing the sample, especially if I’m making something to write to myself. If that music has taken me somewhere I wanna stay in that place, get me!

What are your musical interests outside of hip-hop?

JD: I listen to jazz music a lot when I’m working, mainly jazz funk, stuff like Lonnie Liston Smith and the Cosmic Echoes, or jazz guitar like John Abercrombie and Kenny Burrell, it makes me zone out and feel differently to how hip hop makes me feel, time goes quickly when that stuffs playing! I really like neo soul too, Erykah Badu gets played weekly, she’s one of my biggest influences musically, I love her music, she’s one of them singers you know is on another level creatively, or anything on Daptones records I’m interested on, Charles Bradley is amazing, so is Sharon Jones.

TSN: I generally love the music I dig. Mostly anyway some stab in the darks can be fucking awful... but saying that, digging music to sample has taken me so far into what I enjoy, and what I don’t. Seriously opened my ears! My musical ear enjoys anything and everything that’s just good. It seriously wouldn't matter for me old, new, pop, or rock. If it touches me I like it.

BT: I like anything that's made from the soul. I hate the shite you hear on the radio. People making all that paint by numbers, cynical, soulless drivel need to be sent to death camps. I listen to a bit of psychedelic rock, ska, northern soul, blues... I still have a soft spot for garage and grime too ‘cos that was basically all you'd hear in South London when I started going out to discotheques.

You’ve managed to get some serious talent featuring on Hot Water Music, if you could get anyone to feature on one of your tracks who would it be and why?

BT: Personally I like collaborations to come about naturally. I wouldn't want to just get a throwaway verse or generic chorus from a big name. We've managed to work with a lot of people I rate so I'm pretty happy with that. Would be cool to work with some singers in the future though. Someone distinctive with a bit of character.

TSN: I’m really happy with those features and you know, without sounding cliché, I seriously think I’ve done it all after doing Hot Water Music, Heisenberg EP and Cinematic with Phoenix Da Icefire!! I’ve featured nearly all of my favourite artists and worked with everyone I would only dream of! Even though we've already featured these but i think I’d have Efeks & Oliver Sudden on every song I ever made if I could!

JD: Like Toast said, it’s gotta be natural, I’d love to have Ghostface or Nas on a track, and I could if I had enough money, but there’s no connection other than a financial one. There’s hundreds of people I’d like to work with, but it always has to for the right reasons, money isn’t one of em!

What’s happening in the future for TPS Fam and Revorg records?

TSN: Well we have Cinematic LP, which is me on the beats and, the genius that is, Phoenix Da Icefire on the bars... This album is conceptual of movie genres and it features the kings of the game and is seriously an album to look out for. I speak on behalf of all of us and we hope to push a little more Vinyl too. I was aiming to do this with my solo rap album I’m doing.

JD: We got a lot of stuff waiting to come out, we’ve just had a few setbacks that have delayed a couple releases. Me and Efeks' E&J EP is waiting to go, Phoenix and Strange have a release ready, I’ve got a new solo joint halfway there, so do Strange and Toast and I’m working on some production outside of the camp too. As for a new TPS album, that’s not gonna be any time soon, just because of what we got waiting to drop or finish, when we clear the backlog of work we can then maybe think about starting a new one!

BT: I’m working on a couple of solo projects. Got the Wedding Fund LP, which I’m hoping is gonna raise a few quid for me cos I’m turning a happy relationship into a contractual obligation in the near future! I’ve reached out to a few different people on that one. We do a lot in house but with this I thought I’d like to use some other producers and get verses off rappers I rate. I’m also working on an album which Strange is producing called Save The Pub! That’s a bit of a concept album that I’m pretty excited about! Finally, me and Jack have also started a new crew alongside Downstroke, Gee Bag and Oliver Sudden called The Gatecrashers. Got an EP on the way that’s sounding really good so far! Really looking forward to getting that one out there. To find out about all these things add us on Facebook, Twitter and all that malarkey - @revorgrecords, @tpsfamily, www.revorg.co.uk.

 

  • Category: Interviews
  • Hits: 1728

Loiners #1 - Marc Almond of Soft Cell

 softsell

Rich Jevons talks to Soft Cell's Marc Almond about his early days in Leeds, through to his musical travels to France and Russia, before his tour with Jools Holland that comes to York’s Barbican.

How do you look back on the Leeds Poly days [now Leeds Met and soon to become Leeds Beckett University] and The Warehouse etc? Was it just Dave Ball's physique that kept you from being beaten up?

I have so many good memories about Leeds Poly and I'm sad it’s not there anymore, it was where Soft Cell was formed. I've always been good at looking after myself and not putting myself in difficult situations but there were a couple of early gigs that got quite scary. I got hit in the face once, and then it was handy that Dave is quite scary when he's angry.

When ‘Tainted Love’ came out it was a bit of a meteoric rise. How did you cope with this? And do you really hate hearing it now?

‘Tainted Love’ was a huge shock to my life it turned upside down overnight and I was thrown into a very different world with no preparation. For a while I hated it because it came to represent many negative things to me and also because I'd heard it so much over a couple of years. Over the years I've come to embrace it and love it and appreciate it. It’s given me a comfortable life and I'm proud that it’s become a classic that has been a big part of people’s life soundtrack.

Even in the early days you were very out with your sexuality, for example during interviews with publications or magazines. I know it's not a strategy but did you think it has been important to do this?

I think that magazines like Smash Hits presumed about my sexuality. I didn't like to talk about it actually. In the early '80s it could still be a career killer. I didn't want to be labelled a gay artist and still don’t. One day I just blurted it out in an interview, I hadn't planned to. In one sense it was a relief.

The drug use was becoming more common knowledge and obvious. Whatever you say though, the press will still make up things and say what they want, now they can label me 'gay 80's artist' officially, much to my annoyance.

I also remember an extensive NME interview with Chris Bohn entirely on Jacques Brel. What particularly interests you in his work?

It was artists like Bowie and Scott Walker in the '70s that turned me onto Brel. His songs cover all aspects of life and tell stories. He mixes the poetical romance with a street grittiness. Watching him perform on DVD, he's electric. He's a very physical performer, bringing his songs to life whatever the language.

Following in troubadour mode can you tell us a bit about your love affair with Russia? I thought ‘Heart on Snow’ was one of the best things you've done, but then it did coincide with a particularly painful break-up - melancholy music as therapy.

Russia is very seductive, I think it was Winston Churchill that called it a riddle, wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in a mystery (maybe not in that order). When touring there I was given so many tapes (before CDs) of Russian Folk songs they call 'Romance songs' and loved them. Russians are quite depressive and melancholic and these sad songs lifted their spirit like an exorcism, I lived in Moscow on and off for three years while I recorded the album, meeting many fantastic musicians and interesting people.

Why the love of kitsch and cabaret?

I don’t really like applying words like Kitsch and Cabaret to my songs, though I like a little bit of melodrama sometimes. Whatever I do I like to keep one foot in to Rock Music or Pop, even if it has a so-called cabaret slant in the way artists like Bowie used theatrical references.

640px-Marc Almond 3

Marc’s latest pop release is ‘The Dancing Marquis’ which initially I assumed would be a reference to the Marquis de Sade but in fact the title track is penned ‘with Henry Paget, 5th Marquess of Anglesey in mind’. This song is produced by the legendary Tony Visconti (David Bowie, T Rex, Morrissey) who also gives producer Tris Penna a helping hand with string arrangements and mixing duties on ‘Tasmanian Tiger’ and ‘Death of a Dandy’. The latter is inspired by the death in 2010 of Soho’s tragic artist Sebastian Horsley.

Alongside this are the buoyant ‘Burn Bright’, reminiscent of the positivity on the Glorious album; ‘Worship Me Now’, a paean on fame and stardom written especially for Marc by Jarvis Cocker; and the more melancholic Love Is Not On Trial, a collaboration with Carl Barât (The Libertines).

Also out now is the Ten Plagues CD/DVD that is an hour-long song cycle by playwright Mark Ravenhill (Shopping and Fucking, Mother Clap’s Molly House, The Cut) with music by Conor Mitchell (Missing Mel, Matilde, The Dummy Tree). Set in the 1665 Great Plague of London, Marc comments: ‘You could take Ten Plagues literally, as a historical piece. But you can see parallels at a time when we seem to be obsessed with fear, pandemic and viruses.'

Good luck with the tour Marc and thanks for thirty years of some of Britain's best musical output.

 

Up Close & Personal: An Interview with Malaky

malaky

Fans of liquid Drum & Bass will surely have been seeing an artist who goes by the name ‘Malaky’ popping up in mixes, podcasts and charts a lot recently. His sultry tones, crisp beats and warm basslines have captured the attention of some of the genres biggest names, with DJ Marky, LTJ Bukem, Bryan Gee, Fabio and Grooverider to name but a few of the most respected DJ’s who are all championing his music. A sublime use of samples has helped him to develop a unique sound that he has presented in DJ sets across the continent.

Who are you and what do you do?!

I’m Malaky, I make liquid Drum & Bass and play champ manager.

Badman! I’ve never got into that game myself through the fear of addiction, anyway, where did the name come from? And could you clear up the confusion over the correct pronunciation please? Is it MA-LAH-KEY or MAL-ARK-KEY?

Ah, a common question! I pronounce it Ma-lah-key, like the guy who was in Hollyoaks. Ha ha. I heard the name about 12 years ago, some guy said “my mate Malaky…” and I thought that it has got a nice ring to it. Then I spent the next decade failing to think of a better name and couldn’t, so it stuck. I’ve got Irish roots as well so thought it’d be fitting.

Where did your production journey begin for you?

The same way as a lot of people, to be honest. It was a natural progression from playing in bands when I was at college. I was playing guitar when my brother bought some decks; I got into mixing D’n’B and the production side of it started to interest me a lot. When I found out I could make tunes on a laptop it was time to begin! After a few years banging my head against a wall (not literally), things started to fall into place. I fell in love with the deep and rolling style of liquid Drum & Bass and eventually made something that was releasable… Just!

Nice! Have you ever recorded yourself playing guitar in any of your known productions?

Funnily enough I haven’t. It’s definitely something I will do in the future but I don’t currently have the set up to do it, besides, samples sound nicer.

Yeah, I’m with you on the samples. Would you say sampling is where the tunes usually start for you? Or do you write the music first and add samples in the later stages?

Normally I’ll start with a main sample and work around it but it can work both ways. I’ve started a few tunes with just a few beats and pads before stumbling across a sample that works. Obviously if you find a killer sample a tune can pretty much write itself because you know exactly which direction you want to take it.

Do you combine many different samples together in the same tune or usually work around one main thing?

Well, ideally, I like to have a few main samples that work together and then just fill the gaps in-between. I do layer a lot but it is easy to get carried away! I try to add depth to my tunes by layering up pads and samples. Some good things happen by accident as well by just messing about with samples and seeing where it goes.

I must say you find some absolute gems. How do you go about sourcing your samples?

Most of the time it’s just trawling through random artist’s back catalogues. It’s the best feeling when you hear a sample that you know is perfect. It’s nice to sample hunt too, I’m always discovering new music. Sampling can be really creative and I’ve sampled some things you wouldn’t expect! That’s definitely the beauty of it.

Any hints for the readers which artists to have a listen out for or are you keeping your cards close to your chest?

I’ve been loving Bobbi Humphrey at the minute but no massively obscure artists unfortunately, I’m always hunting though.

You’ve come out of nowhere to be all over the liquid scene. With support from the biggest DJ’s and some strong labels backing your music, all the heads know who you are now… What would say has been your proudest moment throughout your music career, so far?

The support I’ve had is crazy! People I would never have dreamed of have played my tunes. My proudest moment would have to be playing at ‘Bukem In Session’ at Fabric, I still can’t believe it happened, it was such a blur! Another one was my track on vinyl for Good Looking Records, that’s something I can keep forever and show my grandchildren.

Oh yeah man, I’ve had my moments, but I’m jealous of that. I’ve just seen you’ve announce a gig in sunny Moscow too! They absolutely love D’n’B in Russia. Do you notice a different atmosphere and crowd reaction to your tracks in different countries?

Yeah that’s mad news! I’m sure it will be amazing. I’ve played Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, I absolutely loved all of them. The hospitality of everyone is humbling and the fact that they want to bring me to their country to do what I love is an incredible experience. All the crowds have been wicked, the people just seem to want to party! I’ve found a lot of people are enthusiastic about D’n’B as well, like, encyclopedic knowledge of tunes. They seem very eclectic too, I’ve felt free to play what I want and even my own music which I don’t do often, to be honest.

You’ve collaborated with some of the continents most promising talents; Command Strange, Intelligent Manners, Changing Faces and Satl. Is it collaborations like these that open more doors for bedroom producers, like yourself, to get opportunities to play outside of the UK?

It definitely helps. I’m really happy to have worked with those people, and I don’t think I would have got the same opportunities without those collaborations. For me, working with Command Strange was one of my first breaks, he was one of favourite producers at the time. I feel very lucky to have produced tracks with him! I think all of these producers are on the same wavelength, we all know how we want a tune to sound so I’ve found it easy to work with them all.

Do you prefer working on your own or collaborating? Or does it totally depend on the collaborator?

I definitely prefer working on my own as I’m completely free to try what I want but collaborations offer a lot of other things, like the kick up the arse I need to finish a tune. Ha ha. At the minute I’m making loads of tunes with Satl, from Poland, we’re kind of into the same sound. I don’t want to solely create deep tunes, so he’ll send me an idea for a sample and a few tunes have just come together really easily. I’d like to knuckle down with my own stuff now and work on my LP, so we will see how it goes.

Yeah, you and Satl both make so many tunes individually, I can imagine you put dozens of tracks together in no time at al! An LP would be amazing to hear from you, what else is in store for the future?

I’ve got a new track with Greek producer mSdoS out now on 12” for Soul Deep. There’s two more to drop on the huge vinyl and CD compilation for Fokuz Records with Intelligent Manners and Changing Faces but that won’t be out until 2015. I’ve got a digital release ‘Sundown’, which is out now for Diskool Records. All the profits will go towards a project that is being run by Joe Nebula, which helps to put people through education in The Gambia, so please go buy that one! Finally another track with Intelligent Manners for DJ Marky’s Innerground Records, which I’m certainly happy about. Plus there’s loads of unsigned stuff too as always, yeah, I’ve been busy!

Wow! So much wax! Where do you stand on the whole vinyl Vs. CD debate?

Oh god, that old chestnut. In a perfect world I’d play vinyl. I only have Technic 1210’s at home but I play on CDJ’s when I’m out, a lot of the music in my sets doesn’t get released on vinyl. I like Serato and Traktor but I wouldn’t trust myself playing out with a laptop. It’s nice seeing people still play great sets on vinyl though but it’s not the be all and end all, tune selection is the main thing for me.

Where I’m based, in Leeds, it feels like there has been a massive resurgence in liquid nights, have you noticed that across the UK with more bookings than before?

Well, this year I’ve had nearly as many bookings abroad than I’ve had in the UK so I haven’t been to too many nights in Leeds. I definitely agree about Leeds though, great scene there now, I played recently for Overflow and I’ve been booked for another night called High Rise in November, I can’t wait to go back! Everywhere else I’ve played has definitely been buzzing, I’ve been fortunate to play with some wicked names in this country and would have to agree about a resurgence. Promoters are putting on big names where they wouldn’t have before so it’s great to see.

Agreed. Now, top 3 dream collaborations?

Calibre, Lenzman and Random Movement, that’s off the top of my head, I could sit here all night trying to think. Non-D’n’B dream collaborators would have to be Burial, Bjork and Bonobo.

Ooh great selection. Now pick one, DJing or producing?

Personally, I’d have to say production because a lot goes into making a tune, it can be a journey. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s the perfect way to express yourself!

And finally, any wise words for the people?

F**k knows. Ha ha.

Spoken like a true genius.

Support D’n’B.

‘nuff said.

 

 

  • Category: Interviews
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Up Close & Personal: Slut Drop

slutdrop

I re-rooted my arse on a colourful booth at LS6 cafe, the habitual home of my curiosity. The format of today’s conversation would feel no different to those of my past, but I knew that amongst these luminous surroundings, surprises and new knowledge awaited me. My guests arrived, ordered platters of what appeared to be protein paradise washed down with Elderflower ale, and found me.

Oonagh, Bernie and Cat had come to speak about Slut Drop (and would finish one another’s sentences as they did so with impeccable rhythm). ‘Slut’ and ‘Drop’ are two syllables that have been uttered in the backyards of Leeds lately, defining a new night in the city that platforms Women artists as much as it quenches the audible thirst of its creators. It was time to extend a hand from CUN towards this budding community.

 

Why did you start Slut Drop?

B: It was borne from a frustration of going out, paying for nights and not hearing the kind of music we wanted to hear. And going to house parties, where you can put on any kind of fucking music, but still hearing the same shit. We were like, man, something’s gotta give. We’re going out, hearing house, hearing dubstep, drum and bass... going to house parties, hearing house, hearing dubstep.

O: As well as this, most of our mates were guys who went to Leeds College of Music. They’d come round to ours and jam and we’d just be sitting on the edges like “they’re so good, I wish I could do something!” After a while, we were like “Fuck it. Let’s actually just do something”. We wanted people to come and see women playing.

B: To see it, and for it to just be normal. There’s just not a lot of inspiration to go out there and do it. If you don’t see other women doing it, I think it’s harder to perceive of yourself doing it. We wanted to make it look do-able, and have a good fucking time.

O: When we first started up, we were thinking about how Cat’s been DJing for ages. She’d been DJing around a bit, but also just a lot in her room. And we were just having people round. We thought about it, and realised there must be loads of women around who are just DJing ‘a bit’ and maybe feeling under-confident about putting it out there. None of us feel particularly like we’d call ourselves musicians or anything, but we all just really like music. We all really like a specific type of music, and we wanna bring it.

I’m dying to know - did the name come from Christina Aguilera’s 2002 vid, ‘Dirrty’?

B: It came after months of deliberation. One of our first ideas was ‘Cum If You Want’, spelt C-U-M. We wanted something sexual that says “we don’t really give a fuck.” I think a lot of girls are made to feel bad for having some sort of sexual initiative.

Are you trying to prove a point then?

O: It was partially just because we thought it was funny. But mostly the combination. The concept of a slut is still a very regulatory thing; at the same time there are the connotations with the dance move. And the word ‘drop’ in itself works with the kind of music that we’re about.

B: We all had our own reasons. But mine was for reclaiming the word ‘slut’ as a thing not to be ashamed of. Just people having fun and knowing where shit’s at. As for the older definition – dropping women off in a car when they’re drunk or whatever – I just wanted to be higher up on Google than that. I just want that to just fade into obscurity.

Is there a certain criteria you aim for when putting together nights? Is everything done exclusively by women?

O: If we come across a guy who’s a wicked DJ, we’re not gonna be like “No”, but we put our energy into finding female artists. We always seek a balance between putting together a line-up of predominantly women, and getting the music just right.

C: So if there’s a woman that’s DJing but not playing the kind of vibe that we’re looking for, we wouldn’t just put them on because they’re a woman. We’ve also ended up using connections that we already have. Dwayne [Wonky Logic] plays at a lot of our events, because we know Dwanye and know he’s on our vibe. But we don’t want it to become a cliquey ‘just putting on people we know’ thing – we want it to be open.

O: Also musically, Leeds has such a varied and interesting scene – with the next line-up we wanted to reach out to more groups of people. We’ve got Pete Wareham from Melt Yourself Down doing a set. He’s fucking sick. We heard him DJing at the Brudenell a little while ago and just kind of...

B: He was playing all this great music. We were in the other room, and were like FUCKING HELL. We never hear this in Leeds! What’s this?! We had such a good conversation with him and he played us loads of his favourite tracks.

Tell us more about the events – what happens, what vibe are you going for?

C: Though the sound is the highest of our priorities, we do have a definite thing about aesthetics and what we want in a night. One of the first things I liked about Leeds’ Cosmic Slop in the few times I went was the lighting. I like the feel of the closing off of the room, I like all the little touches... you get free fruit, nothing’s overpriced, everyone’s friendly. There’s always toilet roll in the toilet.... it’s just those little things on a night out than can make quite a big difference. They’re important to us too

B: At our last event we collaborated with Gracefool, a dance collective from the Northern School of Dance. Also, Cat [Tacat] played, and her support was us standing behind her and dancing like crazy...

O: Cat doesn’t like standing on her own DJing – it’s boring.

C: I don’t feel like I can hype people properly on my own because you have to be really confident in what you’re doing, you have to be like “YEAAAAAAH” and get the crowd going. If my girls are with me, it’s like, I can do whatever!

Did others inspire momentum to start things up?

C: Knowing Marcus [Destroy All Monsters] and all the gigs he puts on at Brudenell, that kinda opened my eyes to the fact you don’t have to be some rich guy that owns a club to put a night on, you could be somebody that’s networked, driven and knows good music.

To be fair, I do see that guy at pretty much every gig I attend in Leeds. What about Chunk, your venue for the next event?

B: They’re an absolute dream to work with! They’re wicked, big up Chunk man. It involves, basically, a bunch of Leeds bands that all chip in to pay the rent and use it as a practice space, so it’s kind of a co-op in that sense. We had been trying to find a new venue... so we approached Chunk with the idea of using them. After a meeting we realised they were all totally up for it, and that they were sound as. We’ve had three meetings and everything’s already organised. They just ‘get’ what our objectives are in getting the right kind of thing together.

You’ve had some negative response towards your artwork recently – is there anything you’d like to voice in relation to this?

B: The stuff with the logo... I guess we still don’t even still see what the issue is. If people wanna tell us specifically what they’ve got an issue with, we’re ready to listen, we’re ready to respond because we always have done.

O: It’s made us realise how clear our vision for all of this is. Once people started trying to intervene with what we were doing and began trying to change things, we found ourselves identifying the reasons we chose to do certain things in the first place.

B: People were like “We want you to change the logo. Can you change it?” And we sat down and thought about why we’d used a vagina in the first place. We remembered simple things like when you go to a gig and you go for a piss. On the back of the toilet door, there’s a penis drawn fucking everywhere. You’re also experiencing harassment all the time – at Evian Christ it was just the same... We couldn’t even dance freely. We just wanted to put out the image of a vagina – ‘cause you never see that around – and just challenge the status quo in a way that we’re doing with everything else. Just like we’re doing with the music. The DIY ethos. All of it, really.

What about the future?

C: I don’t know about a goal, but I’d feel really happy if Slut Drop became established enough to become a regular night that lots of people were involved in – an approachable space for women in particular. If that happened, in a good venue with a good sound system, it would feel like a huge achievement for me. But, my god... if it was like “come and buy tickets!” and people came from around the country... That would be absolutely mental.

Although you cannot buy paper tickets at this point in Slut Drop’s life, further info on getting through Chunk’s door on 21st June can be found via www.facebook.com/events/240775676112433

 

 

  • Written by Melissa Thompson
  • Category: Interviews
  • Hits: 2255