Thursday, January 27, 2011

This Friday: Days like that

Days like that v Local Action

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Maxwell D uncut

“I’m from a place where there’s only thugs/machines get bussed… every morning…”

-- Maxwell D, grime forefather, funky lyricist, real talker.

Read my Pitchfork feature on Maxwell D here. Full interview below...

Blackdown: So Maxwell D, thanks for agreeing to do this interview because I’ve been writing about the music that comes out of east London for over ten years and I can’t remember the last time I hear anyone speak that honestly in public!

Maxwell D: You know it was just one of them days, I think we all have them. I just decided to start a debate on Twitter about domestic violence because of my experience of it and you know how we are on Twitter, we just get tapping away and it just all started pouring out, my whole experiences. But it’s not like I was upset or anything. People were like ‘wow, guys don’t say this!’ but because its so far away and I’ve dealt with it inside I can talk about it. I see the effect it has on me now, instead of being ashamed about it… I’m not ashamed about it.

B: It did sound like that, the way you said it sounded like you’d dealt with it, so it’s just nothing…

MD: I was a normal Tweet. Me and Ms Dynamite know each other well and I know that everything I said, if you’ve been through that, you can relate, straight away. So you know I’m not making it up, it’s the reality. So a lot of people were like ‘wow.’ They see me as this kinda macho, MC, been to jail, done all this stuff so when you start talking about person stuff like your mum, people are like ‘rah.’ As a guy, an image kinda guy, you wouldn’t speak about that kinda stuff. But if there’s someone out there and they look up to me and think ‘well, if he’s gone through this and made it, then maybe I can get over it instead.’ And it kinda worked because a lot of people talked to me about it. It was just that day.

B: It was amazing because I can’t think of any time when an MC has spoken that openly… Dizzee did a little bit on his first album, admitting weakness, but it’s generally so rare.

MD: Yeah it’s not something we generally go around broadcasting but because I already wrote a song about it in 2007, and these were the times when I was expressing it, so I was already comfortable telling the world what happened. Because memories will haunt you, if you keep them inside, I realise that now. So the whole reason why I’ve become what I’ve become is because I had such a bad childhood and I was reflecting it in the notepad. It was a way of therapy, getting it out. That’s how my art developed as a talent, because I was expressing my negative childhood. And when I started getting love from my art, that love was replacing the love I wasn’t getting at home. So that’s what made me want to be and MC or an artist, it was compensating for the lack of love at home, so that’s why I pursued that career.

B: You hear people say the same thing about gangs, that for the members they find the comfort and safety in a gang that they often aren’t getting at home.

MD: Yeah, and I was part of a gang and I went to jail for armed robbery and I had a lot of issues. But I was more of a leader because you’re subconsciously angry and a lot of people don’t realise that. So you go out and be the centre of attention, because you’re not getting that attention at home. So you’re like ‘oh look what I can do?’ and you might throw a brick into a window: it starts from small things. Knock down ginger. And when you get older and meet older people, they’re onto more higher activities. Smoking, smoking drugs, robbing people… the more you want things in life and the more you don’t get attention at home then the more you get deeper into this circle.

B: It’s amazing that you can now talk about it and feel the love come back to you when people connect with your experiences…

MD: Yeah it is important. I just think when you’re really and truly honest… I think this is a lot what’s missing. I was watching Tulisa from N Dubs and I was really giving her a round of applause when she spoke out about her mum [who has a schizoaffective disorder]. That is exactly what is missing from the industry, people being honest. People are so ‘self’ image-wise, that they forget that these people are normal people and even the people themselves forget, they put on such a big front. When you watch Kerry Katona, you realise they’re normal when they’re breaking down and that’s what’s needed because society is so clichéd.

B: Especially on the male side, so many men are scared to admit their weaknesses. MCs these days: why are so few willing to admit their failings?

MD: Because I think with the MCing, a lot of it comes from the street and the street has a reputation. Sometimes it’s not seen as ‘cool’ to speak about stuff that is vulnerable, because it doesn’t give you a place in the MC world, so they think. It doesn’t give you that macho look.

B: Do people in that world feel that they’d get moved to if they’re seen as weak?

MD: Yeah but to be honest though, and this is what I worked out through my
ten years MCing, the real ones are the ones that are honest and open. And it’s the ones who are pretending and being fake are the ones who put up this macho image, because they are not really macho and never have been. They want to fit in so badly, they’re prolonging it. Some people are just raw. Let me give you an example: Crazy Titch [who currently is in jail for murder] . Nobody knows what’s gone on in his life and I’m sure if he gave you his story, you’d be like ‘whoa.’ So some people are just raw like that. And let me give you another example. You’ve got Crazy Titch on one hand who’s naturally born raw street talent who’s gone through ups and downs in his life and that’s the reason why he is.

And then you look at someone… who do I know well that I can give you an example of… maybe Kano. When Kano was coming through he did that, but now he gives more all-round, universal truths, just normal life stories. But when he was coming through, he was more rough. And I can’t really comment on it but a lot of people I’ve spoken to say he’s not really from the street, in aspects of bad childhood, bad upbringing. He’s come from a decent background, from what I know. So that’s the parallels we have, that Kano had to cut himself like that to come through.

B: I think it’s something that some fans feel is missing from grime now. Everything has to be totally hardcore now, there’s no other side to it. Dizzee did “I Luv U” but he also did “Brand New Day.” People don’t do the other side now.

MD: It’s because it’s so male orientated now. If there was more females in it, it would be a bit more balanced.

B: I think it’s particularly interesting talking to you about grime because you were part of Pay As U Go and East Connection, really foundational grime crews.

MD: Yup we gave birth to a lot of people. What people call grime now is mostly from 2005. The fact that me and Wiley, Pay As U Go gave birth to Roll Deep and Roll Deep gave birth to Dizzee Rascal, Tinchy Stryder and East Connection gave birth to people like Bashy, well the list goes on.

B: Yes exactly but the interesting thing with you is you haven’t focused on grime so much anymore.

MD: Do you know what it was Martin? When the whole thing with Jamelia and the newspapers, that took a lot of my street credibility away, in the aspect of ‘oh, Maxwell’s not cool no more…’ But I’m human, I made a mistake, it so happened like it happened like that. ‘Maxwell’s not cool no more, he’s not hard no more, he’s made money, he’s in the music industry, he’s blown…’ You get haters but people were ‘that’s a low move’. But for me, after the shooting in Birmingham, when they shot up my car with me inside it, I was kinda like ‘hold on a minute, this actually is real’ [laughs]. There’s one thing talking about it, and coming from the street and seeing it go on, but when it’s actually you as the target, it made me think ‘these grime dances are not going to be safe for me no more.’ So when I was having the whole backlash on that, slandering on my name with the whole paper thing, I turned away from grime. I thought, I just can’t go to radio and MC with a kid that’s 14 or 15 and saying the most angry lyrics ever, and I want to just talk about girls, life experiences past and present of how I got here, and he just wants to say ‘I’m going to shank you in your back, ankle, leg, thigh, knee, chest…’ and everybody loves him.

B: But to me the stuff you’re doing now over funky, like “Blackberry Hype” and “Funky with Bars”, to me it connects much more with the early Pay As U Go style that was kind of dark garage but with MCs.

MD: Yeah that’s why I jumped back on funky because it reminded me of where I was more successful and where I enjoyed the music. I liked going out again, I liked dancing, I liked the girls that was coming to the raves, it was a lot more female vocals, less violent, less in your face. I felt grime was going more hip hop rather than reggae.

B: Yeah I wondered about that with you, whether dancehall and bashment is a big part of you…

MD: Yeah it’s my culture, from my dad etc. Even though I do both I’m a reggae orientated kinda guy so I’ve kept my roots where a lot of people who are from a Jamaican background are just straight UK. And there’s nothing wrong with that but I’ve always kept my roots, I ain’t being fake or anything. My parents are Jamaican and they speak patois so I’ve grown up listening to that, so I reflect that through my music. I think basically where we’re at right now is the kids don’t think that’s cool no more.

B: They see it as their parent’s thing?

MD: Yeah more in the thing that if you’re not actually from Jamaica then you’re not Jamaican, that’s their philosophy. Whereas my philosophy is it’s my roots so why won’t I put that roots into my music. But it’s just what they’re seeing, they’re seeing all the successful top artists are not that [reflecting their Jamaican roots]. If they were then me, Flowdan, Riko would be at the top, grinding it out, getting successful deals. But they’re following the people at the top, Wiley, Kano, Dizzee – and they’re not bringing that Jamaican influence at all. So I eased away from grime because I didn’t think there was any space for me.

B: It’s funny in grime, because that Jamaican flow is also what makes people like Flowdan so loved in dubstep.

MD: Yeah. When we say Jamaican flow, we’re talking about melodics. If you listen to a lot of Gyptian and Mavado there’s a lot of melody going on in it and with that you get more catchiness, instead of straight hip hop & rap bars. And dubstep and funky audiences might pick up on that because it’s more party material or club material. But with grime it’s more of a sit down and listen experience, it becomes an art. ‘OK, yeah I like the way you put that word together…’ More of an album thing.

Gone Away by Maxwell D

B: If we’re talking vocal melodies though, I’ll tell you the thing you killed it on: that track “Gone Away.”

MD: Do you know, we’re just working on that now, we’re about to do something real big with that now. Funny you mention that because I’ve got a lot of industry people asking about it.

B: I get sent about 6000-7000 tracks a year and that’s one of my top tunes for 2010. There’s this guy, Jamie XX who we toured with last year and he’s playing it too…

MD: That’s it! What’s his name?! I’ve been trying to remember his name all week!

B: Jamie XX!

MD: Funny you said that, because I had a meeting with a management company and they asked what I was doing with “Gone Away” and I was like ‘what are you talking about? That’s throwaway stuff’ And they were like ‘nah, this guy Jamie XX is playing it, you need to do something with it…’ So I had a meeting with my publishers and they said ‘everything you’re doing, scrap it!’ I was like ‘what???’ They said ‘next year we’re going to do a proper radio promo campaign for you.’ They said “Gone Away” reminds them of a Gyptian kind of tune and they can see it working commercially. So I’ve got the accapella and we’ve remixed it with a more commercial beat under it. Funny you should mention it!

B: Well I just try and trust my ears. “Funky With Bars” and “Blackberry Hype” were just raw but “Gone Away” is different because it’s emotional, back to you being honest and emotional.

MD: And do you know what, that’s what I want to do! All those years being that old Maxell D, the guy that came out of prison, the guy that used to sell drugs… I just wanted to let that go. After the shooting I just connected with life. While all that madness was going on, the mother of my child who I was with, was an air stewardess at the time, so I was going away with her. She took me on all her trips and that and I was just seeing the world, and I think it turned me into a man, it turned me into a man, it matured me. I wasn’t doing music so much. It made me want to have a new life, a new direction. OK that’s in the past, I don’t want to be that typical ignorant statistic no more. I just wanna get along with people and explore life in a better way. Then I had my son and you know, kids change you, life changes you.

B: From your lyrics, having a kid definitely seemed to have an effect on you!

MD: I won’t talk about rubbish no more. You really rarely hear me chat rubbish about guns and this and that. I’ll do a couple of bits but it’ll only be from my own experiences, I would never get Maxwell D Sidewinder no more, never, because I’d be lying. When I come out of the street that was who was around me at the time and who I was seeing so I could tell you “I’m a murderah…” and all those old school bars I used to drop, but I don’t do that no more, couldn’t stand against another grime MC and try and be the hardest and be the most gruesome because that is not my life: I’m a family man. So I’m trying to give that experience across, trying to dig into my past and show people ‘hey, this is my experience, my past what I’ve done, but you can be like this.’

Also what I haven’t told you is while all this stuff was going on I actually went off and joined a lot of organisations and one of them was Kids Count.

B: I saw the photograph of you with David Cameron!

MD: A lot of people don’t know the story behind it. I was giving a lot of talks and seminars with that organisation in front of loads of MPs and the Prime Minister, the head of police etc… What I was doing was coming up to people and saying, ‘hi my names Maxwell D, artist… but my story starts with my real name, which is Denzel Cameron and this is what I used to be…’ And I’d give them the story of foster parents, domestic violence, up to my career and its ups and downs, to literally where I’m at now. And they were literally gobsmacked, like ‘ohmygod, perfect role model’. So when I did that in front of David Cameron, he was like ‘yeah, you’re a bright kid’ and gave me the thumbs up. I just took that picture with him, like ‘right, this is mine, my golden lucky charm.’

I also help with another organisation called Foundation For Life which I’m a behaviour consultant and they call for me a lot of times. I go into the prisons and I go give talks because obviously I’ve been to jail so I can give that experience of trying to get their mentality and mind right. People don’t really know I’m doing this and to be honest I feel a bit like a diamond in the dirt because I don’t have a proper PR team pushing all these things out there that are connecting to the community.

B: Maybe “Gone Away” will be the key that picks that lock?

MD: I’m hoping it is because I believe that is a very international crossover tune, we’re working on it. Fingers crossed.

B: Can you explain what it’s like behaviour consulting because you must meet kids who are really angry and don’t want to listen to anyone. How do you approach them?

MD: With the kids that are angry 9 times out of 10 it’s the person that’s approaching them [that’s making them angry] because I can talk their language. Soon as they give it that ‘nah man…’ and they want to be hard, half of the time they haven’t even done half the stuff that I’ve done. I say ‘I can guarantee I know your olders from your area.’ That’s how bad it is. I’m like ‘well, I know your boss and I know this person…’ Then you have a straight relationship with them. So they’re like ‘oh OK, I didn’t know you went jail, what you go jail for? Oh armed robbery?’ And then you can get into their world by identifying these things and then they open up to you. So I’m like ‘bwoy, don’t you wanna let it go, to change?’ They’re ‘nah, it’s hard’ and then it’s back to choice. I’m trying to explain to them that you do have a choice and loads of ways to skin a cat. What we don’t do, when we’re in the mentality of the street, is we don’t open our mind. We think ‘sport, drugs, music…’ and those three things are stuck in our head. But they don’t realise that a drug dealer is a potential scientist. They don’t realise that you could be a doctor, not everybody has to be a star, there’s some many people behind the scenes that make the clock tick. I try to get this message across to them, that there’s so many ways to make money. Some take it in, some are so far in it that it’s a vicious cycle. Because when they leave me they still got to go home, back to their parents, back to their life. So it’s not one session that will change their life it’s full time awareness. Not just me or anyone else giving talks but a whole cycle, because it will not stop because it boils down to the physics of life: good & bad.

B: I guess you can also relate to them with the early stuff that went on in your life too. Can you explain a bit more about your early experiences?

MD: Growing up, on my mum’s side I’m one of four. My mum’s a good woman and she struggled, basically. Single parent, trying to grow up her kids. My mum and dad weren’t together from the start and from when I was born I have never ever seen my mum and dad together. My sister’s dad is the one that caused the most domestic violence towards my mum. There were a few others but they weren’t really as relevant as him, because he was my sister’s dad. Because I was the eldest my sisters were very young, so I used to see a lot. And that’s the whole thing, seeing and hearing a lot, when my mum was upset or shouting and arguments, the screaming, the bruises, the running away. The whole 3 o’clock in the morning getting up and dressed and we’re out the house and the whole thing with him coming back. And I used to just hate him, the anger… cos I was 8 or 9 years old watching this, just angry thinking how dare you do this to my mum, but I was helpless and vulnerable but couldn’t do nothing. And the memories will never leave you when you hear your mum screaming in the next room when you’re trying to get to sleep, waking up in the morning and the house is just totally trashed, seeing my mum cry, totally fed up. It was painful. The whole battered wives home where my mum was one time, I will never forget the smell, it will never leave me. It was just like that horrible hostel kind of smell, loads of women just talking. My mum had me young, at the age of 15 or 16, so she is very young, so it was really hard. And obviously poverty: she never had much. My two sisters were there as well and I have a little brother after that but I think what happened was as I got to the age of 10-13, he got locked up, he was a very nasty man and when he got locked up it was like ‘freedom.’ He got locked up for a rape charge and for robbery. Even stuff like that, people coming to the house. You’re a young kid and you’ve got police coming to your house, turning on lights in the middle of the night, trashing your yard looking for stuff because of him. And I remember the last time he went to court he got 12 years. My mum was devastated, still hooked because you know, in domestic violence you actually think you love the person. But it was like freedom for us because after him it was like ‘yesss, we’ve got our mum back for once… properly’ Then she met my youngest brother’s dad and that who’s she’s married to now, which is a very sad case. And with him, it’s not so much domestic violence, he was just horrible to the children. I still have difficulties with my mum now, we don’t chat no more, because of this whole situation. He was just like a step dad coming into our lives and I don’t feel that he showed any love to us. He was kinda horrible to me. Because of what I’d experienced before and because I was older I was a bit gobbier. It was a case that I felt my mum chose him over me. I used to do silly stuff as a kid, run up the phone bill, come in late, stuff like that. I was getting a bit more streetwise, out there, mixing with the wrong people and so she kicked me out… yeah, she kicked me out.

B: Is that when you were fostered?

MD: Yeah at the age of 13. I went to live with my dad first and that didn’t work out because he was like … my dad’s a music man like me so having a raw 13-year-old in your life, we didn’t get on, so I ended up leaving there, going back to my mums, but that wasn’t working out because I couldn’t live with the guy. I ended up going to the social worker and they put me in a foster home. It was alright… they were black but they were white heheh. With black and white people, it’s not that we’re different… but there’s different upbringing and culture. Black people might have a certain food that they might specifically eat because of their traditions, it’s just different cultures. So coming from a Jamaican background going into an English background, but they were black, it was like ‘oh, I’m not used to this…’ So when I say they were back but they were white, they acted English. But it was fun, we went away and done lots of stuff but the problem with that was yet again, I never fitted in, because deep down I just wanted my mum to love me.

B: That’s so fundamental, you could never get passed that, and why would you want to?

MD: I just wanted my mum, dad and my family to grab me out of my home. I wasn’t their child, so when you start arguing with their children you slyly start to see the favouritism, and that’s not their fault it’s their child. After a while, at that age, the side effects were kicking in. I was on the street a bit more. At 11 I was doing what on the Jamaican side we call “deejaying,” going to park events with General Levi, Sweetie Irie, those kind of people and it was a hosting, toasting kind of thing. So they would run an instrumental and I would deejay over that. When I got into the MCing thing was at the age of 14, 15 when jungle was about. I used to go to these events and that’s when the real criminal activity started because I could never afford Versace haha. I was thinking ‘well this guy has got these clothes on…’ and you go to the shop and they’d be like £100 for a pair of jeans. So that’s when I started stealing and stealing leads to other types of things. So I’d go to the raves and think ‘yeah, I wanna be like this’ because I had that, I could deejay and stuff. I used to practice and in the end I got kicked out of the foster home and moved to another foster home. When you get to 16 you can’t be fostered no more so you get put in 16+, which is like a hostel. Being unsupervised with all the stuff I went through was just the worst one, a 16 year old in the real world, the most freedom and I could do whatever I wanted.

B: You thought you were a man but you look back now and you were a kid…

MD: I was a 16 year old in a hostel on girls, weed, drink: everything you could think of getting up to, I was doing it. One thing lead to another and started doing more and more criminal activities, linking up with more and more criminals. And that’s why I know so many people from different areas because my mum lived in Leyton, my dad lived in Peckham but I used to hang around in Tottenham. So it was all those three connections, you just get around. Basically I started doing a string of armed robberies with one of these guys I linked up with and then I was on Crimewatch at the age of 18, just before I went to jail.

B: Was that a shock? Did you see it yourself?

MD: It was and I did. It was like someone had just ripped your heart out and the most feeling of scared in my entire life. I never felt so… I was shaking. ‘Oh my gosh, I’m on TV…’ My phone was ringing like crazy, your friends were like ‘you’re bait! you’re bait! You’re going to jail!’ So they came for me a year later after another string of armed robberies. They got me and sentenced me to three years and I did a year and a half, because I wasn’t the person with the actual weapon I was the one flying over the counters to collect the money.

B: What people often say about going to prison is that it makes the negative cycle harder to break out of, because you meet people who are more serious criminals than you, but you seemed to escape that trap…

MD: It’s make or break. I was reading a lot of literature in jail plus I knew everybody so I had an easy time. So it became more like a youth centre for me, more than like ‘ohmygod I’m getting bullied.’ I didn’t need to be hard, I didn’t need to do anything. What my problem was though, was I couldn’t handle it, being locked up. I was too much of a free spirit. I was like ‘no girls in here? Ohmylord, how do you lot do it? I need to go home!’

B: Lucky you didn’t get 50 years!

MD: Arrrgh, I’d have committed suicide before that happened.

B: Well, I think it’s really amazing you can speak so openly about your life and experiences.

MD: I’d love someone to put my story out there. I just hope I get my time and when they do they’ll appreciate me and know what’s underneath it all.


Maxwell D's Twitter discussion on domestic violence in full:

How's every 1 doing tonight u kl who's been a victim of domestic violence ??? I know have (talk 2 me I wanna know ya thoughts on it ... ???

Who's seen there mum get wacked in by another man as kid and couldn't do shit about it where all the real people at ?? Don't b shy talk up

I'm gonna share some deep shit with u cause I can deal with it & I hope this helps 1 of u out there. I've seen my mum get whipped with wire

I use 2 be so angry but I was only 8 I use 2 pick up the kitchen knife on a regular swaering I was gonna shake this fool 2 death But air

I've seen some deep shit in my house hold that I'm not afraid 2 talk about with strangers cause its made me who iam I'm not ashamed its real

So which 1 of u hard nuts wants 2 talk about real life situations ha who can man up 2 the world about the darkest secrets ???

I member 1 night i cried in my bed all night fell asleep 2 the noise then woke up 2 a recked house ... The anger i had as a child was deep

Domesticviolence sucks Its a disease i broke the cycle because many times i wanted 2 batter the crap out a girl but it reminded me of my mum

Tonight is a emtional 1 whos with me domestic violence people talk shit but we need 2 share the important things so we can cure 1 another

Do u knw that the things u witnessed as a child stays with u 2 your old & grey ... But it has side effects u need 2 deal with it asap

Ok let me tone it down ..... Whos been foster care before .. Who knows dat feeling when ur with a new family ? & u tink urs dont love u ??

Whos not scared 2 speak about there past or child hood thats made them who they are today ... U need deal with ya it or it will deal with u

I remember the first night the social worker took me 2 the foster home i felt so scared but i put on this brave face it felt so weird

Da reason y im tweeting like dis is cause when i reflect on my life i c these horrible pics in my mind but when i C my son da love sets me 3

People judge u but have no idea because man dont broadcast tings ... People wanna knw whats makes a person real well here u go from da heart

use 2 actaully think my mum never loved me ca when i was sitting on the table at foster parents house i wished my mum would secretly save me

My foster parents were geat 2 me not gonna lie they were black but acted white so i have a white background 2 hahahaha thats how i blend in

All im saying 2 people knw matter who u R big or small we can all relate use twitter 2 heal eatch other im fed up nw of passa tweets trust

So where was i from foster parents and feeling no love from family it lead me 2 the streets where i felt the love brotherhood gang shit

Use hate 2 my social worker i kicked up her car once becuase she told me that my foester parents didnt want me anymore.fighting with kids

1 of my deepest memories that will never leave me was staying with my mum in that place (battered homes 4 wives lol it stunk in there

Im gonna stop tonight ... Whether u like me or not im sure u can relate some shape or form & thats whats makes us real ...#Positivetweets

Im sitting here gobbed smacked my face book pages are going off twitter has gone off tonight i didnt relaise so much people can relate deep

Saturday, January 22, 2011

LV ft Joshua Idehen "Routes" [Keysound]

The news I've been biting my lip about for the last two months since it appeared, utterly finished, in my inbox in December is this...

LV ft Joshua Idehen "Routes" CD [Keysound]

Read the full news story on Fact here.

I love "Routes" to the bone, I have laughed to myself like a nutter on the tube to lines like "what do you know about Moorgate..? I don't know anything about Moorgate!," have listened to it in the car until the CDr started complaining of RSI and am not yet bored of its freshness, wit, coherence, sense of humour and intriguing narratives... or at least implied narratives.

Don't take any of my words for it, I look forward to you guys making your own minds up of course but me, I'm smitten. See you on the "Northern Line..."

Friday, January 21, 2011

Keysound Recordings - Boiler Room

Keysound Recordings rush the Boiler Room

Dusk & Blackdown ft Maxwell D
LV ft Joshua Idehen
Amen Ra (LHF) btb Vibezin

Watch it live here this Tuesday 8-11pm.

Not to over-hype, but I get the impression a lot of people are going to be letting a lot of new Keysounds off... myself and Dusk included. #justsayin.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Balistiq Beats interview

Balistiq Beats “Yardman Riddim” ft Riko, Badness, Jamakabi and Killa P [Keysound]

Riko "Rise The Machine" - (Yardman Riddim)
Killa P "Wickedest Ting" - (Yardman Riddim)
Badness "Record Breaker" - (Yardman Riddim)
Jamakabi "Concrete Jungle" - (Yardman Riddim)
Balistiq Beats "Yardman Riddim" (instrumental)

“Yardman Riddim” EP is released at the end of February on digital and 12" on Keysound Recordings

Exclusive Balistiq Beats production showreel

DOWNLOAD it here>>>

01: Riko - Rise The Machine [Yardman Riddim]
02: Killa P - Wickedest Ting [Yardman Riddim]
03: Blackout [Instrumental]
04: Trim - Monkey Features
05: 24/7 [Instrumental]
06: Blacks, P Money, Trim & Roach - New Tune
07: Hurter [Instrumental]
08: Wiley - Headbanger
09: Starscream [Instrumental]
10: JME - The Future
11: Cosmos [Instrumental]
12: Fantan Mojah - Burn You Down
13: Chipmunk - Don't Be Greedy
14: Doctor - War
15: Doctor - Run [Power Cut Riddim]
16: Dolamite - African Oil [Balistiq Beats Remix]
17: Vybz Kartel - The System [Balistiq Beats Remix]

Balistiq Beats interview

Blackdown: Hey Balistiq Beats, so please can you introduce yourselves to people, where are you from etc…

Andrew Balistiq: Easy everyone! If you ain't familiar with the name, we're a production duo from the East End - most people know us for our grime productions over the years but have also worked in various other scenes.

Blackdown: How do you know each other and when did you start producing? When did you start producing together?

Andrew Balistiq: We've known each other from our early school days, going back to like 1999. I had been messing around with production on my PlayStation and my PC using that old program Music but that was just a hobby. I was more into the DJ-ing thing but slowly got into production over the years. To be honest I never really took it seriously, it was just something I enjoyed doing. Some people like collecting stamps and others like ironing - producing music was my thing. We ended up going to the same college and doing the same courses in 2001 and at the time I had given up the DJ-ing completely and wanted to make tunes fully. Ryan was always more musically orientated where I was more about "kick ya door down, slap your marge" type of beats so we thought it'd be good if we worked together and saw what we could come up with. I think it was towards the end of 2001 Ryan came up with the name Balistiq Beats and we took it from there really.

Ryan Balistiq: Actually it was just Balistiq you know, it was when we started working with Trim in 2004/5 that he coined the term Balistiq Beats - guess it just stuck! "Balistiq Beats, listeeeeeeeeeen"

Blackdown: You’re best known for your grime productions, what is it about the grime sound that does it for you?

Ryan Balistiq: We've watched the scene blossom from nothing so we were naturally a part of it, its our culture. We were never ever bound by the grime formula though, before I ventured into Grime and started producing with Andrew I was doing live production which was very melodic and the start of some very metal hip-hop. We've always had our own sound, took a while to catch on... a lot (most) of the stuff you hear released on peoples mixtapes and leaks and that from us are beats from our early years, 2001 times! Thats nearly 10 years ago you know.

Andrew Balistiq: D'you know what it is, Grime is just Grime init. I aint gonna start making up all these dead theories why we like it etc etc, it's just what we've seen develop from the start and wanted to be a part of it. We went college with the likes of Shizzle/Scorcher/Gloka and a lot of the MC's are in the same age group as us so it happened naturally as that's what was going on around us as we got into making music. Personally I was a DnB man when I just started DJ-ing but always thought of that as the older generations scene. Grime something that our generation came up with so we jumped straight into it.

Blackdown: Your tracks have been vocalled by MCs like JME, Trim, Riko, Badness, Wiley and Doctor and appeared on their mixtapes. What’s it like having these MCs vocal your work and who else have you worked with?

Ryan Balistiq: Yeah it's all good hearing those guys as they have worked on their craft for a long time, it's good that they always sound different on our stuff.

Andrew Balistiq: It's definitely good working with the cream of the crop 'cause we are fans of the scene more than anything and when we started out we didn't really know anyone. I used to know most of these guys bars off by heart and was always taping radio shows on my TDK's etc. To have them vocal our tunes just shows us that we've got the ability to make music that people not only wanna listen to but also be part of.

Blackdown: What vocalists have you not worked with that you’d like to?

Andrew Balistiq: Personally the main person I wanna do a tune with is President T from Bloodline. He's always been one of my top MC's. Also I'd like to work with Terminator, Ghetts, Newham Generals obviously them man are local lads.

Ryan Balistiq: Jay Z... and locally one person we're excited to be working with is Tempz.

Blackdown: What releases have you had out that people should know about?

Andrew Balistiq: All of our stuff has been vocal work that's come out on artist's mixtapes but we've had a couple other releases away from the scene. We had a track on a project called The Remixes Outernational - on Addis Records. Track was called Burn You Down featuring Reggae artist Fantan Mojah. We remixed a track by a famous Israeli singer called Aviv Geffen entitled It Was Meant To Be A Love Song - that came out on Mars Records along with Plastician and Fuzion UK remixes. We also done 2 remixes for a US group called The Score - track was called Girls Gone Wild. We're in the process of releasing a few of our own instrumental E.P's as well. It's been a long time coming and we feel it's time we showcased what we can do independently of MC's or vocalists.

Blackdown: Do you strictly listen to grime or are you into other styles of music?

Ryan Balistiq: To be honest I listen to 'Grime' about 1% of the time out of everything, anyway, grimes evolved out of the old 8/8 arrangement and standard bars so are we actually listening to 'Grime' more now days then ever? I dunno. I've grown up on lovers rock, reggae, dub, r&b, soul, soca, Motown, classic rock and have always implemented those styles into our music. None of which has been released.. yet! Some of my biggest influences are Prince, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Queen and composers like Joe Hisaishi on the other end of the spectrum, Rage Against the Machine, Rick Rubin the list goes on. To answer the question, we're into music, period. If you feel it, you feel it! All music is made out of 12 notes.

Andrew Balistiq: Definitely listen to a WIDE range of music. Certain times people look at me funny when I tell them I listen to metal and other genres. I come from a musical family, my uncle Smiley was part of a duo signed to Studio One under the name of Michigan and Smiley and had a number of big tunes back in the day so growing up I always had a love for Reggae and it's spin offs. My older brother (Mc Rage - Chase and Status frontman) got me into electronic music from young as well, a lot of music influences me and you can hear it in our productions.

Blackdown: What do you think about the state of the grime scene in 2010? Where should it go in 2011?

Andrew Balistiq: 2010 was a good year for Grime. A lot of artists are seeing the fruit of their labour now although many might not agree with some of the paths they take but whether you like it or not, they're making money and in my opinion that's the aim of the game - no matter how much you say "you do it for the love" everyone wants to make money. Next year Grime can go wherever the people wanna take it I reckon. People just need to stop the blackballing and work together.

Ryan Balistiq: I think Grime is our hip hop and that its evolving great - Grime artists are branching out and doing their own thing and the sound of Grime is changing - finally starting to hear some more musical elements in it now. It should carry on into 2011 by building an industry, same way hip hop made a huge business out of the scene. Its happening, we got bloggers (Teamsupreme, LondonToMk, Once Upon a Grime etc), video coverage (shouts to Jamal!), radio... it's all the things around the music that make the scene and that's whats happening, slowly. People gotta realise its more than just a genre, it's our culture which isn't bound by a BPM! Grime is just a name but its the same for Dubstep, DnB all of that - its all ours.

Blackdown: Can you tell me about how “Yardman” came about?

Andrew Balistiq: Boy, as I said before the Reggae/Dub music influences us in a big way. We had previously done a version track called Power Cut Riddim which was a Grime take on the Bashment track that was tearing up dances. We had plans to release it but it all got technical and got put on the back burner so we decided to come with another one this time more Dub orientated rather than Dancehall based. I came up with the little intro bars, recorded it on my iPhone then me and Ryan started building the beat from there really. We showed it to our manager and he was like "Yep, that one is certified" so we contacted the MC's and without hesitation they came down and recorded their versions.

Blackdown: To me, “Yardman” is neither exactly grime, reggae or even dubstep, what kind of vibe were you aiming at when you made it?

Andrew Balistiq: We were aiming at exactly that - a VIBE. We have a tendency not to follow the "rules" if you will when it comes to making beats. Like, if we're gonna build a Dubstep beat for example, we won't just get the usual "Dubstep" sounding drums, basses or whatever - we'll take something obscure and work with it and make THAT sound like Dubstep rather than taking Dubstep elements to make the tune sound like Dubstep if you get what I mean? It's something we found ourselves doing from our early days of production and I think it's due to the fact that when we started we had a very limited set up and sound libraries. So we had to make do with the little and use that to craft our sound. Since then it's just become part of the way we build our tunes.

Ryan Balistiq: Precisely - all our tunes are just vibes man. No boundaries - I doubt anyone will be able to tell our style even in 10 years 'cause the range and versatility is all over the place. Might have to start tagging our tunes again hahaha

Andrew Balistiq: That's a point you know, we ain't tagged nothing for ages have we?

Blackdown: Is there live instrumentation on it?

Andrew Balistiq: Yeah there is, the main riff that runs through the tune is live. Everything else was programmed by your favourite production duo.

Blackdown: The grime MCs that flow “yard” are slightly different to other grime MCs: to those of who don’t know can you explain the difference?

Ryan Balistiq: I love the MC's from Grime that flow Yard - it's always fresh and classic...check out our tunes with Doctor, Stages and War.

Andrew Balistiq: It's the accent by and large. That's the main difference. A lot of people will have some sort of Yard twang in their lyrics but the ones who are known for it - the likes of Shizzle, Killa P, Riko etc they stick out like a sore thumb. They'll tell you themselves they are influenced by the Dancehall/Reggae artists who they've listened to over the years but bringing that on a Grime/Dubstep tune gives it a different vibe. Similar to when MC's would do the same over Jungle tunes. It's a different vibe that changes the sound of the track completely.

Blackdown: What is the epitome of “yard” for you? What does it mean to be “yard” or “from yard?”

Andrew Balistiq: Exactly what I said on the intro: Yard food, Yard tune, drinking Sorrel - Yard juice. Can't forget a pair of Clarks boot either haha. Nah but jokes aside, I don't own a pair of Clarks no more but I did when I was going school out there in the mid 90's. To be Yard ain't something you can just acquire. You're either from there or you ain't. I got NUFF bredrins who you would bet your house on that they're from Yard but they just love the culture I suppose. I aint got no problem with that. My only gripe is when you get the ones who try and convince the whole world and it's dog they are Jamaican when the closest they've been is looking at the poster down the travel agents.

Ryan Balistiq: You have to be from yard to be from Yard, but if you're Caribbean you get a bly as its all the same culture. It's how you are raised, what your nan cooks and the banter you have with each other that's all yard. It's amazing how one small set of islands can take of social culture like it's like the language people speak to each other in. I'd say the epitome of Yard would be walking into a barber shop and not understanding one word from a geezer in dreads, who's got a gold tooth eating curry goat, rice and peas, coconut drops and a festival with a grape bigga saying something about some Dancehall rave and you only catching 1 - 2 pieces of info and replying with "...yeah yeah". I weren't born there ha. Oh and bulla cake.

Blackdown: You guys work out of Cable Street studios, home over the years to legends like Roll Deep, Scratcha DVA, Trim and more. What’s the vibe of the place like?

Andrew Balistiq: Cable is bless. It's away from where we live and that's always a good thing 'cause you can just escape so to speak and get on with things. Also when we go Cable we know work is gonna get done as opposed to going somewhere local and end up socialising. Setting our base up over there allowed us to work with a lot of people as well, being in the same building as Roll Deep, Scratcha, I think even Slew Dem had their radio station up there at one point.

Ryan Balistiq: If you wanna know what Grime looks like, go to Cable Street Studios

Blackdown: What’s the most #badmancommuter thing you’ve ever seen or done?

Ryan Balistiq: Walking from the back of Liverpool Street Station to the front with some fake screw face and watching the crowd part like say I was Moses #BADMANCOMMUTER

Andrew Balistiq: Hahah #badmancommuter. For me it was one time on the train I was standing in the middle and had about 3 bags on me and one round my shoulder. Train was rocking side to side, left and right like mad, everyone was holding on to something. Had to get my #badmancommuter stance on real quick to show them the stability levels without falling down. To be honest I don't think no one cared but I felt like a champion on that carriage. Big up Scratcha though 'cause he started the #badmancommuter movement on Twitter!!

Blackdown: What’s the single funniest par you’ve ever heard?

Andrew Balistiq: There's way too many to single out one but lemme think of one quickly now, erm...hahah I shouldn't even say this but it was joke. When we had just done a track with Wiley (Headbanger) he asked us not to send it to no one till the album dropped. I had DJ Mak 10 (Nasty Crew) on my case about it. He wanted it badly. I kept telling him wait till next week when the album drops I'll send it but he was adamant. So you know what I done? I ripped the audio from Logans show that week where he played it and saved the MP3 at 320kbps so the file size would seem like CD quality. So I sent it to him and said make sure he holds it down and he was like "Yeah respect for that". Obviously later when he opened it and heard Logan shouting all over the tune and dropping bombs he weren't impressed. But credit to Mak he saw the funny side of it and didn't take it the wrong way. That's just one of many pars, if I got started we'd be here for ages. Big up Mak 10 everytime, got mad amount of respect for that guy!! And yeah I did send it to him eventually.

Ryan Balistiq: I don't know if its funny, it weren't for me at the time but might be for you - but recently I was in Helsinki Finland working on some orchestrations for this track we're doing, I left the studio late and ordered a cab which never arrived - the cab station instructed me to wait at the nearest taxi line. It was 12am -18º my hands were too cold to even text anyone..after an hour a cab come but all the Finnish natives jumped in, I tried to get in and hand the driver my phone to talk to my Finnish friend, he gave it to the passenger who then told me, sorry we're not going your way. I got out the cab but when I spoke to my friend he goes they thought I was trying to scam them - PAR! Only black guy in Helsinki at 1am, what the flip would I be doing trying to scam you? I'm tryna get to bed!..I eventually stopped a cab that was empty and got back safe hahaha.

Andrew Balistiq: Remember the time in my house when we were building that tune and Simon ate your burger meat and left you the bun?

Ryan Balistiq: HAHAHA that was a STRONG par. Me and Andrew were making this tune and I was round the computer at that moment. Our mate Simon asked me if he could have a bit of my burger that I had just bought from Mc D's so I said yeah. So what does Simon do? He ate the meat and left me the bun and the gherkin. Oh and the chopped onions. What's the point of that?

Blackdown: [Following a funny Tweet by Balistiq] Would you sleep with a random girl that broke into your yard? Why?

Andrew Balistiq: Mate, I don't care how criss she is, breaking into my yard is violation first and foremost. It's never a sleep with an intruder ting, ever.

Ryan Balistiq: HELL. NO. ya mad? It would be a straight BAAAAAATTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT to the knee on a Tempz vibe.

· Find Balistiq Beats on Twitter and Facebook. “Yardman Riddim” EP is released at the end of February on digital and 12" on Keysound Recordings

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dubstep forum awards

I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who nominated Dusk & I in the Best Radio show section of the Dubstep Forum Awards. We both put 110% into sourcing upfront new beats in 2010, from established dons or underrated new talent and its great to know people had as much fun listening as we did mixing it. Thank you.

I'm also flattered people nominated this blog too, it's been going a while and styles and trends change so it's great that people think of it. Again, thank you.

PS old shows are here.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Jamie XX interview

Jamie xx

So the story starts like this. While we were on tour with The XX last year, I got asked if I would be interested in writing the sleeve notes for a Gil Scott-Heron v Jamie XX remix album and in November last year Jamie and I met up to talk about the project. I got a sense from him about his thoughts on the album, which is a really amazing body of work, lush, emotive and far more coherent than most remix albums.

I spent some time buried in the sleeve notes and in the end I’m really happy with them. They became one of my most detailed and in depth pieces that I’ve written in a while, musing on the cycles and patterns that engulf both participants. In the end though, I didn’t quote directly from the interview Jamie and I did, instead using it to understand more generally where he was coming from. So I’d like to share it in full here.

Gil Scott-Heron

Jamie XX on “We’re New Here”

Blackdown: So how did the Gil Scott Heron remix album come about?

Jamie XX: It came about because of the Florence remix that I did, Richard Russell and people at XL were into it, and the Gil Scott Heron album was his project, the first thing he’d done in a long time. So I was really honoured to be asked to do it.

B: Was it daunting?

J: It was daunting but I felt like I could do it because I’d been listening to Gil for ages anyway and it’s something I really wanted to be involved in, because of the history and because it was one of the first things my parents played me when I was little.

B: Wow, that’s quite political for a small child…

J: They used to play their old records at dinner and stuff and it was one of the records that used to come on.

B: So do you remember the impression Gil left on you when you first heard those records?

J: I don’t know about an impression… it’s just that my love of music began listening to soul music and jazz music, so that was one of the things that made me want to get into music.

B: I’ve always felt that there’s a special psychological state for music that you’ve heard as a child. It affects you in different ways to similar kinds of music you hear later on. It’s similar to your teens, where the music you hear then is very intense because it’s the soundtrack to building who you are as a person.

J: I don’t know if I felt that then, but I definitely feel that now, thinking back, reminiscing.

B: Oh yeah, it’s definitely a retrospective thing. So were you aware at the time how socio-political he was?

J: Well I never really listen to lyrics, I don’t think I could even recite a full XX song. So it wasn’t the politics but the music.

B: It’s funny because “I’m New Here” seems to be less political than his earlier work. It’s much more overtly about him. I mean one of my favourite Gil Scott Heron moments is when he starts a track with “well the first thing I want to say is ‘mandate my ass’” before he starts talking about Regan. But this new album seems much more about his struggles.

J: I went to his gig in Brixton yesterday and he talks a lot in between each track, and one of the things he said was that he stopped worrying about all the problems in the world, because he wants to enjoy himself and the best thing in life you can do is enjoy yourself.

B: It’s quite a statement from someone who’s made a career out of satire and social and political commentary.

So you get past the shock of being asked to remix an album by someone who’s records you listened to as a child, then what? How do you approach it?

J: Initially I was thinking more about the transition between the tracks. It was when I’d just started to DJ, so it felt like a mixtape but with all my own productions. The end product isn’t like a mixtape because the tempo’s are all over the place, but I wanted to show how he influenced me by putting some of the older tracks on there, rather than just the brand new music [from “I’m New Here”]. So we used some unreleased stuff that was recorded in the 1970s. They sent me that half way through making it because I wanted to use some of his old stuff… you can tell the difference in his voice, it’s changed so much. The older stuff is much more vocal rather than speaking, singing and more melodic I guess. And it was slower in tempo. So I didn’t have a plan for the older and newer stuff, I just wanted the whole album to sound like one piece of music. We tried to do that with the XX album too.

B: It’s a really hard thing to do, I guess because you end up having to make top down decisions about sounds you do and don’t use…

J: I don’t know if I made a conscious decision about it but in my head I knew how everything was going to sound. If I was making something that wasn’t sounding right I knew how to get it to sound right.

B: Some of the styles of music, especially the lyrical side of hip hop, a lot of people credit him with having an influence on. But other styles you use, like dubstep, has other more prominent influences. How did you approach those tracks?

J: That was pretty much completely removed from Gil’s influence and so on those tracks I used Gil’s vocals the least, so it was just more to show my influences. I just wanted it to be a 50:50 split of him and me, so I could change what he was doing quite a lot and still get away with it.

B: One of the things that ties it together seems for me to be the use of epic synths and melodies, throughout. Is that something you use with The XX?

J: A little bit but we definitely have to be a bit more restrained with The XX. But XL made me feel I could do pretty much what I wanted with this, they’re always amazing to work with. It was actually a bit more of a struggle than I thought it would be: afterwards I had to write letter to Gil, because he wasn’t sure about some of the tracks on the album, because of when they were recorded – the old stuff. But it all worked out in the end.

B: Did you have to write a letter by hand?

J: Yeah he doesn’t do email. I had to write to him to explain my concept behind the album and why some of the older stuff was on there. It was pretty simple and after I wrote that letter to him he said “Jamie knows more about this than I do, so let him do what he wants…” which was nice.

B: There’s a track on the album about writing letters that he never finishes. Did he write back to you?

J: No he spoke to Richard Russell. Now that would have been something to keep!

B: So have you met him?

J: Yeah I met him last night after his gig and I met him in New York, he was supposed to play a secret song in the middle of our set at the Bowery Ballroom. He turned up before the sound check and everything was fine but then he left and came back too late to play his bit. It would have been cool but we got to meet him then. So I’ve been to a few of his gigs and hung out with him afterwards.

B: And so what’s that like, knowing you now have this slightly abstract connection through the music of your childhood?

J: Well he didn’t know that until I wrote that letter to him about it all and it’s quite hard to talk to him. He doesn’t talk to many people in an open way. He talks to Richard Russell. So I found it pretty hard to talk to him so I don’t think we ever got to the stage where we were taking about how he influenced me. He wasn’t rude or anything, he was a very nice guy.

B: So how did you deal with the shorter tracks on the album? Some people would have felt the need to turn them into 5 minute pieces…

J: Well, before I started making more UK dance music, I was making hip hop and using breaks. And he has interludes on the [original] album so I wanted to use those as the breaks in the record. One of my obsessions is collecting records and finding samples, even though I hardly use samples anymore. So that was a good excuse to use some of the things I’d found. So I just put a drum break under a few of them… it was a way to use my records.

Jamie XX DJing at Voyeur, Philly

B: And what is the spectrum of UK dance music that is influencing you right now and how you made this album?

J: I guess it’s more going out and being in clubs. I wanted the album to sound a bit like being in a night club, certain elements of it. Going to Plastic People: that was an influence. All the genres that get played in Plastic, that’s pretty much it.

B: The funny thing is to me it sounds more coherent than the actual original album, production wise. The original album is multiple people whereas obviously yours is one piece of work. What holds the first one together is Gil Scott Heron, not the production so strongly.

So how did your parents react?

J: They were amazed, as they have been with everything that’s happened in the last two years. They’re very happy a bit shocked I guess. They haven’t heard it yet though, I haven’t really seen them since I made it.

B: How do they receive your stuff generally, will this direction be a shock to them?

J: I’ve only just moved out from home and I was always playing my stuff really loud and they were getting annoyed so they know what it sounds like.

B: Something I was thinking about, which is quite crazy, is the idea of your life and Gil Scott Heron’s crossing now, in 2010. Yet Gil Scott Heron started on this path, this trajectory, so far back, before you or I were even born. All his life he’s been doing what he’s doing and for some reason your paths have now crossed, here.

J: Yeah, one of the things I admired him for was that he is appreciative of brand new music. He’s got a good understanding of what’s going on.

B: So how were you aware he was into this kind of stuff?

J: I wasn’t aware, I just kind of went for it and then after he approved it he named certain bits of the album that he particularly liked, and I was impressed. I hope when I’m his age I can still be that on it.

B: Yeah, because on average most people feel more strongly about music in their teens than in their 50s. Though I think for people like you and I, if we’ve got this far with music in our system it wont get out. There was a Polish composer, Gorecki, who died this week and there was a quote from one of his students that said they’d asked him what the secret to composing was and he replied ‘if you can go two or three days without music you don’t love it enough…’

J: Yeah I’ve never really thought about it but I can’t think of the last time I had a day off listening to music.

B: Sometimes I walk down the street without my headphones and I feel guilty! Like I’m being unfaithful to a love in my life. So I put my headphones back in…. So, do you get offered projects of this size quite often?

J: Not of this size. I’ve had a couple of massive pop things, but nothing I’d actually want to do.

B: A case of ‘thank you, but no’ …?

J: Yeah haha. So this [Gil] was an out of the ordinary thing.

B: Sometimes you just have to find a way to make them work, which was sort of how we felt when you guys asked us to come on tour with you. “Hmmm, we’re going to have to find a way to make this work…” … So did you think about using any other musicians or vocalists on the remix album?

J: Yeah when we were in Atlanta, the tour before the one you came on, a rapper called Kill, who lives in Atlanta…

B: Was he the guy who was trying to get you to go to strip clubs?

J: …that’s the one. He recorded in the back of our tour bus a verse on my laptop which was going to be on the track “Home” but it was just a little bit too gangsta for the album. I also recorded some stuff with JJ, the Swedish duo, they’ve got really beautiful vocals. And also Romy and Oliver are on the album, in certain bits.

B: There were vocal parts where I wondered if you’d taken Gil’s vocals or someone else’s and pitched them up…?

J: Ah no that’s just other samples. I tried messing with Gil’s vocals a bit but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

B: There’s some loops on “Running”, reminds me of Moodyman. So did they record especially for the project?

J: The thing that Oliver did was actually when we were in school, before The XX were anything and we were recording in my bedroom, him doing ‘oooh’s’ and harmonising them. And on the last track there’s a Romy riff that I recorded on my iPhone when we were jamming. It’s the same file… pretty bad quality but it sounds alright.

B: Sometimes bad quality can go either way, it can sound terrible or add a roughness to it.

J: Yeah I think it works.

B: So for people who bought The XX album but maybe have not heard Gil Scott Heron, how do you think they’ll react to this?

J: Um, I don’t know. I’m worried about it, because XL have been doing a lot for it… I just thought it was going to be a remix album under the radar, but they’re promoting it and doing limited releases and stuff. I hope people like it but it’s definitely not what I think XX fans would be into.

B: It would be quite amazing if you got a few XX fans to listen to Gil Scott Heron though!

J: Yeah that would be great…. Yeah I never really thought about the people that would be listening to it when I was making it but yeah that would be really nice. I’ve done a few interviews around this album and they’re about an hour long and I always end up having to try to be far more insightful than I was when I was making the record. So I find myself babbling on about things that probably didn’t really happen.

B: That’s the nature of music journalism. A journalist’s medium is the word. A producer’s medium is music. Music journalists often try and impose ‘top down’ theories onto albums whereas the reality was you were probably more thinking ‘is this sound in key?’ ‘should I re-edit this arrangement…?’

I think it’s interesting though, there aren’t many people in your position, who are big in the indie world but listen to Rinse and go to Plastic People etc. Yet you fit these together…

J: … Yeah I’m trying, but I think it’s kind of a hindrance though: when I’m DJing people expect me to play indie music. And when this album comes out people in the indie world are going to think ‘why is he trying to make underground music?’ and people in the underground are going to think [laughs] ‘why is he trying to make underground music?’

B: Yeah…. So I’m quite fussy and musically, from the underground side of things, I don’t think anyone will complain about this album plus everyone loves Gil Scott Heron. Indie people? That’s not my world so I don’t know how to deal with that problem haha… Going against the grain is good though and it’s not like you’re making free jazz.

J: One thing I want to mention is Richard Russell’s influence. He was one of the pioneers of rave music and this is club music. The stuff he was into and is still into, just adds another element to the chain… he’s in between me and Gil.

B: Yeah totally, rave being the meeting of on one side funk breaks and hip hop samples and on the other side, house and techno styles which came from disco. People like SL2 and Prodigy, which XL are famous for were really part of that convergence of influences that made up rave. And of course your Florence remix, which was what got their attention, had echoes of rave and house’s past in it, back to Candy Staton, Jamie Principles and Frankie Knuckles. Does Richard see all this symmetry?

J: Yeah he does and that’s a big thing for him actually, it’s one of the reasons why he asked me to do it as well. He likes things to be very clear and coherent.

· Other interviews I've done: Burial (brief), Burial (in depth), Skream, Wiley and Skepta to name but a few.

Nico's back...

Canning Town

Forest Gate

Dartford train

Hampstead Road

St. Luke's, EC1


· More shots from Nico here. My old interviews with Nico are here: part 1, part 2 and part 3.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Dusk + Blackdown Rinse FM Christmas "vinyl only" BWD special

I'm really proud of this, run tell a friend to tell a friend if you feel it too...

**Dusk + Blackdown Rinse FM Christmas "vinyl only" <<< BWD special**

DOWNLOAD it here>>>

Kool & the Gang "Summer Madness" [De-Lite]
Reuben Wilson "Inner City Blues" [bootleg]
Pharoah Saunders "You Gotta Have Freedom" [Timeless]
Big John Hamilton "Big Fanny" [bootleg]
The Temptations "Get Ready" [Motown]
Googie Rene Combo "Smokey Joe's La La" [bootleg]
Gil Scott-Heron "Waiting For the Axe to Fall" [Arista]
Samatha King "Take a Chance" [Voodoo Death Breaks 01]
T-Connection "Do What You Wanna Do" [Mastercuts]
Cry Sisco! "Aphro Dizzi Act" [Escape]

Souls of Mischief "93'Til Infinity" [Jive]
Black Moon "Who Got Da Props" [Nervous]
De La Soul "I am i BE" [Tommy Boy/Big Life]
Brand Nubian "Wake Up (Stimulated Dummies Mix)" [Elektra]
The Roots "What They Do" [DGC]
Master Ace "I Got Ta" [Cold Chillin']
Jeru the Damaja "Come Clean" [Payday]
Jungle Brothers "In Dayz 2 Come" [Warner Bros]

Moodyman "I Can't Kick this Feelin' When It Hits" [Planet E]
Marcus Intalex + S.T. Files "Taking Over Me" [Hospital]
Farley Jackmaster Funk "Farley Knows House" [Trax]
Jerald Daemyon "Summer Madness (MAW 12" Mix) [Giant Step]
Romanthony "Falling from Grace" [Azuli]
Derrick May "Icon (Montage mix)" [Transmat/R&S]
Bushwacka! "Healer (House mix)" [Oblong Records]
Robert Hood "All Day Long" [M-Plant]

Apollo Two "Atlantis (I Need You) (LTJ Bukem Remix)" [Good Looking Records]
Matrix "Mute '98" [Prototype Recordings]
Hyper On Experience "Disturbance (Tango remix)" [Moving Shadow]
Special Forces "Something Else... The Bleeps Tune" [Photek Productions]
Intense "Time Space Continuem" [Rugged Vinyl]
Krust "True Stories" [Talkin' Loud]
Chaos & Julia Set "Fear the Future" [Recoil]
Omni Trio "Thru the Vibe (2 on 1 mix)" [Moving Shadow]
Foul Play "Re-Open Your Mind 95" [Moving Shadow]

BLOG COMMENT FOR THE FREENESS PLEASE! Are you a "Big Fanny" kinda guy or do you ladies "Fear the Future?" Lemme know...

Monday, January 03, 2011


quantum ripples in chaos

"Lisa Blanning has some on-the-money comments about the post-dubstep interzone noting that with operatives like Night Slugs et al there's been the emergence of "a real 'wot do you call it' sound... but part of the reason this sound doesn't have a name is because it doesn't have any defining characteristics. It's a mixture, instead of a synthesis, of so many existing club forms. While it doesn't lack energy, the pursuit of the next mutation is audibly uncertain, and it probably won't come from this quarter."

"This chimed with the feeling I got reading Martin Clark's Pitchfork survey of the year in dubstep/grime/funky/dubbage/road rap... the sense of a congested space, a frenetic criss-crossing of DJs and producers akin to a crowded concourse at a railway junction... a bustling profusion of genres blurring into each other... Yet house and garage and funky and 2step aren't that far apart really, the distances between them aren't large enough for the movements to-and-fro across that space to register as a soundclash or transgressive passage through border control... Blackdown's survey forms a book-end to 2010 with his behold-the-plenty column from the start of the year... which was one of the things that first got me musing towards the concept of hyperstasis."

-- Blissblog, December 15th.

I wanted to add a few comment to these quotes by Simon Reynolds and Lisa Blanning, because something really doesn’t sit well with me, between the analysis above and for me the musical strength of 2010.

Now I know everyone - critics, producers, DJs and fans alike - enjoys being swept off their feet by a romance with an entirely new musical scene. Part of the intoxicating effect is that you suddenly don’t know where you are for a second (but you like it) and I’ve loved that feeling as much as anyone.

The problem is, in the absence of a new, inebriating new movement that reveals itself in those familiar “disorientating” patterns, I’m not sure it’s fair as a consequence to write off the rest, the delocalised “interzone” as Simon calls it. Why? Because the interzone has made some startlingly amazing individual records this year and collectively they sum to a vintage year, well, for me at least. The problem is this new, delocalised structure doesn’t fit with previous patterns of tight, focused scenes. So if you went looking for that and that only, you probably didn’t find it.

You could ask why the hardcore continuum hasn’t delivered a new singularity this year, but to answer that you’ve got to look at the direction two of the key loci went in 2010. Lots of the grassroots road support shifted from grime to road rap, and from funky to house & dubbage – and what do these shifts both have in common? They’re the agents of the nuum re-connecting back into the “dark matter” in the nuum galaxy: the two vast established international scenes rap and house. And while I’m confident in time road rap and dubbage will evolve into startlingly original, free standing movements, for now there’s an inherent conservatism inbuilt in plugging yourself back into the formulas of house or rap that makes it hard to simultaneously deliver the wot-do-u-call-it? intoxication.

But away from why there was no seismic shift in 2010, and back to why the 130 space shouldn’t be written off. Lisa says its parts has no “defining characteristics.” Simon that it’s parts “aren't that far apart.”

Yes maybe this space has no defining characteristics but that’s its strength not its weakness. If people are looking for the next “wow” moment, a long line in singular “wow” moments, isn’t the biggest wow of them all that this one hasn’t come packaged as before? That in a hyperconnected, delocalised world of fast musical idea-exchange that the new singularity wouldn’t come packaged as before? That it’s not even a singularity at all, but a plurality?

It sort of stands to reason. If you look at how exciting scenes evolved before – before internet ubiquity that is - basically a small cluster of pioneers would break off from large established scenes and differentiate themselves. This would usually involve a degree of shunning from their parent scene, a loss of some or all of their accompanying audience and hence relative isolation. In the pre-internet era – which for the UK is some point between 2000-2003 depending on if you count dial up in this – older critics are always at pains to point out how hard it was to access subcultures you were not already in or geographically co-located with. This meant that small scenes could had longer to incubate and hence to develop new ideas.

Now in a mass market broadband and smart phone era, ideas propagate very quickly, differences even out. There’s very little incubation time, little isolation if you’re onto something. In fact the only way to hide it seems in 2010/11, is to bury yourself into the dark matter of bigger scenes, as the early UK funky DJs or road rap acts did. Yes you could have found proto-UK funky DJ in 2004 but given they were mostly playing US house, they’d have been indistinguishable against the darkness of the vast house galaxy. So if new ideas propagate quickly and differences are evened out, what you get is instead of one dense pocket of invention, the singular “wow” moment people have seen before, you get a broad, delocalised field of inter-exchange of ideas, meta-scenius if you like. And only when you view it as a whole do you see its total merits.

Now I’m not saying, even in a nuum context, that we won’t ever see a new seismic shift, the “wot do u call it?” wow moment again – in fact I certainly hope we will – but I do think it’s quite possible that as the cost and friction of propagating ideas tends to zero, that we’ll see new structures to the landscape of how new music evolves around us.

This isn’t a prediction by the way, it’s an analysis of the here and now. I look at records like Trim “Confidence Boost (Harmonimix)” (aka James Blake), Addison Groove "Footcrab", True Tiger & P Money “Slang Like This,” Spooky “Spartan,” SX v Ramadanman “Woo Glut,” Bass Boy & Marcus Nasty Ft Marcus Nasty “Shitta,”Jam City "Ecstasy refix", Darkstar "Two Chords", Actress “Splazsh,” Salem “King Night,” Mount Kimbie “Crooks + Lovers” and countless others and think how can you not see both the collective quality and the interconnectivity here?

Just consider this sequence of tracks in a loop:

• Darkstar "Two Chords" [synthy, almost devil mix-y, post dubstep pop]
• Trim “Confidence Boost (Harmonimix)” (aka James Blake) [post-dubstepper remixes grime don]
• Spooky “Spartan” [grime banger]
• True Tiger & P Money “Slang Like This” [dubstep-influenced grime banger]
• SX v Ramadanman “Woo Glut,” [synthy grime x dubstep mashup]
• Darkstar "Two Chords" [return to start to find synthy, almost devil mix-y, post dubstep pop]

Lisa says “The next mutation ... probably won't come from this quarter.”

Really? I think it already did.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Elijah & Skilliam '01012011 Mix'‏

This time last year Elijah and Skilliam unleashed their "01012010 mix" and with it turned a few heads about the future of instrumental grime.

So after a great year - I'd hate to repeat myself, but it's all here - the dynamic duo have an exclusive update to that mix.

Download Elijah & Skilliam '01012011 Mix'‏ HERE.

TRC - Into Sync (Unsigned)
S-X - Woooo Riddim (DJ Q Remix) (Butterz)
Morgan Zarate - Hooo Kid (Hyperdub)
Swindle - Mood Swings (Butterz)
Becoming Real - Like Me (Not Even)
D.O.K - West Coast VIP (Hyperdub)
JME - Hench (SRC Remix) (Unsigned)
Darq E Freaker - Cherryade (Oil Gang)
Spooky - Over Capacity (Oil Gang)
Mr Mitch - Centre Court (Fortified)
J Sweet v Alias - Untitled (Earth 616)
DVA - Still Born (DVA Music)
Admiral Bailey - Jump Up (Terror Danjah Remix) (Greensleeves)
J Sweet - Kerb (Starkey Remix) (Unsigned)
Natalie Storm - Boys For Breakfast (Prodigal Ent)
Wiley - Its Wiley (Royal T Remix) (Prodigal Ent)
Nu Klear - Annealing (Earth 616)
Swindle, Wizzy Wow, Rude Kid & Terror Danjah - Tag (Butterz Dub)
Royal T - Orangeade VIP (Butterz)
Emvee - Powerful Leg (Flush Media)
D.O.K - Day (Unsigned)
Teddy - Falling In Love (Unsigned)
D.O.K - Chemical Planet (DarkToneSound Remix) (Butterz)
Mr Mitch & Darkos - Station Square (Unsigned)
????? - ??????
TRC - Oo Aa Ee (D.O.K Remix) (Butterz)
Illmana & Terror Danjah - Screama (Hardrive)
TRC & Miss Fire - Drive Me (Unsigned)
Mr Mitch - Skittles (Rampz Remix) (Butterz)
DJ Q - Idea 4 (Unsigned)
????? - ????????

Elijah in his own words...

"We did the 01012010 mix this time last year when the instrumental Grime movement was just reviving, now we are back a year later with a familiar names, new guys, interesting sounds, two Jamaican artists on Grime, the return of 'r&g' and so many remixes. If you like this you can check our recent podcast for XLR8R as well -

"We released 5 records in 2010 which you can grab now on Boomkat - The first two releases for 2011 are a vinyl only edition of S-X's - Woooo Riddim accompanied by DJ Qs Remix, and Royal Ts Orangeade which you can grab here with our exclusive label t shirts. All these people you should be watching closely if you want to keep up, as well as the output from the Hardrive, Oil Gang, Earth 616, Rwina and No Hats No Hoods labels."

For more Butterz updates catch them on Tumblr.