Keysound Recordings are looking for video directors/editors to collaborate on future projects with. Ideally they should be fluent with visual collage from a variety of sources, be able to create a sense of mysticism and wonder from found sights and multiple different visual sources, especially archive footage. A knowledge of UK rave culture, from jungle through to garage would be of real benefit.
Would you be interested in collaborating?
Could you recommend someone who might be suitable?
Do you know sites or sources of portfolios to point us towards?
Email us on martin_clark7 at hotmail dot com or leave a comment below and we'll hit you back.
Double Helix "Roll On" [unreleased]
Double Helix "Bats in the Cave" [unreleased]
Double Helix "Next Culture" [unreleased]
Double Helix "Dub Culture" [unreleased]
Double Helix "Trojan" [unreleased]
Double Helix "Bumped Off (Wrong Turn)" [unreleased]
Amen Ra "Untitled" [unreleased]
Desto "Operator" [forthcoming Noppa]
Henry and Louis "Love Like a Diamond (Pinch remix)" [2Kings]
Beneath "PVO" [unreleased]
Logos v Trim "Atlanta 96 x Trim Notice Now" [unreleased]
Martin Kemp "HeavyHeavyHeavy" [unreleased]
5kinAndBone5 ft. YG "Stomp (Cedaa Remix)" [Grizzly]
QQ "Tek It To Dem (Kalbata Remix)" [forthcoming Greensleeves]
After parts one, two and three of my epic interview with Butterz head honcho's Elijah and Skilliam, and in the week that both their Rinse:17 mix CD came out and they got nominated as one of the top 10 labels of 2011, we conclude the interview with part 4.
But before that, please enjoy an exclusive video documentary shot in and around the time of the interview.
Elijah & Skilliam v Blackdown interview part 4
M We talked about conflict in grime before, and obviously grime has this huge legacy of internal conflict, but focussing on clashing and aggression and so on. So it always struck me that the bigger you got, the more you may encounter guys that were more negative. Have you encountered any?
E We’re not born into it.
Sk We're not always around them. We can decide to step out and watch it happen as outsiders.
M You are and you aren‘t though. On one hand you live differently but then you say one of Fire Camp lives at the end of your road. By geography you are here East London, but by friendship you're not part of that.
E It's weird. Lethal knows that we're putting out a Trim record and we're cool, and I'll see him in a couple of weeks in Ibiza, and it won't be "a thing". Its music, isn't it? Personal is different. But I don't have a lot of friends in music, proper people I went to school with, but they do, so you know that when you have people like Trim and Ghetto arguing, they've known each other for seven years in and out of music. Whereas we've only been around for two years.
Think of the amount of opportunities we’d have to pass by people? I can tell you the number of times I have met Trim, dates, times, because there’s no club nights no radio - people can’t just turn up to Rinse like that. So you’re not coming across these people where you can have qualms.
M And I’m not saying you should do but I'm saying grime has an appetite for conflict and I’ve had issues when I’ve tried to help people out and they have been very aggressive to me, so I just wonder how you avoid it?
E Its the people that we have chosen to work with I guess. it makes all the difference. Aside from “Woo,” we've had a relationship with the people way before we put out a record.
M A bit more trust.
E We’re all in it for the long haul together. I can't have an argument with Terror Danjah, because the thing doesn't stop at the record, that wasn't the end point of what we were doing. If we were putting out the record to try and make lots of money from that record, then we can have a qualm. Same with Royal T and Swindle and stuff. But we're still so close to each other. And there’s not one person - Royal T, Swindle, Terror Danjah - who has blown up like say Joker has, way more than Guido & Gemmy.
M I would put money on it, because you’re good enough at finding talent, that you will eventually find someone who blows up that much.
E If it does happen, even then, everyone is so integrated in what we do, everyone would have helped them get to that stage. Even when Swindle plays in Norway, he is still playing all our stuff, because we helped him get there. He's on Elastic and we're on Elastic and Terror's on Elastic. We've all helped each other get there.
M Have you felt like "wow, we're really far from home?" Not distance, specifically, but that it felt like this is a very different place we're in - country or environment?
E It's wicked to see how they consume music in these places, that's interesting to me, but most of the time you're only surrounded by the enthusiasts. You're kind of living a sheltered way for the 24 hours you're living in the country. Everyone could be into the music, based on the impression those people give.
M Where would you like to play that you haven't yet?
E A few places, just because I want to go there: I want to play Japan and Jamaica. America doesn't really interest me - it does as a country - but not for what I do as music. More of Europe, man. We still haven’t done a full circuit of anywhere.
M It's funny because you are on a booking agency.
E Yes but then it's like product.
M The CD might be a step up for your profile. I think with the States you might quite like it, and they might quite like you as well. Just pick and choose the dates that you play. Just ask other DJs where they went down well. We did six dates in the States last year and they were radically different experiences. Some of the worst gigs and some of the best gigs. We did Hollywood and it was horrible, and we did Austin Texas and it was five time less people and it was amazing.
E I know, but even saying that, I want to just play in England. Most places in England are really big. I've been seeing more of Europe more than England - that's a joke. It sounds really ignorant, but to have kind of what we do really integrated to what’s going on in the UK would be sick, rather than spread out as a really niche thing... Even if we didn't go and do shows with 200 people in Europe, I'd still rather stay here. EZ: I don’t know if he’s broken in Europe but he still plays everywhere in this country. He’s busy.
M What you are talking about is getting popular and playing in regional cities? But I think that's less about you and more about specialist music... On a Friday night in a sleepy Herefordshire town do they want to hear chart hits or RnB? This may be little to do with how well Butterz are doing.
E It depends. We don't put out any music geared for that. If we released five “Boo You” type records rather than difference records each time, it would go that way. A lot of people like yourself release music like that, so you’re not going to have that result and it’s not the result you’re looking for. but it wouldn't take away from what we do if we did have music out like that.
M “Boo You” is right at the limit though, right? That's the genius of the record - It has the potential to be mainstream and chart hit but it has every credibility in what it does as a great grime record. But that’s such a rare balancing act and for every attempt at one of those you get something terrible like Masters of Ceremonies. The lyrics are so rude too.
E P Money said to me in the studio: "A lot of these verses are explicit, do you want us to change it or do you want us to do a clean version?", and I said "nah", not thinking of any consequences - "What’s the point? I like it like it is." And then Mr Jam asked for it, and made us a BBC clean edit to send to a couple of people for us. And when he started playing it I was like "shit, the record's 5 minutes long, Black’s verse has swearing,” all these things that you don't hear in a typical pop record. But this is the effect of not listening to commercial radio.
M But how would you know that there are a list of banned words you can't say at BBC radio? Mary Anne had to get written permission as an exception to play “Bullet A‘Go Fly.” It's a bit backwards to be honest, especially at night time, when kids are asleep. I understand in the day time when kids are awake.
And the thing is also that a lot of the stuff is in local slang. We talked at the beginning of this conversation about you finding people not knowing what “wha gwarn” means. So if you asked Mr Average Radio Listener guy what “Buss all over you girl” is, they’d tell you that a bus is a big red form of transport. But it’s something completely different if you decode it.
E it’s funny because all pop records are coded sex anyway. You have all these Rhianna songs that are the rudest things.
M I heard someone playing “Slippery When Wet” by Bon Jovi in a shop the other day and it reminded me with that title how much they’re really not talking about water and pavements or street safety signs. And they’ve got away with selling tens of millions of copies in the '80s of an album with a very sexual title. So why does it matter if Blacks is "bussing all over your girl" or not now?
E Good grime club records, we had a few last year, “Street Fighter,” “Slang,” “Ho Riddim” but this year: none. And we noticed that when you go to see a DJ play, sometimes you waiting for them to play a certain record, but with us I wouldn't know what they’d be waiting for right now. And before we did “Boo You” I thought that was shit. They were waiting for the moment where you play that song but there wasn't that song this year. All these talented MCs , the “New Wave,” they haven't made anything where I though "wow this is amazing, I've got to play it."
M Me neither. I wrote about this in my Trim piece because if I was a new grime MC coming through I’d be quite depressed because the gods of grime are quite difficult to touch, and you haven't got a new wave that are inspiring.
E Imagine for us, we are being the Granddads, at 24, putting out Trim whose been in the scene for ages, and P money... so we're not even crossing any new ground with the MCs, which is kind of like a shame. One of the things I can criticise Butterz for is that we haven't brought an artist to the forefront. You can only do so much in 18 months, but that would have been pretty cool. Imagine if with all this music you got a new MC that was pretty good.
M But you’ve got to work with what there is. If there aren't new MCs coming through, you've got to be honest that they're aren't good enough. When I hear the new wave MCs I don’t think they’re better than Trim or D Double.
E And that's just us being honest as well. Imagine if we tried to do that but with not full confidence, it would come out half arsed.
M: I thought they might be in funky
E nah but funky MCs are terrible generally.
Sk Yeah, they've dumbed it down.
E It's like they've seen how it's gone, and then gone back to garage. They don't need to do that, there should be some kind of intermediate point where they don't get too lyrical. They can still entertain you, but not get stupid with it, like: "Go to the shop, bop, der der der" - you don't need to do that, we've been through that already with garage.
But that's us - I keep having to remember - that has been through that. I keep referring to the 18 year old, and they control the traffic.
M In some points in this discussion I've seen you quite explicitly talk about thinking about what the listener wants, and giving it to them. And there's lots of other times where you've made a lot of headway in what you're doing by thinking about what you want, and having the singularity of vision of thinking in that "if I can make me happy, then I can make other people happy". I think the second one is more powerful, as anyone can just play bangers and prove crowd pleasers - the bait move. But what you guys have done great is to still imagine what it's like to walk into Rhythm Division to buy records. That if you put the bar high for yourself that people will see that it’s put high for the music that’s getting to them.
E People ask why there's two of us, and I think it because you talk to people about music... When you have someone to go through records with them and talk about tunes that you like, you think "oh it would have been sick if I did this," and you dream up another situation for yourself. And that’s how the Silkie and Swindle situation came about.
M Dreaming like that is really healthy. It’s not some hippy thing, it’s trying to imagine the best possible thing and then going out and making it reality.
E There are so many ideas, especially with all these people involved, and you don't ever have time to realise them.
Sk Now you can get in contact with them slightly easier. Let's say Twitter - everyone's your mate. They're not, but everyone can say stuff to you. That's how a lot of stuff happens.
E Diddy and Skepta happened by Twitter. It's funny, with us now I feel like we have influence with DJs, and we can make things happen for the greater good. The other night I was up and Preditah was online. I said "What you doing?"... "Nothing". I added Royal T to the conversation and said "What you doing?".... "Nothing." I just left and they got started on something.
M But that's what you guys have been doing in a really genius way for some time, like catalysts. So, have you played around with production?
Sk I have a little bit. It's quite time consuming and frustrating.
M Yeah, that sounds about right. But did you get a taste for it?
Sk What will happen is I get an idea, and I voice note it into my phone, but I won't do anything until I get about ten of them... But it's a next thing putting it down, and I don't really ask for help from people. So it's really just me trying to do it from scratch.
E Imagine feeling the pressure of having to write a tune so we get more bookings?
M I recommend asking people for help, to get over the barrier that the technology presents. The first phase of music is conquering technology, and that takes ages... making noises that you like it to make not the noises it likes making. That phaze takes ages. Anyway, that's not a very insightful tip: ask people to give you help.
Sk I do have a grasp of what everything is and does. I will eventually one day just say "Terror, let's sit down, seriously" but I do it because I enjoy it, I‘ll hear some little drum rolls and want to do it like that. It's really just experimenting, and has no direction to it. With the grime that's coming out, I'll hear a live instrument and try and make it [work]...
E You did the bass for “Mood Swings.”
Sk Oh yeah... because I play bass at my Church.
E That's a big musical thing! I'm not musical, I'm just a listener... The guy that knows the beat from the first second. An enthusiast.
Sk I'm fully not a foreground type of person.
M No, that's what an MC is for.
[Skilliam plays video of him playing live bass over “Moodswings” on the iPad]
M How long did that take you to learn?
Sk It took about three hours [laughs], and I got a blister.
E He didn’t even tell me what he was doing. That's the first time I'd seen him play as well, that video!
Sk No one knew apart from my church group.
M In terms of producing, what you're trying to do is create variations from loops... with a live instrument, you can make a lot of “mistakes,” and the good “mistakes” you keep. Swindle plays his stuff in live, right?
M So, to questions from people on Twitter. What do you think of the criticism from some people that just want to listen to aggy 8bar?
E That's a good question. For me personally, grime was never just one way - I don't know if you could ever find a set that was just aggy 8bar, so I don't know why they expect me to do it. That's what is exciting about it - that there is loads of styles and patterns put together, and that's what we're trying to put together now.
Sk And 8bar is for MCs as well...
E Yeah, yeah. Imagine when we first started all the tunes were all moulded this way so you had to mix quickly, but now we're finding that we can give tunes a bit of room.... Most of the tunes now have got variation and progression going through them, whereas before if you listen to like a lot of Teddy and Rude Kid and Maniac and DaVinci, it's just a loop.
M And again that to me was the mix tape era, because they knew that an MC was going to cover the lack of variation part...
E Or people are not going to hear the end, because it's only played by the DJ.
M I reckon they shot themselves in the foot with that - it was lazy, you didn‘t need to bother with an arrangement. You've got to listen all the way through and not get bored - not get to 64 bars and go "OK I've heard this." Because then it can be sold or appreciated as a finished, complete object.
E But people are still doing it now. This is the back and forth that I have with Logan, he is like "Oh, who are you intending this music to be listened by?", and I said it's got different purposes - that's what all good music is like.
When we did “Moodswings VIP” I was listening to Kanye West’s album and there’s a tune on there that’s 9 minutes long and I thought I want to do a Butterz tune that’s that long. So I told Swindle to just take it out of the context of a DJ playing it in a set and make it like a movie soundtrack. Go as long as you want. It’s 8m18s that song and there’s nothing else like that from our area. “Err, why’s the intro two minutes?” Well, why not. No rules innit. Especially when he’s done loads of urban remixes where there are rules he’s like “oh shit, Elijah’s said I can do whatever I want, cool…”
Imagine if this Butterz things creates 20 offshoots? Well then you’ve got a scene then innit. What we started as a humble thing has created all these different little opportunities and inspired people to go on and make this, and come out to rave again. Imagine that - there's people saying it's the best rave they've ever been to:.
M If you inspire a new generation it will the first few raves they've ever been to.
E Yeah. And what I found before, with grime producers especially, how are you going to be inspired to make something for a rave if there's no raves?
M It’s self-fulfilling though....Well, I don't know. A lot of grime got so aggressive that it caused a lot of problems in clubs, and also with the police not allowing grime to be in London clubs kind of killed the infrastructure. But also the focussing on mix tapes and it being a kind of concert thing - and not very danceable - doesn't help clubs either. I love some of the mixtapes, but it's not club music.
E I think there's some space for it now. “I Am” is like that. I could play it in a club but… These things are one step at a time, do a single. If anything else comes afterwards then great, another one.
M Yeah, but I think if you do enough of them you'll start to know what the move after the one you're about to do is.
E We've still kept a core of everyone who worked with. Everyone who is on first four is on the next four, which is wicked. Even like TRC. He phoned me up moaning saying he's not getting out there as much... He's made two of the stand out tunes “Boo You“ and “I Am,” and he's not standing out, then it's not straightforward.
M But if you bring a lot of talent through and try and keep it under one umbrella, ultimately some of them will either not be happy or you can't sustain them because of the nature of their success.
E That’s why, people ask me if I'm going to put out a Predator or Faze Miyake record and I say no. Not because they're not good but because we've got enough on our plate. I don't want to gobble up the whole scene. That’s not the point of what I want to do.
M Also I find all the time that its easy to get excited and sign record you really like, but then you can't make a commitment to put it out because you've got so many in the pipeline already.
I'm sure as a label you should be looking at people like Numbers or on that artistic level, but as for the people you're choosing you've kind of got free reign. But I think you'll inspire people - I've heard people say "I wanted to put this out because Elijah and Skilliam did." That's friendly rivalry.
E I'd rather hear that than someone be like "I want to be on that label," if you know what I mean? Personally, I'm someone who did business studies, and I wanted to be like Richard Branson when I was growing up, so I'm more inspired by someone who wants to do it themselves.
That sounds weird what with working with all these people that seem to be underneath me or whatver, but I feel like we're all at Butterz together. There's no chief executive. At Cable it wasn’t me and Skilliam’s night, it felt like all of ours.
M You have seemed to have nailed that family vibe, the community spirit. And that's impossible to fake.
The saga continues... after part one and two, here's the third segment of my long and rambling wildly insightful interview with grime's Elijah and Skilliam. Their mix CD, Rinse: 17 is out on the 21st of November.
Tomorrow night (Thurs 10th) they celebrate its forthcoming release by playing FWD(and we're playing it next week, woii!!), special guest Silkie v Swindle, Royal T and Scratcha DVA.
But before that you should probably download their four hour special on Rinse FM that also featured Terror Danjah, Spyro, Mr Mitch, Preditah, Rude Kid, Royal-T, Swindle, D.O.K, Teddy and Faze Miyake. That line up is insane!
DOWNLOAD Elijah, Skilliam and friends Rinse FM 4 hour special: HERE.
The interview continues with me harassing the duo, in the nicest possible way, about albums...
Elijah & Skilliam v Blackdown interview part 3
M Now Skilliam, I know you think I was having a go at you at the 10 years of FWD party the other day but I was just trying to make a point about your artists. It just struck me with Royal T getting an album deal, if that is what he has, you're in a position now that you could have done it.You built these artists up , and the next stage in their careers will be albums.
Sk We might not have the powers to take them that bit further.
M I think you do.
E Not yet that's the thing. I don't think were ready yet. I need more time to learn about the whole process. I've only been putting out music for 18 months, and I haven't done any music related work before that.
M I think you have all the tools you need. You have all the tools that everyone else has, but with a much better success rate. The only thing you probably need is a little bit of budget, but you can do it for a couple of grand. This is not the time for me to tell you the things I learnt about putting out albums, because this is about you lot, but think the next step is got to be doing it, because if you have talented artists, and you're A&Ring their singles, and you spend money - because let's be honest, releasing records is spending money really, not making it - the next logical step is to pull things together into bigger projects.
E Dunno. It's probably us as well. Our brains aren't wired to albums either. This is our problem, everyone says this to us, but I never listen to albums.
M Here's a secret though, I A&R albums like DJ sets. They have an intro tune, a warm up section, heat of the moment in the middle, and then an arc that goes down. Many albums have a similar phases to that. So I believe if you guys can plan a DJ set - and I listened to your Rinse CD and you've got like an arc to it. It's got structure and phases all over it and coherent start points and end points, big tunes that sound like intro tunes and outro tunes, then albums are the same.
I know how you guys feel; it was like this with Chantelle Fiddy back in the day when she would only listen to rave sets and I was all over “Boy In Da Corner” but my point is they share the same structures.
E Even when I was talking to Swindle about it, he’s like “well if I wanna make an album, I wanna have orchestra’s and shit…” His aspirations for an album are like: "Well why don't you just do what you're doing?".
M But you're a grime label. Swindle is an exception in grime, but I don't think grime should be allergic to the album format. What good mix tapes were missing was somewhere to just A&R it, to say: this is the bad one, this the good one, and here is how they all fit together. I think you guys were already doing it with your radio shows and your mix CDs, but those things you either give away for free or you make next to nothing because you divide the copyright by 25. With an album, you divide by one.
E I say it to Skilliam and Terror, where Butterz is going to begin again - or end - is when we find an artist that can pull together Royal T, Swindle, Terror, DOK and make something proper fucked up. Yeah, we could do a Royal T album, that's a way to do it. If we could have done Trim… but that's the thing about being too late. If were two years ahead, we could have done Trim’s album, or P money for instance.
M But there'll be a new artist in two years, that's the cycle. I accept that you might not be in the mindset for albums. But why does Roska have a higher profile than say other funky DJs? Because he's put an album out and PR'd it. People who buy records now are a minority, and people who buy singles are even quite specialist, but the one thing that people buy that gets the biggest audience are albums. DJ sets people mostly give away for free but putting out albums has this kind of “step up” effect for labels. I think you should do it because you've put the work in with these guys - Royal T and Swindle especially.
Anyway I‘ll stop harassing you, tell me about Royal T's set at Cable, because I thought it was really cool and different…
E For some context, his first DJ booking was July 2010, and as he's gone on, he hasn't played like a grime DJ, he's just played Royal T the whole way through, for an hour, and this time was the first time that he would be in a main room environment, at a good time, with people that he respects from his scene, there watching, he knew he was going to have the audio out there, so he kind of approached his set like an album. He made specific tunes for the night, and took apart old bits put them with new.
M: there were a lot of refixes, in a really cool way.
E: A lot of stuff you would know by ear, but he's kind of reworked it. I just thought to myself, he's playing “I love U“, and he would have been about 10 when it came out. As we said again, the 18 year old coming out for the first time to a grime night wants to hear that, but I don't want to play it because I've been through it. Do you see what I'm saying? But with Royal T he is our youngest person around us, and he can play that record to the young people and be excited about it.
M If we're talking about the distribution of power between MCs, DJs and producers. One of the things that shifted towards MCs in the middle of grime was the half-step beat which made it kind of un-danceable, turned it into the concert thing that grime was. You guys have definitely been part of moving back to the dance floor and making it DJ-centric, and I really felt like Royal T's set was grime - claps, synths and grimy and a bit lo-fi - but danceable.
E That's him all over, that's what he's been trying to do. And a lot people don't rate him because he doesn't have all these strong vocals that Rude Kid and Teddy have on their tunes. But he doesn’t have them because the MCs don’t want to vocal those kinds of tunes. It's a shame that he's got all these up tempo clubby things, because Merky Ace can see his tunes working but it doesn't follow through into the booth.
M I thought it was funny that the MCs were stood there, and it was obvious - if I'm talking about power distribution - that Royal T was the most powerful guy there, not the MCs. It was amazing.
Sk He fully commandeered that set.
E And, he didn't say to them: "don't spit."
SK Yeah, he didn't at all.
E They though "Ah OK, we're going to wait for you to give us a bit of room." And he only gave them two tunes to go in on at the end.
Sk And they said it repeatedly as well - "Yeah - we're going to get into the spraying," but it didn't happen.
M I think that this is the really amazing thing that you guys have done. When I look around the room and see where you guys have played - as this room is covered in flyers of places you've visited and raved etc - one the core problems with grime and MCs was that MCs made it totally unique, but it couldn't spread, because you had to be from East London and sound like that know what the slang was and know people, and so it both focussed the world on them, but then the world couldn't join in. But with the DJing stuff, I could see another producer in San Francisco or somewhere else listening to Royal T and thinking "I can contribute to that," and give you guys a beat.
Sk We've always said that, because we play instrumental that everyone can understand.
E It’s like the dubstep thing
M Exactly. It can spread. And now you guys are playing all over the world.
E I think like we're saying before with the Plasticman theory, in isolation the vocals seem even stronger than they are. If you play two in an hour then they really understand that. If they only hear “I Am” and “Boo You” it’s like, “what’s that?”
M Funnily enough for a while I thought you guys were completely against vocals and against MC, but I feel like the bigger the vibe got the more involvement you have with MCs.
E It's all about balance, isn't it? Its difficult when you've got an opportunity to work with P Money, at that time - and we couldn't do that now because he's a playlisted artist on Radio 1 and signed. It’s either we did that then… it's not going to come around all the time. We've done quite a few MC sets recently, and then we might go through the next 6 months and not do any. I think we're capable of both, and I think our progress as DJs, personally, is that we’ve been able to play sets with Trim, and no one is cussing me asking "what is this weird shit?"
M: Haha, that got said when we played with him!
E But now the weird shit is the only shit, that’s the normal stuff. Before when we did “Air Bubble” none of the grime DJs played it. Even “Orangeaid.”
Sk Even “Moodswings.”
M Another thing you guys do really well is build links with other scenes, other styles you don't seem that bothered by. For ages grime guys were in conflict with each other even their own MCs. People in the same crews would fall out, but if you can't even get on with your mates, or on your station, and people in your postcode let alone the next postcode, how can you sign to a major if you can’t even collaborate with your own scene? You guys are different, always being approachable and collaborative with people.
E He's better at it than I am
E I'm trying to be like them. When LV hollered at us to do the “I Am” remix, I said to him [Skilliam]: "Oh, imagine there is a label that you can just holler to ask them to remix, and then end up on the release." At that time, if you could phoned up Terror Danjah and ask if you could remix “Sadie Ama,” he'd be like "What?! Who are you?" But these people like Terror and Wiley, even if they know who someone likes Skream is, they wouldn't let him remix them five years ago. I’ve seen Skream asking Wiley to do tunes but they don’t recognise the value of other scenes. Or they say, “that’s your thing, we’re doing ours.”
[As a technical point, Skepta and Roll Deep were very influential in breaking Skream's "Midnight Request Line" to a bigger audience, which in turn helped break dubstep as a whole, but I take the broader point - Martin]
M But it's like you guys do value other scenes.
E I do, definitely, because I go to places and I'll see people other people playing the same records, so...
M And the other thing as well is the club infrastructure. You've got something that fits into a club infrastructure, but grime doesn't have one. It had a couple of great clubs at certain times, but for whatever long complicated reason involving Form 696 or whatever, they were shut down. But needs must, if you want to be a grime DJ you have to get on and build bridges with other scenes.
Sk And I think it was because we weren't playing much in London, so if you create your own scene so you can play in London.
E If we didn't play in Cable we couldn't play at all. We hadn't played at Cable before.
Sk It hurts to be a London DJ who never plays out in London.
E Especially grime which is so London.
M But you've done it.
E We're nowhere near there though. We’re establishing ourselves on the London club scene, but we're not a fixture. Like with Night Slugs: any rave in London is going to have one of them on there and that means you’re a fixture of the club scene in London. But it's not like that with Butterz yet. You know, where 140 isn't the thing, the thing on that level is house, so like I said if we'd done it two years earlier when everyone was playing dubstep, it would have been the perfect timing to be selling grime, when dubstep was the coolest thing in the world.
M Yeah, but maybe it wouldn't be though, because everyone would have completely ignored what you were doing. Part of that really good now is - and I'm one of original dubstep fanboys - but there's so little dubstep now if you don't like "tear your face off" stuff. I really like what you guys do, because it's 140 and its tough and it's got that kind of rudeness that good dubstep has as well. We love mixing your stuff with other people's and other scenes, because it fits together. But if you’d come along at a time when dubstep was the hottest thing in the world, you might have got drowned out. Whereas now a lot of it is terrible and a lot of the original fans have realised it and moved on.
E Like you say the original fans have gone down tempo, so they're not going to check anything up at 140. So it kind of works both ways, like if they've gone and listened to Ramadanman now, are they going to go back up?
M Yeah but I find that a lot of people like pitching up 130 records to 135bpm and making a middle ground. You can do a lot with Serrato now. So we should talk about the Rinse mix CD, how did it come about?
E We both decided we wanted to showcase the best of the year in grime so far, the best of the label and a couple of forthcoming bits that people can look forward too. We have “Orangeade,” “Mood Swings,” “I Am,” “Boo You,” “Woooo” and “Air Bubble” on there representing the label, Terror Danjah & Royal-T collab, Swindle & Silkie collab and Swindle’s, Teddy’s and Royal-Ts dubs as forthcoming bits people have to look forward to out via various outlets soon.
We also have bits on there from producers on we have been playing regularly, but doing any work with like Faze Miyake, P Jam, Spooky, Rossi B & Luca, Bok Bok, because there is more to the scene at the moment than Butterz. Then we have bits on there that came out on other labels that I A&R'd like the Royal-T mix of “Its Wiley” and Trim and Starkey “This Aint Me.”
Most other Grime DJs only see their job as playing good records, but Skilliam and I really go the extra mile to make good tunes happen in the first place. Hooking up producers and MCs with stuff they would sound good on. That is how most of the records have formed on the label, not just because we have picked up whatever has been working. We have built up most tunes scratch as a team. “Ghetto Kyote” is one of our favourite tracks ever, any genre, and it works with what we play today still, if that was made now it would have been a Butterz record. Then it is put together like how our club sets are, really energetic, quick mixing, double drops, chopping, long blends.
Nobody really plays grime like us, all of our mixes have a beginning middle and end, not just good tracks all over the place mixed really well, then just stopping when you have reached a time limit. We both felt it was really important to do that, and it took ages to get song order right, ideas for mixes, how to link sections of the mix together, and then all mix it back to back live in one go. Took about 30 attempts, something I’m not ashamed of. Didn't want to cut and paste. I wanted it to be sick to someone that listened to us every week, someone that listens every now and then, and someone that hasn’t listened to us before, and then someone totally new to grime.
When we first got the call I was thinking we should go and get loads of records especially made for this CD only, but then I realised this would be the first time some of the bits that have been perhaps overlooked over the last 18 months, would get a chance to shine. Our sound and style isn’t that bait yet, so would be a missed opportunity.
M When did you get asked?
E A random Friday in - when was it - March?
Sk Around March.
M It's an honour though right?
E Yeah, Its sick. It's one of those things like - because we'd only been there properly for two years in 1 till 3.
Sk And 3 till 5, in the am...
E: And 3 till 5 slot. Still to not be a prime time DJ, and not be a the top of the lineup, but have our own thing going strong - and being recognised - is sick.
M Some of the best ones that have been done though, for me, are not necessarily the headliner DJs - like Alexander Nut for example. I love that CD - he's not going to be the number one headline DJ, or bigger than Katy B, but it's a really good listen. It's got a really good flow to it, and arc to it, that goes places. So how did you go about picking the tunes and selection and ordering of it all.
Sk A lot of tunes have a story, we were saying that before. “Orangeaid:” Royal T made it for Elijah's birthday. “Pineapple” - Swindle came on a radio show a few weeks before, and even the personal reactions were like "Oooooooh, what's that?".
E It didn't have a name until she [points to his kitten] came along, it was just a number.
E So we just called it “Pineapple” after my cat.
Sk Faze Miyake, “Blackberry…”
E… that's a kind of a garage vibe. And he's not affiliated to us in any way, and it must be annoying for anyone else that does grime if the only good thing that people have to say about grime is Butterz. I didn't want it to be a Butterz CD, because there was other good things that are going on, like Preditah and Faze Miyake. They're two good example nothing to do with us, we didn't even break them, we're not going to claim that we had any involvement in them getting big. But we’ll still play their tunes.
M The Faze Miyake one - I was listening to the tunes’ beat patterns, thinking about grime being danceable again and just clocking how many weren’t half step, it’s back to snares on the 2 and 4, and how many were a bit more dancefloor energy, that wouldn't have happened a couple of years ago.
E And then he's got “Take Off” later on, which is kind of like hip hop, so he's got two different tunes. On one CD he's proves that he's not a one trick pony, which is kinda cool, and he's relatively new. It sticks with the thing we started off with in 2009 - that we’re gonna play all these new guys - to anyone who hasn't listened to us. They might know P Money, Trim, Terror Danjah but they might then go “who’s Faze Miyake, who’s Preditah?”
M That's what people look to you for, to think differently about grime....
E There's no Wiley one on there.
Sk There's no Wiley production, but there is “It’s Wiley.”
E I made the Royal T remix happen, because the guy who was doing the release emailed me to ask if I knew anything about Shortstuff who did the remix of the tune. I said yeah, he's cool, and he said "would you play it?". I was like, let me hear it, and I heard it and I said "give me the acapella and I'll give you something that I'll play". Then I gave it to Royal T and told him “do your worst.” This might be the only time you might have a Wiley vocal, so smack it.
Sk He did it like three times, adding different bits. If you pay attention to the tune, a lot of different clips from Wiley's big tunes are added in.
M It sounds like he literally sampled Eskimo at one point
Sk Yeah, and Maniac...
E The “Where's My Brother” bit, and a bit with the Sidewinder set in it as well. Yeah that tune just happened because they got in contact.
M So it's cool that there is a little connection with history behind a lot of them. I like the idea of Silkie and Swindle working together, one is from one genre and one from other, but actually they couldn’t be closer.
E They're the same thing
Sk They've just got totally different directions.
M: funk-inspired synth guys, one of whom who loosely works in a genre called dubstep and another who loosely works in a genre called grime.
E Now Silkie is doing that house-y stuff, and Swindle's done it already. He's been through that already, two years ago. For some people, they were saying that they wanted that collaboration.
SK "Ah imagine that..."
E I always say think of the person sitting the other side of the radio, what would they want to hear? "Imagine a Silkie and Swindle tune? Cool - we'll try and make it happen then." They caught a vibe for that tune.
Sk It's like “Tag.”
E Oh my days! Name me another genre where four producers are battling on a tune. That's why grime is the best. “Tag” was just a joke from Twitter where everyone was discussing the best producer. Swindle was like "alright, I'm going to lay down some drums", and everyone put their stuff on the drums and we‘ll see who‘s the best. Swindle did his bit first, then Terror, Rude Kid and Wizzy Wow. Then it went back round, but Wizzy Wow was like "no", and so the tune did not get finished.
Sk So you can just hear the drum track go on...
M Isn’t it a bit like that old Statik track with all the producers, the 8 bar relay one…
E I can't find a track from another genre, is there? The Statik one was just people using their signature sound but this is people openly battling. “Ave that…”
M That in one tune that encapsulates what really goes on in producing, what people called "scenius", so there's a collective bunch of people interacting with each other. Some artists tell me that they are only in their own world, and they don't listen to anyone else, and anyone who is like them isn’t a true artist. That's not really how dance music works for me. Someone has an idea and someone else build on it, listens to it and someone else vibes off it and soon builds on it again, and the whole scene together moves in directions, and no one individual had a monopoly on original ideas - though some individuals can contribute more than others of course. You actually did it in one tune, with four guys building at the same time. Fucking clever!
E The fact that it never got finished, and say after six months I was like "hold on" - I was the only person with this tune in the computer. It’s a dubplate because I’m one of the few people with it.
M Who's going to get the royalties haha?
E Well it was Swindles idea
M There's no royalties in compilations.... I wouldn't worry about breaking it between four people. One 25th of the post-recoupment profits divided by 4 producers? It’ll be pence…
E That kind of stuff I don't really see happening in other genres. Especially as it's so easy to make happen, as people send their shit by email.
Sk I see Royal T and Champion having a little…
E On Twitter people are bait…
M The Champion thing is funny right, because you guys don't typically rep for funky, and nor does Terror either, so how did you get to know him?
E Terror know him via Pioneer. His tunes they were the same vibe that was us. It's not because it sounds like grime, but it's that kind of energy, that danceable energy.
M When I asked you about Royal T from Cable, one of the things I wanted to ask about was that it was danceable grime, but another thing was how close Royal T's danceable grime was from Champions' grimy funky. It felt like they weren't a million miles away from each other, in terms of the vibe of them and the both of them sat really well together, like they were converging on the same place.
E What I liked about the people who were there, they didn't say "this isn't grime, I'm going to leave and come back when D Double and Terror are on", they stood there and appreciated it.
Sk From about 10.30, we had to open early. That was one of the few nights where people stayed all the way through.
M Actually the real break up was D Double E. He went to concert mode and all the cameras were lit up on him, in his face, and he was louder than the music.
E Champion hasn't been probably DJing that much before, so that's why [we put acts on in the middle]. People say we're stupid for doing this - not putting ourselves on at the main times. We put on people that we're bringing in. Other people were like, what are you doing? Everyone else would be the highlight of their labels night, but we wanted to give these guys a chance, otherwise how would they get back in.
M It's nice. It's honest.
E Yeah. We're not having the issue of getting into the clubs, we're kind of slowly breaking in. For example, we've already broken into Fabric, we don’t need to prove anything with DJing, so why not give the spotlight to these people who can't get in?
M That just reflects what your labels' been doing all along: bringing people through, saying “I think this guy is good, we should back him…” Its healthy.
E I think a lot of things beforehand have been too "I can't get anything out of that, so I won't do it." I don't know Faze, but he makes good tunes, and he replies to emails, which is enough.
The final instalment of this epic interview will be published on November 21st when the mix CD comes out. Read Part two and one if you haven't already.
Royal-T – Orangeade VIP
D.O.K – East Coast
Swindle – Pineapple
P Money & Blacks – Boo You feat Slickman
Faze Miyake – Blackberry
Wiley – It’s Wiley (Royal-T Remix)
Mr Mitch – Centre Court
Rossi B & Luca – Lost in Limehouse
P Jam – Arizona Skyz
Terror Danjah – Full Attention feat Ruby Lee Ryder
Royal T – Royal Rumble
Spooky – Spartan (Terror Danjah Remix)
Teddy – Community Links
Swindle feat Terror Danjah, Rude Kid & Wizzy Wow – Tag
Bok Bok – Silo Pass
Royal T & Terror Danjah – Music Box
Trim – I Am (Preditah Remix)
Faze Miyake – Take Off
Swindle & Silkie – Unlimited
Treble Clef – Ghetto Kyote
S-X – Woooo (DJ Q Remix)
Royal T – Music Please (TRC Remix)
Terror Danjah – Air Bubble (Starkey Remix)
Starkey & P Money – Numb
TRC – Into Sync
Starkey & Trim – This Ain’t Me
Swindle – Mood Swings VIP
Last week as an impulse, I posted a poll on my blog, trying
to answer one simple question: what is the single biggest influence on how you
buy music? As a label co-owner in changing times, the issue had been plaguing me.
Amazingly, it has received over 750 votes to date: shout to you if you voted! I
wanted to share the findings, but first a few caveats about them.
The data is undoubtedly skewed because it’s published on a
specialist music blog. That’s fine, in fact, it’s ideal: I wasn’t looking to answer the question for a
bunch of X-factor fans.
The survey makes the assumption that you have chosen the
music you buy because you like the music – this is about the factors that lead you to hear, read about and ultimately by a given track.
I also enabled multiple votes per person after
feedback from the earliest voters. The results seem to reinforce this decision.
I also picked the initial set of choices. I had to start
somewhere and I thought I’d added enough to show breadth. I also live and
breathe underground music so had a sense of the basic touchstones. However I
did leave the option open (“none of the above – please suggest”) and many
people did. More of which later.
Question: what is the single biggest influence on how you buy music?
it in a newspaper or (print) magazine
it in an online magazine
it on a blog
Heard it on
Heard it on
Heard it on
Heard in on
Heard it on
Heard it on
Heard a DJ
play it out in a club
it on a forum
it via Twitter or Facebook
review in a record shop
None of the
above (leave a comment below, it can be added to the poll...)
Looking at the results, the biggest single influence on how
you guys buy music is that you heard it in a mix or podcast. More telling to me
is that since the largest category is only 15% of the sample, it reinforces
what I’ve felt for a while now: that there is no ‘kingmaker’ in this corner of underground
music. Instead we see a broad pattern of different mediums of how you’re
influenced to consume music.
Here’s the top 4
Heard it on
a mix/podcast 15%
it on a blog 12%
Heard it on
specialist radio 11%
it in an online magazine 11%
Eyes or ears?
Digging a little deeper into the survey, I decided to
cluster the data by a binary: was the main influence the written word or sound
experienced? I was curious because as long as I’ve loved music I’ve loved
reading about it. In fact it was 90s music magazines that were my history
lessons into dance music and became my inspiration as to how I could first
participate in music culture.
Yet after that I had the realisation – not that it’s
particularly revelatory or anything – about the power of simply hearing music
direct, rather having it filtered by someone else first. Hence why Dusk and I
did radio shows, from Touch FM, Groovetech and later Rinse FM.
The chart is a pretty good win (41%) for “read” I think, all
The next slice I took was to cluster together the results
based on what type of medium they were. So under “Online” I grouped the votes
for Podcast, blog, online magazine, YouTube, Forums, SoundCloud, Twitter,
Facebook, Spotify. Radio grouped specialist and commercial radio. Live was the
sum of hearing it in a club or a record shop. Press was both newspapers and
print magazine. This roughly reflects the type of PR specialists that exist:
press, online and radio pluggers.
Looking at the results it’s a landslide for “online,” with
68% of the votes. Shockingly, considering their massive audiences, press only
gets 2% of the votes. So while 41% of people in the sample are most influenced
by what they read, only 2% of them do so offline i.e. in print.
[UPDATE: Keysound Statto Dusk has let me know I may have flawed this section a little by allowing (upon requests by early voters) multiple votes per person and there being more options that fall into the 'online' camp than others, but I'm not concerned it will skew the final conclusions too massively...]
Where (part 2)?
It seemed to me there was one final consolidation that made
sense. Most radio stations have listen again and most specialist shows are at
night, so while you may have heard that tune “On Logan’s Kiss show,” a lot of
the times people may have listened online again or consumed a ripped podcast
version. Combining online and radio
gives this segment a whopping 80% of the votes. Online is the kingmaker!
None of the above
5% of the sample, ie 34 votes, didn’t vote for one of the 13
options I proposed. Instead they left their own. These are:
record shop (five votes)
(four votes: "WHAT THE MUSICAL CONTENT IS./if i like it/Own ears/How
fucking heavy the tune is")
suggests it (three votes)
TV (two votes)
Heard it in
the street, mall, coffee shop.
about it on the Internet
I feel I can
afford to support the artist
If it's not
on vinyl, I'm not buying
artist's other work.
of the list.
across it / instinct
favourite Dj's/label heads & artists.
Interesting to see the votes for “heard it in a record shop”
– which I... forgot. I guess that gives
away my music buying habits these days doesn’t it?
So, there we have it. People who read my blog are influenced
to buy underground music via a long tail of factors, mostly of which are online
and allow them to hear the music.
So, what did I miss?
All data accurate as of 3rd November 2011. Shout
to my favourite Stat Badgyal Alex Mitchell, Nah Guy Tes (at Excel)... SUMIFTW!