“It’s inescapable in one sense or another, in that the place where one’s brought up generally has an impact, especially if it’s London. I think yes and no. When I look at the stuff I put out on 2nd Drop, that’s grime, UK house and UK bass culture influenced. But then when I think of the stuff I’m making now, it’s not so much connected with South London. It’s more the sense of the area – it’s not a particular thing or building, it’s the idea.”
In your LuckyMe mix, there are quite a few grime shoutouts. Grime’s a type of music that’s synonymous with the place that produces it. I wondered if you saw your work as doing something similar, but in a different way?
“Yeah, kind of. Maybe I shot myself a bit in the foot with the name, because I find that one of the most frustrating things about grime is…I just find it a really frustrating scene. The producers want to make it – and I really don’t want to be cussing them – they don’t want recognition, but they do want the bookings. But in terms of the idea of repping where you’re from, I don’t know. I’m much more interested in semantics. I like the expression and I like the word. I think it’s got more to do with the way it rolls off the tongue rather than a particular geographical reference.”
“No one really believes you when you say ‘I see sound’ – you start sounding like a nutter.”
The way that you produce, it sounds as if you weave in field recordings or fragments you’ve grabbed yourself, which I guess is a way of interpolating one’s area into the music directly. Do you use field recordings?
“I do. I’ve got a great mate who got me into this. It’s funny when you get sound and start messing around with samples, and you might delve into a couple of sample packs in the beginning, but there’s something a little nicer about ripping your own sounds and recording your own stuff. It’s not perfectly recorded in a studio, it’s not subject to all kinds of compression. It’s just a bit freer, and I think it comes back to the scratches and the marks on the page. Those imperfections are nice to have, the rough bits – they give the mastering engineer a bit of a tough time, but I think they perhaps make for more interesting music, definitely.”
That makes sense, because your tracks are very sensual. They nod towards techno and dubstep in different ways, but they avoid the coldness of techno and the overload of dubstep – you find this sensuous midpoint. How do you see your music relating to those two influences?
“It’s funny you say dubstep. I have to be honest: I didn’t find it the religious experience that lots of people found it. There was definitely some stuff I liked, because I used to listen to a lot of garage. The darker sort of Oris Jay, El-B, Groove Chonicles sort of stuff. Elements of dubstep in that respect appealed to me. But it’s more actually drum ‘n’ bass. It’s hard to say this now because the only two tunes I have out at the moment, people might not necessarily notice the relationship. Moments of my stuff come from drum’n’bass.
In terms of the techno aspect, I’m not that comfortable with the association with straight up techno. I don’t really know what people mean by that either, because die-hard techno fans get upset if you call yourself techno, and lots of people in the press might then call it techno, and then everyone’s a bit confused. It takes some of the good bits from it maybe, I don’t know. [laughs]”
“When I think of the stuff I’m making now, it’s not so much connected with South London. It’s more the sense of the area – it’s not a particular thing or building, it’s the idea.”
Funny you mention drum’n’bass. There’s that moment in ‘Sanctuary’ where there’s muffled dialogue discussing the glory days of acid house.
“The name ‘Sanctuary’ comes from the rave in Milton Keynes. Incidentally, it’s one that I’ve never been to. You listen to a few tape packs. I don’t want to go overboard with those kind of references, because it can be a bit contrived. But at the same time, I like that kind of vibe. When I was making the tune, there were all the reverbs, and it had that big-top atmosphere. I was watching this documentary and that popped up. The two came together relatively well – people seem to like it.”
You shout out producers like Artifact and Thefft. You three acts, and others, seem to be being championed from the same sorts of quarters. Is there are a shared direction of travel between you and other producers on the scene at the moment?
“Yes and no. We’re all at that same stage, where you may or may not have the first release and you’re thinking about the next moves. But if you want to talk about us three, our sounds are so very different. Thefft has that tough glitch thing, and Artifact owes a lot more to techno that my stuff. I think the next six months are going to be the ones that really show where everyone’s going. In my opinion, it feels a bit too early to say who’s going to go where. I do know where people want to go because I chat to these guys on a daily basis, I know who they’ve had offers from. One of the things I’ve learned in the short time I’ve been doing this thing is never, never to tell anyone who you might have had an offer from, or count any chickens before they’re even close to hatching.”