How did the [Rinse] CD happen?
“I was so happy about that. Obviously Rinse and Ammunition – they’re not fucking daft, they’ve been running things for many years; they’re major pioneers. I guess once they saw that what I was doing was making sense, and that there was a scene and a community bound to the kind of music I was playing, it was only a matter of time before they felt it was right… I mean, they’ve got all these massive DJs on the station – they could’ve done a Marcus Nasty one, ’cause funky’s massive at the moment – but they’re on it, they know their shit, they just went with it. I think they were thinking low-scale at first – that they’d do less CDs, but it took off. I’m super happy with Rinse – they didn’t take the easy option; they’ve taken a risk.”
When you were asked to do it – bearing in mind it was the first hip-hop one, and bearing in mind that you weren’t as well known as Geeneus or Skepta – how did you want to approach it? Did you have any specific aims or intentions for it?
“I wanted to keep the Rinse people happy, so I wasn’t gonna be selfish with it. It was a natural thing to do anyway, but I did keep it in line with the whole UK bass culture thing. Ultimately it’s more of a retrospective; like when they asked me to do it, I thought I could wrap up what I’ve been doing on the show for the last few years. It’s almost like a greatest hits package – like if I put those tunes on the CD, it establishes I’m down with them, but I don’t need to play them out anymore.”
“You know what, I think soul is maybe the element that connects all the dots anyway. Whether it’s house, or hip-hop, or electronica, or jazz – I think maybe the soul thing is what connects them. When I first started doing the show, because I didn’t know how I wanted to promote it, or what I wanted to call it, I used to call it sub-low soul. I used to send a little email out saying future beats and sub-low soul.”
It’s like Omar-S – there’s that whole vibe to his techno that it’s just an extension of soul.
“Yeah, and Underground Resistance, they used to call their music hi-tech jazz. It’s a similar thing – it’s techno, but to the people making it, it’s that sort of expression… Like if you’ve been listening to John Coltrane all day and then you go to make some music, even if all you’ve got is an 808 and a 303 to do it on, to you it’s still jazz I guess. It might not come out that way to everyone, ’cause they’re just hearing the electronics, but if you listen to it with the right mind, and you get it, then you’ll see it’s there…”
Likewise when Kode 9 plays a Cameo track and a Joker track in the same set, you realise that they’re coming from a similar place.
“He’s actually a lecturer of the University I was at [University of East London]. I didn’t know when I was first there, but when I returned to finish my degree obviously I knew, and had a chat with him. Hyperdub’s a big inspiration as a label, in terms of having that freedom to put out what you want and people still loving it because of the quality control you’ve maintained. I think there’s always some element that links [the releases] as well, no matter what style they are. I mean if he put out a fucking Euro-pop trance record then maybe I’d think it was a bit strange, but ’til then everything just makes sense, you know?”
What exactly’s this thing at the Roundhouse coming up?
“Well this guy Dave Gamble, who’s a fan of the show – he’s in charge of some stuff at the Turning Point festival. He asked me if I wanted to curate part of it – and this is the Eglo ethic, we turn down nothing. We’re like the A-Team – you give us a baked bin tin and we’ll turn it into a rocket launcher. So originally he was like “if you wanna DJ, and get a vocalist down and sing, let’s do it”, and then a week later we’ve got a full live band and string section and all that.
“I’m DJing, so I’m doing Floatingpoints’ drums from the turntables. We’ve got a four-piece string section, Fatima’s doing vocals and effects pedals and stuff. And Sam [Floatingpoints] is dplaying the ARP, keys, there’s a bass player – it’s something we’ve always wanted to do. Me and Floatingpoints are of the opinion… like, we like exciting new music, but at the same time we both like things on quite a grand scale. Like we could put out a Floatingpoints album tomorrow, and it would be all beat stuff; sample based stuff. But that’s not what we’re about – he’s a classically trained musician, who does scores and writes arrangements – I mean he’s a sick DJ too, but the classical thing, that’s really him. This is where we want to take it; in a few years we want to be able to tour around. And we can do it – like I told Floatingpoints about the Roundhouse thing, and within a night he’d written all the music for a four-piece string section. And for me – ’cause I manage him as well – knowing someone like that’s amazing. I mean I love mp3-based music, but if you’ve got the capability to go beyond that, let’s fucking do it.
“Because I love pop music – I love traditional songs. And as much as I love the radio show, I loved it because it was new – there was new, interesting sounds there – but I knew I wouldn’t be listening to a lot of the stuff I was playing five years down the line; it wouldn’t have the legs. So if you can’t make something really special; if you’ve just got an album of 18-bar loops I’m gonna get fucking bored of it. We can all pass beats around, and that’s fine, I love that, but I’m putting money into a record label; I’m putting all my time into it. The plan is, as regards me and Floatingpoints… Well, in five years’ time it’s gonna be fucking crazy.”