Fresh cuts from the UK underground.
Wherever the next major development in UK club music springs from, you can bet Dusk + Blackdown will be among the first to know about it. The pair's monthly show on London's Rinse FM is a dedicated platform for fresh production talent, with an expressed aim of seeking out coherence among the UK's fast-paced and fractured scene. Blackdown (AKA Martin Clark) works towards similar aims as a journalist. He's known as one of the foremost documenters of the "hardcore continuum," charting the evolution of grime and dubstep from their earliest forms, and helping to break acts like Wiley, Burial and Dizee Rascal. Dusk + Blackdown's Keysound Recordings serves as a further outpost for these innovative endeavours. The label has been bubbling under since 2005, releasing a thrilling stream of music from artists like LHF, LV, Sully and Damu. The last major offering from the imprint came from Dusk + Blackdown themselves: Dasaflex, the duo's third album, weaves together their sprawling range of interests on an LP that sounds nothing like anything else out there.
On RA.336 Dusk + Blackdown look firmly to the future. New names like Wen, Beneath and Visionist bump up against the best of Keysound and the pair's favourite established players.
What have you been up to recently?
Well the biggest thing for us recently has been the release of our second album, Dasaflex. It features Keysound singer Farrah, MCs Shantie & GQ and that track "High Road." It took us four years to write and is in essence our attempt to navigate all the different possibilities and directions that have arisen since dubstep and grime broke up into dozens of floating islands, from UK funky to dark 130, R&B to UKG, synthy funky to grime, eski to juke, beatless ish, dubstep and beyond. The reaction from DJs we rate like Marcus Nasty, Zed Bias, Scratcha DVA, LHF, Gilles Peterson, LV, Brackles and Champion, as well as from heads who listen to our show, has been heart-warming.
How and where was the mix recorded?
Being able to "mix" has got easier with the proliferation of digital ways to mix, and while we're open to technology and change, we're not sure that in the case of mixing that it is entirely progress. If a DJ can't fail, can't clang or make mistakes, then where's the danger in that? You're not seeing something magical and alive unfold before your eyes, it's sterile and pre-determined. Also a lot of pre-mixed digital software smooths out the highs and the lows so there's never that heart-fluttering "is-it-isn't-it" moment as a new track edges into the mix and then explodes.
So with this in mind, the way we did the mix isn't remotely ground breaking—we recorded it on CDJ1000s—but it is live and there are mistakes. It's flawed but hey, we're human, everything's flawed. We hope that's what makes things interesting.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
No matter what everyone else is on, we want to keep alive the rude and vital spirit of pirate vibes we've loved and seen spark through jungle, UK garage, dubstep, grime and UK funky over the years—but find a new space for it in 2013. Many other people seem to be going off elsewhere right now, but to us there's a new wave coming through.
One of our main focuses as Rinse FM DJs and label owners is to find new talent and cluster that talent together, finding the harmony and dissonances. Recently the 130 BPM space has become really fertile for us, so for this mix we could have mixed an hour of completely unreleased upfront beats but that's what our monthly Rinse show is for. Instead we looked both forward to 2013 and back on 2012 and chose some of the strongest music we felt we'd been playing this year. Some of the beats are upfront and unreleased, others are tracks that have stood out for us and stayed in our 2012 sets. Some people, like Cooly G, deserve credit for the foundation they laid. Overall though we feel like we're some of the very few people playing these producers in this style.
So some of the producers you may have heard of (Cooly G, Champion, Funkystepz, Walton, Mella Dee, Detboi), some people you may know through Keysound (ourselves, Logos, Double Helix (LHF), Gremino), and some may be new to a wider audience (Wen, Beneath, Visionist, 86 Baby, Seany B). But across all of them, what we were trying to do is weave a path through this new wave of music, from the dark and rolling dubstep-inspired dread drops to driving UK funky percussion, 8bar and skeletal eski devil dubs to raw jungle-esque bangers. Grime MC rudeness to woozy warm house and bumpy UKG or arpegiated "rainbow grime." Show diversity but also a sense of cohesion and purpose.
Do you have a mission statement or suchlike for your Rinse show?
Firstly we'd like to shout out the Rinse FM management team, Geeneus, Soulja and Stuart who have had faith in us since the beginning. Rinse is unique and without it it would be impossible to run Keysound or help all the new producers we try and give some visibility to.
Increasingly we feel we're going our own way with our Rinse show from other DJs—we choose to see this as an opportunity rather than an issue. When we started our show (Jan 2008) we were playing a lot of music from a relatively small number of people we knew from the dubstep and grime communities. Now most of those guys are all massive, so we've delved back underground to find and support the next wave. Now we play a large amount of music from a broad section of producers and aim to weave their fresh ideas into some kind of coherent flow, on the fly. Every time we do a show we sift through upwards of 700 tracks then mix and sequence them b2b, having never mixed them before.
Sometimes it all falls apart but mostly we hope people think it works. From the reactions you can just tell how much it means to some of these up and coming new headz to be played on Rinse and that feels great. As well as up and coming producers like Beneath, Logos, Wen, Gremino and Visionist, we've been really impressed with Emma, Fresh Paul, Bloom, Moleskin, Hagan, Epoch, Mumdance, Rabit, Luna Beduin, Slackk, MistaMen/Mella Dee, Macker, Tessela and Walton. They're hungry, we're hungry: let's roll.
What are you up to next?
Our Rinse FM continues 11pm GMT the fourth Thursday of the month. Shout at us if you're locked in! Gigs wise Keysound Recordings takes over Fabric room 3 on Friday 16th of November. DJs on the night are ourselves, LV, United Vibes (Amen Ra LHF & Vibezin), Logos, Visionist, Beneath and Wen. We're also playing Rudimental in Cambridge November 29th and Heidelberg, Germany on December 7th. On the releases front now our album Dasflex and High Road EP are out, Beneath's 12"x2 double-pack is dropping 26th of November. Looking into 2013, expect to see lots of new music from the fresh talent out there.