Monday, 31 January 2011

#005 - ROSKA

Since releasing his debut album through Rinse back in April last year, Roska has continued to play a key role in the expansion of UK bass music, pioneering his own unique crossover sound with the help of an ever-growing fanbase. 2011 has already seen a collaboration with Toddla T on the 'Toddska' EP and with big plans in the pipeline, I managed to grab a word with the man himself on everything from Mary Anne Hobbs, the inspiration behind 'Squark' and seeing the Moon and the Stars in Leeds..

"I really enjoyed last year to be honest. I think one of the highlights was releasing the album on Rinse, that was a really big thing for me - I've loved being involved with Rinse and we've kinda mutually helped one another grow. Playing Sonar festival was also another definite highlight - doing a set in front of 10,000 people was just sick. I did an Essential Mix too which was a real privilege - the BBC really did a lot with that, not only pushing my sound but putting me on a par with some of the best DJ's in the world was an honour to be honest. Got to give Mary Anne Hobbs a shout out too, she's helped me a lot, putting me on her show and inviting me along to Sonar - it's all been really cool."
As one of the iconic releases of 2010, Roska's 'Squark' was a track that really caught the imagination of fans and fellow deejays alike. With it's unpredictable flow and combination of unusual sounds, including whistles and what can only be described as a cross between a car alarm and Captain Kirk shooting a Klingon, I wondered where the inspiration behind the track came from:

"Squark was the only tune I've actually sat down with and thought about making - all my stuff tends to be experimental but I knew exactly what I wanted to do with that. I basically tried to combine dubstep/electro/funky and garage sounds all in one track if you know what I mean? I messed about with new sounds for a bit, found what I wanted and then it was just a case of putting it all together - it was actually the last track that I recorded for the album."

Before releasing the album with Rinse, Roska used to release tracks via his own label (formed roughly 3 years ago to this day), 'Roska Kicks and Snares', a venture that he feels has held him in good stead in his journey to the top:

"Ah 'Roska Kicks and Snares' all started because I wanted to put my tracks out but no one at the time really cared. I actually started off making grime and garage tracks back in the day, sorta 2005-2006 but one day my laptop crashed and I lost all my files, over two thousand tunes in the end I think so I had to start again. I pressed 500 copies of my first track, 'Feline' but couldn't get any label to support a digital release. I tried to use Juno Downloads but I needed a label to back the release so I formed my own. From there, Beatport got in touch and then it just spiraled. I've got my own distributor now so things are much easier but it's nice to have that story you know - much more satisfying than just signing to a label straight away and having everything done for you!"
The start of 2011 has already seen Roska join forces with Toddla T on the much-acclamined 'Toddska' EP, a 2-track experimental project that puts fun at the heart of the music:

"Ah i just see it as a bit of fun you know! A lot of people make music really seriously these days without enjoying it and they lose sight of the fun element. Toddla's got some mad energy and you just can't be upset around him, it's just not possible - we had a proper laugh putting it together. It's my first release of the year but like with all my music, I'm not too fussed if it does well or not to be honest - I make music for myself first and foremost and if other people feel it then that's wicked and so be it. It all comes from the love and enjoyment of doing it - I make my best stuff when I'm just chilling out on a relaxed vibe, just doing my own thing you know?!"

As a producer, some people have found it difficult to place Roska's sound - some refer to it as 'Funky' while others prefer to place it under the 'UK Bass' moniker but Roska insists it's all part of the bigger picture:

"It's just a new breed sound really. Funky's dead and no one can't tell me anything different, RIP Funky! It finished back in 2009 for me - all the business guys left the scene and Footloose left 1xtra and it just fell away from then on in. There are loads of us all doing our thing now - you've got 'Night Slugs' on a more futuristic  vibe, 'Hyperdub' throwing out the odd really big release and it's all contributing to help the music get bigger and bigger. The problem with trying to define it as that people aren't really sure - we're making music that people are scared to give a name to. Like, for example, 'Mr Dave' or someone on 'Dubstepforum' will get annoyed because I referred to it as 'Funkstep' in an article with 'XLR8R' back in 2009, do you know what I mean? It's difficult to label things without upsetting people."
As a deejay, Roska has travelled far and wide, playing all over the UK and often further afield too but what makes a good night?

"My deejaying highlights have to be playing Fabric Room One - I played it four times last year, often before or after a dubstep set and I loved it. It's good to see that I can relate to dubstep heads and that my music has a place in that scene too. I played a little in Room Two with Jamie George aswell - I played like half an hour of straight Roska, which is kinda the level I wanna get to eventually, I love playing my own tunes and feeling comfortable! Venue wise it can vary though - one night will be completely off the chain and the next time you play you'll catch yourself thinking 'So what time does my set finish?' - it really is as fickle as that. Festivals are probably my favourite places to play - I always clock crowd reaction and festivals are just full of mad party-going people who wanna do nothing other than rave about and have a good time. In terms of club-night brands to play at, 'Bigger than Barry' in Leeds is the one alongside 'Plastic People' at FWD - you need to get along to one of those."

And as for vinyl..

"I use serato these days - vinyls are heavy to carry around so I find it more of an inconvenience than anything. Time's moving on really, especially with everything going digital plus vinyl pressing is really expensive - I don't put as many of my tracks out on vinyl as I'd like but its not always financially viable. Having said that, you've got to rate guys like Elijah and Skilliam with Butterz pushing grime vinyls and stuff - they're really bringing the music to a whole different audience which is a big look for the grime scene."
With a release under his belt already in 2011, this looks set to be another interesting year for Roska:

"Well obviously the 'Toddska' EP is out now and doing really well. Me and Pinch from 'Techtonic' have just done a nice collaboration which should be heavy - it's all at dubstep 140 tempo and should be due out in about a month and a half. I've also got a release coming out on 'Hot Flush' with two tracks called 'Error Code' and 'Abrupt' which I'm looking forward to. A six-track EP is also due out with Rinse too and from there it's gonna be a build up to the new album which I'm hoping to release in early 2012. I signed a 3-album deal with Rinse but I can see myself releasing with them for a long time - they're a great team and I'm proud to be a part of it. Other than that, I'm kinda happy with how things are going at the moment - I just want to keep pushing the sound, believe in what I'm doing and steer clear of distractions."
Any famous last words?

"Right make sure you put this at the end yeah (laughs)? People, don't take everything I say on twitter as gospel - I know people like to have a moan when people see stuff they don't like on my twitter and it always makes me laugh!"
Oh and the infamous 'Moon and the Stars'?

"(Laughing) I was in Leeds the other night playing at the Union and I was going up some stairs towards the office to collect the rest of my fee and whatever. I looked up and all I could see was a girl in a mini skirt and everything in between - bum cheeks, the lot. I was like 'Praise the Lord!' - it was big."




Sunday, 30 January 2011


After teaming up with Roundhouse and Boxfresh, Hyperfrank has launched an exciting new project called 'Volume Control' which gives the listener the chance play a part in putting together the music they'd like to hear. The first installment saw Dot Rotten step into the studio to vocal one of a selection of beats, each of which could be voted for on Hyperfrank's blog. The 3 beats in contention were:

1) Dizzee Rascal - Wheel

2) Darq E Freaker X Spooky - It's Sparta

3) BeatGeeks - Nightmare

After counting the votes, BeatGeeks' 'Nightmare' proved a worthy winner and the end product, a track entitled 'Thunder' with Dot Rotten providing the vocals, is predictably fiyaaaahhhh.

Not only does the 'Volume Control' series empower the fans and produce excellent music, it provides a platform for established and up-and-coming artists alike to showcase their work. Given the results of the first installment, I'd stay locked for the next one! Here's to more good music.

Be sure to check out Hyperfrank's blog for all the details -

Saturday, 29 January 2011


After bringing the underground sounds of his beloved Sheffield to the nation's attention with his debut album 'Skanky Skanky' back in 2009, Toddla T has become one of the most in-demand producers and club deejays in the land. Now also commanding a regular slot on BBC Radio 1 as part of the 'In New DJs We Trust' series as well as mixing his own Fabric Live CD and forming his own record label, Girls Music, the rise and rise of Toddla T shows no signs of stopping. Fresh from signing to Ninja Tune, I managed to catch up with him before last night's 'Toddska' EP launch on everything from Jamaica to Roll Deep:

"The last 12 months have been really big for me. Nothing's really changed from my side at all, I've just done lots of radio, lots of deejaying in the clubs and made the music I've always tried to make. Radio's helped a lot because it's made my music available to a wider range of people and its really started to find its feet - people really like the music now and i suppose gigs and radio have just accelerated things!"
As a multi-talented and versatile producer, Toddla T's also been mad busy in the studio with a whole host of different acts, most notably alongside a number of big-name grime emcees. The last 6 months or so have seen collaborations with the likes of Maxsta, Wiley, J2K, Roll Deep, Jammer and most recently, D Double E:

"Ah I've always loved grime. I used to go to college in Leeds so I'd travel over from Sheffield every other day and I'd  always lock in to Cameo on 1Xtra and people like  that. My mates used to buy tape packs aswell so I really got into listening to the old school Sidewinder sets. Dizzee's first album was another defining one, unbelievably sick, and I used to watch Channel U quite a bit but no one in Sheffield was feeling it at all at the time. 
When it came to producing for some of the guys, it just sort of came about through a few requests really. I did a bit for Tinchy's album back in 2009 and then did a bit for Bashy too and from there it just seemed to snowball. I came to London not long after and that was it, everything just blew! I made links with Jammer and produced loads of stuff for his album, then obviously did some stuff with J2K and ah man it was just mad! The D Double E link came through the 'Gyptian' tune - I was remixing it and really wanted a vocal so I thought I'd try and get him on it. I got in touch with his people and he came over and did the ting, easy as that! I produced a tune for his album called 'Critical' too. 
Recently, I've been doing a lot with Maxsta and he's been really good to work with, I rate him a lot. Met up with Target and Danny Weed too, we've built a few tracks together and that. Funnily enough, one of the tracks we made got vocalled by Roll Deep and they put it on their album - I heard it the other day and couldn't believe it! I've been in the studio a bit with Wiley too, we've still got a bit to do on a few tunes and I'm still doing lots with J2K and i hope I can do more stuff with the likes of Jammer, Bashy, Rolle Deep and Maxsta in the future. I've got so many grime requests at the minute, its just trying to find the time to fit it all in!  Having said that, I'm gonna be teaming up and doing some work with Trim in the next few weeks which I'm looking forward too! These lot were all my heroes growing up so it's kinda sick!"
JAMMER - BACK TO THE 90s (Produced by Toddla T)

From grime's top dogs to funky's top dog, the 'Toddska' EP sees Roska join forces with Toddla T on a collaborative release, out on Girls Music in February:

"TODDSKA! That came about after I just hit Roska up one day - we'd done quite a few gigs and been on the same line-ups and we chat a lot so I just said to him one day, 'Shall we makes some tunes?' He said, 'Yeah, fuck it why not' and that was it. We sent lots of stuff back and forth, he did the bass and I did the drums, got it sounding tight, mixed it down and it was done. It was quite nice really, proper relaxed and really quite easy to put together. My album's coming out later this year and its gonna be more radio friendly stuff so the 'Toddska' EP is just me still pushing my club music and you can expect to hear some more little projects like that throughout the year."
As far as personal musical influences go, its well documented that Toddla's biggest inspiration is Jamaica and he's been a frequent visitor since making his first visit to the island last summer:

"Jamaica's amazing man, I've been 4 times in the last year and a bit! I kinda felt like I had to go because its the home of the music I've been making / ripping off for years (laughs)! I first went with my mate last year and as soon as I got into the music environment, the whole thing just blew my mind, it was sick! I remember first getting to a studio there and within 10 minutes of playing a riddim to a girl, she vocalled it perfectly - it was the vocal I'd been trying to find for years and she'd just done it in 10 minutes! More than anything though, I just learnt so much over there - the people, the culture, everything. I was lucky enough to go with Diplo and Switch (Major Lazer) too and we all met up with Beanie Man and Elephant Man, it was mad! Even though I wasn't really involved with them production wise, it was good to see music over there at that higher level. I did manage to produce 'Sky Surfing' for Wayne Marshall while I was over there though and really enjoyed that - I can see myself continuing to go back and forth a lot for the music over the next few years definitely. The mad thing is, you don't hear any shit music either - it's all just pure vibes. You'll sometimes hear some US stuff but even then, it'll be stuff at the better end of the spectrum."


Toddla's also forged a massive reputation as a club deejay for his eccentric style, tight mixing skills and eclectic collection of dubs. After playing venue after venue over the last few years, I wondered a) what made a good night and b) what was his favourite city/venue/night to deejay at?

"The key to a good night is all the vibes man - you just need good tunes and a good mix of different people all getting on through the music you know?! No bullshit, just everybody getting on, dancing about and enjoying themselves, it's those sorta nights that are the best to play at! In terms of where I like playing, I can't really look further than Sheffieeeellll 'coz it's my hometown and it's sick! I went to Japan aswell last year and that was really cool. Recently UK wise, I had a good night at 'Shit the Bed' down in Bristol, that was live! In terms of nights though, it's probably still 'Bigger then Barry' that does it for me - the Leeds night at Mint is the best in the country from a DJ perspective! 
(After going off at a bit of a tangent about Leeds) Ahhh here's some Leeds history for ya! When I left college, there was a record shop in Leeds called 'Pusher Records' on the bottom level of the Corn Exchange and I started to go down there on Sundays and do sets - anybody could just turn up and DJ or spray on the mic or whatever. It was all hip-hop, old school RnB and bashment type stuff really but i loved going down there while it was open. It had to close its doors eventually but I had a good year or so there!"
On the subject of record shops, I asked Toddla about his approach to incorporating vinyl in his sets:

"As a deejay, I tend to use serato these days because it's much more reliable. I don't really buy records to play out much anymore to be honest - it got to the stage in clubs where the turntables would be THAT battered and shit that there wasn't really much point in trying to play vinyl. Having said that, i've got so many records at home and I still like to buy records to listen to - on the right turntables, they still sound amazing. I was in LA recently actually and I spent ages in this record shop just trawling through loads of stuff - I love the artwork and the physical aspect to vinyl, that's one thing you don't get on itunes."
Speaking of LA, Toddla had told me he was flying straight there after his set at Corsica studios so I had just enough time to ask him about what this year had in store for man like T Willy:

"I'm proper close to finishing my new album which will be coming out on NinjaTune and Girls Music so I'll hopefully release a few singles off that - i've just done a tune with Shola Ama and J2K so I want that to be the first release! Finished Lady Chann's EP recently too. From there it's just gonna be building up to the album which I'm aiming to release in the summer - vibes! I've got loads of radio stuff to do too, gonna carry on playing the clubs and just keep doing the stuff I've always done. Watch out for a few projects with Redlight too!"
'Ang tight the boom deejay from the Steel City - Biggup Toddla T!


Corsica Studios proved the perfect setting for a night full of parking, vibes and Toddska!

I was one of those annoying guys with a backpack and sixteen layers on but I didn't care. After getting in for eleven thirty, I made my way through a maze of hazy corridors and using a combination of instinct and some sort of sixth sense (no Bruce Willis) bass-navigation, finally made it into Room One. With it being my first night at Corsica, I was genuinely blown away by the lay out, feel and general vibe of the place - it was essentially one huge house party in one huge basement. Or so it felt. 

After grabbing a beer and fighting my way past hordes of people who looked significantly cooler than me, I made it over to Room Two to catch Night Slugs' Mosca spin a few TUNE. His hour long set consisted mainly of classic hip hop, bashment and dub-inspired tracks, setting the tone perfectly for rest of the night. 

Next up on the Room Two decks was Roska, one half of Toddska and arguably one of the biggest DJs of 2010. Starting as he meant to go on, Roska began his set by dropping a Mosca dubplate special; a sampled old school Flirta D vocal on a track called 'Legend' produced by Major Notes over a Tempa T instrumental, which basically sent me into overdrive and I spent the next five minutes apologising to unfortunate people who I'd just chinned with my rucksack. Roska's jump-up style and seemless mixing skills were clear for all to see, culminating in the whole room hyping about to the enigmatic 'Squark' and new Toddska track, 'Cowboy'.

RODIGAN ROAD-BLOCK. Apologies dealt with, I tried to get over to Room One to catch the legendary Ramjam's set but couldn't get passed the scores of people jostling in the corridors to get in. Corsica was constipated. After about twenty minutes, I gave up and made it back to an increasingly busy Room Two where I was lucky enough to catch stand-out DJ of the night, Breach, step up pon di decks. His unique blend of dubstep and house was fully out in force at Corsica, leaving you questioning whether to grin or grimace as face-melting bassline after face-melting bassline dropped to rapturous approval and a scattering of gun-fingers. Vibes. 

After a quick gasp of fresh air, I got my screwface on in the hope that people would let me just breeze past on route to Room One to catch Toddla T and Redlight climb aboard the Roller Express. Whether or not it worked was debatable but I made it just in time to hear Toddla drop his first riddim. The whole room erupted into dance in true 'Skanky Skanky' style and never looked back - this was a guy fully in control of his audience. After he and Redlight dropped some old school Sparks and Kie, I decided the time had come for me to try and make the arduous trip home after running out of money and losing about 3 litres of water to sweat. Par. Despite my financial plight, it was easily one of the best nights I've been to in a long time and served as a great advert for UK bass music. 

Shouts out to Shy FX, Roses Gabor, Dread MC and Two Bears, all of whom I wasn't able to catch due to finances / room clashes! 


Thursday, 27 January 2011


Tomorrow night sees one of the best bass-inspired line-ups of the year so far come together at the intimate Corsica studios to celebrate the launch of the 'Toddska' EP on Girls Music. Tickets are officially sold out but some will be made available on the door should you get down early enough!

Joining T Willy and Roska on the decks will be the iconic David Rodigan and top bass-selectors Shy FX, Redlight, Breach and Mosca alongside a comprehensive support line-up.


Tuesday, 25 January 2011

#003 Z-DOT

Thought of as one of the most consistent and multi-talented producers in the scene, I catch up with Z-Dot on everything from Nelly Furtado to falling out with the family. After first dropping in on him with Sketchman to help film some footage for a grime forum link last summer, he's been busy to say the least:

"I've been doing loads man! Looking back over the last 6 months, I've probably spent the majority of my time with Wiley - we spent about 6 weeks in the studio over October/November time and we recorded 'Joombi', 'Came Back Home' and 'Bright Lights' with Giggs, which I really enjoyed. I'd also brought out the 'Fire Power EP' at the end of August with the 'Dirty Date' instrumental on it which got a lot of good feedback. People have been saying it was one of the biggest beats of the year alongside Spartan so I was quite happy with that. I brought out 'Work Rate Pro Vol 1' on December 12th too. I see the Work Rate series as a chance for fans to choose what they want me to release, especially because I'm always getting asked if I can make certain beats available for download. As long as the demand is there from the fans, I'd be happy to release 20 Work Rate Pros! The second installment is due for release on February 20th actually which has got Wiley's 'Mastered the Craft' and 'Joombi' instrumentals on there as well as some fresh new sick grime beats, so make sure you keep your eye out! Ah and not forgetting the 'New Wave' mixtape I released - i did that purely to help get some talented up and coming emcees some exposure really. I wanted to make sure it was UK-wide too so I made sure I brought in guys like Shifty and Wariko - I didn't want it to be strictly a London ting at all.  I was surprised at the positive reaction to be honest, it got almost 6;000 downloads in its first month on ITunes and obviously guys like Rival in particular have gone on to reach new heights since it dropped which is all really positive."
It's perhaps no wonder that he's forged a reputation for having such a high work rate, which is all the more impressive considering the quality of his production. Having said that, there must be some disadvantages to working so conscientiously? 

"The social life really suffers but I get used to it. My family sometimes get annoyed at me too because I'm not always around to attend family gatherings and things like  that but I'm doing what I wanna do at the end of the day. It's hard to explain because people don't always understand how driven I am and how much I want to be as successful as I possibly can be which does sound a bit selfish in a way. I often find myself arguing with the people closest to me about where I'm headed and how much work I'm doing but I know that it'll all pay off. I make sure to surround myself with positivity too, negativity is just case aside to be honest."
Over recent months, you may have also noticed references to 'The Elite', a production team consisting of Z-Dot himself and Dan Dare, a close friend and talented rap producer in his own right:

"We've been making beats together for about 2 years now so it seemed like a natural thing to do. We came up with the Elite idea about 8-10 months ago, purely for professional reasons - we run it like a business more than anything else and it helps us focus on bringing our collective thoughts together. He does more rap stuff, like Fem Fel's 'Put it in the Bag' for example, and I tend to focus on grime but when we come together, we tend to make the best stuff! We've actually had a few big meetings with major labels over the last month so I think big things are gonna happen for us."

Whilst some artists choose to remain quite detached from the mixing down side of production, it was also interesting to get Z's take on his understanding of the advantages of studio work:

"Ah I love all the studio stuff! To be honest, I feel at home in a studio and feel like I can always do my best work. I'm quite hands on and I'm not scared to help with track re-arrangement and sometimes even helping to write choruses!"
Taking this on board, I felt it only fair to ask who he enjoyed working in the studio with:  

"Lauren Mason is a really exciting singer and I really enjoy working with her. What's especially good about Lauren is her love for the proper dark grime beats. She actually bought my 'Fire Power' EP and was like 'Ah I love one track in particular' and it turned out to be 'Dirty Date' so I decided to make a VIP with a chorus just for her. She came back 5 days later with it vocalled and I was like 'Wow!' - its got the potential to be an absolute smash, it just sounds so sick! We've done a photo shoot together for the 'Dirty Money' single and that so fingers crossed we do well. As well as Lauren, I'd have to say I enjoy working with Wiley. Our work rates are both at a similar level so whenever we're together we just make stupid amounts of music!  Going off on a bit of a tangent, the most unusual request I've had was to do a grime remix for a Nelly Furtado tune but her label chose to release a bait dance remix instead. Having said that, my version could still get put out there!"
With his work obviously being appreciated by labels and more established international artists alike, ambitions must be high for 2011:

"This year I'm releasing my first real project, 'A New Light', a pre-album due out in April which I hope will serve as a true reflection of me as an artist (half instrumental / half vocal). Its more varied than my usual sorta stuff - I've kept it grime but there are a few meaningful tunes on there that demonstrate what else I can do. I've got the  big single 'Dirty Money' with Lauren Mason due out on the 6th March too so be sure to keep a look out. As well as that, I've got the 'Work Rate Pro Vol 2' EP coming out as on February 15th as I mentioned earlier and I generally wanna be releasing lots more music. I've got loads of beats just waiting to be heard or re-heard like the Devlin freestyle beat that I made about 3 years ago - I'm always getting hassled about that!"
As for others in the scene, its worth noting who Z sees having big parts to play this year:

"Looking back at 2010, I'd say Wiley had an amazing year with the 'Zip Files' release, 'Joombi' and of course, 'Radio Kid' - they demonstrate not only his work rate but just how good he still is. As for 2011, I think all the 'New Wave' stuff is really exciting - I reckon  guys like Rival and Merky Ace will have big years; Rival's vocal of 'Dirty Date' was sick and furthermore, I think the whole 'New Wave' scene is doing everything right. They've put the ground work in; going to radio, getting on Rinse sets and even jumping on things like UrbanFMTV have all helped get them established. On a production level, Spooky put in mad work rate last year so I expect him to do the same again this year. Got a lot of love for Cameo and Target too - as more commercial DJs they've fully repped grime so biggup to them and Ras Kwane too, he used to do it with his 'Homegrown' series. Finally, I want to give a special mention to bloggers too - they'll have a big role to play. The quality of writing has really improved over the last 6 months and guys like JP (Joseph Patterson) have helped get the scene exposure!"
As for the future of grime:

"I think the most important thing that grime is still lacking is professionalism. Obviously you've now got guys like Chipmunk, Devlin, Tinie Tempah and Kano, you're proper established artists, who've taken that professionalism to new levels and I think that's what grime emcees, deejays and producers have all got to do - working together is key. If we all worked together then I could see a proper grime tune getting a top 20 one day and that's the dream. I think DJs need to be more professional too in the sense that they should play what's good for what's good sake - DJs have a lot of power and influence and I think they could use it more to benefit he scene. What has been good to see though is the energy - grime has it's energy back, a lot more so than in previous years so long may in continue!"
Not only was it a pleasure to interview Z-Dot but what was particularly apparent from speaking to him was not only a well-measured sense of self-appreciation but a genuine love for grime. Whilst himself and Dan Dare look set for bigger things in 2011, I get the sense that Z will always be a port of call for people looking for a break. As he says himself, "working together is key". 
Biggup Z-Dot!




Sunday, 23 January 2011

#002 MIK

Since releasing his debut mixtape 'Workaholic' on Blatantly Blunt back in the summer of 2009, MIK has been earmarked as one of grime's most promising young emcees. 2010 saw the release of his hotly anticipated follow up project, 'Grime To Five', which built upon the success of 'Workaholic', drawing considerable praise from fans and fellow artists alike, most notably for delivering true, hard-hitting grime minus the bubblegum hooks that had typified the year's early releases. Such was the positive reception and subsequent demand, MIK ended the year with a slot on Logan Sama's 'Chosen Ones' on Kiss and a second release, 'The Five Hour Shift':

"2010 was a big year for me really. I brought out my first mixtape 'Workaholic' on Blantantly Blunt back in 2009 and got quite nice reception off the back of that so I kept grafting and brought out 'Grime to Five' in June last year. It was definitely one of my highlights so far, it got voted one of the top 3 mixtapes of the year and I was proud that I managed to keep it 100% pure, hard-hitting grime - people seemed to like that. I touched the rave scene a bit too, made it down to a No Hats No Hoods launch and got a good reception, think there's video footage on youtube if you wanna check that, but after going to a few other raves, I realised that I actually prefer the recording stuff. As for 'Chosen Ones' on Kiss, that was a really big look, another thing I'm definitely proud of."
He revealed the plan was for him to take a break after the June release of 'Grime To Five' but its success ensured that fans were soon bugging him for more music:

"'The Five Hour Shift' came about because of the reaction 'Grime To Five' got. I actually went quiet for a bit because I felt like I needed a rest mentally but the demand for more music was there almost straight away and I couldn't ignore it. I like working off the back of demand too - there's no point doing it if people aren't left wanting to hear more. With 'The Five Hour Shift', I just decided to put all the bangers on there as a little thing to keep the fans happy really and remind people of what I can do and still want to achieve."
2010 was also seen as a breakthrough year for a number of other fellow DJs and emcees alike, something MIK is also particularly proud of:

"For me, Spooky had such a big, big impact in 2010 - he released a lot of stuff and obviously Spartan made everyone sit up. I've always rated Rudekid aswell so yeah, he was another one doing his thing. The 'New Wave' lot - Merky, Rival etc were obviously about as well - definitely holding up the grime flag for the new generation of listeners. DJs slyly came back into it too which was refreshing to see. 2011-wise, I'm gonna say that it'll be a big year for Merky Ace and the Family Tree Collective but I wanna see a lot of producers come through too. Royal T is the one I think but guys like Relentless and Faze Miyake deserve to make it this year."
As for personal ambitions, MIK seems to have everything in place to make 2011 another memorable year:

"Well, I'm starting off this year by putting out a single called 'Do It' (produced by Screwface) which keeps getting banged out on Logan and that - we're shooting the video this coming Thursday (20th Jan). After that, I'm kinda looking to bring out another 5 or 6 singles and hopefully another two 5-track EPs. I'm aiming to have my next major project, which is gonna be called 'Overtime', finished sometime in November and in the meantime, I've started work on my own site which I want to have up and running professionally soon. It'd be good to get some more videos and visuals done too, so thats something else I'm focusing on."
Expectations are justifiably high! Biggup MIK. 





I manage to catch up with Spyro who speaks openly on a year of personal highlights, vinyl comebacks and the acquisition of a career-defining Blue Peter badge:

"2010 was a wicked year for me obviously. I got to fly everywhere, do shows all over Europe, not even just with Tinchy - I'm with Coda Music now so managed to get quite a few bookings all over the UK and play in cities and venues I'd never been to before. I also got back into making tunes again in 2010 and hopefully you'll be able to actually purchase them one day (laughs). Oh and Pitch Controllers, yeah that was a big, big look - really proud of it actually. There's not many DJ collectives about so it was a good thing for all of us involved. I did some more TV too, got on Live from Studio Five with Tinchy and even Blue Peter! It was kinda weird the first few times I was on but I'm used to it now."
Blissfully unaware of the privileges his Blue Peter badge entitled him too, I reminded Spyro that he could get at least half-price, if not free entry to hundreds of UK tourist attractions:

"Nahhhh don't lie?! You serious?! Ah I didn't even know that!" 
Now armed with this information, If not in the mix or on radio, you'll be most likely to find Spyro at Alton Towers and/or The London Dungeon. 

Since 2010 was such a comeback year for grime in many ways, I also asked for his opinions on the year's biggest artists and releases: 

"Ah for me you can't look much further than P Money but D Double had a big year too and I've got a lot of time for Kozzie - I just know when someone's gonna be someone and he will be someone in grime, he's got a lot of potential. Tunes wise, Woo Riddim was massive. Can't forget POW 2011 either and I really, really liked the Game Over Remix too. On a final note, I've got a lot of time for Swindle - he's one of the best producers around at the moment."
Picking up his final point about Swindle, I thought it poignant to ask about the slow but steady re-birth of grime vinyl, with labels like Butterz putting out a good number of quality releases on 12''. Often regarded as one of the most gifted DJs in the scene, it was interesting to get his views on the topic:

"Ah Vinyl is definitely a good thing, its one hundred percent the best idea i've heard for a long time in grime but whether it'll last or not is a different question. A lot of DJs  at the moment like me and Terror Danjah for example, prefer to use Serato for our sets so incorporating vinyl is quite difficult but the concept itself is a really good one."
Moving on and looking to 2011, I was keen to find out whether or not Spyro felt he could top the last twelve months:

"2010 was live but I wanna be everywhere this year. I wanna be more out there as a producer, I wanna get out to more places as a DJ and generally just get myself and my name in as many places as possible. Like I said before, I'm gonna be jumping on a lot more production bits this year - hoping to work with P Money and possibly MIK on a few tracks and I think me and JME are gonna do something. I did quite a bit of stuff for his album so I'm hoping he'll bless a few tunes for me!"
He was also positive about the prospects for the genre as a whole in 2011, making the link between the 'New Wave' and the more established producers who've been steadily and in some cases, emphatically returning to the fore, both of whom he sees playing a bit part in the continued expansion of the scene:

"I think 2011 is gonna be a big year - the door is definitely open for the 'New Wave' guys to make a big mark  it but it all depends on what they bring to the table in terms of releases, projects etc. At the same time, some of the instrumental guys like Terror Danjah, J Sweet, D.O.K and that are all coming back and making a big noise  too so you just don't know. It's kinda weird seeing old and new elements both coming to the fore in a way but it can only be good for grime."
An encoraging end to a thoroughly insightful interview. Biggup Spryo!



Hello and welcome to Uncle Albert, a blog dedicated to all things bass! Expect plenty of genre-hopping, cringeworthy puns and probably quite a few big words.