As one half of arguably grime's most influential duo and driving force behind the excellent 'Butterz' label, Elijah has brought credibility to a genre often belittled for its shortcomings. Through a combination of hard work and an understanding of what is required, he's played an integral part in grime's resurgence over the last 12 months:
"In 2010, I started the label and managed to get some good releases out - one from Terror, one from TRC, D.O.K and then we had the 'Quality Sreet' EP consisting of tracks from SRC, Mr Mitch and Royal-T. It was almost a case of rounding everybody up together really - I wanted to make sure guys like Swindle and S-X, people I thought were gonna do a lot over the next few years, were sorta united under the same cause you know. In turn, all the music we've put together for the label has been kept quiet deliberately and its only now we're ready to unleash the onslaught so to speak. People who don't know how it all works are gonna be like 'RAHHHH how did they do that?!' if you know what I mean? We've made sure that we've kept things building up nicely to a point but for each release we've done, I've been prepared months in advance. Take Royal-T for example, at the moment he looks like a powerhouse with his releases - he's got the 'Orangeade' release, his Yasmin remix and lots of other stuff in the pipeline but its done like that deliberately. Making sure lots of things are firing off at once is a big look - it keeps people interested.
On a more personal note, 2010 was a year of first times for me - everything I did musically and deejay wise was new. I played Room One at Fabric, played at FWD and just generally did lots of different stuff. I didn't actually repeat anything either so it was a very good year in that sense. I even got the chance to do some parties in Barcelona with the 'Numbers' gang actually which was especially sick!"
With a weekly slot on Rinse and an ever-increasing, dedicated fanbase, Elijah and Skilliam's on-air influence cannot be underestimated - they've come along way since first spinning tracks on their University radio station back in 2007:
"I started with the Butterz blog and spent a lot of time just out, raving and taking everything in really. After a bit, people got wind of the blog and getting new tunes got easier and before long, I got into deejaying and from there I got more and more involved. I used to have access to the decks down at the University station and went there purely to practice. I was there when 'Grime Forum' started back in 2008 too and through helping set that up, I met guys like Royal-T, Z-Dot and SB who all used the forum, so I've been playing their tunes for time now. It was never a case of me being on some sick A&R ting if that's what you're thinking (laughs), it's just been a case of steady progression."
Combine this with the success of the increasingly prolific 'Butterz' label and progression is very much the optimum word:
"It's been a case of me looking to angle things in a certain way in order to make grime as big as it can and should be. I've taken a bit of inspiration from dubstep but grime's its own worst enemy when it comes to professionalism - nobody was really putting grime out on the market in any capacity so it was gonna be impossible for the scene to expand in the way people wanted it to. I guess I'm just trying to provide the best service possible - as a grime customer, I know what I want to see and I'm trying to do that with Butterz. I think that through doing things professionally and making sure releases are marketed and promoted in the right way, I can help help get some recognition as a genre within the electronic music bracket, the instrumental stuff especially."
One of the secrets to Butterz' success has not only been the sheer number of releases, but the quality, typified by S-X's iconic 'Woo Riddim':
"It just made sense really, a complete no-brainer. It was the biggest grime tune about last year and people hype us up as one of the biggest grime labels so it made sense to merge the two, it just had to happen! True to form, its been our best selling vinyl to date. I reckon it was a bit of shock to people too, we managed to catch quite a few people off-guard with the release. It's been mutually beneficial though - ever since we pressed the vinyls, the label's had a lot of new attention and sales of our other stuff has increased. I think the fact we managed to get it out as one of the first releases of the year, before lots of other labels got their first tunes out, meant that it was all people could really talk about for the 2 weeks post-christmas turkey! The best thing about the tune itself is the fact that it works cross-genre too - Ramadanman and Ben UFO were both asking about it before we released it on vinyl and were impressed by how it's done. I think we'll actually be looking to put Rama's 'Woo Glut' bootleg out on a white-label or something over the next few months - its been a huge release for us."
Continuing along the iconic theme, the latest Butterz release has been confirmed as Treble Clef's 2005 classic 'Ghetto Kyote', a track synonymous with grime's pirate-radio era:
"It's an unbelievable tune - it's a mutual favourite of mine and Skilliam's and it just made sense to re-release it. In my mind it's a totally risk-free venture too - I don't mind if it sells or doesn't sell, its more of a personal thing really. There was a topic on Grime Forum about it a few months back and I just thought, 'Fuck it, why not?' - I guess I'm just trying to turn people's heads!"
2010 also saw the first of three specially organised 'Butterz' nights at East Village, each with a different theme but united under the same cause - rejuvinating the rave:
"To be honest, between November when were threw the first one, to January, there were zero grime raves in London. I'd have actually had no gigs without those nights thinking about it - I did a couple of FWD nights but aside from those, I don't think I'd deejayed in London for 6 months, which is crazy when you think about it. The first night was to celebrate Terror Danjah's album launch - we had Terror, Kode9, D.O.K and co down for that one. We got the 'Pitch Controllers' guys down for the second night and we went back to basics with the 3rd night - Swindle with myself and Skilliam alongside Dexplicit, P Jam and Champion. If you think about it though, despite getting booked overseas and in other cities and selling lots of vinyls and tees, what good is all that success without being able to play out in your own backyard? If you can't do that then there's a problem so those nights kinda solved that for us. I felt they helped rejuvinate that rave vibe too - we're on Rinse and you can download our mixes and podcasts and whatever but that's only fifty-percent of the experience - you don't get that feeling just listening at home, you need to witness it out on a proper system surrounded by other like-minded people you know? We made sure we all went no holds barred with the selections at East Village too!"
As for deejaying further afield:
"Goonies in Birmingham was mental - If I could go to raves like that all over the country regularly then I'd be a happy man. It's lively and they all know their shit so you know the crowd are gonna appreciate what you're playing. As for abroad, I've not had a bad experience yet. You sometimes worry that it could be shit but I mean, I played in Amsterdam with Joker and Swindle and that was one of the best nights I've played at. When people don't really know what you're about, which is often the case abroad, you know that you're gonna be playing to open minds which is re-assuring - whatever you play, they'll get into and go mad for. Skream could go to a place like Amsterdam and play a grime set and they'd still love it - over here, people would get arsey and complain, it's just a different attitude! I guess everywhere has its good and bad points though. Can't forget Glasgow either, I've played their twice and the crowd were so on point!"
With a catalogue of releases, a well-stocked store and big plans in the pipeline, 2011 looks set to be even more Butterz:
"As you get bigger, I think it's even more important to stay level-headed and carry on doing what you're doing. The thing to do is add to what you've already got and bring things in or move things sideways, mix things up a bit. Our next step is vocal stuff so that's something to look out for. Along with instrumental grime, it doesn't get pushed professionally enough and I feel like I can contribute to that. We're just waiting on the green light for lots of different things - once we get that then we can get started properly. The idea is to keep people on their toes, maintain that shock value - there's no point doing the same thing over and over again; I'd drive myself mad and I'd drive grime mad. I'm just trying to keep in that customer mindset you know? I went to University, got my degree and studied these things so hopefully if people carry on responding well to what we're doing then we'll be successful!"
BUY BUTTERZ: http://butterzrecords.bigcartel.com/
LISTEN TO BUTTERZ: Every Thursday 1-3am on Rinse @ http://rinse.fm/
BOOK BUTTERZ: Tom@Elasticartists.net