Logan Sama has been an integral part of the Grime scene for the best part of 10 years. From starting out life as a Garage deejay back in 2001 to securing career-defining shows on first, 'Rinse FM' and now London's 'Kiss', Logan has established himself as arguably the scene's most revered ambassador. Fueled by an unrelenting passion for the genre, his radio shows in particular can be accredited with spreading Grime's energy to audiences worldwide and he remains as intent as ever on securing public approval for a scene which he considers to be the most exciting in the UK. Fresh from releasing the 'Summer Sampler Vol 1' on his 'Earth 616' imprint, I managed to catch up with him on my holidays from a field in France (via numerous signal failures) on everything from taking Grime to Ibiza to the downfalls of social networking:
"Towards the end of last year I went out to New York for a while and did a few gigs to show everyone over there what Grime was about. I'd love to get over there again this year at some point but I'm quite busy as always. Besides that it's just been a case of doing as much as possible. I've got Skepta's 'Wedding Bells' tour coming up in October and I might be doing a few things for Lord of The Mics 3. I'd love to take some form of Grime stage show out to Ibiza next year too which would be a really good look for the scene. There's a whole different generation of people going out to Ibiza every summer now with different listening habits - when you see 'Rinse vs Fwd' able to command a venue like 'Amnesia', you know things are changing!"
Unbeknownst to most, it was Garage and pioneers like Todd Edwards and Zed Bias that first captured Logan's musical imagination:
"I was a kid who loved Garage! Unfortunately, people stopped innovating and decided to start reproducing the stuff that worked previously. By 2001-2002 it had stagnated and I got the feeling that money and commercial success had killed Garage's experimental side. I got into it all through pioneers like Todd Edwards, Wookie, MJ Cole, Sunship and Steve Gurley but the only place people were really experimenting with the music was through the underground, which was thriving on pirate radio at the time. I actually started out playing solely Garage but the exciting stuff was coming from what would turn into the Grime/Dubstep scene - guys like Zinc, Geeneus, Dizzee and Wiley. As a result, I found myself playing less and less Garage and I started to turn my attention to the underground stuff, to the point where I decided to focus entirely on what was to become Grime. The emcees were raw and exciting and they were representing their culture independently. The music was sick aswell - you'd never heard anything like it anywhere before. After a few years, I managed to get my own show on 'Rinse' and that, combined with being around all the artists, cemented it for me. I was directly involved with the scene and everyone that was responsible for making this exciting new music. I remember cutting dub plates and going along to loads of different studios - I had access to everything and I saw my job as promoting it and luckily it's all worked out for me.
I'm sure that like Garage, we lost a lot of Grime fans when people turned their back on the scene after securing commercial success back in '06 too by the way but I've always focused on keeping people up to date with what Grime has to offer. That's actually partly why I set up the labels: 'Earth 616' is more concerned with instrumental releases but 'Adamantium' still puts out vocal work. I've actually been quite involved with quite a lot through 'Adamantium' actually - Jammer, Trim and Chipmunk have both released stuff through it and Scorcher's first mixtape 'Simply The Best' was put out on it too."
Despite the success of his show on Kiss, Logan's slot (alongside all other specialist music shows broadcast on the station between 11 and 1am) was cut by an hour back in early 2010, a decision that Logan admits he understands but still considers an 'annoyance':
"It's a shame that commercial radio doesn't really back underground music in general, especially when its spawning some of the stuff that now fills their daytime schedules - it's just a bit of an annoyance really. Grime emcees are getting number 1 records for the first time ever right now so you think it'd be the perfect time to support grass roots music in the UK. Sadly, economics dictate that daytime playlists are marginalised which only works to the detriment of music to be honest. Radio seems to be built purely to 'stay on in the background' as opposed to actually being listened to these days. Having said all that, Kiss is still an amazing platform and I've been fortunate to work with some amazing people over the years - it's not all doom and gloom at all. It is what it is."
Subsequently Logan launched the 'After Hours' series, a concept that essentially serves as an extension of his radio show:
"The 'After Hours' concept is just making the best of a bad situation really - it was born out of having the show cut down. There's always people willing to come and film so we're basically extending the show. Like you say, it's done quite well and its there for everyone on YouTube so people can always go back and watch it again. It sorta chronicles a bit of Grime history in a way as well, it's archived. I wanted to make sure I was utilising technology too - back in the day people were happy swapping tapes but nowadays people want to see stuff too so it's a case of making the most of multimedia. Kids grow up differently now don't forget - I used to be happy with a TDK!"
Looking beyond the realms of radio, Logan is a firm advocate of independent Grime labels and their forrays into the world of electronic music thus far:
"I think they've done really well - it's not just a case of them getting the music out there and played by different audiences but also collaborating, which brings new thinking to the genre. Labels like 'Butterz' have gone out and tried to accommodate new ideas and they've capitalised on it to their success, making the music more accessible to a totally different group of listeners in the process. Its great that they're doing that really: the more people getting into Grime through those channels, the better. If people know about the LV remix of Trim's 'I Am' then they're likely to hear about Preditah's remix, which in turn could lead them to buying his EP which is out on my label in a few
With this in mind, Logan believes a change in attitude holds the key to Grime earning the recognition and respect it deserves:
"If we treat it like its an amazing thing then everyone else will believe it. Unfortunately people in the scene are too quick to talk down about it and a lot of people involved tend to take it for granted. It naturally forms a negative picture of the whole scene and thats a shame. I guess bad mouthing is Grime's biggest downfall, it's not good at all. Other people will look at it from an outside perspective, especially on Twitter for example, and will form their own opinions directly from what's being said. Dubstep never had that problem - they didn't have a load of egotistical artists running the genre down all the time. They just got on with it and promoted it like the exciting new sound it was.
Looking at the bigger picture, I guess social networking has been brilliant for Grime in some ways but at the same time, it has been a problem. A lot of characters lack the required professionalism needed and their frustrations will only undermine the scene, especially when they're letting people know on Twitter every 5 minutes. We need to embrace Grime for what it is and promote the fact that it too, is an exciting genre."
Looking at the scene's current crop of emerging talent, Logan has been particularly impressed by two producers in particular:
"I'm really interested in the stuff that Faze Miyake and Preditah are doing at the moment - they've really come in and taken over the mantle of hottest new producers from Teddy and Rudekid, who are now established producers themselves. I just want to see people advance and put out good Grime tracks to be honest. You can see now that people are a lot more accepting of music that isn't just your standard, radio-friendly daytime pop so I think there is room for Grime to develop. Unless you're on a major label with a massive marketing budget then making music like everybody else isn't appealing anymore - more left field, quirky music seems to be making its way into the charts now. You can't forget nobody has had a top 10 with a Grime record since Dizzee Rascal's 'Stand Up Tall' back in 2004. Its about time we put some work and effort in and put out and effectively promote some quality songs. A lot more logic is needed when it comes to releases, that's the be all and end all."
As far as the future's concerned, Logan is looking forward to helping Grime grow to fulfill its undoubted raw potential:
"The 'Summer Sampler Vol 1' is out now which consists of 4 tracks that were previously unavailable on vinyl - I thought it was important for music to put them out there. Its a strictly limited edition release; only 200 units are available and 50 were already pre-sold. Following on from that, I've got a series of artist-driven EPs to be released - 4-track projects with Preditah, Davinche and P Jam can be expected and I've also been working with NuKlear on a few things. There's also the 'Keepin' It Grimy' project which has been running for the last 6 months which is concerned with promoting good, Grime journalism essentially. We're not talking interviews in KFC or car park freestyles - I'm on about real journalism. It's a big scene full of amazing talent and I want to make it look good and professional like it should - I want to put across how exciting it really is. The idea isn't to accommodate or pander to the mainstream. It's taking Grime for what it is and expanding it - we're not changing it, we're taking its good elements and letting everybody know.
I guess it also serves a place for young people to come to with their ideas too - I'm keen for bloggers to embrace the idea and get some accredited work done. 'Keepin' It Grimy' is a whole brand though - I'm hoping to put together some live events and broadcasts in the future and the idea is to work and collaborate with people in other industries to put some exciting, Grime-related projects together. I want to take this culture to places its not been to yet; a job half done is a job done badly. I want to take my time with everything and make sure the legacy lasts."
A few last words:
"I don't wanna be Tim Westwood or Chris Moyles - they're great at what they do but I can only be Logan Sama. I'm the best there is at what I do and that's been my mantra for years - it's done me well so far and I plan to be here for a long time!"
Buy the Earth 616 Summer Sampler Vol.1 + other exclusive Grime vinyl via "Keepin' It Grimy': http://keepinitgrimy.bigcartel.com/
And don't forget to check out Logan on Kiss: http://www.totalkiss.com/logan/