Having produced arguably one of the defining tracks of a generation back in 2004, Dexplicit has remained a dedicated ambassador of the UK underground scene. Admittedly surprised by the magnitude of 'Forward Riddim' / Pow's success, Dexplicit has spent the last 7 years producing for a whole spectrum of UK artists. Currently working closely with a number of Grime emcees and producers alike, Dexplicit has had an exceptionally busy 2011 to date. I was lucky enough to catch up with him last week on everything from a deep set love of melodies to the story behind 'Pow':
"I've been really busy recently, especially since I'm producing a lot of club stuff at the moment. I've just sorted out Preeyah Kalidas' new track 'It's a Problem' featuring Scorcher and I've also worked on a track called 'Aim For Me' by Meleka. There's also a bassline / garage track that I've been working on with Lauren Mason. Emcee wise, I've had 'Pull Up Riddim' released via Launchpad Records and 'Gas Leak' featuring Big Narstie which has had a lot of good feedback. There was also 'Groundwork' which was released on Dimples' EP - that was another all-star track like 'Pull Up Riddim' and saw the return of More Fire Crew's Neeko. More recently, I've sorted out a track called 'Favourite Game' with 9 Milli Major so look out for that. I was actually hoping to release my own EP not so long ago but a few instrumentals were vocalled so I've had to put that on the back-burner for the moment. When it finally is released, it'll be called 'Wizard of the Raves' - it's actually all pressed up and ready to go so hopefully I can get that together once the vocalled tunes are aired.
It's been nice to get back to producing because for the last 2 years or so I was deejaying a lot. I realised that the tunes I was making were dominating my sets and I'd made them purely to play out. I decided that I should perhaps switch focus and so for the last year or so I've aimed at producing as much as I can for the scene as a whole."
As with a number of producers I've spoken to over the last few months, Dexplicit accredits his dad with first introducing to him to the world of music although not many could claim they mixed with the likes of David Rodigan as a teenager:
"Ah it was my dad, straight up. He was a reggae producer and had his own band - he was actually involved with David Rodigan and everything he was doing at the time. He first showed me a few things when I was about 13 and by the time I was 15, I'd learnt how to put a track together. From there, I was hooked and it just carried on naturally. I used to make jungle tunes first - I used to proper love jungle as a school kid. After that, the Garage thing happened and it was hard not to be caught up in that - before long I was making Garage and all the old jungle heads accused me of selling out (laughs). I guess I've always made what I love. I'm never satisfied making this genre or that genre, I just make whatever I like!"
A veteran of the underground scene, Dexplicit is quick to define his own sound as 'energy-driven' but insists that melodies are always at the creative heart of whatever he produces:
"I guess I define my sound as energy-driven club music that retains melody or something like that. When I'm making a track, I'll envision the tune in a club but not from a deejay perspective - I'll be in the crowd raving! If it makes me want to jump up and hype around then I know the tune is coming along nicely - I don't even consider finishing a tune until it makes me feel like that! I love melodies toot though - I always try and incorporate a good melody in every track. If you can capture energy and melody in equal amounts it can be very powerful. One of the problems I have with producing so many different tracks is working out where to start - it can be difficult starring at a blank canvas. I usually start with the drums and tend to see what happens. The odd time when I'm out of the studio, melodies will just come into my head and I'll have to get back and capture them on screen as soon as I get back but that doesn't happen too often. I suppose i like it best when it all just comes together naturally from a blank canvas though!
When I'm producing, I much prefer to be in the studio on my own - I enjoy the vibe. A lot of people don't understand how I produce, I'm always chopping and changing patterns and people often get confused so I find it easier on my own. I actually caught myself the other day drawing my hand towards myself, almost summoning more from this tune I was putting together!"
Despite the enduring success of Lethal Bizzle's 'Forward Riddim' back in 2004, Dexplicit admits he didn't see the instrumental's potential at first:
"I actually built that tune at my friend's house and he had a setup on his bedroom floor - I finished it in about half hour, maybe 40 minutes - it was really quick and as with all the tracks I make, whatever I've just put together tends to be my favourite until I've rinsed it to death. I didn't anticipate the success of it though, not at all. I played the instrumental to a lot of people but nobody picked it out except Bizzle. There was only really Slick D who used to play it out in his sets - Lethal actually heard it for the first time alongside the rest of More Fire Crew through Slick D. Lethal Stopped and was like 'WHO MADE THIS?!' and everyone pointed at me. It was pretty mad really."
With Teddy's 2011 refix of the original charting at number 38 on the UK Top 40 back in December, Pow's legacy is unquestioned and Dexplicit feels the track has been instrumental in Grime's development over the last few years:
"I think its done a few significant things for the scene - that tune showed that it is possible to put out a completely un-dilluted grime track with zero radio support. No one supported us at the time at all and the police would often shut down PAs, plus internet support was nothing like it is now and yet we still charted on Christmas week! More than anything it demonstrated unity in a way - despite all the hurdles, it showed that when everybody comes together, big things can be achieved. I think 'Pow 2011' was a gentle reminder of the original's appeal - I don't actually think they had to make it so commercially viable because the emcees who featured on the track chart anyway. It was still good to see it out there though."
Looking to the future, Dexplicit is pleased to see Grime artists finally 'getting their business on' and is full of praise for the rise of new independent labels:
"Everyone is getting their business on now which is what the scene has been missing for a long time. The scene has been churning out big tracks for years so it made sense for people to release stuff professionally and its made for a much more solid scene than it ever used to be. Guys like Royal-T and Preditah are particularly inspiring too - the guys are at the forefront of the sound and they're not even from London! It just shows the appeal that grime has and its a beautiful thing really. The more people that get involved and help contribute, the better! I think that feeds in to how open everything is now too and not just grime either - even pop music is seeing a change in thinking. The way genres are blurring together is great and I'm sure it'll carry on. It's a lot more fun for deejays now too - a lot of people who used to focus on one specific sound now go to clubs and are able to play whatever they like. There's no pressure anymore."
As a talented deejay himself, Dexplicit explains he is still available for bookings but isn't actively promoting due to his commitments in the studio:
"I'm still available to be booked but I've been so focused on producing, I've not really bothered to put myself out there - its like tunnel vision at the moment! I'm doing a lot of artist-based stuff so it takes up a lot of my time, I end up just churning out track after track. I do love deejaying though - not only do you get to test out new tunes, you get to witness how people react to them first hand. I used to play an hour of my own tunes in every set I did, wherever I was in the world and seeing that reaction is crazy inspiring. It is hard to balance the two though - I think its important to concentrate on either producing or deejaying at any one time because like i've done, you can always switch back and forth."
Despite working on an array of projects already in 2011, Dexplicit has much more in the pipeline, starting with the launch of a new artist-driven EP series:
"I'm gonna be starting the 'Rave Locker' series as the next project and the first one will be with Big Narstie. I'm hoping to release a good number of those - they're basically artist-driven EPs full of club madness! I've also got the 'Rise of the Centaur' EP due for release and another one lined up but I'm waiting for those vocalled tracks to be put out before I release all my instrumental work. There's also a release due out on my label, 'DXP Recordings', from Skilioso called 'Ultra Man' and something from P Jam on the horizon too. I am definitely looking to take the label to new heights so we'll see how that goes. I should be putting out an LP too but it'll be on somebody else's label - I won't say just who yet though!"
+ don't forget to grab a copy of 'Pull Up Riddim' on vinyl via Launchpad from 'Once Upon A Grime': http://onceuponagrime.bigcartel.com/product/pull-up-2011-vinyl-out-3rd-july