March 29, 2013 § Leave a comment
Who. What. Where. Wen.
Myself and Wen have talked about doing a feature for 45hz for over a year now. So with his meteoric rise over the past twelve months, we decided to take things in a slightly different direction and start a whole new mix series. This is Wen showing us the sounds that moved him into making beats himself. The sort of beats that influenced the dread grime he has become associated with.
(Sidenote: these mixes will not replace the mix series you know and love, it will be ran alongside the current one.)
By now, if people don’t know your name and what you do, I don’t know what they’ve been doing, but for them, can you give us a little run down on how you got here?
I basically started making beats when I was 16 and still in school, I had a lot of support from my friends around me which has always been strong and something I value highly. I sent my music to some mates who were playing at local nights, there were decent sound systems and I got to hear my tracks on them… I got addicted to this straight away. Every time one of these dances came up I was so hungry to make something new especially for it, I rallied stuff I heard or noticed the last time back through to my newest beats and it really helped me understand how to make my music sound the best it could in that situation. I continued doing this for a long time, with taste my style has changed quite a lot over the past few years, but I was still making music for that same reason.
Then I started to send stuff out past my close circle of friends. Which was pretty much one or two tunes to a few dj’s I was really into at the time, I thought they might play them on radio or something. I had tried sending to Youngsta but it was only one, Fossil I think.. Maybe that Lo-Fi refix aswell, but he never got back to me.
Then a while later I sent Dusk + Blackdown a few tracks, I had been listening to their Rinse show for about a year – which had a lot to do with my shift in tempo, they were playing some really fresh music and Blackdown always put tracklists up so I would seek out the ones I was feeling and get in touch, a lot of the producers were ‘new’ and quite happy to send me tracks, I got hooked on discovering all these new sounds which proved to be really accessible.
About 6 months after I started sending them tunes they played Takin’ Over, which was crazy and a real milestone. They continued to play my tracks for consecutive months, which I got addicted to (the whole locking in live and chattin to people on twitter who were listening too), one thing led to another and my bedroom music pastime escalated with them rapidly; I guested on their Rinse show (twice!), played the Keysound takeover at Fabric and have just dropped my EP on the label.
It feels really good to be a part of Keysound. I’ve found a home for my music.
The past twelve months gave you gifts that none of us local heads could have envisioned, do you feel that locally and further afield, the more leftfield approaches to bass music have become more acceptable?
2012 was a big year for me, I really got a grasp on a style I was happy with and got some support at the right time, from the right DJ’s and label + its affiliated artists which helped me gain some exposure. This whole 130 sound really evolved last year, and it’s kind of a thing now… not saying its fully established or anything, it is still really young and is shifting in so many directions which is healthy. It’s certainly been recognised and embraced by a handful of people who are in a position to push it.
I think locally it’s become more acceptable simply because we had opportunities to play our music on sound systems in Margate, at the same time I’ve been playing music from people I have been fortunate enough to meet and work with. The exposure of their stuff seems to have run almost parallel with mine, especially Epoch, the track we made together is the most leftfield ive contributed to, but it gets a mad reaction wherever I play it.
Collabs with Epoch, Visionist and Beneath under your belt and one with Gantz on the way, what is it about these producers that made you want to work with them?
I find their sounds really interest me, it’s all fresh, dark and underground but I can tell they are inspired in a similar way that I am. There’s a consensus in the direction were all travelling; while there are different speeds, colours and energies, there’s a focus and motivation. Those guys each have their own signature which is important, especially in collab’s – you need to bounce off each other and have a certain trait in your production to bring to the table, something that stands up in the track.
Working with producers is wicked, you learn a lot from certain people’s techniques and approach. If I’m honest the thought of working with vocalists, not singers though – MC’s, is a hell of a lot more exciting for me… But that’s a whole different thing.
So MC wise, who would you ideally want over your tracks? Do you have anything lined up in that direction soon?
I’d love to say I have, but I don’t at the moment – the 1Xtra thing is still sinking in to be honest haha I could probably ride that one out forever though. Thing is, now I’ve had a taste of what it sounds like live and improvised, I feel like I might prefer a spontaneous ‘freestyle’ over my beat, as oppose to a carefully crafted ‘song’ written with the MC.
Maybe it’s a thing where I’m not quite ready to make a track with an MC yet, think I need that phase of hearing them freestyle over my tune – which I guess I’m beginning to get involved in at the moment with the Roll Deep 1Xtra scenario and Illaman spitting over the second half of one of my sets last year.
There is a handful of MC’s I have always wanted to work with, but most of them are doing really big things now and aren’t so involved in the scene I hold close to my heart– but that scene is of a moment that’s happened and passed by. I’d like to think something similar will come back around, I feel like there’s an opportunity that’s currently being missed. The music were doing is instrumental, there’s room for some 130 MC’s, maybe the tempo change might throw them off to begin. But really it gives them more room, more opportunity to style out their flows… where are all the vocalists who are bored of 140? Not all of them made it to the popular charts or mobo’s.
Back to the question though, if were talking grime MC’s its pretty much any of the ones I chop into my tracks. Would love to do music with Trim, Skepta, Wiley, Raider, Dot Rotten or Lil Nasty; but there’s road rap artists I would equally like to work with – Youngs Teflon, Loopz, Colours and Fix Dot’m.
What was the process involved in picking the tracks for the Commotion EP on Keysound? I know you sent a whole load over so were the tracks you used chosen by Dusk + Blackdown or did you both have an equal hand in the selection process?
I think Nightcrawler was the track that tipped them over wanting to put together an EP with me, I’d already written Spark It which was on a similar flex. There was gonna be two slightly chilled tracks on the flip, but after I made Commotion we decided to go in and do 4 dance floor tracks, Road just felt right to finish and balance the collection. It was exciting to keep that one off the radar until the release. It’s actually the oldest track on there, but a lot of the reviews highlighted it as the show stealer.
Lets talk about your mix. It’s a first for us in the respect that it is an “influences” mix , so does the tracklisting follow your own personal timeline through music?
Yeah, I tried to keep it as true to my discovery of the music included as I could. I treated it more as a compilation project than a live mix; there are cuts from radio shows and even album skits that contribute to an atmosphere that I couldn’t achieve through a standard mix. I had so many tracks I wanted to include but it would have been a mess or way too long to listen to in one sitting, so I had to cut the list down to make it coherent.
For me it was a good opportunity to reminisce, I hope it creates similar nostalgia for anyone that listens.
Thanks for doing this man, shout outs?
Shouts: Dusk + Blackdown and the Keysound Family, Seerious Bass Family and everyone at home, Epoch reppin’ in NZ, South Fork Sound in NY, all the bristol crew, Butterz, yourselves at 45Hz, OliMurky, Parris, Score5, AJP, Leicester crew at Sous Sol Project, everyone that has booked me this past year, and all the people who have played / shared / hyped / listened to my music along the journey, its been commotional so far. More to come from me in 2013 I assure you..