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January 12, 2017Feature

Coming from the heart of London, Plasitician is one of the most respected and decorated figures in the now internationally booming Grime scene. Having a star-studded catalogue of collaborators to his name, Plastician's real legacy will lie not in the big names he has worked with, but the genres he has championed from their very origins. He spoke to us about his role in developing the Grime sound and how it became a notable UK Hip-Hop and Electronic genre

“The only way to promote yourself was on pirate radio and in raves so we never really could grasp how many people were even listening…”

 

To say that Grime has risen in popularity over the past couple of the years is an insultingly obvious statement. Skepta, JME, Wiley and Chip have all become household names, as their sound managed to take a foothold on the international stage. One of the most important and overlooked aspects of their sound is the instrumental one.

The beats that dictate Grime’s trademark tempo, which sets it apart from any other Hip-Hop genre, have been developed and perfected over time by a sea of producers a long with a multitude of influences from Garage to Drum n’Bass.

Plastician is one of the founding fathers of the UK’s flagship Urban sound, growing from being a DJ at Underground raves and Pirate radio to now having collaborated with Skepta and many more, all while starting his own Terrorhythm label and having his own show on Rinse FM. Being involved from the start has given him, not only a respected standing within the genre, but also a bank of memories that he shared with us.


How has the scene changed since you first got involved?


It’s completely different. When I started, we didn’t even have YouTube, Soundcloud, iTunes, Spotify – the list goes on and on. The only way to promote yourself was on pirate radio and in raves so we never really could grasp how many people were even listening, barring a few internet forums people discussed music on (UK Garage Worldwide, Uptown Records Forum, Dubplate.net were the only few I remember from then). In terms of getting your music out there, that was vinyl. Even getting something on a CD was rare back then. It was just pirate radio, doublet cutting and record shops so that was how many of us met.

With MCs getting such traction and exposure how has your own career developed since?


I have been running a record label called Terrorhythm for 15 years now so I’ve always had an outlet for whatever music is interesting me. That takes up a lot of my time in the week and I try to make music when I can, but I don’t have as much time as I used to. I used to spend a lot of my time DJing for MCs until around 2005 but my own career was taking a separate path, which by 2006 had established me as an artist in my own right so I’ve done less shows as a selector for an MC and been able to play as a producer DJ more.

I still work closely with a lot of MCs though, and have DJ’d for Skepta, JME, Jammer, Mez, Jammz, Blacks, P Money, Mic Ty, Elf Kid, Blakie, Snowy and countless others just in the last 12 months alone, so I’m still very much active within the Grime circle.

I just have different avenues artistically. I have always been known as one of the people who helped shape the dubstep scene from its beginning as well, so I’ve always been heavily involved in playing at dubstep shows, producing dubstep and also putting on some of the world’s first ever dubstep shows in 2003 at the same time. These days you can hear me playing more emerging scenes, right now helping to establish the Wave sound on my show on Rinse for the past three years. I like championing new music that excites me – that’s never changed but the types of music I push is always evolving.

On top of that, how has the instrumental/producer scene developed as a scene itself? There is more and more instrumental grime on the go, is that true?

Yeah people can have a go at producing pretty quickly and easily these days so new producers and labels are popping up all over the place – eventually, these end up on the radio and then can begin putting on parties and there’s now lots of great shows all over the UK for the acts to play at.

What about other UK Underground genres; Drum n’Bass, Garage, how have you seen them develop over the past few years?

All the genres continue on their paths, evolving all the time. It’d take forever to even try and summarise how things have gone over the past few years for these genres. They’re all very active though, let’s keep it at that for now!

You put up a video on your Facebook of you playing in the O2 with a load of Grime MCs.

That was a real Underground moment, because the scene has gotten so big is there still scope for those sort of things to happen?

I think even back then something like that was a real one off. The fact I had Dizzee, Skepta, Footsie, D Double E and Jammer even just together in one room was something you rarely see now, unless it’s backstage at a huge festival show – and even then the likelihood of them all deciding to jump on a DJ’s set together are a million to one. I think it’s unlikely we’ll see something like that happen again, unless everyone involved is getting paid healthily to make it happen but even then, I still think most MCs are a little more inclined to play sets off PAs these days as opposed to passing the mic around in a DJ booth. I enjoyed watching what Frisco put together recently for SB.TV ‘Pirate Mentality’ – while that didn’t happen in a club, if anyone is capable of pulling a DJ and MC set of that ilk together again it will definitely be Frisco.

Probably the most key aspect of the Grime scene is how closely knit together it is, has it stayed like that over the past while or do you see people drifting further apart, is it hard to get in touch with people?

No I don’t think so from my experience. I think the respect all of the older heads have for each other now is so strong because we recognise the people who drift away and reappear every time something becomes more or less popular. Many of us have known each other for 10/15 years so it’s always great to sit down or work with somebody we know who just “gets it”.


Do you think producers have gotten enough credit for the rise of Grime? In comparison to Hip-Hop, the music is much more orientated around the Electronic and productional aspect but seems to be overlooked in the public’s eye?


I think there’s pockets of more producer led Grime events which have a great following. If you head down to nights like Boxxed, or Jamz (run by Butterz) for example – those are both events more instrumentally centric but often do incorporate vocals. It really depends what it is you like about Grime. Be it instrumentals or lyrics, there’s somewhere to find what you’re after and I definitely feel people like me, Rude Kid, Maniac, Terror Danjah, Mumdance, Heavytrackerz are good examples of people who’ve done well and gotten exposure from the production side of things down the years.




There have been plenty of Grime/Garage infusions but you’ve stayed almost solely on a Grime sound, was that intentional or did you ever think of moving towards a different sound?

I’ve never solely been on a Grime sound, but can see why people would consider me that way as everything I do has been influenced heavily by grime or dubstep. It’s not been intentional but those two styles are just in my blood now so they build the foundations to however I wish to take my sound to new pastures in the future.

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