“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!