Hard beats, dirty bass and sharp lyrical conquests
Starkey by Dan Wilton

US grime innovator Starkey provides an epic mix of hard beats, dirty bass and sharp lyrical conquests this week, featuring a Who’s Who of grime artists as well as a few surprises.

Clash caught up with Starkey to chat mixes, melodies and – of course – grime.

Tell us about your mix and why you chose some of the selected tracks.

This mix is just a cross-section of the music I’m feeling right now. It’s pretty much my typical style of quick mixes and keeping things moving. I really like to blend a lot of different styles, from grime to dubstep to hip hop. That’s where our whole ‘street bass’ mentality comes from. To single out a few tunes, I dropped a bunch of tracks that are coming out on the labels I’m part of, Slit Jockey & Seclusiasis, including tracks from J-Sweet, DS1’s amazing ‘Lost Memories’, Dev79 and Slix, DNAEBEATS as well as a few tunes from Sduk’s debut full-length. I also dropped Desto’s crazy remix of Krampfhaft’s ‘Hyper Dreaming’ which is coming out on the Dutch label Rwina, whom I’ve done a few things for in the past, as well as my favourite track right now, Swindle’s ‘Ringworm’.

Do you have a set process for putting together a mix?

Unless it’s something really specific I’m going after, not really. I kind of just throw a bunch of tracks into a crate in Serato and as I’m mixing think about what would sound good blending in next. My organisation of tracks has definitely gotten a lot better from doing that run of Daily Dose of Dubstep mixes for 1Xtra in which I was playing like 45 or so tracks in an hour mix every other week.

You seem to be exploring the melodic side of your music a lot more these days, including on your upcoming EP – is there a reason for that?

I’ve always been about melodies. That’s the part of the music that keeps you coming back for repeat listens: vocals and melodies. When I sit down to write, I don’t think about writing anything specific, or trying to mimic some kind of sound, I let the music dictate the direction things go. On ‘Open the Pod Bay Doors’, I’ve got prepared piano, guitars and vocals. Then ‘Blood Roses’ is a straight dancefloor grime-ish beat. Somehow it all works for me. I’m not trying to pigeonhole my music or latch onto whatever people think is cool today.

Do you see yourself as a grime artist?

Grime is my favourite music of all time. The energy in it is absolutely amazing, even when things are halftime and dark. It’s really influenced my musical output back to day one when I started producing as Starkey, and Dev79 and I were two of the first people in the US to play the music on radio and in the clubs. But am I a grime artist? I think that’s all in your perception of things and for the listener to decide. I hate pigeonholing anything. I mean, to say that someone like Swindle is a grime artist… yeah, most of the music he makes can fall in that category, but it’s also dubstep, it’s also some kind of funk hybrid at times, sometimes hip hop. Genres exist so people can write about things and know where to put things on the shelf or on iTunes. There is a sound that is associated with that ‘classic’ period in grime, and yes… I have moments in some of my records that feel like they could be pulled from that time, but if I were to go on the grime forum and say ‘Open the Pod Bay Doors’ is grime, it clearly isn’t. Haha. The ending is sort of… but that’s about it. I think I remember reading on Twitter, Sx saying something along the lines of how in the UK some of his tracks like ‘Woo Riddim’ are considered grime, but if he was American it would be hip hop. I find those kinds of things amusing.

There’s an element of various UK sounds to a lot of your tracks – were you influenced by a lot of UK acts over the years?

Yeah. The UK has a rich music history. My first big influence growing up was the Beatles, and then there were bands like Mogwai and Radiohead, Portishead, Tricky, Spiritualized, and others that I got really into. When I was living in London and going to school back in 2001, I got introduced to the garage scene and The Streets ‘Has it Come to This’ dropped when I was over there. To this day I still really love that track. So, I kind of kept in touch with what was going on and that’s how I got really into grime in the early days.

Tell us about your Seclusiasis label.

Seclusiasis is a label I run with Dev79. We release all different kinds of ‘club’ music, but have mostly been interested in this idea of ‘street bass’, the term we coined a few years back with a series of mixtapes and 12’s. We also run another label with El Carnicero called Slit Jockey Records, which has been more grime and dubstep focused from the get go.

‘Open the Pod Bay Doors’ is out now on Ninja Tune.

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Starkey - tracklist

01. Starkey - Open the Pod Bay Doors (Ninja Tune)
02. Starkey - Blood Roses (Ninja Tune)
03. Kastle - Could U Want Me (Blackwax Remix) (Silverback)
04. Stagga - Wild For the Night (Doshy Remix) (Slit Jockey)
05. J-Sweet - Can't Stop the Grime (Starkey Remix) (Slit Jockey)
06. Mr. Mitch - Fright Night VIP (Gobstopper)
07. Swindle - Ringworm (Dub)
08. Starkey - Eris (Scion A/V)
09. Starkey - Beta Tester (Ninja Tune)
10. DS1 - Lost Memories (Slit Jockey)
11. Wale - Tatts on My Arms (ft. Rick Ross) (Maybach Music)
12. Splurt - Red & White (Dub)
13. B.O.B - Strange Clouds (ft. Lil Wayne) (Grand Hustle)
14. SNK & Riko Dan - Warfare (Dub) (Slaughterhouse Rydims)
15. SNK & Riko Dan - Warfare (Slaugherhouse Rydims)
16. DS1 - Red Rain (Starkey Remix) (Slit Jockey)
17. Krampfhaft - Hyper Dreaming (Desto Remix) (Rwina)
18. Sduk - Fire (ft. Central Spillz) (Slit Jockey)
19. DNAEBEATS - The Grippa (Seclusiasis)
20. Wolfgang Gartner ft. Will.I.Am - Forever (16bit Remix) (Ultra)
21. MOVES!!! - All Skate (Dress 2 Sweat)
22. Moony - I'm a UK G (Gobstopper)
23. B Bravo - Kiss 'n' Tell (Earnest Endeavours)
24. Drake & Rick Ross - Free Spirit (Cash Money)
25. Sduk - Asterisk (Slit Jockey)
26. Starkey - Rayguns (Ninja Tune)
27. NastyNasty - Hydra (Rwina)
28. Malilone - La Push (Von D Lost in Space Remix) (Lutetia Dubz)
29. Kingdom - If You Buck (Fool's Gold)
30. Juicy J - Gotta New One (ft. Crazy Mike) (Mixtape)
31. Baxta - Work It (Cheap Thrills)
32. Starkey - Street Rockers (Civil Music)
33. Reso - Vanquish (Civil Music)
34. Labrinth - Earthquake (ft. Tinie Tempah) (Noisia Remix) (Syco)
35. Starkey - Recoil (Dub)
36. Modeselektor & Thom Yorke - This (Monkeytown)
37. TRC - Monopoly (Dub)
38. Dev79 - Get 2 Know (ft. Slix) (J-Sweet Remix) (Slit Jockey)
39. Starkey - Villagers (Ninja Tune)
40. Kuedo - Ant City (Planet Mu)
41. Distal - The Kurgan (Seclusiasis)

Check out the previous episodes of our Dj Mix Series on iTunes HERE or individually on ClashMusic.com HERE

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