Life At 140: DJ Milktray Interview

After the hotel lobby comes the party proper…
DJ Milktray

Best known for his throwback 8-bar edits and a love of Burberry, DJ Milktray has taken instrumental grime by storm since Slackk started playing his bootleg of R Kelly’s ‘Hotel’ last year (see SoundCloud embed, below). Based in Scotland, he’s benefited from tapping into the worldwide, open-source network of producers, sounds and ideas cultivated by the London-centric Boxed collective, establishing a niche that has seen him score EPs with both Glacial Sound and Unknown To The Unknown.

‘Hotel’ aside, he’s also turned his hand to reworking 50 Cent’s ‘Lil Bit’, Aaliyah’s ‘Are You That Somebody’ and grime classics ‘Functions On The Low’ by XTC and Tinie Tempah’s ‘Wifey’, as well as a slew of original material alongside sparring partner Inkke. Having recently made his Boxed debut in London, Clash caught five minutes with him to talk about tunes and the story behind the name…

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How’s the last year been for you?

Really fun, you know. Aside from having a fairly mind numbing 9-to-5, the music aspect of the year has been better than ever.

Obviously you’re known for your grime edits, but did you ever think your ‘Hotel’ edit would kick off like it has?

No, it was pretty mad. Like, last summer, me and Inkke used to just send each other edits online for fun, nothing serious at all. I sent him ‘Hotel’ and he was feeling it lots and told me I should send it on to Slackk, and suddenly loads of people heard it and were into it I guess. Big love to R Kelly and Cassidy though, one tiiiiime!

Did you make a conscious decision to focus on edits or did people’s reactions to dubs like ‘Hotel’ inspire you to carry on making more?

I am honestly just fully addicted to it, I want to just move every song I hear about, but I’ve got no idea why. Obviously there’s songs you leave alone and stuff, but even then I find it hard. Over the past few months I’ve been doing more original stuff though, which I'm pretty happy with.

Talk us through your approach to making original music at the moment…

Right now I’m approaching my original productions, which aren’t all necessarily straight-up grime, like I do my edits. I’m trying to still give them all the jumpy, high-energy sound of the edits, but without knocking other people’s noises!

How important do you think the Boxed night has been for breaking new producers and, moreover, establishing a community?

Boxed, the club night itself, has given people a place to go and meet a bunch of other people who are into the music being made in this scene, or whatever you want to call it. The collective behind Boxed have been at the forefront of everything and they push so many new producers’ music, it’s mental. Through them doing that, we are all able to progress, which is rad.

We’ve seen great music coming out of small pockets all over the UK and even further afield – Bristol’s scene is the most obvious of these with OH91, Boofy, Hi5ghost, Lemzly Dale and Kahn & Neek amongst others consistently working together and bouncing ideas back and forth. There’s yourself and Inkke pushing a sound in Scotland, and even Strict Face, Arctic and Epoch out in Australia and New Zealand. How important do you think these smaller, area-centric cliques are in relation to the sound as a whole?

Yeah, they are important. To be honest, I think it’s mostly just groups of friends that come from outside of London who like grime. They’ll come together and try do something about the lack of it in their own cities, towns, or wherever they’re from. Which is good, because grime is brilliant, isn't it?

Release wise, are we right in saying you’ve got EPs forthcoming on both Unknown To The Unknown and Glacial Sound? Could you tell us a bit more about these?

Yeah, I have a release coming on Glacial Sound which should be out kinda soon, and then there's a small compilation forthcoming on UTTU with some other amazing producers on it too, which I’m proud to be a part of. Later on in the year, I’ll be releasing an EP on Astral Black, so a few things [are going on], yeah. I’m pretty excited.

Finally, the name is genius. Why Milktray?

(Laughs) Basically last year I did a mix for Valentine’s Day that consisted of a bunch of YouTube-to-MP3 rips of my favourite Channel U-era grime love songs. Milktray kinda made sense for that, and then it sort of just stuck once I started doing the edits and that.

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Words: Tomas Fraser
Photo: Jon Phonics (website)

All because the ladies love it, get more Milktray: SoundCloud / Twitter

Regular Life At 140 columns can be found here

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