Clash’s grime column focuses on a true original…

Flowdan, founder member of iconic grime collective Roll Deep, has long been considered one of the genre's key, most respected originators. An MC of fierce reputation with a penchant for shutting down raves like nobody's business, he's spent the best part of a decade putting grime on the map.

Having worked with a trio of UK dance music's most influential labels in Hyperdub (with whom he released classic rave joint ‘Skeng’, alongside The Bug & Killa P), Ninja Tune and Keysound, as well as putting out classic grime CD ‘Original Dan’ back in 2009, he continues to go from strength to strength.

Back with his debut Hyperdub EP ‘Serious Business’, which features regular sparring partner The Bug, as well as grime vet Footsie, Coki and breakthrough grime producer Masro, I caught up with him to talk shop and pick out his three favourite rave instrumentals…

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‘No Gyal Tune’, from ‘Serious Business’

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I’m always open to new producers and new ideas, so I’ve never said no to the opportunities…

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Tell us about your new EP, ‘Serious Business’…

The EP is a collection of four tracks to house everything I’m doing as a solo artist at the moment. I’m probably best known for my contributions to Roll Deep, but because I’m going out as a solo artist now, I’m trying to showcase the stuff I do on my own. There’s so many strands to the sound I call grime, and you can hear that on the EP. From Footsie to The Bug, the sounds are really different and individual, but they both represent grime.

It's great to see Masro featuring on ‘No Gyal Tune’, too. How did you go about working on that?

Masro is obviously a newer producer, but one I think that captures that really authentic grime sound that I’m used to hearing. It’s important to support him and include him because he’s doing everything properly. His instrumental sounds proper fresh, but he’s not straying too far from the original grime template, which is the sound I like.

How did the work with the more dance-centric labels come about? Is it something you specifically wanted be involved with, or was it more organic?

I reckon it started from doing what I’ve always done. I was a pioneer in the first place with Roll Deep and I’ve maintained the same style and always done my own thing throughout – whatever people remember me for, people still seem to like. I’m always open to new producers and new ideas, so I’ve never said no to the opportunities that have come my way. I think it’s important that I do it and keep bringing new people in. These tunes have to happen for things to progress and evolve.

The stuff with Hyperdub specifically all started with Kode9. We recorded ‘Skeng’ and got really good feedback on the dubplate circuit, so they decided to put it out. We’ve played at Rinse parties and Outlook since, too, and actually done lots of sets together over the years. It’s been a casual thing really, but he was the first person I decided to send my solo work, too.

On a side note, could you give us your three favourite tunes to vocal?

Ah, that's a hard one man, but at the moment, I’d have to say Swifta Beater’s ‘300’, proper animalistic shellers; ‘Royal Kush’ by Dullah Beatz; and Danny Weed’s ‘Creeper’, which is a classic with a real sub-heavy bassline that always makes me wanna do a lot.

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Words: Tomas Fraser
Photos: Jimmy Mould

‘Serious Business’ is out now on Hyperdub. Find Flowdan online here.

Related: more Life At 140 articles

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