Skream is perched in front of his home computer when we chat. FL Studio is opened and there’s no doubt that beyond that play button, there’s a track that could send a crowd or two into a dubstep furore given the right venue. He’s undoubtedly earned his stripes as a pioneer both under and overground with a discography that reads much like a who’s who of the genre.
Nothing quite beats nostalgia, though, and it’s that concept that has brought the world-beater right back to his roots in the claustrophobic basements of inner-city clubs. Skreamizm, brings a cluster of special dates to the calendar where Skream plays a number of 3-hour sets in intimate, darkened locations. Starting back in September, the tour has taken him across Europe, with a homecoming performance at Brixton Electric on November 9 and ending in Manchester on November 30.
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Can you remember what it was like the first time you stepped into Velvet Rooms?
I can’t remember how it was like when I walked in. That’s a long time ago man and I was still at school. I remember it was still the back end of garage and it was a very garagey crowd with Jamieson ‘Urban Hero’ and that was a big tune at the time. Hatcha was playing it, very long time ago though (laughs).
How different was the vibe? I was too young to buy a beer then.
That particular vibe was still very garage-like, people drinking champagne at the bar and stuff like that. But after that, maybe a couple of events after that, it was like garage tunes had died and FWD was there to continue to what was happening. Even the first one was just about playing pure dubplates alongside unreleased and instrumental tunes. I remember the switch over to where it became very DJ orientated and it then became a thing where people would come to hear what was hot at the time.
Was there not much of a MC part to the whole thing at the time?
Host. They played more of a host and it wasn’t like a full on MC thing.
I guess Skreamizm has been put together to emulate those nights, but dubstep has developed into something larger than that small community. What’s it like seeing so many different types of people embrace your music?
It’s crazy, insane. It’s what I've always dreamt of and every time I see a massive crowd it reminds me just how big it is. That’s also the point of the whole Skreamizm tour, to go back to people just embracing the music rather than necessarily concentrating on a particular sound because I think music has become very scene-led. Everything’s got to be categorized nowadays and it should just be about going out to listen to music regardless.
I’ve been doing the show most nights, starting with old classics between 2005-2008 that I used to play at DMZ; my stuff, old Loefah, Coki etc. but it’s still all very high energy. Then it comes up into modern day bass music roughly between 140-148BPM and that’s where I can play a couple of new bits, like a new track that I’ve just put together with Kelis. The last hour is party hour, a lot of mash-ups of tunes that are big at the moment along with some old school reggae and club classics. Tunes that I really love, but have just never had the chance to play.
Are there any particular classics that stick out at the moment then?
Yeah, there’s this one jam by Ten City called ‘That's The Way Love Is’ from the late eighties that I’ve fallen back in love with. There’s been other shows where I've played tunes like Arman Van Helden’s ‘U Don’t Know Me’ and gone into Stardust’s ‘Music Sounds Better With You’, so its just an all out party in that last hour.
The music compass has moved again in the last year to embrace trap. Are you a fan?
On my radio show, there’s been loads of new tracks that have taken on the whole trap thing. It’s a side of bass music, and I love anything that’s that way. I'm not that guy that’s gonna be like ‘I’m not touching it because of these scenesters are doing it’, I just embrace the music. Everyone’s got into a huff and puff about trap and I don’t know why; are people that bored that they get wound up about something new? The thing about trap is that it’s just old southern hip-hop and not a new genre at all; it’s just been changed up a bit. That style of music has always been about big 808s and bass.
Will you ever be making tunes with Hijak again?
Me and him are doing some stuff together and there are talks of a double pack for Mala’s Deep Medi label.
So Skreamizm is on-going, but are there any other Skream-related things that deserve a mention?
Skreamizm 7 will be getting released; there’s been a slight problem with one of the tunes on there, which I may now have to use for another project. There are also projects with Miles Kane and Kelis to look forward to alongside the Klaxons. It’s been a tough one balancing the music and family, but I’ve been back on it in the last few weeks so I'm fully happy with the work rate.
Words by Errol Anderson
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Skream is set to play Electric Brixton on November 9th.