Friday 2 January 2009


Cheeba used to be Bristol’s best-kept secret, a turntable virtuoso whose ability in the mix was breath-taking. Just like in the good old days though, Cheeba came up through the ranks and earned his rep the hard way, through sheer graft mixed with undeniable talent. Every year though, he gathers more fans and slowly but surely his influence has spread out of Bristol into the capital and beyond. Without a solid base of productions to exploit for gigs, this feat is all the more astonishing in this day and age - a man who made it on merit alone.

Ninja Tune brought him into their collective this year and with good reason; he represents the vibrant and eclectic spirit of the label like few have in recent years. Given that turntabalism can be quite dry in terms of celebrating technique over entertainment, Cheeba is a refreshing break from the confines of the craft’s past failings. He’s also a DJ who utilises technology in the best way possible; to further expand the music’s horizons but also never failing to get a party rocking. BUG caught up with Cheeba recently for a chat.

An edited version of this interview appears in Venue Magazine.

B: How's 2008 been for you?

C: 2008 has been better than 2007, and that was better than 2006. At the time I thought 2006 was as good as it could get, so what I'm trying to say is, "its been insane". Everything I ever dreamed of is snowballing (not that sort of snowballing) beyond the wildest reaches of my conception. I think it dawned on me what a crazy year this would be when Soundcrash invited me to support DJ Food at Cargo; the show was a sell-out and Strictly Kev was coming on stage telling me he didn't want to play, saying, "How do I follow that".

I figured I was doing something right and have since scored a residency with them, taking me back to London as often as I can handle. Playing Dance World East at Glastonbury and warming up for Roots Manuva at the Big Chill to 5000 people was far out. I have been gigging a Rage Against The Machine routine that was causing moshpits; so far I have resisted the urge to stage dive, maybe in 2009.

B: Break down what you play and how you play it.

C: Erm...without trying to sound pretentious: I really hope the music and other stuff I play cant be pigeon holed. I think DJs or artists who abide by the boundaries of genre are curbing their potential. I think the style in which I present my sets is what people remember rather what I play. Yeah, I have routines, and I enjoy doing them - when I become really comfortable with what I'm doing that's when I really have fun performing.

With technology like Serato SL I can browse my library and have two copies of a track on the decks in seconds - everything can be remixed on the fly and I add a twist of turntablism for good measure. It’s not because I like showing off, I just feel like a lemon stood behind the turntables not keeping busy.

B: Tell me some more about the your involvement with Ninja Tune.

C: Many years ago Detectives Of Perspective hosted a sell-out show on board the good ship Thekla with DJ Food, after which we managed to secure Bristol a much needed regular Ninja Tune presence in the form of bi-monthly Solid Steel club nights in the intimate caves of Timbuk2. Once this was up and running, I had the platform to perform in front of my piers. Two broadcast Solid Steel mixes later (one of which came second in their 'Mix of The Year'), I had their attention and they were requesting not to play after me again.

Then at Videocrash (Soundcrash's now legendary AV night) this year, supporting Hexstatic, Pest, Food & DK, I was invited to join as one of three faces of Solid Steel's new skool, along side Money$hot and Boom Monk Ben. I was choked, chuffed and more importantly inspired to step up and continue to impress those that had been an inspiration since my teens.

B: Tell me some of the highlights from your career so far.

C: Oh man, I have so many highlights - most of which are just random moments when everything just came together through circumstance. Big Chill I mentioned in the first question, other than that I loved going out to Serbia with the Bristol Stage and playing with Task and Bear which is always special for me, as they were my inspiration to get into DJing in the first place (they still don't believe me when I tell them this)

B: What does Detectives Of Perspective and Ninja Tune mean to you?

C: The DOP are my friends, its always fun partying with your friends, right? That what the night was all about, bringing the acts we wanted to see to Bristol so we could party together while enjoying the music we loved. Money has never been a driving factor for DOP, we rarely get into profit but I guess that is easily forgotten when seeing people like Steinski, DJ Food, Luke Vibert, Coldcut and the rest of the Ninjas perform in venues as intimate as T2.

Ninja Tune opened my eyes as a teenager with their early compilations, the combination of dancefloor friendly beats, cunning use of samples and those infectious scratchy noises grabbed me from the outset. My brother introduced me to the label but wasn't best pleased when fingerprints and scratches started appearing on all his vinyl, he's still cagey about lending me any. Seeing Kid Koala and Coldcut together at Sheperds Bush Empire sealed the deal – I wanted to DJ, not just mix songs. I wanted 10 turntables, no headphones, the broadest beats and the speed of a puma.

B: Where do you see your future going?

C: I hope I can continue to improve. There is no limit to turntablism, there is no limit to technology and I plan to embrace both to the full. In 2009 I am gigging loads more abroad, thanks to the Solid Steel hook up and a new agent, and I will be premiering my new audio-visual three-deck live show in London and Bristol and hope to take it to as many summer festivals as I can possibly squeeze in.

Until then I'll be hiding away in the studio finishing more Solid Steel mixtapes, and getting through the mountain of video editing I am doing for this new show. It’s going to be a lot of time in front of the computer, but hopefully followed by some fun live gigs and loads more travelling and new experiences.


With his club night Ruffnek Diskotek, Dub Boy took the progression of bass-heavy music to new heights this year. But one thing that should never be overlooked is his own abilities as a DJ. There are very few DJs like him, not just in Bristol but the UK as a whole. His creative approach to programming a mix and his all-round enthusiasm for the music he loves shines through in every track he drops. Its no small wonder that he’s played a huge roster of gigs around the city this year as a result, but Dub Boy is deserving of a wider audience for his talents – 2009 should hopefully see the rest of the UK take notice.


The man responsible for so much in Bristol in terms of the evolution of the underground community also knows how to destroy a dance with flair. He’s as at home mixing down Dubstep as he is Grime, Bassline or any number of insane party beats. BUG has witnessed him create havoc on many happy occasions, and he plays with the nominal structure of sets like no other DJ in Bristol. Going back and forth with styles and sounds, always in control and also a huge advocate of new music from up and comers across the UK, there’s a reason Blazey is still one of the most formidable DJs around.


Sean and Dan Kelly love music, and it shows. Every time BUG hears them play it’s a joy to behold – they have no concept of the faultlines that exist within genres, preferring to ride roughshod over the rules of what governs Djing. Be it disco, house, techno, garage, fidget, and wonky or any other name we can make up – there’s never a dull moment when they take to the decks. If there was any justice in the world, The Kelly Twins would be huge – and with any luck in the coming year they will be.


Placid is the walking encyclopaedia of electronic music; a man who probably produced more mixes this year thanks to his radio show than any other DJ in Bristol. His depth of knowledge means his mixes are crammed full of obscure sonic jewels that demand to be re-discovered. A tireless work ethic saw Placid have a good 2008, and long may his success continue into the future.


Now resident in Bristol, Rossi B is a DJ who has no fear when traversing around the sonic parameters of genres, be it solo or teamed up with his partner in crime Luca. He’s a scene veteran who is still as vital to its progress as he was almost a decade ago. BUG this year has seen him energise otherwise static dances, and those raves that were already live we saw him escalate to hysteria.


The Shake & Pop promoters and DJ duo saw their craft evolve with terrific results this year, imbuing their performances with increasing confidence. Two relative newcomers to the scene, they’ve carved out a name for themselves quickly with a healthy disregard for genres and a big appetite for party vibes. Expect big things for this pair in 2009.


It seems to BUG that this DJ duo were slept on in 2008, which seems crazy given their incredible work rate; they were releasing mixes every month with no dip in quality, their abilities grew and grew, they took tentative steps into production with great results, they destroyed every party BUG had the good fortune to see them at. Jackov & Kallendar are party DJs, that’s no secret – and it seems this approach garners them as many detractors as it does fans. For BUG though few can come close to them in igniting a rave the way they do; they have an intuitive ability to entertain people that can’t be taught.


Thinking’s played an integral part in bringing Dubstep to Bristol back in the first half of the decade, but its only one facet of the city’s very own renaissance man. DJ, label owner, writer and all round raconteur, Thinking’s role in the local scene has been vital. As a DJ, he bears no comparison; Bristol is blessed with many creatively talented DJs but Thinking stands apart as a man who can create mood and texture in a set like few others. It’s a sad fact that he doesn’t get booked more often but BUG would like to see him play out more in 2009 to demonstrate his amazing abilities.


Ewan Hoozami probably plays out more than most national DJs; his gig list is normally longer than the Old Testament. This is all for good reason though, given that he’s a DJ who cant put a foot wrong in his chosen path – a party DJ like no other who’s work ethic is something to truly marvel. He has a natural enthusiasm that makes his sets a real pleasure to hear, and it’s no doubt that 2009 will see him continue his ascent to the top of the DJ circuit.