Wednesday 14 January 2009


Recently I spoke to the godfather of the Bristol Dubstep community PINCH as part of my preparation in writing an article on the rise of the sound in this city. Unfortunately I was unable to utilise all of the interview for that article for space reasons, so with Pinch's blessing he's kindly agreed to let me publish the full interview here. Enjoy.

B: Bristol has a very rich heritage of bass-heavy music such as Reggae and D&B. There is also a prevalent soundsystem culture here that has been passed down through generations. Do you feel because of that Bristol has a unique position to push the genre further then other cities in the UK that might be lacking in that kind of history?

P: Possibly - I think anywhere that has a strong multicultural mix of people living in the same space will vibe from the influences these situations can bring. I don't think its limited to Bristol but I do think the resulting mix here brings a certain flavour to the sounds that result.

B: Context was one of the first nights in Bristol to showcase Dubstep back in 2004. Within four years it’s become an increasingly dominant genre in Bristol, with artists like Skream playing alongside D&B headliners and your own night Subloaded regularly filled out. Did you ever perceive the genre being so popular in such a short space of time? What do you feel are the elements that appeal so much to Bristol?

P: Well 4 years is quite long in some respects - think how quickly jungle emerged in the early 90s - even the whole foundations of the Detroit techno scene were laid down in less time. Regardless - I am amazed how well Dubstep has settled here in Bristol, with it now being possible to hear it in some capacity most nights of the week. I think Dubstep is a versatile music with a broad range of influences and styles within itself and that’s why it fits here in Bristol, where you find many eclectic nights - Dubstep is able to connect with aspects from many genres. For instance - you'll find Benga, Skream, Caspa, Rusko connecting with the D&B nights and there style/sound - you'll find Peverelist and 2562 connecting with the likes of Underscore - Joker links in with both garagey/R&B type promotions as well as UFO and more experimental nights... The list goes on!

B: Given your long-term involvement and influence in the scene, both locally and across the UK and beyond, do you feel an extra weight of responsibility as a perceived flag-bearer for the sound? Do you feel because you’re considered the godfather of the local scene there’s more scrutiny of your music and actions?

P: This may be the case to some extent but if anything it probably motivates and pushes me to put a bit more into what I do so if anything I'm thankful for it.

B: As Dubstep has expanded out from the UK around the world, and more producers from other genres turn their hand to making tunes in this style, do you feel the overall quality of Dubstep is poorer as a consequence? Conversely, I tend to find the quality of Bristol-based producers is incredibly high. Is there a friendly air of competition between the community of producers here to better each other’s compositions? Is there a real drive to push the template of the sound?

P: Well you can't imitate until someone has innovated! I think the quality of beats in Bristol is very high overall but I don't think there's a great deal of competition here - most producers are more than happy to share beats/dubs with one another - I think that’s part of the 'community vibe' going here. I'm happy when I see other Bristol producers/DJs doing well - it’s all about the solidarity thang!

B: This year saw Dubstep become even more commercially mainstream. Burial took it the Sun and Mercury Prize. You yourself featured on the Venue CD recently. What’s your taken on its continued ascent into the popular consciousness?

P: Yes and I'm sure that Burial is completely jealous that I was featured on the Venue cover mount and he wasn't (by the way - you guys forgot to say thanks to or give credit to Punch Drunk, the Bristol-based label that kindly licensed the track to you for free!). I think its completely daft when you say that 'Dubstep has become even more commercially mainstream' - I don't really think that it is at all. What we do have is a healthy, thriving underground scene, and while there are artists and tracks that have poked there noses into the other side of the music world - tracks like Benga & Coki's 'Night' for instance - they are most certainly the exception not the rule. I hope it can continue to grow (as I think the music still has a lot of room left to develop) and I hope that it does so while maintaining its integrity.

B: Talk us through some of the people you feel are really doing good things with that sonic template in Bristol. Who are the established artists here you rate, and who are the up and coming next generation of producers you are feeling? Are there any collaborations in the pipeline?

P: Well I hate to think there's a template of any kind going on! I think if I list the established people I rate and the up and comers too, it should cover most people! Certainly shouts out to the likes of Peverelist, Appleblim and Headhunter for the deeper sounds, Joker for his crazy melodic sound, Jakes for his wild b-lines, Blazey for his energetic mixing... So many to mention... Gemmy and Guido for the next gen.... it could go on a while.... Collaborations are aplenty Kommonazmuk and Appleblim, Joker and Gemmy, Peverelist and Appleblim - Forsaken and Ben Blackmore - I'm sure there's a lot more that haven't yet sprung to mind...

B: Subloaded initially debuted at the Thekla before moving to the Black Swan, and then Dubloaded came about finding a home at Native before giving way to Dubplate Monthly at the Croft. Why did Dubloaded stop? At that time prior to HENCH it was the only dedicated monthly Dubstep session.

P: Dubloaded stopped around the time HENCH started and about the time Ruffnek Diskotek was doing increasingly more Dubstep at the nights. I stopped doing the monthlies partly because I was getting too many weekend bookings to give it the time it deserved (promotion etc) and partly because it wasn't as needed so much. My main purpose of doing Dubloaded was to provide a regular outlet for the music but then when other nights started springing up I felt I could relax a bit and let those guys pick up a bit of the weight! Still do Subloaded a couple times a year though!

B: Subloaded is one of Bristol's biggest nights. Did you have any idea when you began doing the large events they'd be so popular? How does it feel to take it back to its roots at the Black Swan?

P: No, I can remember thinking 'if I just manage to get 250-300 people...', its definitely grown considerably since! I remember getting a text around midnight at the last one (in Clockwork) saying that police horses were outside to control the queues of people getting in!!

To go back to the Black Swan feels great to be honest with you, so many great memories there from the previous events - the main room is really the perfect shape for deep sub bass formation!!

B: What are some of the things in Bristol that inspire your work? It can be anything – art, architecture, people etc – what provides local inspiration for you?

P: People are my biggest inspiration in general - I can't explain why very easily but people carry a vibe about them that shows more than you can see - the way they are, the way they do things - everyone has differences, subtle or otherwise. I've been lucky enough to have met some great people here.

B: 2009 seems to be shaping up to be another amazing year for Bristol Dubstep. With MAH recently doing a special on the city and more labels, nights, producers and DJs popping up every month, it seems to be in an even stronger place than ever to push things forward. How do you see the future unfolding for the sound here in Bristol? Do you welcome the growing increase in interest of the music here; the influx of more and more people into what was traditionally a small scene? Or do you find it as much a help as a hindrance? Is its growing popularity a double-edged sword?

P: It is a double edged sword in some respects but I think things are healthy here at the moment and will continue to be so unless there are lots of people who start putting on nights for the sake of it (e.g. clueless bar/club managers) just because they think its popular. So long as the people who put on the parties put some love and time into it, the vibe will be strong

B: Whats next for you heading into 2009?

P: New single just dropped on Tectonic (TEC024 'Midnight Oil'/'Joyride'), a track on the next Tempa Allstars double pack ('Motion Sickness') and my remix of Henry & Louis 'Rise Up' to follow on 2 Kings. Next year will see some more plates from me as well as a (legitimate!) remix of an original Horace Andy vocal.

An edited version of this interview appears in Venue Magazine.