Wednesday 11 March 2009

DJ and producer Rogue is an integral part of the underground music community here in Bristol. His talents are employed by a multitude of other artists, including Sober & Dribbla, The Veterbrae Band and the Root Elevation Band. Paying his dues on the circuit since '94, he has established himself as one of the best selectors on the scene, as evidenced by regular bookings across the city showcasing his blend of roots, dubstep and Hip Hop. B365 took some time to chat to the man himself to get an insight into what makes him tick, and he has also very kindly donated a wicked remix of Biggie's Gimmie Da Loot as well as a hot selection of clubwise reggae for your enjoyment.

B: Who is Rogue?

R: DJ Rogue, Bristolian born and bred, I’m known for playing reggae and dub sets, and probably best known for scratching at hip hop shows. I run a night called Antidote, I also make Dub, Steppas and hip hop beats and you can catch me scratching live for B’Tol, The Swamps and Sober and Dribbla.

B: What are you roots in music? Where did all begin for you?

R: I think it started when I saw DJ David from the DMC championships in '91,
from then onwards I messed up my mum's records in a big way on my little midi hi-fi. I was listening to a lot of FTP radio around this time as well, used to love hearing 3pm on there, DJ Lynx scratching was my favourite bits of the show, I used to record the show and try to work out how the scratching was done, playing over and over and duplicating it on my midi hi-fi. They used to play loads of reggae on FTP which I also loved.

I didn’t have any records beside my mum's battered ones back then, but knew I wanted to be a DJ that scratched, it wasn’t until around '94 a friend of mine at school got decks, we started recording tapes of me trying to mix his jungle records with plenty of annoying scratching in all the wrong places and him mc'ing, it sounded terrible but the vibe was wicked. Started to buy records around '95 when i left school, got better at mixing and scratching and tried to get gigs, played on Powerjam and Passion a few times in the mid 90's, with a crew called RBG, and just kept pursuing the whole thing, which brings me here now.

B: Is the art of turntabalism dying from its peak in the 90s?

R: It has in the mainstream, but obviously not for people that scratch/juggle. I don't really follow it any more, but i'm sure there's still probably sh*tloads of people creating new ways to do it everyday. I saw a vid on Youtube of two kids aged about 6 and 9 who could scratch better than me ha ha! Says it all really. I think it fell apart mainstream-wise, when it all got a bit technical 99-2003-ish, Don’t get me wrong, I loved the techy side of it all, but you can’t stand in a club doing reversed 8 click fajita’s or something on the same noise over the same beat for hours, faced by loads of people that just want to dance. This happened a lot then just by DJs showing how good they could scratch, but I think it tainted the general mindset of Hip Hop promoters, and less turntablism was seen in clubs as a result. Having said that though, I think its coming back hard now.

B: Bristol has long been a Hip Hop stronghold, how do you see the scene at the moment? It seems to be on the rise again.

R: Yeah I’m enjoying it, the vibes more like it used to be, everyone’s real friendly and they all know each others music, ya know? Feels like a proper little community again. There’s a lot of people doing sh*t again, more nights, more graf, more breakin, more cuts, and a sh*tload of rapping, so the whole scene is healthier as a result. Big up people like Project 13, Hip Hop Lounge, Awkward and Weapon of Choice (sorry if I missed anyone) for soldiering through the dry times, still putting on the nights and really helping the scene to thrive again. Also I think Fat Club's DVD helped a lot, it certainly brought back a lot of old memories for me.

B: Talk us through the Vertebrae experience.

R: It's Awkward’s crew, he started it years ago, with Stepchild, Fono Veins, Deeswift, Age, and Marshy. He asked me to join around 2006. We did a load of shows performing his songs live, him doing all the vocals and both of us doing the cuts, he's an amazing person to work with musicaly, so I always enjoy it. Nowadays if you see a Vertebrae show it'll be me, awk and ben-one, we all make music so we choose songs, chop them back up and give them to ben for the MPC. Ben then performs them live on the MPC, Awkward raps, and I do the cuts. It's one of my favourite shows to do.
Wu Tang said it well when talking about Gza, so I’ll change it to suit: “We form like Voltron and Awkward's the head”. He’s the best person to talk to about Vertebrae and it’s history.

B: You've moved into producing dubstep now. How does your love of reggae inform that?

R: It influences the way I make music a lot, I'm into roots and steppas and loads of digital 80's rhythms, I try to make my b-lines sound more like that kind of thing. I was always into soundclash tapes when I was younger, saxon and stonelove etc and I think that's had a big influence over my music. I get a lot of inspiration from my reggae records, just listening to an album before trying to make something, so I think it kind of sets the vibe for what I'm gonna make. I think the b-lines in Steppas and the like suit me more, so I definitely try to make my music this way. I think Hip hop influences my drum sounds however, I love using real heavy sampled drums, as opposed to sample CD one shots, I like the way they're compressed and I love chopping up drum loops, in a very hip hop kinda way, then compressing them again my way. To be honest I think my love for reggae influences most things I do musically, but hip hop influences the way I play reggae out at clubs if ya know what I mean.

B: You've supported some of the biggest stars of Hip hop when they've passed through Bristol. Any memorable stories from those times?

R: Ummm that’s a difficult question really, I obviously have loads of great memories of meeting people I grew up listening to, but no real stories I wanna go into. Meeting Cash Money was one of my best moments, I quoted back to him a sample he used on a mixtape in '95, (met him in 2006) he loved it, I don’t think he could believe anyone would remember it, he shook my hand, told me my cuts were dope, and signed my copy of Cash Money and Marvellous LP.

Supporting Marley Marl was another great time for me, something I’d of loved to do my whole teenage life but never thought I would, they say never meet ya heroes man, but for me it's been amazing, he was real friendly, loved the scratching from myself, Snafu and Flynn, said the energy in Bristol was amazing and then went on to perform one of the best hip hop DJ sets I’ve ever seen, and it was all his own beats. Another favourite time was at the soundcheck for main support of Dead Prez, they let me scratch all over their “Bigger than hip-hop” instrumental, whilst they danced around the Fleece, I could’nt believe it!! There I was scratching over the biggest beat that came out that year, chillin' with the people who made it. Good times man, plenty of wicked memories.

B: What do you love the most about the Bristol music community?

R: I love how open it is, I've managed to meet some real Bristol legends just through being out, doing music myself etc. Everybodys real approachable, most people in bristol I know who're involved in music are real nice, from young kids starting out to established artists, most people are really supportive as well. I also love the fact it's got a wicked club scene here, that’s how I’ve managed to DJ on a consistent basis for the last 5/6 years. The main thing I’m thankful for having come up the ranks here, is the fact I have a real solid base of close friends, that I’ve met along the way - it’d be too long to mention names but they know who they are, without them I could’nt do any of it. So big up them.

B: Favourite bit of studio kit?

R: I don't really have a studio, I only have a PC, a microkorg, an mpc, 2 decks, mixer, monitor speakers and a small desk. But my favourite piece I use to make my music is probably the Microkorg. I love the sounds you can make from it, I also love to use some soft synths as well, I don’t get into the debate of software vs hardware, I just think anybody can do what they want really, if it’s good it’s good who cares how's it's made.

B: What's next for you?

R: Two tracks released digitally on Dead Calm music on the 9th march, and an E.P to follow in April/May. Also my new mixtape is nearly finished, it's all my beats, hosted by Mista Fire (Se Fire) and will feature B'Tol, C-Spillz, Sirplus, The Swamps, Dribbla, Awkward, and a few more. It's called "Self Harmony"
and volume one will be available from My Yard (BS8) Payback Records, Shop Dutty, or grab one off me personally. I’ll be doing 3 or 4 of these a year.

Also plenty more gigs, I'm DJing a lot in the next few months, playing reggae/dub/dubstep, or scratching with Vertebrae, B'Tol, The Swamps, or Sober & Dribbla. Hopefully some more releases too. I’m also gonna work on my album, I'm gonna try to make it cover everything I'm into musically, so it should be a real cross genre mash-up with plenty of scratching. I’ll be doing all the scratching on the new Sober & Dribbla album this year as well (not The Butcher's Ball), and the same for B’Tol’s new album and The Swamps mixtape. I’m gonna go and spend some time with Andy Scholes as well, in the Henry & Louis studio which I’m well excited about, you’ll have to wait and see what comes of that…

Biggie Smalls - Gimmie Da Loot (DJ Rogue Mix)

DJ Rogue - Club Mix


Anonymous said...

Bigups The Rogue man!!! Number 1! Love the Club Mix!!! x

Anonymous said...

Big in the Mo'Fo!!

DJ Rogue is the Don Dadda!!