Let’s start at the beginning. Toddla T is Tom Bell, a 26-year old from Sheffield, a city in England that has contributed to everything from industrial (Cabaret Voltaire) to new wave (The Human League) to post-punk revival (Artic Monkeys). The Steel City has also been important to electronic music, as the home of the groundbreaking Warp Records and the birthplace of bassline. With that rich musical background in mind, Toddla T’s globe-trotting sound makes a lot more sense.
His stage name is a tribute to his early start: DJing in Sheffield clubs since 14, Toddla focused on music full-time at 16. Originally into hip-hop, he didn’t even like electronic music until going to parties run by Sheffield DJs Winston Hazel and Pipes. Techno, house, and especially dancehall would become the calling cards of Toddla’s sound.
Since 2008s much-hyped mixtape Ghettoblaster #1, Toddla’s mix of dancehall riddims, jump-up rave accents, and wiggly bass has filled playlists across the world. His unique style is on full display on his 2009 debut record, Skanky Skanky, especially on single “Shake It,” where MC Serocee commands the listener to “shake it, shake it / get naked, naked.”
Toddla T kept things moving in 2010, with the hands-in-the-air “Sky Surfing,” featuring vocalist Wayne Marshall. The video for the song shows Toddla’s fun-loving irreverence – a key to what separates him from his more dour counterparts in the bass world.
Toddla has remixed songs by artists as diverse as Hot Chip, Roots Manuva, and Ladyhawke. His finest moment, however, was giving the high-energy treatment to Gyptian‘s reggae anthem “Hold You,” with a little help from Double D on the mic.
His latest album, Watch Me Dance, is Toddla T at his most eclectic. There are plenty of the riddim-and-bass bangers that he’s known for, along with new experiments like the disco-funk title track and the Timbaland-influenced R&B of “Body Good.” The track that you’ll be playing on repeat, though, is the rave-throwback “Take It Back.” Like all of his songs, “Take It Back” is a feel-good jam designed for the dance floor.