Tag Archives: serious saturdays

Serious Saturdays: Six Feet Deep With Tomb Crew

DJing and producing are two related but distinct skills. Not all beatsmiths can work a crowd, so when DJs with a reputation for destroying raves everywhere from Brixton to Brooklyn start making tracks, you know the beats will be battle-tested.

East London’s Tomb Crew is a perfect example of this. Since 2007, DJs Jamie Floodgate and Nick Bennett, along with hypeman Illaman (aka David Penning), have honed their craft across the globe, playing with nearly every UK bass luminary, including Zinc, Herve, Rusko and Sinden, to name just a few. Tomb Crew approaches DJ gigs like a live act, working the crowd into a bass-rattled frenzy.

After a string of successful remixes for acts including Crookers, Drop the Lime and French Fries, the Crew got to work on their own bass creations. With a sound that draws from all strands of bass music, Tomb Crew blends dubstep, club, kuduro, and jungle into a concoction more potent than anything you can buy at a rave.

This year, they released their first EP on Trouble and Bass, a perfect fit for their brand of bangers. Mixing old school jungle with new school bass, the tracks range from the tropical, horn-driven “Oh So Good” to the divebombing “King of the Tweets.”

On their recently released Watch This EP (on Black Butter Records), Tomb Crew continues to update throwback styles with an emphasis on the low end. “Yaphet Kotto Stole My Steez” – a candidate for best song title of the year – oscillates between housey breakbeats and the group’s trademark wobble (and you can download it for free on Soundcloud). The title track, featuring MCs Rubi Dan and Juxci D alongside Illaman, is a slice of tropical bashment perfect for carnival.

Tomb Crew always rocks Mishka, and the guys had a cameo in the Fall 2011 Lookbook teaser. Keep watch for the collection’s official release, and look out for Tomb Crew at a rave near you.

Originally posted on the Mishka Bloglin.

Serious Saturdays: Get Rinsed With Roska

A journey across the UK electronic music landscape takes you from the badman bass of grime, through various permutations of dubstep, until you eventually end up at UK funky. The sound combines that last major UK movement, garage, with house, broken beat, and notably soca rhythms into something more dance-friendly than its underground cousins.

The don of the UK funky game, Roska, has taken a similar journey. Born Wayne Goodlitt, Roska began his musical career as a grime MC under the name Mentor in the late 90s. His shift from the mic to the producer’s chair was accompanied by a less aggressive sound and a new alias. As Roska, he first made waves in 2008 with “Feeline” and “Boxed In,” two prototypical UK funky tracks that force you to move.

Roska’s rising profile led to a residency on trendsetting Rinse.FM, just as the (then) pirate radio station shifted its focus to funky. Not only did it expose him to an even larger audience, but Rinse also released Roska’s debut album – the first full length LP on its eponymous label. Rinse Presents Roska is pure UK funky, from the shifty rave-whistles of “Squark” to the silky dancefloor-killer “Love 2 Nite” with vocalist Jamie George.

Last year was a hectic one for the producer. He opened the doors of his Kicks and Snares imprint to new artists like DJ Naughty, J:Kenzo and DJ MA1, and he compiled a 14Tracks collection that is as good as any when it comes to essential UK funky. And after remixing Untold‘s massive “Just For You” in 2009, the duo paired up on bass bangers “Myth” and “Long Range.”

This year’s Jackpot EP pushes the producer forward from funky to the difficult to pin down bass scene. Roska can still pump up an audience with something like “4th Blind Mouse,” but he’s also experimenting with elements of rave, tech and club that we haven’t heard from the South Londoner until now. “Blame the Speakers” is a choatic fist-pumper and “Roskallion” is a take on the dub-bashment of someone like Redlight. Roska has already seen a sea change in the UK electronic music world, and he’s definitely poised for the next one.

Originally posted on the Mishka Bloglin.

Serious Saturdays: Taking It Back With Toddla T

Toddla T is on top of the world. In the last couple of years, he’s obtained both a slot on BBC Radio 1’s In DJs We Trust and a residency at Fabric. So what’s behind Toddla T’s meteoric rise?

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.

Originally posted on the Mishka Bloglin.

Serious Saturdays: Put On the Redlight (via Mishka)

Electronic music is constantly in flux, and while some artists can plant a flag and never change their sound, the majority must adapt or be left behind. Case in point: Redlight, who built a decade-long career as drum and bass producer Clipz but now crafts dubstep-bashment hybrids. Certainly not the only – or last – DnB head to slow down their frenetic productions into hulking wobblers, Redlight has found a second life by focusing the over-the-top energy of DnB into something more corporeal.

As Clipz (aka Bristol-based Hugh Pescod), the man now known as Redlight tended towards the melodic side of the rave playground. There is more to songs like “Slippery Slope” and “Sticky” than unrelenting DnB. “Ugly,” featuring vocalist Holly G, is a forebearer of his current sound.

In 2009, Pescod put away childish things and renamed himself Redlight, releasing the Lobster Boy EP. Some of the trademarks of his earlier sound remained, like the breakbeats that fuel “Pick Up the Phone” and “Feel So Good (Wine Up Yr Body),” a tune that relies on singers and MCs to counterbalance eruptions of bass.

The most addictive track on the EP is “Be With You,” which bounces from bashment toasting to a wobbling, house-inflected chorus. Redlight’s handle on West Indian riddims is exceeded only by Toddla T; he puts the dub in dubstep by bringing in Serocee and frequent collaborator Dread MC. This trend has continued: his banger “MDMA” served as the instrumental for Ms. Dynamite’s grimey “What You Talking About?”

Redlight’s evolution continues. Earlier this year, he released “Source 16” and “Progress,” which both feature housey, four-on-the-floor drums and metallic synth basslines. Guaranteed big room slayers, both are far cries from the riddims of the Lobster Boy EP. But with over a decade in the game, whatever Redlight does next – under whichever name he chooses – is sure to be essential bass music.

Originally posted on the Mishka Bloglin.

Serious Saturdays: Y'all Ain't Yeti for Nadastrom (via Mishka)

This should go without saying: don’t sleep on the Keep Watch Mix Series. Need proof? Crank up the fourth edition (from way back in 2008), which featured LA by way of DC-duo Nadastrom.

Nadastrom is comprised of DJ/producers-extraordinaire Dave Nada (né Villegas) and Matt Nordstrom. Established in 2007, Nadastrom have toured the world, unleashed their trademark brand of club-infused tech house on crowds everywhere, and found a home on Switch’s forward-thinking label Dubsided. It’s been a busy few years.

Nadastrom is an example of the whole being greater than the parts. Both Nada and Nordstrom were established talents when they came together: Nada as a resident of quintessential Baltimore party Taxlo and Nordstrom as a studio engineer for house music legends Deep Dish. But it was only together, when they combined the energy of Baltimore club and the pulsing vibe of deep house (along with precise studio programming), that they could reach superstar status in the global underground dance scene.

From the first bass blast of their debut Pussy EP, its been clear that Nadastrom is masterful at crafting soulful, big room bangers. The Soul II Soul-sampling title track and Blaqstarr-driven electroclub of “Tween Me + U” are still vital nearly three years after their release: guaranteed dance floor destroyers that should come pre-loaded on Serato boxes. The same can be said about “Save Us” on 2009’s The Saved EP: the shimmering breakdowns are but momentary respites from the hard-charging, soul-clapping spiritual.

Ever since they flipped Lil Wayne’s “A Milli” into a screwed-down grindfest, Nadastrom has proven to be expert remixers as well, taking on everyone from DC homeboy Tittsworth to Laidback Luke and Diplo. Keying in on the most essential element of a song, Nadastrom practically renders the originals obsolete. Last year, Nadastrom tweaked bass bangers from Udachi (“P-Funk Skank”) and AC Slater (“Take You”), slicing out most of the wobble but keeping all the intensity. Their most surprising remix, however, was a dubstep take on “Crush” by UK hip-pop act Fugative.

While their club and house credentials are impeccable, you can’t mention Nadastrom these days without bringing up moombahton. Nada may have (unintentionally) created it at his cousin’s skip party, but they’ve fostered the growth of the heatseeking genre together. Nadastrom is responsible for some — if not most — of the finest moombahton edits in existence; their Rum & Coke EP is required listening.

Since releasing the first official moombahton remix (of Steve Starks’ “Lydia”) they’ve brought songs by Florence and the Machine, Temper Trap, Win Win, and The Weeknd to the magical land of 108 BPM. Pairing up with UK singer-songwriter Alex Clare has resulted in two instant classics: “Too Close” and the as of yet unreleased “Up All Night.”

Moombahton may be getting them attention, but Nadastrom haven’t forgotten what got them where they are now. The duo dropped several singles earlier this year that hark back to tracks like “Pussy.” Ominous rumblers “Theo” and “M.U.H.” play on the dark side of house, yet the highlight of their new material is “All Night.” The track is built on a vocal riff from one of the most sampled songs ever, the James Brown-produced, Lyn Collins jam “Think (About It)” (for non-crate diggers, that’s where that classic “woo! yeah!” break comes from).

Nadastrom’s mascot / logo / spirit animal is the Yeti, specifically the one from the hilariously over-the-top SkyMall catalog. What started as an inside joke has actually come to describe the duo: this dark, mysterious beast who haunts our collective consciousness. If you’ve ever heard a Nadastrom track in a DJ set (you probably have) or have been lucky enough to see them live, you understand the Yeti. From the most powerful tech house to the smoothest moombahton, Nadastrom is out there.

If you’re in DC, just turn up the bass: the Nadastrom residency returns tomorrow July 10th to U Street Music Hall with guests Munchi and Jillionaire.

Originally posted on the Mishka Bloglin.