Sonic Router 008 - Your Dubstep Column Profiles Slugabed
, November 26th, 2009 06:48
Oli Marlow is here to make sure you get your monthly fill of bass in a Sonic Router special interview with, and exclusive mix from, Slugabed
It’s mid November, and in this period, as the year draws to a close, there’s often a habit for writers to compile lists; endless lists of songs, albums, influential figures and moments in music. And whilst it’s a very cathartic and often sobering process, realising that that bootleg was out in March and not, as you thought, sometime in 2008, it's not something I’ve ever been massively keen on. As shit as it sounds, I’ve always wanted to look forward. Most likely it’s the competitive blogger within me, fighting for the super exclusive, to get the newest shit first, and package it up for the rest of the people who spend as much (a highly inappropriate percentage), of their life online as I do.
So in the spirit of the above statement, the next few columns from me will be dedicated to uncovering talent, people and producers you should keep a keen eye on in 2010. Greg Feldwick has been one of those people for what seems like an age.
I first got passed a 10 minute Slugabed beat tape by Richard from Stuff Records, when I was still doing the 3 Bar Fire website, which would date it to about 14 months ago. Amazingly, none of those tracks have even yet come out – though they will be seeing the light of day on Numbers new imprint come January. What the world has received though, is a split 12” from Feldwick with Coco Bryce, a solo 12” on Ramp Recordings and a bootleg 12” that featured his takes on Rick James’ classic ‘Super Freak,’ and Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s Kelis collabo, which was repackaged under the simple moniker ‘ODB’ – as well as viral refixes of La Roux’s ‘In For The Kill’ and Pharaohe Monch’s seminal ‘Simon Says.’
As with all of his productions though, he’s managed to impart his personality, pretty much furiously, all over them. In person he’s one part extrovert, slipping as easily into conversation about dumb shit, like the state of his facial hair (“I heard about Movember recently, but I don't really get what it's all about. You grow a moustache because it's November? What? No… I just have a moustache. And a pretty lousy one at that”) or Gordon Ramsay’s crumbling fuck word empire, to two parts protagonist; enamouring himself to you immediately and bringing out to best in you on the dance floor.
While his music sits firmly rooted in hip hop - just peep at the time signatures and sample ready attitude for confirmation - his command of compression and bass is akin to a lot of whats happening globally, across countries as much as across genre borders. People like Starkey from Philadelphia fuse energetic bass lines with street swagger constantly and thanks to what I guess is quintessentially an English outlook, Slugabed’s music is a beneficial bastard child, sucking in all the best bits of current American pop culture and distilling it along with UK bass music into a typically sceptical Brit attitude.
“I’m currently living down in Brighton with my girlfriend,” he tells me, starting to grin. “My daily life is based around making music really... My girlfriend goes to college and I've got no job, so I just mix and make beats all day at the moment. I keep forgetting to eat lunch too, which is rubbish. Then in the evenings I watch X-Factor and shout at the telly and stuff like that.”
“I’ve always been into doing music really,” he considers, “I played the drums when I was wee, and used to play Music 2000 on the Playstation a lot. Then a friend of mine gave me Fruity Loops when I was like 14, and I started dicking around on that. I'm still dicking around on it to this day,” he smiles. “I love it.”
”I pretty much just use FL studio for my stuff these days. I use my Roland SP-404 a bit for drums and effects, but mostly just Fruity and soft synths with my MIDI keys. I'd love to have one of those stupid messy studios with all the wires and analog synths and upside down tape decks and knobs and faders everywhere, but I don’t…” he concedes. “Sometimes I’ll map out the bass first, then the drums. Sometimes I do the drums then a bit of synthy work. Sometimes I mess around and fiddle with synths and samples and then resample it and reverse it and then delete it all and start again. Often the best stuff comes out of messing around.”
After just a quick listen to his soon to be released music his last statement seems obvious; like the man just convinced you, selling you the understatement of the year for a vastly inflated price, after he’s spent 5 hours of that day locked in his bedroom making sex faces every time he gets the bassline to go ‘bluuuuuuuuuuuurump’ after feeding it through numerous compressors. And that’s the most endearing Slugabed aspect, even with his slower more contemplative work like ‘Barbara’ – forthcoming on Numbers - the synth lines he eeks out along with the sounds and gloops he produces are a hell of a lot of fun. They gurgle and squeep in time with his drums, which are in turn compressed so tight that the top frequencies pop out of the speaker like putty would if you squeezed it in your fist; the perfect combination.
Much like his US beat contemporaries Flying Lotus and Samiyam, Feldwick has been briefly tarred with the ‘wonky’ brush; dusting off the artificial remnants of the short sighted categorisation with a comparison to Scandinavian skweee artists like Beatbully or Rigas Den Andre he was served with straight after.
“To me, it's a bit crap because ‘wonky’ only refers to such a small (and not very important) characteristic of the music. There's a lot more to this genre than wonkiness. But at the same time, I don't really mind. As long as there's still great music coming out, it really doesn't matter to me what you call it.”
An outlook that has seemingly served him and his track selection well, as he’s already become the resident DJ at two nights, one in his native Brighton, Donky Pitch, and the other, THEM, at various venues across London - most notably at Plastic People recently for the UK launch of Nosaj Thing’s album Drift.
“Both are really fun parties and both I played at as a one-off and then they asked me to come back… Which was very nice of them,” he beams. “The THEM nights are generally messy rave-ups with a load of fun nasty dubstep and shit like that; really good fun vibes... Donky Pitch is a lot more focused toward the wonk/skweee thing. It's a rad load of crunchy beats and bass in the basement of a pub. It has a really good energy and everyone there is musically open minded and up for a party.”
With two separate EPs, both clocking in with 6 tracks or more, set to hit shops in the first quarter of next year, you’re going to be hard pressed to ignore Slugabed’s music. Having won fans and carved out his niche without a plan, happily stumbling through bootlegs, guest mixes (for Electronic Explorations, Sub.fm and DUMMY) and a thick gig schedule with his beautifully focused carefree attitude it feels like a trip into his plentiful back catalogue, really is incredibly long overdue.
“I dunno man..." he says, trailing off topic a little, "I just do gigs when I'm offered them, (try to) do mixes whenever I'm asked, put out music when I make it... there's never really been any plan behind it all, I’m just trying to make music and let people hear it really.”
Words: Oli Marlow for http://sonicrouter.blogspot.com
Look out for Slugabed’s Endless Piss forthcoming on Numbers and his ‘Utra Heat Treated’ EP for Planet Mu, both really are worth the cheddar.
For more information on his upcoming dates check: www.myspace.com/slugabedmusic
You can also download an exclusive mix Sluga has done for this occasion right here: Slugabed's Mix 4 Quietusssssss
With thanks to Greg.