This interview was taken from SWEETANDSOUND.CO.UK
If you follow grime, you will know that there are a few key vehicles for the fruits of grime’s labour to be pushed through. There’s the online TV channels like SBTV, dontwatchthat and Grime Daily. Regular grime raves (they don’t happen too often London because of the negative press though). Then there is the ever powerful medium of pirate radio. Elijah and Skilliam (a.k.a. Butterz) have taken over the later with a tremendous force since they started playing regularly on Rinse FM two years ago, they have probably the most influential grime blog around and have just started their own label. I went to meet them at a pub in Leytonstone to find out a bit more about they’re position on a few grime-based subjects. I was an hour late, but like true industry professionals they waited for me and were happy to talk even though I messed them about. The interview is in two parts as it’s a big’n…
What have you got going on at the moment? It seems as if you’re getting booked to DJ a ridiculous amount.
Elijah: I dunno, its good for grime DJs init – every weekend sort of thing…
Getting booked for London gigs isn’t too regular though…
Elijah: Now it’s picking up, in April we’ve got three in London, like pretty much in the space of two weeks. That’s the first time that’s ever happened.
What do you think it is about Grime DJs not being booked in London, do you think people are scared to book them?
Elijah: Promoters just book the MCs… Because we’re not tied to any MC, it’s just easy for us now because we made a name for ourselves just playing music. With some other DJs they haven’t made their name playing music, they’ve made their name mixing for other MCs.
You’ve just set up your label Butterz and put out your first release Bipolar by Terror Danja. What were your ideas in the label? How did it come about?
Skilliam: The music was accessible and fresh, that’s how it was…
Elijah: say about 50% of the music that we actually play on our radio show comes from other places that people don’t know about, so if we can actually be the people that get it out as well and get it signed to other labels then that will elevate it. Other people playing the music will help. The producers help us, everything spreads…
So it’s all about a group effort and doing things for each other basically
Elijah: Yeah definitely
Do you think that there should be more people doing it for themselves in grime?
Skilliam: It’s not that difficult, people just haven’t got the drive to do it.
Elijah: If we can do it, everyone else can. Think about it; you wouldn’t have any drive to do it, if you’re a DJ you can’t get booked for clubs. It’s difficult to get out tunes, like the whole process is long, like I still have nightmares about it. And the reward in effect, there isn’t a direct reward, but then, what comes from it is actually bigger then what it was in the first place.
There’s a few other labels out there doing what you guys are doing like Hyperdub and No Hats No Hoods . They, like yourselves, have given a lot more time to release Grime and Dubstep records, but most of its instrumental. Do you think that Grime MCs should be more focused on doing live shows or releases? What’s more important?
Skilliam: They go hand in hand.
Elijah: Yeah, if you got a tune you need to push it on both sides…
Skilliam: If you get the PA’s down… look at Boy Better Know; they’re eating off that side of things nicely.
Yeah they’ve got it right, they’ve balanced it out well on both sides definitely…
Elijah: But again that’s down to the club night thing as well. If they’re aint no clubs to perform at then why are you gonna make music. Sometimes tunes aren’t even made for live things and then they become massive tunes like Next Hype (Tempz)… Think about it, it’s not like a fucking dance record.
Well it wasn’t intended anyway.
Elijah: It’s just not. It’s just a next hype init.
Skilliam: It’s just Tempz how he is init.
Elijah: I’m not saying everyone has to spit like that, but that direction just opens you up to a whole different audience. All the people who listen to us in a club, may not be the people that wanna listen to us on our radio show. It’s a different market.
Grime music itself is respected and has received acclaim the world around, but when it gets mainstream something happens. Usually it’s to do with the money and the music becomes over-produced aswell as packaged in an almost cartoon-esque way. Do you think that Grime will ever make it in the mainstream without having to sacrifice the integrity and “realness” it has at the beginning?
Elijah: it’s just something that you’ll have to see how it evolves.
If you think about some artists like Bruzer for instance, he did a release a few years ago and I remember the video, him in an Adidas tracksuit and British colours everywhere. They just pushed him as some British guy, and he lost everything else that made him what he was.
Elijah: yeah, its like with Dizzee, Tiny Tempa, Chipmunk and Skepta to an extent… Tinchy and them lot are getting so big now, that they could put out anything they want, so the way they’ve done the commercial thing and then they’ve got number ones and they’re champion of that thing, they’re next tune can be a grime thing if they want, cos they’ve got a fan base. So imagine if their fan base pick up on something like Rolling, that Tinchy Stryder song, that’s bad timing. If that tune came out now with his fan base and he pushed it, it could have done a lot better. Dizzee’s got a couple things on his album that are around 140bpm that get over looked…
Skilliam: Even Skepta’s got some, like his new track Bad Boy… There’s a scope to do it because of the fan base.
Elijah: Their fan base is made of the people that purchase music. The grime thing’s powerful in a way, but it’s not to the people that purchase music. If Tinchy can sell a grime record to people who are buying Take me back and all them tunes then that’s a hype…
And do you think that’s possible? Can you see Tinchy doing that?
Elijah: If the right one comes along. It’s like anything init. I doubt that he’s gonna go back in to the studio for a second album and try and make what he did on his first album. He aint gonna do that. The same thing doesn’t work twice.
So when people say that Tinchy has “sold out”, would you say that they’ve just done it in a different way?
Elijah: Its different for us because (me and Skilliam) came in to grime, and wanted to do grime, where as Tinchy was here before it was Grime, so maybe his intentions were different, maybe he wanted to be a rapper or whatever he is, an MC… So regardless of what he’s spitting on, he’s a big MC. Where as with me and Skilliam, we wanna be a big DJs and play grime as something I wanna play. That’s more essential.
Check out part 2 HERE
Interview and photo by Shane Connolly