We figured it was high time we featured the main man himself and, as we’d expected, he’s come correct with two(!) mixes and an extremely in-depth interview…
Man like Crises! How are you sir? What you on at the moment – busy? Hey guys! Big ups for having me on here to feature this interview – long time coming… All is good thank you, keeping busy and juggling family life with music – grateful to say the least! At the moment I am in the middle of a few projects for MindStep Music – we have some exciting releases in the pipeline as well as events/showcases/tours we are planning for this year…
First things first. Where did it all start for you? When did you get into the dubstep and reggae roots/dub sound? It started in my teenage days; many, many years ago (over 25 years ago!) in the 90’s… I was heavily involved in the London pirate radio sub-culture and was an active fan and collector of house & garage and grime records.
During this time, I used to play on various pirate radio stations, committing to late night/early morning graveyard shows – most time it would be 2-6am. I hosted many private house parties for mates’ birthdays.
I even played at official under18 parties/raves which was one of many aspirations back then!
Fast forward a bit… During my university days I used to religiously attend University Of Dub (a reggae roots and soundsystem event) every month in the Brixton Recreational Centre, South London. Alongside that, I would also go to FWD>> (a forward thinking dubstep/bass music event) every week when it was at Plastic People in east London. During this period I naturally made the link between reggae roots/dub, dubstep, garage and everything I had been exposed to musically. So by the time I finished my degree in 2007, I knew what path I wanted to take with my music. One of my motivations was to blend the reggae roots/dub and garage/ 2-step influences with the deep dark, spacious and meditative sounds of dubstep… That’s when I started to present a dubstep show (SunshineInaBag) on Rinse Fm, which lasted just over 6 years.
You’re one of the most prolific dubstep/dub DJs we know, it’s always a pleasure hearing you play out. Tell us more about your sets and when/where did you catch the DJing bug? Thank you, that means a lot, especially coming from you guys… Bless up!
There are different aspects to my sets – at times I might play a full show of reggae vibes, other times strictly dubstep/bass vibes or sometimes a mix of both with everything in between – all depends really. I mean I have a real therapeutic approach to my sets and this is made easy with the wide range of musical styles I have to choose from. I very rarely plan my sets so I feel when I present music, I can take people on a journey that I am going on myself. I really love playing music for like minded people and I will do so for the rest of my life – it is such a buzz!
It is that buzz that is part of the DJing bug I suppose, which first came about in my garage/grime days. This was when I realised the therapeutic qualities of music. I got my first pair of decks when I was 13 years old, which were SoundLAB 1600 belt-driven turntables and then two or three years later, I got my first pair of Technics 1210s – it is my calling…
What can you tell us about the mix you put together for us? Each year for the past two, I have recorded a mix that is 100% MindStep material – this is the 3rd edition and it features various released, forthcoming and exclusive tracks from ARtroniks, Dillard, K-Man, Trashbat and Vaun plus more… I really enjoyed recording this one!
Now moving on to MindStep Music. How do you describe your imprint? Does it have a ‘signature sound’? I would describe MindStep Music as an independently run, innovative record label – from the grass-roots level, with a key focus on developing sound and assisting independent artists. The artists on the label have a fair amount of creative control and as much as we sign individual tracks, we try to invest in the artists themselves – aiming to join them on their musical path/journey/career. Each artist on the roster has their own path and represent their own sound, bringing something unique to the label. There is no competition amongst the artists (well I don’t think there is!) – I truly feel that everyone involved compliments each other.
I have always believed that no brand is any bigger than the collective of artists they have on their roster, and in turn, no individual artist is any bigger than the radio station, record label or scene they may be involved with… Although I own and manage the label, MindStep is more a collective of gifted individuals with shared interests and positive creative attitudes – it works and we enjoy it…
Throughout the years, we have been developing and pushing boundaries with our sound – it is hard to pinpoint the ‘signature sound’ but I would say it is definitely one that is filled with mindfulness. As a whole the MindStep sound is very diverse – it delves into the deep/dark, jazzy, meditative, reggae/dub, ambient, experimental and hip-hop styles of dubstep/bass music. For the past 16 months, we have been focusing a lot of energy on the vocal aspects of our music, and this is an important part of our development as a label.
In your opinion, what sets the imprint apart from the other labels out there? What a question! Erm! As well as being unpredictable, I feel the biggest factor that sets us apart from other labels is the fact we have a very diverse range of styles that we release, whereas some other labels may focus more on a particular style.
However I do think that everyone is as important as everyone else, and we all play a significant role in the health and development of the scene… As I have pretty much come through solely as a DJ, I have always been passionate towards the underground music scene, upholding a level of integrity within the culture… I started MindStep in 2009 because of what I felt was missing in the scene – to showcase all styles of dubstep and promote new artists – not to compete.
If there was a release, or single track, that best epitomised MindStep in your back catalogue, what release/ tune would that be? That is a very hard question to answer, but I would have to say BunZer0‘s Darabuka EP – released in Dec 2012. I have got so much respect and love for BunZer0 – I was listening to his FOB Show on Sub FM from back in 2006 – he has definitely been an inspiration to me over the years, so when Jim Syte presented the idea of releasing his music, it was a pleasure and a great moment for sure…
So basically, the Darabuka EP was his debut release with MindStep Music – he really pushes the boundaries with electronic bass music and live musicians. The EP features Katya Gabeli on her violin, Mr Jo with his harmonica and the percussionist Kamine. These tracks are very significant to the innovative goals we have as a label, and at the time I always knew that this release was a timeless piece of work. Even when we listen to it now, it’s easy to think it was made in the future. To me this release reflects some of the endless potentials through sound and production.
What have you got coming up in terms of new material? Have you guys got anything planned for vinyl releases? We have so much exciting new material in the pipeline, it’s crazy! Loads from existing MindStep artists, plus some brand new producers joining our roster.
For now, I can announce that within the next few months or so, we have scheduled music coming from Craft, Trashbat, Vaun, Drew’s Theory, K-Man, Dillard, Subtle Mind, Elefant Doc and more. As well as new vocalists joining the roster, we also have music from existing MindStep performers; Ill Chill, Sarah Zad, I-Mitri and Animai – who will also be dropping her solo EP this year.
As most of our music is released digitally, I feel when we release vinyl it is important for us release ‘vinyl only’ – this is what we did with Dubtro‘s MSV001. We definitely have plans for another vinyl release, but I don’t want to say too much about it – however there will be more than one artist involved…
To be honest there are tracks I have been listening to since September 2014. Tunes that have not even been played on radio or anything yet. Sometimes it is about timing and not everything needs to be put out straight away, and to have artists on board that understand this is amazing!
What’s the MindStep A&R process – how do you go about discovering/ signing new artists or music? The A&R process is natural, but at the same time there is a structured set up. The A&R team includes myself, Jim (Syte), Callum (Trashbat) and Daniel (Vaun – through his collaborations he has introduced a majority of the vocalists on our roster). So depending on who the new artist is and what sound they bring, kind of indicates who would naturally be involved in the process…
As well as music being submitted especially for MindStep consideration, tracks and dubs that are sent in for my DJ sets/shows also prove to be another successful way of discovering new music and new artists – which I am sure is the same for the other guys.
SoundCloud has played a very big role throughout the years. It’s funny because there have been people in the past who have worried that we would not be interested because they don’t have many followers on SoundCloud etc., but this is something that always seems to attract us – as long as we feel the music, of course! So yeah big up SoundCloud.
In terms of recommendations for new artists looking to submit music to you, what’s the most important tip you’d share? The most important tip I would give a new artist is to focus on what you do, what you feel and what you create – everything else becomes a distraction otherwise… Do not be afraid to try new things with the music – you shouldn’t have to sound like this person or that person. Being confident in your own sound and style is important to unlocking and realising the next stages of your creative abilities.
You are doing MindStep events again, what are your plans? Do you think we are still missing an active events circuit or is it about quality over quantity? For the past 18 months, we have been concentrating on our releases and now we feel it is a good time to start up our events again. The plan is to reflect what we do as a label by showcasing the live performing elements as well as club nights.
There is a MindStep London showcase on Friday 3rd April 2015 and we will be doing a MindStep take over for a night called Format in Bristol, on Friday 10th April 2015. These are two events which fully represent the MindStep roster in the UK. We also have a debut MindStep tour in USA during May 2015, that will also reflect the artist roster we have from the States.
I would definitely say quality over quantity is more important. I do think there is an active events circuit in place, it is just different to what we had back in the day. There definitely seems to be more label- or artist-based events taking place – not so many promoters or promotions putting on events with dubstep/bass music as the focus… Maybe this is a sign that something is actually missing – let’s face it venues don’t make it easy!
You’ve got an awesome show with the SUB FM crew. Is radio an important part of what you do? What are your top 3 platforms (e.g. FB/ SoundCloud/ radio etc) as an individual artist and a label manager? Cheers!
I actually feel really blessed to be hosting the weekly MindStep Show on SUB FM and it is definitely an important part of what I do.
The show is a very good channel of communication with our loyal listening base and it allows me to freely practice my DJing, as well as showcase and present MindStep artists/tracks/releases. There is a real positive vibe between myself and the listening crew – for example, when I meet someone for the first time who regularly listens to the show, it is like we have met many times before. What a buzz, I love it!
So yes, for sure radio is the number 1 platform for me – and I also consider video streaming channels like GetDarker or ChewTV to be radio as well (you can watch the latest MindStep takeover on GetDarker TV here and here).
SoundCloud/Mixcloud audio streaming channels are great, although both have their own limitations… Social networking platforms like Facebook & Twitter also play a key in role in communicating. Those would make up my top 3, or should I say, my most used platforms!
Release or dub, what was your favourite tune of 2014? Jeph1 & I-Mitri’s Blaze EP.
Any final words or shoutouts? Good luck with the next few MindStep releases and can’t wait to hear your new music! Big up FKOF crew – out to Wil, Korrupt and Justify – thanks for all your support with the label and bless up for all your hard work and what you contribute to the scene. Thanks again for having me!
Massive love to the full MindStep family! Out to Ryan El, Magenta, Maya, Bob Macc, William Massey, Cygnus Music, Syte, Trashbat, Vaun, BunZer0, ARtroniks, Jeph1, Animai, Ill Chill, Sarah Zad, I-Mitri, Drew’s Theory, Elefant Doc, Sepia, Jon (Anex), Six, Dubwoofa, Craft, Subtle Mind, Geode, G Double, Sun Of Selah, Gary, Paz Ranking, Whistla and the Sub Fm family, Nicole and the Sub.mission team in Denver, Darkside and the GetDarker crew, plus I have so many more names to mention… It’s all love!
Shouts to all the producers, radio stations and record labels who send me their music promos and dubs – thanks for loading me with such great music! Most importantly big up all the DJs, promoters, bloggers and all the listeners who continue to support our music and help push positive vibes… Thanks a lot.
Click to DOWNLOAD (142MB)
- Hatti Vatti & Cian Finn – Education [Moonshine Recordings]
- Dub Dynasty – Koonta Dub [Steppas Records]
- Vibration Lab ft. Ziggi – Pretender (Get Away Riddim) [forthcoming MindStep Music]
- RSD – Know U 2 [Moonshine Recordings]
- Alpha Steppa ft. Lutan Fyah – Two Sacred Swords (DJ Madd remix) [Steppas Records]
- Numa Crew – Knowledge [Moonshine Recordings]
- Mungo’s Hi Fi ft. YT – Scream [Scotch Bonnet Records]
- Dubbing Sun – Dread Come Fi Conquer [Strictly Dub Records]
- Drew’s Theory & Cris Fern – Herb Shop Conversations [dub]
- Sparxy – Sunshine Dub [dub]
- Radikal Guru – Spaced Out [Moonshine Recordings]
- Compa – Dem A Talk [We Are Wax]
- RSD – Get Up Version [Steppas Records]
- Gappy Ranks – Stinkin’ Rich (TMSV remix) [VP Records]
- Max Powa ft. Prince Alla & Seanie T – Great Stone (Vibration Lab remix) [Powa Cuts]
- Laktic – Steppers Riddim [Strictly Dub Records]
- Red Eyes – She Likes Dub (Digid remix) [Dubtastic]
- Jeph1 & I-Mitri – Blaze [forthcoming MindStep Music]
- Dub Dynasty & Cian Finn – 9 Years Dub [Steppas Records]
- Dub Dynasty & Cian Finn – 9 Years [Steppas Records]
- Adam Prescott – Kingdom [Moonshine Recordings]