If your finger is on the pulse of electronic music you may have noticed a name that has consistently appeared in most of its incarnations over the past couple of years. From Grime to Funky to Dubstep and House you can be sure that Scratcha DVA has had his hand in one of those pies at some point, yet the Hyperdub signed producer rarely gets the attention he deserves.
Last year showcased the producer’s ability to tap into the multitude of influences that make up the club scene and confidently express them in his own unique vision. From his album Pretty Ugly that polarized critics with its seemingly incompatible mixture of grooves all the way through to his regular Rinse shows and recent jazz and funky infused Fly Juice EP he has clearly shown and proved that he knows his stuff when it comes to British dance music.
We decided to find out exactly where he thinks his and British electronic music in large is heading, and after our chat with him it seems the future is all about frequencies.
So what have been the highlights for you last year?
Sonar Festival was sick, Pretty Ugly of course, which I would do all over again even though it split opinions. It was actually split between two very different worlds, It was pretty and ugly and you either loved it or hated it, I would definitely do it again though, it’s all about experimenting I love Grime and I love soulful stuff, so I mean it was natural for me.
Where did the idea for Fly Juice come about?
When I started doing this funky stuff I wasn’t going to clubs much. I was the sound engineer in one club and that’s where I started hearing this funky house. For the most part I was purely into Grime and let’s face it that wasn’t a very fun club scene was it. When I make tunes I never really cared about the DJ who was going to play the tracks, so I started going to different clubs and checking out DJ’s. With this EP I really cared about how it was going to be played and the reaction on the dance floor, compared to my last album that didn’t have intros and was generally hard for DJ’s to mix, with that I was just going with the vibe. With Fly Juice it’s more made for the dance floor, with my other stuff DJ’s could mix it but they didn’t want to because it was too much hard work. So I made it easier for them.
Who did the Fly Juice Artwork?
That was Manny aka Optigram he does the majority of the Hyperdub covers. For my first two releases they did what they felt was best, but coming up to the album I started to put a bit of input in. The Fly Juice Artwork is in relation to the title of the EP, for those in the know.
The Pretty Ugly one was pretty cool as well.
Yeah that was just Manny again, he was like come down to Brick Lane I want to take a quick picture of you, he took the picture with a little camera and they he did what he did to it and I was like, he’s a genius.
How’s your label DVA Music doing?
I’ve just realised an LP from Shy One, I love the sound of her stuff so I decided to put that out there in a LP. We have Joss Ryan who was the last release on my label he’s working on some new stuff at the moment, we got an EP from Funk Butcher as well. Just churning them out really, I think the label has come a long way, I’ve noticed a lot of press saying Shy One is the first release on my label where it’s actually just the first LP, it’s the eleventh release in total.
Wow I never realized your label has been running for that long, what would you say defines the imprint?
It’s just about being diverse and having a different sound, if you listen to Kurb Krawl / The End, the first release on the label and check out all the other Grime tracks of that time, it was different. So I’ve always wanted to keep it unique and having someone like Shy One on board definitely adds to that vibe.
Are you working on anything new at the moment?
I’m kind of in limbo at the moment, listening to a lot of stuff. I want to make a new EP but I don’t want to force it, so I will just wait for the vibe to come along and do it naturally, I’m going to Berlin for a bit too.
I’m sure your trip to Berlin will give you inspiration?
Yeah, there’s such a good vibe down there, continuous music with different sounds to inspire me to do different stuff, I can get inspiration from anywhere though, I used to listen to a load of Brandy which would inspire me to make grime. I’m listening to a lot of jazz as well, all the inspirations somehow find their way into my tunes. Anything can happen at any time, I just hate boring music.
What do you think about Grime these days?
It’s a tricky one unless Wiley is spitting on it or Logan or Butterz is playing it or it’s got some relation to some artist who is big at the time then its like it’s not Grime. I always get into these Grime conversations, but really i feel certain players have to be involved for you to call your thing Grime. Before if Skream plays a tune that tune is Dubstep and that’s that. If Wiley makes a beat that beat is Grime, if Ludacris spat on a track that track is hip hop.
Is making instrumentals for rappers something you would like to get into?
I’ve been asked to do a few tracks recently but I don’t really want to do them just for the sake of it, I don’t want to force it when something comes along that I want to work for then I’m all for it.
So what do you think is the most exciting area of electronic music at the moment?
I’m not sure if there is anything at the moment that’s my problem maybe, I don’t know about you but I’m getting tunes sent to me and they’re all terrible man, most of them anyway and this has been going on for longer then about three or four months, and I’m thinking I cant not like this many tunes but other DJ’s feel them. Annie Mac may play a tune, every one loves it and I’m thinking that’s total crap. So that’s where I’m at. I’m beginning to think it’s my taste that is changing dramatically and not the music.
What makes a good tune?
For me at the moment, anything different and interesting that goes in a different direction to most of the other tracks out there. If someone makes banger there will be a hundred people who stick to that formula, and before you know it you have a million copy cats and they all sound the same. I don’t think too many people have that much originality at the moment.
People are scared to go out of their comfort zone?
Yeah it’s like I played this A Made Up Sound track as intro at Fire a while back and a DJ was like what that’s a bit ballsy mate, I was like yeah and what, have that! I need to wake people up and I find that’s what’s so good about Hyperdub they put people outside of their comfort zone. I see it as we are on our own planet. There are other planets but then there is a big planet everyone else lives on.
The techno wave hit London big that’s still majorly there but I think we have lost our groove, there are a lot of raves where they will just happily play 4/4 from start to finish and everyone’s happy. When you put a track that’s not 4/4 everyone stands still and there like what, whereas three years ago it was fine to play different grooves. Now they want it German, straight hard and fast, dealing with that has been pretty tough but its just a phase.
People need to learn to be more receptive to different music.
I feel people just need to chill out and except all music, I think when the techno wave dies down bare new tunes are going to get made and something new and fresh will happen.
What producers are doing big things in your eyes at the moment?
You know who I like at the moment, A Made Up Sound it’s an alias of 2562, under that name he’s doing crazy shit he’s on a proper experimental thing, that’s the best stuff Ive heard recently. Also DJ Rashad and Teklife crew.
What clubs are you feeling?
Fabric still always sounds great, there nice people and nice well behaved ravers there never had a rubbish night there.
It’s been a great year for Hyperdub too.
I think Hyperdub has had a sick year, look how many albums, EP’s and singles we have been releasing this year, it’s just been bang, bang, bang, consistent but different flavours too. When we go to do Hyperdub shows everyone does their own thing and no one treads on each others toes. Cooly G does her thing, Ikonia, Terror Danjah does his thing, I do my thing like everyone else involved, there’s no crossing wires. I guess it’s going to be the same thing next year. Someone is doing an album that’s all I can say and Kode 9 has done a tune too, it’s on YouTube its called Xingfu Lu, its sick, it was inspired by a crazy road in Shanghai.
What do you think of the recent Audio Visual trend, is that something you want to get into?
Yeah that’s something I been thinking about not on Jeff Mills, scale that’s a next thing, just having visuals when your DJing is a major thing I think. I did a show in Turin I had a screen in the back with me dressed as Raiden from Mortal Kombat with me winning fights and stuff that got a really good response so I thought why don’t I do that in every show, not necessarily the same thing, but visuals especially at festivals. In a festival for someone of my profile obviously not everyone’s going to know who I am, so my name flashing up in the background now and again won’t hurt. I did the Mortal Kombat thing myself too on iMovie.
Are you in the zone for making music 24/7?
Something will happen or I will have to remix a tune and it would get me in the vibe I just get these blocks sometimes but I kind of like them because when they go you just get a wave of ideas.
Would you mess with genres outside of electronic music?
It’s all about electronic music for me now, the possibilities are endless with electronic music.
What do you see as the future of Electronic music?
Go back fifty years and play any Dubstep tune to people of that time and tell them kids are going to be listening to this in the future they would be like, what! Is there something wrong with the machine, so who knows what it’s going to evolve into. I will tell you what I really want to do though. So you know we have sound frequencies and you got bass frequencies and they all affect us differently, right. Well, I watched a program and there was a bag of sheep’s guts hanging from the ceiling, and they turned up the bass and said this is what happens to you when the bass is turned up at a club and the guts were rumbling, so I have been thinking if we know what frequency does that and if you was clever enough to transmit all those frequencies, you could get to the stage where you don’t hear anything but you still feel the rhythm and frequencies, it’s like you will be skanking but you won’t know why. When someone makes that frequency transmitter we’re good, we need to learn from the dolphins and whales.Scratcha DVADVA MusicHyperdubBassDubstepGrime