Friday 27 January 2012 Dot Rotten

In our new segment, The UK Roc's, will be profiling some of the UK's finest urban music talent. Up first, we have a lyricist who goes by the name of Dot Rotten. Having built up a name within London's grime scene in its early days, the 23-year-old musical genius is now broadening his horizon's and has plans to share his deep and emotional beats and bars with the world. In this in-depth interview, Dot Rotten speaks to Joseph 'JP' Patterson about his past, present and exciting future. Dot! How are you, sir? Alright, first question. Take me back to the time when you knew in yourself that you wanted to do music on a serious level?

Dot Rotten: What’s good, JP? Yeah, music is just something that kinda came naturally. I was always around a family of musicians, and they would always be playing music and singing around the house. As I grew up, I always knew I would do something to do with music.

Tell me a bit about your musical inspirations…

Growing up, it was only my uncles and my aunties. My uncle used to rap, my aunty used to sing and they inspired me to do music. My other uncle used to produce – he was the one that made me actually want to sit down in the studio and touch things. I don’t really want to say a particular artist inspired me, because there are too many people to break it down to just one or two people. Plus, once you say one type of person, people will automatically start comparing you to them.

The majority of readers will probably not have heard of you before, so how would you describe your sound to them?

I’d say my sound is very melodic and I always try to make music that people can relate to it. So, despite the actual sound of the music, the feel is very earthy and there are different elements of emotions in there. It can’t really be described in words, you have to hear it, but there’s definitely always a moral or something in the music that every type of person can take to and understand.

You were previously named Young Dot before changing it to Dot Rotten. What prompted the change?

My name isn’t that new anymore. The name, Dot Rotten, is pretty old and that’s been my name for about four years now. So, I don’t even see the relevance of people asking me about Young Dot, it just brings up things that aren’t really necessary. But yeah, I changed my name because I was a producer and people only knew me as a producer. I released a CD spitting and it got a lot of love but, at the time, it didn’t get the recognition that it might have deserved because everyone saw me as a producer rather than an MC. Then other stuff happened in my life where I had to change my name, so I just changed it. I was actually called Dot Rotten before I was Young Dot, but no one knew that.

Not only are you talented in the lyricism field, but you’re also an established producer. When did you realise that you actually had a talent for making beats as well?

After I released my first big instrumental and it was getting played all over pirate radio stations. I gave practically every DJ who played 140 BPM all my beats and then I went away for about four or five months – I went away to live up in Reading for a while. I came back and told to my friend to turn on the radio and told him what pirate station to turn it to and said, 'I bet you one of my tunes is on.' He turned it on and my tune was playing (laughs). From that point, that’s when I started my first mixtape. I’d been away for long doing other stuff before that, away from music and doing road stuff, but I chose to do music from that point on.

Let’s talk about grime for a minute. What was it about that particular genre of music that made you want to MC over it and produce it back in the day?

I like spitting fast and, back in the day, I used to listen to everyone and hear the sick beats at a fast tempo and hear man spitting fast along to it. I used to like that, but obviously the tempo of grime is 140 and in an industry where everyone releases their tunes and does it 140, it’s classed as grime. We might be making music that an American would class as R&B at 140 but, because we release it here, it gets bracketed as grime. As a producer, and also as an artist, the whole time I was in the underground, you could probably find no more than twelve songs that I made that weren't 100% all mine. Apart from that, the majority of the catalogue on all of my mixtapes is all my beats. I make my music original, which makes it more like I did a young album than I did a grime CD. That’s why people bracket me as a grime artist.

In a recent interview with The Guardian, you controversially said that you’re not a grime artist. What would you say to people who feel that you've sold out on grime?

Basically, everything I’ve just proved and said before is an answer to that. For example, Kanye’s 'Through The Wire' is basically like a 140 tempo beat, but people will class it as hip-hop.

Okay. So if you had to put yourself under one specific genre, what would it be?

At the moment, I don’t know. I can’t really put myself under a genre. I do a bit of grime here and there, I do rap, I do soul, I can do slow jams and I can do jazz. I can’t really say I'm a 'this' artist. Don’t bracket me, because I can do something tomorrow that is completely out of the bracket, then you'd say, 'He’s a grime artist trying to do something else.' That’s not what it’s about, the music talks for itself. Forget the genre, forget names, because names on something can sometimes create more problems. I'm not urban, I'm just another human being making music like the rest of the human beings in the world making music. On the subject of grime, and people saying that I'm not a grime artist, I'm not dissing grime. Right now, I just feel that if I was to bracket myself as a grime artist, it would be stupid because of what I personally do. If you look at what grime artists are doing right now, I don’t think I’m doing the same thing. As well as that, I'm a producer as well so I have a whole different type of view to music than grime artists spitting 8 bars and 4 bars like it’s 2004. Again, no disrespect. I just want the music to transcend worldwide, not just to a couple thousand people.

What are your overall thoughts on the UK music scene right now?

Anyone in particular that you’re feeling? At the moment, pretty much everyone. I like the fact that everyone is capable getting their music heard and their platforms to everyone at the moment. What I like as well is that quality control in the game has gone up. People know that their songs have to be good. As everyone rises, and everyone releases their tunes, it becomes more harder for the labels, the A&Rs and everyone else to ignore. Artists that I feel would have to be Ed Sheeran, Tinie Tempah, Wretch 32 and Labrinth, to name a few. There are so many people, even people that looked like they would stay underground, who are coming up. Obviously, as an artist, I have certain relationships with artists, which is really cool, and we all have a mutual respect. We all trade advice and stuff, so it’s good to be around it and see them as general people who have the same drive as you and actually want to express themselves.

Mercury Records snapped you up early last year, right? How did the deal come about and how are they treating you so far?

I was introduced to my management, Jack Foster and Archie Lamb (Takeover Entertainment), by Ben, Merf and Froe - who are also known as the production team, TMS. After a while, Jack and Archie started showing my music to all the record labels around London. I went to Mercury and they were really interested, so I sat down with Jamie Nelson And DJ Semtex - who are both A&Rs there - and we negotiated a deal. Shouts go to Zubin, my lawyer. It all went well and things have been rolling ever since. I made sure that when I went to show them my music, I had enough material there that I felt would be suitable. Everything I’ve shown them so far, they seem to be really excited about! They’re really comfortable with the stuff I've brought into the offices and me and the A&R trade ideas all the time, so it’s like a proper team. I just want to keep it all kosher.

Do you think the mainstream world is ready for you? If so, why now?

I don’t know, I hope so! I rarely look at comments and try not to look at what people say and pay too much attention, I just work. I think I'm a bit na├»ve, I see views and people will say, 'Oh my gosh! You got loads of views', but it’s just like a number in my head. I don’t think I really understand that it’s that amount of people watching it, or I have to remember sometimes that it’s like one person viewing it, but five people in the room could be watching it. I don’t really read into it too much but, hopefully, I think they’re ready for me. I think that if people have a spare three minutes of their time to pay attention, then I’ll definitely say something in those three minutes that they can relate to and make them smile or give them a feeling. So yeah, if they have spare time, I'm sure they’ll be ready.

If you could work with anyone inside or outside of the UK, who would it be? 

If I could work with someone, and I haven't told anyone this yet – even though I don’t know much about their music, I can hear that they’re very experienced and at the top of their game – I would like to work with Imogen Heap. I just think she's sick! I think it would be an interesting collaboration.

Yes, that would be very interesting. Someone make it happen! (Laughs) Lastly, what does the near future hold for Dot Rotten?

I’m on Labrinth’s tour in February and I’ll be doing shows throughout the year. I just dropped the new single, 'Keep It On A Low', and I just did another one called, 'Are You Not Entertained'. We’ll have some more dropping throughout the year as well. I'll be doing freestyles here and there to keep the fans happy and hopefully, in due time, I’ll be travelling and working with bigger people and just making ends meet. I'm gonna be grafting in the studio and making it happen! No one can do this for me, no can write my lyrics for me, I've had to make this happen for myself, so I'm just continuing the journey...

Joseph 'JP' Patterson
Photography: Liam Ricketts

This also appeared over on Jay-Z's website: H E R E