Monday 24 June 2013

MTV IGGY: Plastician: "It Feels Like I’m Starting All Over Again"

By Joseph 'JP' Patterson

Plastician, born Chris Reed in Croydon, has been a purveyor of British bass culture since 2002; producing grime-tinged dubstep classics such as "Cha," "Japan," and "Intensive Snare," and hosting shows on BBC Radio 1 and Rinse FM alike, he was also one of the first resident disc jockeys down at London's staple, bass-fuelled club night, FWD. Even throughout the underground scene's many trials and tribulations over the years ("grime's dead!" "dubstep's too mainstream", Form 696, yada, yada, yada), the DJ/producer has been super-loyal to the cause—but that doesn't mean he hasn't been exploring fresh sonic territory. Today, Reed finds himself in a new musical head-space, and with fellow dubstepper Skream flying the flag for disco now, it seems he's not the only one nodding to a different kinda beat. Could this be the end of Plastician as we know him? Read on. The Croydonite bares all.

Just last week you put out a statement about the new direction you plan on taking with your music. Why the change, and why now?

I’ll still be DJing under Plastician, but I’m trying to separate producing from DJing because I’m just fed up of going to gigs and people asking me to play tunes I made 6-7 years ago. Also, some of the music I’m working on right now, when I put it up, people always ask me, ‘Why are you making this? Where’s the grime? Where’s the dubstep?’ It’s a bit jarring not being able to do whatever you want to do. The stuff I’m making at the minute is a bit weird, and I’m not really sure if people will get their heads around it. It’s a bit of a mish-mash of all types of sounds, and that’s another reason why I don’t want to put it under the Plastician alias – it’s so hard to explain. I don’t want to give it a label. It needs to grow naturally.

Do you have a new alias to house said music under?

I haven’t thought about it, to be honest, but I’m not going to tell anyone it’s me anyway. It’s a bit of an experiment. I want to see if people will play music because it’s good, not because I’ve sent it them. So now, if I want to make a house tune, I’ll send it to a house DJ. If I want to make a hip-hop tune, I’ll send it to a hip-hop DJ. I just want to see if people will play it just because it’s a good tune. Everyone’s surrounded by hype now, and it’s all bollocks. I’d rather know my tunes are being played on its own merit, as opposed to the fact I sent it.

To gauge where your music head’s currently at, what kind of sounds/genres are you digging into right now?

I’ve always really liked all sorts of genres. I lived in LA for a few months and watched a few DJs like Salva, Jerome LOL and Kastle playing really mixed sets when they guested on my Rinse FM show, and I thought, ‘Why can’t I just play a set like that?’ I came back from LA and made the decision to start mixing all the sounds I enjoy into my sets. I’m excited by music that can’t be put into a box. I just try and find something within a song that I can work with. I don’t look for house or dubstep or grime or hip-hop, I just listen out for something that grabs me. It’s more about the vibe or feel of a track than its tempo or beat structure.

I’m really feeling that whole Low End Theory idea of showcasing good music without labels. There’s lots of interesting electronic music coming out of LA at the moment and it doesn’t really have a name, but I’m playing quite a lot of it. It varies in tempo, it varies in style, but it’s all good electronic music. I’ve heard a few interesting juke bits but, again, I’m not really into listening to one specific sound, even for a whole hour, I like people who mix it up.

There are some good songs taking influence from the Jersey, Baltimore, Chicago and Detroit sounds, and I think it’s becoming very influential on a wider scale. I get sent stuff that sounds like a cross between juke and trap – some of that stuff sounds wicked. It’s interesting to play out and see these different styles melt together. It’s also challenging, as a DJ, to work out ways of making it all work within a set. Anyone can just play what they like, but making it work in terms of the journey throughout a set is what will separate the great DJs from the good DJs.

And are there any up-and-coming acts, in particular, we should be checking for?

There’s a guy on my label called AWE, who’s a young producer from Los Angeles. He’s making some mad music at the moment, and he’s smashing it. Then there’s a guy from Sheffield called DS1, who is sick! There are loads of people, to be honest with you. In terms of grime, I think Spooky has finally stepped up. I know he does a lot of bootlegs, but his original stuff is starting to come together for him. Joker’s also back, so yeah… Oh, and there’s Djemba Djemba from LA, and Mr Carmack from Hawaii – really liking what they’re coming with.

So, I guess this is the big question everyone wants to know: will you be releasing at least one more dubstep/grime EP, mixtape or album as Plastician? This can’t be the end, surely?

Well, yeah, I’ll be releasing a 100% grime EP later on this year – which will be the last thing I produce as Plastician, for now – but, like I said before, I’ll still be DJing as Plastician. I’m starting a Terrorhythm night soon, too. I’m just trying to give fans a mixture, you know? A year ago, I’d have told you that I was a grime and dubstep DJ, but I wouldn’t even say that now. I’m playing music I enjoy and working it all together within a set. It feels like I’m on to something new. It feels like I’m starting all over again, and it’s just very exciting.

Your good friend, Skream, said some really interesting things about dubstep recently. In a nutshell, his heart is no longer in it. Both of you are revered names in the dubstep scene, yet you’re both off experimenting with new sounds. What’s gone wrong?

I think Skream’s words were taken out of context, as he actually only said he had lost interest in the scene and the sound, which is fair enough and honest on his part. I don’t think anything’s gone wrong, in particular. The type of dubstep a lot of people are hearing today is like an extreme version of the ideas that were created by people 5/6 years ago. There’s a lot of good dubstep still floating around, particularly the deeper stuff, and there seems to be a really strong scene for that sound right now – probably more-so than there’s ever been for that. In terms of dubstep in the mainstream, it just became a little too saturated with music that sounds the same.

At the moment, if you’re not into the deeper side of the sound, or the really hard edge of the sound, there’s not a lot of that creative experimental stuff that sits in the middle. With the hard stuff, it almost became a bit of a parody of itself, and a lot of the stuff that I was getting sent was increasingly noisy. It got to the point where I’d get sent something and I’m like, ‘This sounds like somebody made a joke dubstep tune,’ but then that tune will end up on BBC Radio 1′s daytime playlist. The dubstep getting pushed to the mainstream audience was not totally representative of the broader picture of the sound. So your average music listener, who wasn’t following the scene as a whole, was accepting this new extremity as the embodiment of the term ‘dubstep.’

They’re hearing what they believe to be dubstep but it is, in fact, a completely different sound to the majority of the music under the dubstep term. People are saying that dubstep is dying out, but I think what is actually dying down is the idea of people mixing one sole genre of music. I’ve always played various sounds in my own sets, so I’m finding it quite unusual how so many people are translating this into the death of a genre when, in fact, it’s a lot more positive than that. People go out on a night out now expecting to hear different sounds, as opposed to just dubstep. There are more influences and more sounds floating around, more DJs are playing other stuff, and I think that’s what it boils down to. Eventually, the lines that separate so many genres will be blurred.

This also appeared over at MTV IGGY: H E R E