Words: Alex Caslano
With the Red Bull Music Academy UK Tour about to descend on Glasgow for a series of special shows, workshops and lectures, we’ve decided to hone in on of the most anticipated events. Already sold out (and for good reason), the GLA X LDN showcase at The Poetry Club sees Glasgow roll out some of its hottest DJ and production talent when it comes to grime, beats and quick-fire mixing. Legendary Newham Generals MC, D Double E, will represent London alongside Jammz & Capo Lee, as well as Rinse FM resident and 'Side By Side' producer, Sir Spyro.
Representing Glasgow you’ll find DJ Milktray, Rapture 4D and Bushido, three producers who take cues from grime, but have developed their own, distinct style which borrows from different elements of bass and underground music. Ahead of tonight's showdown, we asked the guys about their introduction to production, whether Glasgow has a recognisable 'sound' and what influence labels and crews like Astral Black and Levels Syndicate have had on the local community:
SynthGlasgow: Can you start by telling us a little about the influences which have had an impact on your sound and how you found your way into production?
Bushido: It's pretty hard to pin down to be honest. I have taken influence from UK Funky artists such as Lil Silva and Funkystepz all the way through to hardstyle don Hixxy (and everything in between). I have always been interested in music, most likely down to my parents who have always being encouraging - my mum still sends me music she thinks I'd be interested in or might like. Not really sure how the production came about; just decided one day that I was gonna give it a shot and I got right into it.
DJ Milktray: I started producing as a natural progression really. I used to run a blog with some friends called I Hate Fun, and we hosted mixes, exclusive tracks and compilations featuring the likes of Mssingno and ISLAND a long time ago. Through that we started to put on parties in Glasgow to book people we were featuring on the blog, like Slackk, Cashmere Cat and Bloom to name a few. I would DJ at the start of these parties and also get to see our guests playing out their own music which instantly made me want to have a go at producing myself.
My influences come mainly from what I listened to as a teen really: grime, hip hop, Alkaline Trio, Blink 182 and a bit of happy hardcore. Although, now inspiration comes from other Astral Black family members or sitting on Youtube and searching for the most obscure/weird stuff possible to give me some ideas while tying to get out of my comfort zone - which I find a lot more fun.
Rapture 4D: I would say some of the influences on my sound have come from the darker and heavier sides of the underground i.e drum & bass, dubstep, even 4x4 bassline. Ever since finding that sort of music on the internet (Glasgow's bass scene wasn't very big at the time whatsoever), I always had a fascination with it, which lead to me exploring further.
Naturally, I found myself spending days on YouTube learning how to pirate copy FL Studio (dinny grass) and learning how to use the hing. From there on I pretty much self taught myself how to make tunes I would want to hear in a rave / mix myself, and I'm still kind of following that formula. I'm glad to see there is a relatively bigger bass scene now in Glasgow.
SG: Grime originated as a predominately London movement, but Glasgow seems to have developed its own, independent scene. Why do you think such a strong community has developed here and do you think Glasgow has a recognisable sound?
DJ Milktray: People in Glasgow have been pushing grime for a long time; LVLZ Syndicate members such as Gallus One and Skola were on it early, from being on Axe FM in 2005 to performing with huge names when they came up to the city, pre "grime revival".
Rapture 4D: I reckon it's the influence London actually has on the rest of the UK. It was only a matter of time before grime spread northwards; that being said, there has been grime up here since 05/06 (G20 crew). Not a large community as such compared to today, but the seed has slowly grown and became a forest.
I do think Glasgow is starting to develop its own sound - 'starting' is the key word there - but I am very excited to be someone right in the middle of it and part of something that I reckon will become very special in years to come.
DJ Milktray: Over the past few years there has definitely been an increase in people producing grime and grime-influenced music, which is great for Glasgow as a city. It does create a kind of community feel with music being sent around, b2bs taking place and bumping into each other on the street because Glasgow is tiny haha.
Bushido: I think a strong community has developed here because it's such a small city, but has a lot of variation in genre. With the city being predominantly techno heads I think without a strong community most people would just move to London haha. To be honest, I don't think Glasgow has a recognisable sound as such and I think that's what makes the city great. Everyone is just doing their own thing while also supporting each other.
DJ Milktray: I feel like a lot of the music around the 140-70bpm spectrum from Glasgow isn't solely grime music, despite the bpms and vibe. There is more to it.
SG: You’re part of local label, Astral Black, who also support home-grown producers at their events. How important has Astral Black been in nurturing the local beat scene?
DJ Milktray: I feel we do a good job of showcasing the most exciting local talent to our listeners. Our nights in the Art School always have new, up and coming Glasgow producers and DJs on support, alongside more well known acts like Skepta or Spooky.
Our releases and free compilations reflect our hunger to push new talent in Glasgow to a wider audience. We like to create a family atmosphere made up of like-minded people from Glasgow and further afield, sharing ideas and being free to work how they feel comfortable. We want people in Glasgow and the UK as a whole to be inspired to make music after listening to an EP we release, or want to put on a club night after coming to one of ours.
Bushido: I think Astral Black have been extremely important in developing the local beat scene - all the way from productions to club nights. Before Astral put on Spooky and Skepta I can't really recall much boss action going on. Ain't no party like an Astral Black party!
Rapture 4D: It's definitely an important one. It's very important we try to keep it peaceful between everyone in the scene, because the only way to grow is to support and encourage. Although clashing is sometimes a good thing in grime, I genuinely believe negativity only breeds more negativity.
SG: You’re representing Glasgow at RBMA’s GLA X LDN party at The Poetry Club; what is the one track you’ll reach for to turn up the heat?
Bushido: Was a hard choice, but DJ Funeral on this Badboi!
Rapture 4D: Ooohhhhh here, that's a hard one. I'm looking to have the heat on full blast the entire time. Maybe a wee cool down here and there so naebdy burns, buuuut I would definitely say this monster of a tune, 'SANDSAND', from fellow Scotsman, Haggi, is gonna Rapture the fuck outta everycuntooooooo. Metallica samples n that...are u maddd?
DJ Milktray: If I’m trying to "turn up the heat", it will be because this shit is fire!
DJ Milktray, Rapture 4D and Bushido feature alongside D Double E, Sir Spyro and more at the RBMA UK Tour GLA X LDN showcase at The Poetry Club this Thursday (13th). It’s sold out, however tickets are still available for other events across the weekend at the RBMA Glasgow website.