Blacksmif DJ Producer XWHY

Blacksmif – Jazzy Utopian Dreams

Blacksmif talks to XWHY about Frontin’ samples, being a male bridesmaid and what he’d do to Kim Kardashian, given half the chance…

East London producer and DJ Yemi Olagbaiye, a.k.a. Blacksmif, is a grower. That’s not an innuendo. We mean it only in the sense that his influence, which has already extended it’s tentacles to reach the likes of Boiler Room, Gilles Peterson, i-D Magazine and beyond, is set to get bigger and bigger. He’s no flash in the pan.

He’s released EPs with the likes of Hypercolours sister label Space Hardware and purveyors of electronica Blah Blah Blah Records. He’s performed at Glade festival and Dimensions in Croatia, alongside the likes of Little Dragon, Four Tet, Mount Kimbie and Joy Orbison.

And, more recently, he was asked by one of our current faves, Nashville trio BASECAMP, to rework their beautiful, eerily minimalist track ‘Emmanuel’, for their Remix EP.


His appeal probably lies somewhere in the fact he does what he says on the tin. He’s a blacksmith in the sense that he cleverly melds together a variety of music, ranging from jazz, through to minimalist house, with a smattering of detailed percussive riffs. Oh, and it helps that he’s pretty funny. Don’t believe us? Read on…

You began your Boiler Room set with a jazzy Frontin’ sample…was that Jamie Cullum?! Where did that come from…?

Haha! You wouldn’t believe how many times i’ve been asked that! It’s Lee Webster – “FRNTN”. Great bootleg of such a great song. I’m glad I’ve been able to help him draw attention to it – especially given how prestigious and revered the Boiler Room platform has become over the last however many years.

Blacksmif Boiler Room XWHY magazine

What made you decide to give music a real go?

It’s hard to say. I think first and foremost is recognition – obviously. I say obviously because sometimes (even to this day) it’s hard to know how anything is going to be received. Sometimes you don’t know if you’re barking up the right tree, or kidding yourself into thinking you’ve got talent that just isn’t there.

You know, like a really entertaining X-Factor contestant in those hilarious entry-round stages on telly.

I think my first proper leg-up was garnering some support via Throwing Snow. He wanted to open a mix he was doing for some online magazine with a throwaway track I’d put up on my Soundcloud (‘M.A.N.D.Y.’).


The track, which later made it onto my debut EP, was featured as one of Mixmag’s Top 10 tunes of the month (alongside Disclosure, Jessie Ware, Usher) and attracted recognition from the likes of Mary Anne Hobbs, Rob Da Bank, Four Tet and more. I think it was then that I knew maybe I could give it a bit more than just a try…

Who is the DJ’s dj?

I dunno. I don’t wanna give an answer that necessarily defines who ‘everyone’ looks up to at the moment, as I’d like to think everyone’s different. I went to uni with Ben UFO (as well as the other Hessle Audio boys – Pearson Sound and Pangaea) and I’ve been avidly following the blossoming of his DJing career. He’s a real talent and takes pride in his work, which I admire. His BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix is off the chain.

If we made you choose: Would you rather be a global punchline, but undeniably successful (like Drake), or a rated, but anonymous (like Jaguar Skills)?

Ultimately, what I want to be able to do is make music that I myself am inspired by and to be able to make a living from it. Not just in the short-term, but I mean really maintain a long-term living from it. I don’t want to wash up after five years and end up stacking shelves in Primark or driving cabs around East London.

Hopefully that can be achieved through either one of the choices you’ve outlined in the question, but who knows…

Blacksmif DJ Producer XWHY

How was your recent experience as a male bridesmaid?

Yeah, didn’t realise you guys knew about that. It was weird. Beautiful, but weird. Walking down the aisle behind a bunch of bridesmaids (in a suit – not a bridesmaid’s dress), was my first proper experience being involved in a wedding that wasn’t family related.

I felt proper proud of the bride, like she was my little sister or something and was honoured to have been asked to be involved. I did feel quite self-conscious though that loads of people that weren’t aware I was a bridesman for the wedding might’ve just thought I was just some geezer who’d turned up to the wedding late and couldn’t find his place so thought he’d just sneak in behind the bride / bridesmaid “conga-line” going down the aisle. I’m sure they didn’t though.

I got to go to both the hen-do and stag-do for that wedding, which i’m sure must be a world first or something!

You’ve studied a load of languages. What’s the biggest benefit of being able to communicate with people outside of the M25?

Being able to chat up foreign birds. They’re always so much fitter and appreciate that you can speak their language… 😉

Geeky music lovers are an age-old institution. You must meet a million people who just want to talk shop. What really pisses you the f*** off about the know-it-alls?

That they make you feel stupid for not sharing the same encyclopedic, scene-thirsty knowledge as them. I never like to make people feel like they’re looked down upon for that sort of thing. “Oh my god, you don’t know about so-and-so, the five year-old duo from Bolton!? They’re straight outta kindergarten, they’ve got no vowels in their name, and they make synth-pop-house. You should really get to know!”

Whatever happened to just sharing good music without all the pretension? Or maybe that’s just some distant utopian dream that I’m yearning for, when in actual fact it’s never been like that.

Basically, show-offs piss me off. I don’t care if you know more about music than me. I just like good music, i’m sure you do too – end of.

Who is your ideal woman?

Looks only – Kim Kardashian. Like, since forever.


If you were granted one secret date with her, what would you do?

I don’t know… She’s probably so accustomed to her life of ridiculous wealth that no matter where I took her or what I did with her I’d be self-conscious about living up to her expectations. She’d notice my despondence and ask me “What’s wrong?”, to which I’d most likely reply something along the lines of “I’m scared Kim…”.

“Scared of what!?” she asks. “Scared of everything… I’m scared of what I saw… I’m scared of what I did, of who I am… and most of all, I’m scared of walking out of this room and never feeling the rest of my whole life the way I feel now when i’m with you…”.

Sorry, I got carried away there. Can you imagine if I actually did that!? Haha! Grab your jacket Kim, you’ve pulled!

In your opinion, are women as ridiculously confusing as they are made out to be?

Yes, but so are men. Or at least I am. It’s all just communication though isn’t it. People never really communicate stuff properly so never understand each other properly – along gender lines or otherwise. But yeah, women are confusing – anything that bleeds once a month is confusing, right? (You can edit that out actually…).

There was chat of a collab with Sampha – is that still in the works?

Yeah, you know what, he’s just a very busy guy. We got in the studio together a while back and it was great. Such a musically talented and inspiring guy to be around. We met through a friend of his who I’m still working with and helping develop at the moment. We had a great time in the studio and came up with (although never finished) some cool little ideas but that’s all – it was more just a jamming session.

Who knows, maybe once I’ve developed my own career slightly more I’ll be in a better musical headspace to try and get something going with him again, but we’ve both got enough of our own stuff to work on for now I’m sure.

Blacksmif DJ Producer XWHY Magazine

Where can we come see you next?

Not sure yet. I’ve been holed away for the last  six months, making a lot of new and interesting music, so watch this space. You can always keep track via my FACEBOOK PAGE.

Check out Blacksmif’s Boiler Room set here:


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