Skelecta: “Everything Just Went. It Was Game Over”
We catch up with Producer and DJ Skelecta to talk about Fake Friends, American Dubstep and producers with the Messiah complex.
Skelecta, a.k.a. Young D is a UK Bass Producer that has recently been lauded by DJs such as B.Traits and Logan Sama and is looking to take his sounds international. There isn’t a genre on these shores to which he hasn’t turned his hand. That being said, this sure as hell isn’t a case of “Jack of all Trades, Master of None.”
His most notable track to date is ‘Sublow’, a sultry, deep little number, which enjoyed a lot of airplay on Radio1 and 1Xtra.
Having recently got back from Amsterdam, when managed to nab Skelecta for a bit of a chat. He had, unfortunately, had some tech problems, which had resulted in the loss of pretty much all of his music. Despite this, he was incredibly sanguine about it all…
I saw you tweeting that you had had some issues with your hard drive. So what happened?
Well I was playing in Amsterdam and we were in the hotel and my girlfriend accidentally stepped back and everything just went. It was game over. Six years of music gone like that! Killer!
Luckily, because I’ve been DJing a while, I’ve got a lot of CDs with music on them so it’s been a bit of a saving grace.
Where did ‘Skelecta’ come from?
Well, I was doing a media project for 6th form and it was meant to be about me as a DJ and I didn’t want to put my face on it or anything because it was a bit cheesy. Then I did a Halloween rave, and I had a skeleton mask in my bag and I just ended up combined the words skeleton and Selecta together.
You also go by the name of Young D. What differentiates the two aliases?
I mainly started out with the Young D alias making Grime and Dubstep, but then after while making the two got kind of repetitive for me, so I begun making more melodic music. At first, the Skelecta thing was just a side project really, but in the last two years it’s really kicked off, so that became the main thing.
When you go into the studio, what makes you decide if you’re going to do a Dubstep track or say something a bit more Nu Garage?
I wake up and, if I get an idea, I just run with it. There have been some tunes which started as a Skelecta garage tune and then ended up being a Dubstep tune.
So you’re London born and raised. How do you think that’s affected the style of music that you make and listen to yourself?
It’s definitely had a strong effect, particularly with regards to how I started out. With grime, most people originally started out in the youth clubs, just a thousand MCs in one sweaty room. So if I had been raised outside of London, I don’t think I’d have had that experience of getting into music that way. I’ve always been into music so I think I would have still got into it, but maybe I’d be making different stuff.
For me personally, because everything is so local, I met a lot of MCs from Pimlico, producers from Stockwell and DJs from Kennington. I’d like to check out the Bristol scene though for sure, I’ve heard good things.
A lot of London born musicians that are making their way in the world such as Chip, Tinie Tempah and Wretch 32 all seem to cite So Solid as key idols. You’re a bit younger though, so who would you say was a main influence?
My Skelecta stuff was initially influenced by producers like Jack Steadman from Bombay Bicycle Club, My Nu Leng, Joker, Dot Rotten, Jamie XX, Fantastic Mr Fox, so many. Because I create a whole spectrum of sounds, there are hundreds I could mention. As there is so much talent out there now, I guess there isn’t a singular point of reference for people coming up like there was then.
How do you feel about the tag “Urban Music” being used to describe what you do?
I can understand why people use the term urban music, but I’ve played to all types of people with my music, so I think it’s a bit of a stupid title.
Some people take themselves too seriously, right?
I’ve met some producers who actually think they’re Jesus. I wouldn’t be surprised if they turned around and said they were the second coming. But it’s the same for everything – you get people who think they’re the best thing ever and then you get people who are laid back, really well known and generous. A lot of producers are great, there are just a few dickheads.
Do you have “friends” in music?
In the early stages, when no one really has a following , it’s definitely more about the friendships and everyone is helping each other out, but it soon changes. Right now, I’d definitely say it’s more of a business relationship with most people, because there have been people that I’ve helped out in the early stages and then when they’ve had a bit of success they aren’t really there to return the favour.
If you went back to the early 2000s formula of a DJ and MC combo. who would be in the running for being the “Neat” to your “Luck”?
There are a lot of sick MC’s out there but I think I’d chose Ghetts. He has the right formula to make it work.
Is this how your mum thought you’d turn out?
It’s funny, I was having a similar conversation with Benga a couple months ago, I think his experience was pretty similar to mine in that, with most African parents, I guess they want you to be a Doctor or a Lawyer or something. Then, because you’re out late in London, at clubs, DJing a lot, there is then that parental fear that there is going to be like a 100 guys with like guns and knives hanging around.
So, it took a while for my mum to get on side with things, but it’s all good now. My girlfriend has been great as well. She’s really supportive and understanding of the whole music thing. Which helps, because if it wasn’t for that, things would be a lot more stressful. So I really appreciate it.
How did linking up with Four40 records come about?
I heard a release by them called ‘Hard to Smile’ by a producer called ENiGMA Dubz that was round about when I started the whole Skelecta thing with the future garage sound. And I heard that tune and because the whole genre is influenced by Burial and he’s one of my favourite producers, once I heard that it all clicked and I started submitting tunes to them.
I actually finished a full EP with them called Spill My Heart, which we eventually gave away as a free download and they signed one of my UK Bass tracks ‘Sublow’.
Yeah Sublow has been getting a lot of love…
Literally, I was tweeting about this the other day because to this day I have no idea how it blew up. There are a few tunes that influenced it: Disclousre – ‘Just Your Type’, and Joy Orbison -‘ Sicko Cell’. I heard those tunes and I thought, “let me just put something together” and someone was like: “yeah this is sick”, sent it to B.Traits and got some airplay and from there other DJs picked it up.
It is a truth, universally acknowledged that DJs hate people asking for requests. What the most annoying track you’ve been asked to play recently?
What usually happens with that is, I’ll be doing my set and then I get girls waving their phones in my face asking for Katy B and that. The worst track I’ve been asked to play is one of those charty American Dubstep tracks and I was in the middle of a Grime and Garage set, so it wouldn’t have made any sense. It was so horrible, I can’t even remember the name of it, I just pushed it out of my mind immediately.
So how do you feel about Americans jumping on the whole Dubstep vibe?
In general, I know a few American producers and they don’t make that mainstream over-saturated Dubstep stuff that you might hear someone like Britney on. They’re pushing the Dubstep scene really strongly in the US. Some of the videos of Dubstep sets in the US are crazy, you just would not see that reaction in the UK. There is a lot of love for it. So it’s not that I have anything against American producers, its more bad producers.
Do you have any big projects in the pipeline?
Well I’ve got a few things in the pipeline but I don’t like to talk about them too much because in this industry things can some times never see the light of day. I do have a release with an American label called Party Like Us records, run by AC Slater. Other than that, my next Four40 EP and a lot of downloads to come.
Check out Skelecta’s SOUNDCLOUD
And his listing on B.TRAITS ‘TIPS FOR 2013’