The #FutureMusic series is a collaboration between British Council Connect ZA and Live Magazine SA. For the final show of 2013, they partnered with the Roundhouse (UK) for #FutureMusic Rising. UK DJ Plastician was the headliner at the Joburg and Cape Town events.
Growing up in the boroughs of Croydon, Chris Reed dreamt of becoming a pro football player. Being a huge Manchester United fan, he describes playing football at old Trafford as one of the best experiences of his life. After watching his set at the Future Music Rising gig this past Friday night at The Alex, I am really glad Plastician decided to pursue a musical career instead of joining the English Premier League.
How he got into music…
By the age of 16, Plastician had developed a keen passion for music. What started off as pasttime with a few friends, grew into something bigger than he could have imagined. Pirate radio was a big part of this growth. He talks very fondly of how pirate radio played an important part in establishing himself as a pioneer in the Dubstep, Grime and Drum & Bass scene of South London. Having had a slot on a few pirate radio stations, including “Desire FM”, Plastician describes pirate radio as risky but exciting. He talks nostalgically about the constant risk of being busted by the DTI – radio police who would not only confiscate all your equipment but possibly throw you in jail. I feel a twinge of jealous as I try to imagine being part of rebel radio. “You never knew who was listening, until you saw a text or a couple of days later when a stranger would say dope set, when’s your next one.” It takes a serious amount of passion to risk your standing with the law and not know if there’s anyone out there appreciating what you’re doing. “It’s so different now, with the growth of social media/networking. If someone’s watching a video on YouTube they can instantly tell you how wack your sound is, through a badly spelt comment. Plastician says “The internet killed pirate radio”, but continues to say that he doesn’t really miss it, because besides the internet, “not so much has changed.”
Plastician realized that in order to get his name out there and to be taken more seriously, he would have to be more than just a DJ playing at clubs and on illegal radio stations. At the time, it was difficult to get music, especially new, fresh and unheard sounds. The only way to keep abreast of all the hottest jams before they broke out would be through sharing and trading music with fellow DJs and producers. So that’s basically how he got into production.
As a producer Plastician has worked with the likes of Major Lazer, Skrillex, A-Trak, High Constrast, Nodastraum, among others. He speaks of these artists with such fondness and respect for their work and talent.
The death of Dubstep…
We’ve all heard of music genres dying. Rapper Nas prophecised the death of Hip-hop with his hit “Hip Hop is Dead” and lots of people believe that Dubstep is dead in England. Plastician describes the growth of Dubstep as a fire which gathered heat – thanks to the internet – and then eventually burnt out in the place that it was ignited. I kind of find the death of any genre premature. Especially a genre that has only just been born in so many other parts of the world, South Africa being just one of them. Dubstep was only recently introduced into South Africa’s mainstream music scene, with YFM’s Hot 99 playlist.
So many people are yet to be exposed to Dubstep; it just wouldn’t be fair to proclaim the genre dead before people get a chance to have a night like last week Friday’s Future Music Rising gig.
For a long time, I had no idea what Dubstep was. I remember the first time I was exposed to the genre, about 4 years ago at a party in Town Hall. I had no idea what I was listening to. In many ways, I still feel that way about Dubstep. So when I asked Plastician, “What is Dubstep?” He kind of shrugged his shoulders, and admitted that “Dubstep, as a genre, is very difficult to define.” It’s sometimes slow, sometimes fast. It’s intense and angry but also has a calming quality about it. Plastician says “I don’t wanna give it a name.” It’s hard to define something you’re passionate about, because it boxes you in and stops you from experimenting and trying out new things because you have certain expectations to adhere to .“I just wanna play music. I don’t need to know what it’s called, as long as it’s good.” True dat. Good music shouldn’t be defined and put in a box with a nice and neat label. The moment we do that is when we kill it.
Plastician strives to make music that doesn’t conform to any specific categories and rules of what something should sound like in order to be understood and popular.
This totally came across in his set, which was an eclectic mix of sounds from Dubstep, Drum & Bass, Grime, to even kwaito inspired beats.
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Photographs taken by Siyabonga Mkhasibe, follow him on Twitter @todar88