Youngsta has been there since the birth of dubstep and not only helped in developing the sound, but was a key component in getting the music heard with Rinse (once a pirate radio station, now FM) and FWD>>. His Rinse show, which has recently moved from Thursdays 9pm-11pm to Monday 11pm-1am, has become a cornerstone of the genre and it boasts the most active thread on dubstepforum.com with over 3,500 responses.
Back in 2005, Youngsta mixed the Dubstep Allstars compilation for their second CD, regarded as one of the best early dubstep mix CDs produced. Now in 2011, Youngsta's been asked to mix the Rinse 14 CD, which will be dropping in May with a launch party at FWD>> on Thursday 12th May but before that he's playing at FWD>> & Rinse at Fabric on Friday April 1st.
As well as being awarded Best DJ again at the dubstepforum awards, Youngsta's pushing his production skills a lot harder this year and recent collaborations with Kryptic Minds and Icicle are due for release soon. He's also got a lot of straight solo stuff as well which will be coming around summertime. We caught up with him for a typically brief chat about his recent switch to CDs, Rinse 14, and his direction for 2011.
Had a productive week so far?
This week has not been that productive. I played in Holland on Friday and I'm still recovering. It was a crazy weekend.
Haha, how's the sleeping pattern?
Because of my lifestyle I don't have much of a sleeping pattern, but I'm very used to it.
Has that been affecting your productions do you think? I mean the majority of people wonder why you haven't pushed the production side of things and made more tunes – what have you been making recently?
Not long after I started DJing, I became very interested in producing and engineering music. But I focused much more at the time on my DJing, I don't think my sleeping patterns had anything to do with it! In the last three years I have focused much more than I ever have on making music and I'm loving every minute of it. Recently I've produced with Kryptic Minds, SP:MC and Icicle and I have every intention of putting more of my time into making music. I find it very natural to compose and to produce, it's the engineering that slows me down. It takes time to learn that aspect of making music. Engineering is an art form in itself and I will master that art.
I spoke to Distance recently and he's switched to CDs. He said that simply, the clubs aren't catering for DJs that play on vinyl... I heard that you've made a similar change.
Yes, this is true. In the simplest terms, if every club was as professional as Fabric I'd continue to play vinyl. But they're not. It's very rare these days that you can play acetate and vinyl in a club without technical problems. It became too stressful, to the point where I wasn't enjoying those performances.
It was hard enough back in the day, but the busier we've all got, the more we're having to deal with the poor set-ups. If every DJ box was perfect and catered for vinyl like Fabric does, which all clubs should, I'd continue to play dubs, because I love the way they sound. End of story.
But this is the way things are right now, unless all the clubs and venues are going to cater for vinyl and acetate correctly, which I can't see happening. So the only logical solution for me is to play CDs.
It's a shame that it's come to this because of those reasons: something so culturally aligned with the music such as vinyl falling because of shoddy management who would rather profit. It doesn't seem like a good enough reason. I always felt that it would only be in danger of ending when, let's say Technics just weren't available to buy new, or something from the very top.
I agree with you.
I mean I can understand at the end of the day if you can't do what you do, what you've devoted yourself to, than there's no point sticking to it because, just to be stubborn.
Exactly, that's why I'm playing CDs. It's not necessarily anything to do with sound. Vinyl and CD obviously have a different sound to each other. For me, as long as the tune on the CDs been made well and has been engineered correctly, I don't mind the difference.
But I know what you're saying as well, for you that's why it's a bit sad and that's why it's sad for me too and a lot of other people as well. It's a time that we remember that's now gone, it's not happening.
What would you say to those who'd argue that vinyl's an important element to not only the style of the music, but also of the atmosphere, the experience, of places like FWD>> and DMZ.
No, I don't agree with that. It was the music, the crowd and good sound systems that created the atmosphere and experience. I don't think it has anything to do with what format we play the music from. As a DJ, I play WAVs.
So that's what we can say to anyone reading, if you're sending a tune, full WAV only – sending etiquette. But are you looking to do anything like Benga's done recently? £1 a tune per listen.
No, that's outrageous. Is that serious? No, I heard about it. He ain't... he can't be serious surely? I would never do that. Do you think he really needs a pound a tune when his music's hitting top ten in the charts?
So let's move onto Rinse now. FM status, what does that mean to you?
It means a lot to me because we've been pirate for so long, it's a great achievement to become legal. I love how professional and perfect the studio is now. It's very important to me so I can perform to the best of my ability.
And the new mix CD, Rinse 14. I heard about this back in summer, but in typical Youngsta style, eight months later! What can we expect then?
A deep, dark, minimal, sub-bass journey. This CD is not about me showcasing how many three deck mixes I can do, it's not ramming in loads of teases, or throwing in classics over the top, but literally playing the tunes - mixing them seamlessly - but showing how they work and promoting that sound properly. I haven't done a mixed CD for a while, so I want to show what the sounds are about now.
There'll be exclusive music from Icicle, SP:MC, LX One, Kryptic Minds, Distance, Cyrus, Verse, DJ Madd and Matt U. Also, me and Kryptic Minds have a track called Arcane, which will also be on their new album, Can't Sleep. And look out for me and Icicle's new track called Momentum.
Right let's try and do a bit of a quick-fire round. Which might not be the best way to go about things considering how long you've been making this mix for, but here we go: Best song of the year so far?
It's so hard to pick one, but off the top of my head: Headhunter – Clone.
Best up-and-coming producer?
Impossible to pick one, there's too many up-and-coming producers. Watch out for these three: Benton, District and Sleeper.
What tune best sums up what dubstep you enjoy?
Kryptic Minds – The Fifth.
Honestly, if I forgot my earplugs on the way to a gig, I would seriously consider cancelling, depending on the club. It's one of the best things I've ever spent my money on. I wish I had brought them when I first started DJing. I can't stress to you enough how important it is to protect your ears. You're crazy if you're a musician and you haven't got them.
Youngsta, it's been a pleasure...
The pleasure was all mine.
Words: Ben Jacobs
Photography: Shaun Bloodworth
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