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Interview: Roska


Climate change: Recent stirrings in the UK underground jolt Riddim.ca back to life…  Kicking off our open-ended investigation of London’s rapidly mutating house scene, we sit down for an email exchange with Roska.  With a foot in broken beat and shades of grime, his new EP Climate Change maintains a healthy balance between houseful sensuousness and rugged riddimic experimentation.  It’s also getting caned by DJs from Marcus Nasty to kode9.  Get to know Roska…

Riddim: There seems to be a really healthy mix of styles in UK House right  now.  There’s the straightforward smoothed out 4×4 stuff, the RnB  influence, elements of broken beat and soca making it more  rhythmically intense, and then a grimey influx too.  What’s your  take on the state of things right now and how would you like to see  it develop in the next year or two?

Roska: More vocal tracks I would like to see. Including from myself you will hear vocalists on my next releases. Other than that the scene is in a healthy state – a lot of new talent is coming through including myself. Using the broken or soca effect on the tunes coming out gives it that feel good factor when they drop in the clubs. You will find most of the producers in this scene come from either UKG and Grime so the tracks will have that influence.

Riddim: Your current style is quite broken with a definite grime influence  but still a hint of house in the background, especially on a track like Boxed In.  I’ve also seen Feeline music described as being like  “dubstep with a sex drive.”  I’m wondering how much allegiance you  feel to house music, especially that sexy/sensual side of it.  Is  there a balance that you’re trying to maintain there between the  rough and the smooth?

I would say my influence is more broken beat than grime. But as I have grown up listening to Dancehall, Reggae and R&B, the basslines have played a part in my music.

I used to listen to a lot of UK Garage the likes of Wookie, MJ Cole to name a few. I have had an eye for House for a couple of years and in my productions you may hear a straight 4×4 beat or you may hear the second kick come in a little earlier. My 3rd EP, due out in the next few months, will be straight house.

Riddim: You’ve mentioned that your dad was a sound man in the 80s and 90s  and that you grew surrounded by vinyl.  You must have developed an  ear for beats at an early age.  How has that background helped shape  your approach to production?

The music my Father played definitely played a big part in my life and even my Mother played a lot of music at home so I was always surrounded by Reggae, R&B, Soul. Later on in my late teens is when my ear for music grew.

Riddim: Can you tell us about starting out in UKG with your crew the Krazy  Brothers?  And how did you get here from there?

Roska: It was me and my cousin we used to call ourselves Krazy Brothers about 6 years ago he was a DJ and I was the MC. It started off as a mess about at home then we started to get on pirate radio around London – during this time I was attending my uncle’s studio he set up in a flat in Peckham, I was interested in production of music. Later on me and my cousin went seperate ways.

I was still interested in being an MC but I didn’t have a DJ so I started to make tracks and around this time the likes of Pay as u go were around and Grime coming through the ranks as a sub-genre of UKG. I started to make grime but I didn’t really push myself to make a name for myself back then.

I started to make hip-hop for about a year then I started to hear house music when someone gave me a DJ Pioneer mix CD in 2006. Tracks like ‘Cure and the Cause’ by Fish Go Deep and ‘Cant Get Away’ by Mood II Swing got me deep in to house music.  In between this I was listening to music by a producer called Nathan Haines who makes Nu-Jazz/ Broken Beat.

All of those segments play a part in my music now.

Would you say there are hints of your current style in your earlier  grime tracks like Corporate?  It seems like that trademark percussion is emerging but there’s sort of an Eski feel too.  What’s changed since then besides the  tempo?

Wow, you really did your research on me! goodlitt.co.uk was meant to have been shut down ages ago – I stopped paying it! [Since then], I’ve used less bass that sounds grimey and used more sub basses.

Riddim: Has your production set up changed much since then?

I use pretty much the same set up just upgraded equipment. Back then I couldn’t afford studio monitors and a good quality sound card etc.

Were you ever a FWD» regular, back when there was more garage,  more mixing of grime and broken sounds – DJs like Landslide, Zed  Bias, Slimzee?

Roska: I was a listener of Slimzee and Pay As U Go back in the day but I wasn’t really a raver then.

Feeline/Boxed In and Climate Change are both out on Roska Kicks  and Snares.  Why did you decide to start your own label?

Roska: I needed to start a label to sell my products under for sites like Juno Download.

And you’ve got an alias too.  What’s the difference between the two projects?

Uncle Bakongo is more a African tribal style of house or afro beat.

Riddim: What plans do you have for the label in the future?

Roska: More EPs and more vocal tracks. I have about 60 tracks sitting in my studio ready to be released. All the DJs over here keep asking for more tracks from me but they’ll have to wait till I’m ready to release.

Riddim: So you’re interested in doing some vocal versions of your tunes…

Roska: I’ll have some vocal tracks in the very near future coming out so watch this space

Riddim: Which other producers are you keeping an eye on these days? Which  track are feeling?

I work and talk with Fingaprint from Invasion Records who has produced hit’s like ‘Take Over’ and recently ‘Rolex Sweep remix’, I would say Invasion Records have got it when it comes to club hit’s – look out for their current release entitled Signed & Sealed featuring Courtney Dennie. I also I talk to DJ Naughty, Dubplate Malice, Crazy Cousinz and DJ Geeneus.

Riddim: Many thanks, Roska.

The Climate Change EP and Feeline/Boxed In are out now on Roska Kicks & Snare.  Find them at Juno , UK Record Shop , Uptown Records and Rhythm Division .  Roska and Uncle Bakongo digital tracks are available exclusively at Juno Download .

More info at: http://www.myspace.com/rosiroska

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c/o the Riddim.ca global recon unit:
Paul Jasen (Canada), Siah Alan (US) and Tim Finney (Australia)

We’ll be back

Category: Interviews

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Riddim.ca was founded by DJ/writer paul autonomic (aka Mr. Bump) in February 2005 as a hub for North America's nascent grime and dubstep scenes. Since then we've helped promote events across the continent and made friends around the world. Mostly dormant now, we're host to one of the web's largest collections of writing on the late-Garage dis/continuum as well as a growing collection of rare audio and scans (coming eventually).