Lewis Beadle or El-B to you and me is one of the true pioneers of what has come to be known as Dubstep. His move to Dark Garage offered many of the other original Dubstep artists something tangible to allow them to progress their own sounds. Many if not most of the Big Producers on the scene most notably Skream, N-type, Hatcha etc… cite EL-B as one of their biggest influences when they started producing them selves. With a string of releases on the likes of Tempa, Scorpion, Locked on and Night Audio Records, EL-B is reinforced as one of the genres big names. After a 3 year hiatus El-B burst back onto the scene with a bang in 2007 and has gathered pace ever since. His own Label Ghost Records has made a big name for itself too and the future is looking very promising for who already is a veteran on the scene. Subrewind considers itself very privileged to finally chat to the man and talk about his history and the future!
How did you originally get into electronic music and when did you start producing music? Do you think your upbringing in London was important to you success?
I first got into production through being expelled from school & having nothing to do but play with an old drum machine my dad had sitting on the kitchen table.
The so-called “success” probably wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t grown up in london & spent my teen years record shopping. Then also in 2000, to be able to pop in to the city every few days to visit distributors, labels, studios, radio station & companies. It was very helpful when running 3 record labels and a string of white labels.
What kind of artists influenced your early sounds?
There were no influences in that scene for me at the time, only Steve Gurley. I had gotten all my inspiration and ideas from listening to years of Hip-Hop & Jazz. Also early acid & house that my mum and her mates used to listen to in the late 80s & early 90s, played another role in my musical upbringing.
What do you think was one of the most important early moments that led to you breaking through the scene?
Becoming a clubber and visiting record shops at age 15 definitely helped me break through, because I used to watch a lot of the “behind the scenes” action. I used to study the tracks in the clubs and hang around the record shops long after my purchases to try & talk with the elders.
You really came to the fore through being part of the groove chronicles outfit, can you tell a little more about this?
I met noodles through visiting UNITY Records/London in the mid 90s. He got hold of a demo tape I’d been throwing about of my old techno & jungle stuff. As Groove Chronicles we were simply trying to be different from the rest by combining the House & Soul from noodles’ background and incorporating my own Jazz & Techno background.
You are widely cited as one of the true pioneers of sound that became dubstep along with the likes of Horsepower, why do you think you steered away garage into this new darker sound?
This was done totally on purpose to make it easier for myself to digest. I came from the dark world of techno and drum & bass clubs. I found it very hard to swallow the UK garage scene before I heard producers like M.J.Cole, M-Dubs & Steve Gurley.
2000 marked the beginning of the el-breaks series of releases, why did you decide to self release these EP’s? Tell us a little bit about your label Ghost Records?
By the time Ghost was on its 2nd release, there were just too many different tracks and styles coming out of the studio from various producers on the label. Other labels had to be whipped up fast, so El-Breaks & Scorpion were created to accommodate these releases.
Where did the whole ghost artwork idea come from?
In 1999 had the idea for the style of music but knew it would be a waste just to put out loads of white labels so i wanted/needed a short sharp name & a Logo to print on everything.
A logo that would match the style of music and that would be easy to print & spot at a distance. A name that would also match the music and stick in people’s heads was also needed was also extremely important.
By 2004 a notable difference could be heard in your tunes, but you decided to then take a break from the scene, what was the main driver for this?
In 2004 actually stopped releasing tracks on ghost and completely stopped producing on the (newly named) dubstep scene. I wasnt crazy about the earlier reggae sound of dubstep,
I found it all very “Low-NRG” and had lost alot of inspiration so I shut up shop and started earning a living doing other things.
You came back in 2007 and your tunes definitely had a marked dubstep feel to them, (ghostrider ep for example) what got you back in the studio?
My return was sparked in 2007 by the preparation for the release of “the Roots of El-B” on Tempa Records. There was to be a re-release of most of my classic works and a launch party @FWD/London. FWD was a road block with dubsteppers (old and new) all attending from far sides of the globe. Only there to hear the tracks & show their love for a sound that needed to be back in the scene again…… i was re inspired again!!!
Are there any new producers or Mc’s you would like to get into the studio with and do collaboration with?
I have been lucky enough already with the talent i have had the honour of recording & working with, so im just interested in anything hot.
As someone who has been around since the sound’s birth how do you feel personally about where dubstep has ended up today? Do you think it has been a healthy rise to popularity?
I love the present dubstep sound and the way its gone over the last 5 years. A lot of complaints have been made by everyone but there are still lots of fine fine producers to listen to if you know who to watch.
What plans does El-b have for the future, any new releases on the way you can tell us about?
2012 will see the official return of Ghost Records to the world of vinyl, with a long string of 12″ releases as we knew & loved them…….same look……same sound.
Kicking off the show with the long-awaited release of “ROMP“, and “LUNATIC” will be on the flip from “Caski“. Who’s one of the many new up and coming producers on the label
3 songs El-b considers sum up Dubstep?
The tracks that blew my mind the most when I heard them would have to be….. Joker – Tron, Distance – Menace and Benga & Coki – Night.