Catching Up With Cluekid
So for those of you who don’t know the name Cluekid you should probably rethink your understanding of the term Dubstep! Cluekid is one of the pioneers of the genre and has been there since its massive rise to popularity. He has worked with the likes of Loefah, Cyrus, LD and Skream and released tracks on high profile labels such as; Ringo, Ear wax, Techtonic, Disfigured Dubz and his own, Bullfrog Beats. His latest release ‘Hawkeye’ shows the 21-year-old Londoner is showing no signs of letting up! The Subrewind crew decided to Catch up with the busy producer/Dj to have a little look at how it all happened and where it’s going to end up! As well as that he is an avid Spurs supporter like myself, what’s not to like?
First of all thanks for giving us a few minutes out of your busy schedule! Right back to your roots, when did you start getting in music and who were you earliest influences?
I was brought up around music, my dad was a guitarist. A lot of my family play instruments and write songs too. From a very young age I’ve always loved bands like The who, Small faces, Beatles, Kinks etc. My aunty was really into her rave music too so I’ve always had a fondness for Jungle.
When did you first hear Dubstep and what was it about the genre that really got a grip on you? What kind of previous genres pushed you towards Dubstep?
I first heard dustep in around late 2004/05 I reckon. I’d heard it before but just used to think it was a type of bass driven grime. I was at Chefs house and he played me Request line and Glamma by Skream. That was the first time I became familiar with the name “dubstep”. I loved the sound and started trying to make some similar stuff.
My auntie said she had someone lodging at her house who was making similar music, it turned out to be Loefah. He showed me his beats and told me about DMZ. He also showed me how to make my first bass sounds on the subtractor in Reason. I was hooked after that.
Where did you get the name?
I used to be called clue as a nickname from school. It was when I joined Cotti’s crew and they were all in there mid 20s and i was 16 or 17. So I got given the name Cluekid.
So what came first Cluekid the dj or Cluekid the producer?
Definitely the producer. I’d been making tunes for a couple years before I touched any decks. I only started djing because people were offering me gigs and saying I needed to get out there.
Did you find that any previous musical knowledge using other instruments benefited you when sat down in front of a screen to make beats for the first time?
Yeah definitely. I used to play the drums, I find that it gives me a very good knowledge of how to put together a drum pattern.
Your first release came at the young age of 18 am I right? How did you get onto Pinch to get Halogen signed to ear wax? Were you pushing your tunes hard or was it a relatively instant breakthrough?
Yeah I think I was 18 at the time. At the time I’d given Loefah a few tunes and he was playing ‘Halogen‘, ‘Down‘ and ‘Dirty‘. He put me on to Pinch and I sent him some beats. He phoned me saying he wanted to sign the same 2 tracks. I was over the moon because it felt like dubstep wise I’d arrived.
Then came a release with Cotti, the 4n Exchange EP, you went on to complete quite a few tracks together. How did you and Cotti meet and did you find collaborating with another produce?
Yeah we met through our dads. We used to work on a lot of grime together, then later dubstep. I enjoy working with other producers. Producing can be a lonely profession at times compared to say being in a band. You can also get into a routine of how you put together tunes. So it’s nice to have someone with different ideas and different opinions on putting a track together. Switch it up.
2007 was a big year with some high profile releases with the likes of the ‘Hovercraft‘, ‘Frogs on Acid‘ and perhaps your biggest tune ‘Sandsnake’. How did you get working with Skream on a track together?
2007 was a very exciting year for me. The scene was getting a lot of love, everything was fresh, a lot going on. A very exciting year!!
I’d met Skream a few times but it wasn’t until me and Cotti were doing our first set in Brixton. A few of the heads came down to see us such as Chef, Loefah, Mala, Skream and Hijack. I remember being really nervous but thinking if they’d all come to see us, we must be doing something right. Skream asked me if I wanted to build a tune. I think Sandsnake was the second thing we did.
You also set up your own label Bullfrog Recordings that year, why did you decide to set it up?
I decided to set up Bullfrog as a way to push my sound and other artists I work with and I’m feeling. Mainly just use it as a platform to release some good music.
As one of the pioneers of early Dubstep, being around from its humble beginnings how do you feel about how the genre has evolved over time? Where can you see its future heading?
Dubstep used to feel very organic I suppose. The people that went to the raves, the dj’s playing there were all buzzing about this new sound. I remember rarely missing any nights. It was a dubplate culture, most people were cutting dubs, I don’t remember many cds being played. In the past few years part of the sound has changed dramatically and its become the main factor in the scene. It’s become a very noisy, harsh affair with lots of higher frequencies as opposed to being a very warm bassy sound. This sound is completely souless to me, a lot of these tracks sound like someones just sampled themselves scraping their nails down a chalkboard, no real effort put in.
The people at these events also seem to be there because they feel its cool. Before people would be talking days after a night about all the different sets and styles. It seems now a majority of the people are so off they’re heads that I doubt they’d remember who was playing anyway,just play some nasty fuking sounds and they’ll love it, I have no time for such people!! At the same time thats just my opinion,people tend to spend their lives moaning about things rather than just enjoying what they like.
Any more releases from the man himself or new on your label you can divulge in?
Yeah I’ve got a lot of stuff lined up on Bullfrog, not just from myself but other artists too. The next one will be dropping early next year. I post all info on releases on my Facebook and Twitter.
You’ve always been a vinyl head, but I hear you’re getting rid of your decks and am going to be playing cd’s from now on. As being part of a genre that has always traditionally prided itself on vinyl sales and pressing dubs, how do you feel about this?
That’s not entirely true. I never had any intention when I bought decks of becoming the next Chef or N-Type. I just wanted to get to a level where I was good enough to play out. I’m learning how to use cds because 90% of gigs I do the turntables don’t work properly. There’s been times were I have to abandon sets. It’s very sad, not just for dustep but for music as a whole. Vinyl has something about them which cds cannot replicate. If the decks work you can guarantee I’ll be dropping vinyls and dubplates.
What up and coming producers are you feeling at the moment?
I’m feeling The Dub Mechanics, Biome and Core at the moment.
Finally three Dubstep tracks you feel define the genre to you?
To me I’d say ‘Goat Stare‘ by Loefah, ‘All Of A Sudden‘ by Coki and ‘10 Dread Commandments VIP’ by Mala
For more on the man himself;