You have created this mix in conjunction with Rinse’s I Love: Funky, how important is it do you think that funky is given a spotlight in this manner?
I think it’s great, there’s a lot of young people I’ve met that didn’t get to experience the original funky atmosphere, but enjoyed the music when they were in school – and now this is their opportunity to get a little taste of what went down. Initially, I’d lost a bit of the passion for funky until I did this mix, which made me look back and think to myself: “these were good times.” Rinse is making me feel old now.
You began DJing when you were just 11-years-old, Do you think your early start has had an impact on how/what you play?
Starting out so young gave me time to develop my craft and be ready for when the time came, I’ve never been nervous about a set. It also kept me grounded in terms of promoters booking me for warm-up sets regularly, even though I felt like I was good enough for one of the main set times, I never complained because I waited a long time to even get on to a DJ line-up. That also made me into a better DJ, I learnt how to read crowds well, pace myself and even have my own identity.
Can you describe some of your early formative experiences with music? and UK funky? how are those tied to how you play now?
During my school days, Bushkin from Heartless Crew heard me playing and took me under his wing from a young age, brought me to Ayia Napa which helped me to introduce the Funky sound to a wider audience in 2007. With UK funky, there was a gradual transition in music, a lot of us were Oldskool Garage DJs that were still playing Tuff Jam and Anthill Mob but we weren’t getting on those big line-ups at the time, so we ended up putting on our own events and playing funky/Soulful/Electro House as well as Broken Beats and the Garage sounds started to fizzle out in our sets. Then came the producers like Apple, Fingaprint, NG, Geeneus and myself and the beats got harder, you could really hear the London in us.
As time has gone on I rebranded into N:Fostell, still making electronic music but sonically worlds apart from what everyone is used to as DJ Naughty. My style in those times was very impactful, whereas now it’s laid back, there’s more of a journey to my productions and my DJ sets.
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How much do you think the representation of underground music in London has changed since your days at Y2K FM?
Y2K went a long time ago, so much has changed since. We’ve got social media and YouTube now. Nothing is truly underground anymore, If something catches on it just blows, whereas during the underground days there were a lot of slow burners. I’ll say Y2K’s importance was no different to any pirate station at the time, all stations had their talents and had a role to play in the modern musical landscape, especially Rinse as they were the biggest game-changer and are still going on strong till this day.
Do you think the club experience/the DJ craft has changed a great deal since you first started cutting your teeth as a DJ?
Yeah definitely, like being a good DJ really isn’t enough. I’m fortunate that I made a name for myself when I did because I’m quite a shy person and those times people booked me solely because of my talent. Now you have to be loud, not necessarily vocal, it could be with your image, how you dress or the people you have around you. A lot of people get noticed by 30-second video recorded moments on DJ platforms or a DJ set they did in a club and it’s their friends giving them mad pops, and just from that, you can end up with a handful of bookings. Being quietly brilliant in this day and age will get you nowhere. We’re at a time where visuals are practically everything because most people on their phones get bored way too easily, they want to see excitement, not attention to detail.
How important do you think it is for DJ’s to have a technical understanding of their craft? do you feel that this understand is something that is being lost?
The keyword to this question is “craft,” just like any other artistic craft it’s very important to have an understanding and learn how to be good at it and try to be unique. I do however feel the understanding of the craft as a DJ has been lost. I think it does boil down to a few big platforms giving people that are clearly not ready for the exposure to disappoint and be criticised, it’s not fair on them and not fair on people that have studied the craft but seem to get no recognition either.