Through even just exchanging a few emails with someone like Oil Gang, you just get the impression that he just gets it; like, the man understands the game. At a time when internet publications seem intently focused on the music he and his Boxed cohorts are releasing/sitting on/playing on radio he’s remaining pretty calm and humble about the whole exponential thing. His label, of exactly the same name, has already released music from names like Spooky, Splurt Diablo and Darq E Freaker and with a pretty stacked release schedule for the first couple of quarters of 2014, we thought we’d check in and offer the internet a little insight into what it’s like for him running a grime label and being part of the residential crew behind the instrumental grime party, Boxed. All this comes ahead of the crew’s return leg taking over Room Three here on Friday 24th January where they’ve invited Visionist and Murlo along as their trusted guests.
Obviously we’re here talking to you today because you’re one of the residents at Boxed. Why do you think London needs a night like that? I’ve spoken to Logos and Slackk about it before separately but I just wondered what your personal take on it was?
I think the reason Boxed works so well is because each of the residents has a different selection, obviously some tunes overlap but a Mr.Mitch set is completely different to what you'll get with a Slackk or Logos one. We don't care where you're from if it’s a sick tune, we'll play it. At the monthly nights at Birthdays we try and get the producers we rate and play that aren't necessarily getting booked elsewhere. Obviously fabric is different and that's when we get to bring the big guns out. We had Bloom and Spooky at the first one and this time Murlo and Visionist are playing. We just try and keep it varied so it’s interesting all night and people seem to really enjoy it.
You’ve been doing this (releasing grime records) for a bit longer than people have been so adamantly talking it up with a solidified scene behind it. Have you seen a marked increase in interest? I mean there’s a big demand for music from guys like Darq E Freaker now and your record was pretty much the first place a lot of people heard him…
I've definitely noticed more people paying attention on Soundcloud and Twitter but it hasn't translated directly into sales at the moment. Boxed gets busier every time we put one on though so it’s getting there. There's a good group of us playing each other’s tunes, doing remixes and DJing on radio together so I think it should snowball this year as more people become aware of the music. Cherryade still gets loads of plays on Soundcloud, mainly from Americans really and Darq E Freaker is flying at the moment. I rate him highly as a producer and am really happy it’s all going so well for him; hopefully we can get him down to Boxed at some point.
It’s a sucky kind of question because I fully know it’s such a leading and yet a blunted question but what made you want to start Oil Gang the label in the first place? Like, and probably moreso, what’s your background? How did you first get into this sort of music?
I was DJing drum & bass when garage started and I liked it but it didn't fully grab me, same with when So Solid and all that lot kicked off. It wasn't until I started hearing tunes by Big$hot, Youngstar and Wiley that I thought that this was for me. Then I started buying the records and became obsessed. The label started in 2010 after I was meeting loads of people at Dirty Canvas and in Uptown Records. I got to know Magic from NHNH and Elijah who was just starting up Butterz at the time and it just inspired me to put some tunes out. I had always wanted a label and just thought if they can do it so can I. I knew Spooky from a show I was doing on Urban FM and hanging around Uptown so I had some dubs from him. He was my favourite producer and nobody was putting his stuff out so I signed up the Murderer EP and just carried on from there.
This mix outlines a bunch of music that’s forthcoming on Oil Gang right? What does the immediate future hold for you release wise?
I had a bit of a nightmare with my pressing plant at the end of last year but it’s all sorted now so everything will be coming out over the next few months. Yeah, the bulk of the mix is stuff that I've just put out or is coming up this year. First up is the Twin Warriors EP by JT The Goon which is all ready and about to go to the distributor and that's followed straight after by Novelist’s Sniper EP. I've got 3 tracks ready for the Murlo/JT The Goon joint EP and they're in the studio next week finishing off the last tune for that so it will be off to be mixed and mastered fairly soon. I know a lot of people are after ‘Cold Stroke’, ‘Garden of Eden’ and the Murlo remix of ‘Twin Warriors’ so I'll get it in the shops as soon as I can. After that I'm working on an LP with JT who is just on another level to anyone else at the moment. I was looking at what Blackdown was doing last year with Keysound and the kind of LPs he was putting out and as JT is my favourite producer it had to be with him. I am working on something else as well but can't say what just yet, as soon as it’s all sorted though I won't shut up about it on Twitter so keep an eye on that…
And for Boxed?
With Boxed we've got Inkke and Milktray down for the February one at Birthdays and have a list of people we want down after that. It’s just producers we rate and want to hear a set from them of their own productions and the stuff they're rating. If fabric like what we do at this one then we have plans for that as well. Playing fabric is a dream to be honest, the people who run it are pro's, the system is spot on and it was a great crowd at the last one.
Oil Gang - FABRICLIVE x Boxed Mix
DullahBeatz - Dranko 22 (Dub)
Spooky - Coolie Joyride (Murlo Remix) (Oil Gang)
Spooky - Coolie Joyride (Murlo VIP) (Oil Gang)
JT The Goon - King Triton (Oil Gang)
Novelist - Sniper - (Oil Gang)
Novelist - Sniper (JT The Goon Remix) (Oil Gang)
E.M.M.A - Romeo Dunn (Dub)
DullahBeatz - Echoes (Dub)
JT The Goon -Garden of Eden - JT The Goon (Oil Gang)
JT The Goon - String Section (Dub)
JT The Goon - I Don't Need You - JT The Goon (Oil Gang)
Novelist - Sniper (Grandmixxer & DullahBeatz Skeng on Skeng remix) (Oil Gang)
Splurt Diablo - Lamped (Oil Gang)
Splurt Diablo - Ethnic (Oil Gang)
Murlo - Cold Stroke (Oil Gang)
JT The Goon - Winter Sun - JT The Goon (Oil Gang)
DullahBeatz - One Chance (Dub)
JT The Goon - Twin Warriors (Rabit Remix) (Oil Gang)
Spooky - Electric Fence (Oil Gang)
Finn - Keep Calling (Dub)
Milktray - Hotel (Dub)
JT The Goon - Eski Moment (Oil Gang)
JT The Goon - Streetlife (Oil Gang)
JT The Goon - Need That Pee (Oil Gang)
JT The Goon - Track 19 (Dub)
Murlo - Into Mist (Dub)
JT The Goon - Broken Silence - JT The Goon (Oil Gang)
Finn - Dangerous (Local Action)
JT The Goon - Twin Warriors (Murlo Remix) - JT The Goon (Oil Gang)
Wiley - Flying (JT The Goon Remix) (Dub)