It is rare for the music community to be unanimous about their opinions on much, but when it comes to Goldie, countless hats are tipped in awe-filled respect at one who is indisputably one of the godfathers of drum’n’bass, someone who honed a raw and unrelenting sound at a time when nothing like that had breached soundscapes before, pumped out, in its nascent stages in what he describes (with reference to Timeless) as ‘inner city ghetto music’, unafraid to dabble in some of the darkest recesses hitherto uncharted.
With the single largest bass line-up India’s ever seen all set to go down at the end of this month at Arms House’s stage at Vh1 Supersonic, Homegrown had the privilege of speaking with the drum ‘n’ bass icon ahead of the three-day rave with a motley of questions in the spirit of a countdown till the massive gig. We were rewarded with answers that reflect the evolved opinions of a legend who has seen much, and is willing to share some. He sheds some light on his personal favourite artists, dream collaborators and elaborates briefly on the rabbit hole that is the underground. And then, of course, there’s this video Arms House put together to illustrate the legend:
”People might not understand graffiti on the train in the Bronx in the ‘80’s but people may well understand it when it’s on a T-shirt in a shopping mall - that is how underground culture becomes popular culture, it’s up to us as artists to make sure the sincerity isn’t lost on that journey,” he tells us.
It is perhaps this quality of undaunted honesty, with an innate sense of rebellion that is the nuance that really cinches it, that has had Goldie’s music transcend and unite generations; aural preferences blur and accede to the potent amalgamation that is his technical prowess, uncanny ear for dark, frenetic and mesmerising sounds, and an immersion in street culture from which he extracted his art forms.
Having completed 20 years as a recording artist in 2013, Goldie has indeed come far, evolving from a talented graffiti artist from the West Midlands who was introduced to jungle at Rage Club in 1991 by DJ Fabio and Grooverider ,to a producer who pioneered a sub-genre (also exploring breakbeats, hip hop, jungle and a fresh fusion of the old and the new in electronic music) and is today at the helm of the infamous, kingpin of drum ‘n’ bass Metalheadz label. He has also cemented his place as a prolific visual and graffiti artist, also having dabbled in acting. Metalheadz and dance label F.F.R.R came together to release the drum ‘n’ bass almanac ‘The Alchemist: The Best Of Goldie 1992-2012’ on a triple disc CD and digital download as tribute to a career that has honed the musical journey of a genre that is still finding new tributaries every day.
A self-made man in every sense of the word, a majority of his life has been dedicated to the creation of art and music, weaving together the threads of the dark times, adrenaline rushes and an insatiable hunger for the freshest sounds, that make up his life, to create a force that younger artists since have only been left recreating the ghosts of.
A. Having been one of the artists who has been around for over 25 years now, please contextualise how you drum’n’bass has evolved since you started playing in the early 90’s.
On the one hand, its been crafted, but on the other hand - it’s been gentrified. In some cases, the music connects to a younger audience which is no bad thing, but it does mean there’s a duty to show them both sides of the music- the education and the entertainment. We have a duty to think about what we’re playing so when people do get to their 30’s, they don’t suddenly think they need to move to an ‘adult music world’.
B. Who are the four international artists that you feel have made an impact on bass-heavy genres over the years?
Afrika Bambaatta / DJ Marky /dBridge / Mj Cole / FLY LO / GASLAMP KILLER / DOC SCOTT /
C. Three of your performances that are personal favourites.
Metalheadz Vs Exit at Studio Spaces / Outlook Festival /Japan Tour last year/ Respect Club in LA - 3 hours of beauty that was.
D. Name two genres that you would like to dabble in, in the future.
I’ve done the genres I have wanted to do, to a high level, and will continue to do so, from underground dance music to classical music. And that’s because drum ‘n’ bass & underground culture has provided me with the ear and thought processes to achieve these standards, similar to my graffiti background informing my fine art.
E. One artist, dead or alive, that you would love to collaborate with.
Alive - Pat Metheny. Dead - Charles Mingus.
Follow Goldie on Facebook, Twitter and Soundcloud.
Come party with Arms House at Vh1 Supersonic
Words: Aditi Dharmadhikari