We’ve all had those moments of revelation when experiencing a certain song or sound for the first time. ‘The Ten Tracks’ explores the musical history and influences behind the careers of some of the leading artists in the scene; The tracks that inspired them to be producers and Djs, and how others music shaped their style and genre.
Plastician, known in his early career as Plasticman, has been a pioneer in both the Grime and Dubstep scene from their conception. A resident at the early FWD>> club nights at East London’s iconic Plastic People, plastician was amongst a group of young producers and Djs experimenting with new darker sounds stemming from early Garage and Two Step. This time would go on to be the inauguration of two original genres of music and a new style of clubbing. Grime and Dubstep were carving their way through the UK rave scene at an increasing rate with Plastician being uniquely positioned as the only producer or Dj to have a firm grasp on both scenes.
Today Plastician releases his repertoire of previous releases on his own Terrorhythm imprint, ‘Plasticman Remastered‘ most never before heard in digital format, all remastered to perfection. This is the ideal time to take a retrospective look at the tracks that encouraged him as an artist and helped shape his musical career.
1. EZ & PSG at Exposure
OK, I know it’s not a track but this recording is the sole reason I do anything within music. Before hearing this mix I was studying art in college and a friend in my class had a set of decks but beyond that I hadn’t really been involved in mixing or DJ’ing at all. I used to listen to pirate radio around this time and that was my first exposure to anything underground. But I had never heard anybody mix records like EZ did on this set. The drops and cuts, I was hooked on it, and listened to it for months. Eventually I bought my friend’s decks from him, and by this time I had a collection of around 30 records – including most of the tracks on this mix. I learnt how to mix by copying the mixes on this set in my bedroom. Eventually I began to notice that there was a reason you had to mix records from certain points on the song already playing, and that’s how I noticed that tracks were written in patterns, usually of 32 beats, repeating 2 to 4 times. Eventually, this led to me playing at college parties, meeting MC’s in my college, joining a crew with them and cutting my teeth on pirate radio, playing at events and meeting other local DJ’s (Skream, Benga, Chef, N Type, Walsh were all people I met playing garage at house parties in Croydon). It really is the beginning of everything I do.
2. Dem 2 – Destiny
This was one of the first records I ever bought, and also one of the first garage tracks I really loved. I remember hearing it whilst working in a leisure centre at the time, it was track 3 on a minidisc mix that a friend had brought into work. It was the vocal version on that mix, but it was the instrumental which had me gripped.
3. Brandy & Monica – The Boy Is Mine (Architechs remix)
The first MP3 I ever downloaded. On one of those old shitty 56kbps modems that charged your internet access by the minute as it went through the phone line! The 5 minute MP3 took about 40 minutes to download. I got it from some shady UK Garage website – but back then, the idea of actually selling digital music was so alien that I doubt anyone who was selling their music on vinyl would have even cared that people could access free MP3’s online. I do remember actually, in the days of filesharing on napster / kazaa etc, I was only ever bothered if I found that unreleased music of mine was available on those services. Once it was out on vinyl, it didn’t bother me that people could get the MP3’s illegally. Times have changed now though, MP3 sales are all I deal with so any piracy tends to be greatly harmful to the artists on independent labels.
4. Musical Mob – Pulse X
First time I heard this record was when it was played on a dubplate by DJ Fonti at the Big Apple Records Xmas party, I think back in 2000 or 2001, I forget exactly when it was. It was so simple next to the more complex garage records, but it packed so much weight on the system. It was stuck in my head for days, and it made me realize I might be able to make music, as it was such a simple track. I know I wasn’t the only one, as this track was cloned hundreds of times by bedroom producers like myself. It opened the door for the next generation to step up.
5. Wiley – Eskimo
It would be easy for me to be pretentious and try to put another Wiley riddim in this list to look cool. But this one was a game changer. After months of really badly produced 8 Bar tracks within the grime sound, this came along on one sided white label. It was the first time that grime was done with better production, and it sounded so original next to all the other records in the racks at the time. It was one of those tracks that you knew as soon as you heard it, that it was going to make a difference.
6. Big$hot – Stomp
This one makes the list, beacuse it was the song I used as a reference when I produced Venom, which went on to be my first ever release on Slimzee’s Slimzos Recordings. I didn’t know a great deal about production and patterns, so I based the structure of Venom on this track, with it’s intro, and subtle changes throughout, it was just a little bit more technical than your average 8-bar records that were doing the rounds at the time.
7. Elephant Man – Log On (Horsepower Remix)
It’s pretty much written in history that this is the track that coined the term “Dubstep”. I agree wholeheartedly. I remember hearing this in Velvet rooms – pretty sure it was Hatcha playing at the time. It would’ve been around 2001 / 2002, one of the very early FWD events. It was around that time where the whole South London dark garage vibe was beginning to mould into something resembling a sound of it’s own, away from dark 2 step, but the melding of Horsepower’s dark 2 step with dub reggae licks and samples with Elephant Man’s vocal was a bold statement. It’s homophobic tones also make me laugh today, as back then the club was full of men!
8. TGS – On Tha Run (Horsepower Remix)
This one is in because it always reminds me of the first time FWD was held at Plastic People. At the time I was spinning a lot of this new dark 2 step, and lots of the 8 bar grime sound, but was definitely leaning to the grimier stuff because I found my taste leant towards the melodies and the midrange of grime, where the early dubstep stuff always felt a little empty to me, probably because of my pop music upbringing – I needed stuff to be a little more obvious. The first time I went to Plastic People though, that all changed – hearing this track on that system, noticing all the intricate licks from left to right, and feeling the subs rumble through my chest – it was the first time I really FELT music. I think a lot of people would have felt the same as I did about the early dubstep stuff until they experienced it in that club. It changed my life.
9. Skream – Lemon
The ultimate “If you were there, then you know” record, and I had to throw one in here. This one holds some really strong memories for me, of great times watching a scene build to the point it was ready to be presented to the rest of the world. It’ll probably never see light of day, and rightfully so – it’s a classic Skream dubplate and best that it is kept that way for all of us lucky enough to see what this did to the clubs back then.
10. AWE – Eagle Soul
When I spotted AWE on Soundcloud a couple of years back, I instantly knew I’d discovered a raw talent. This track went on to be the lead single on his first release on Terrorhythm, and pretty much shaped the vision for the future of the label, which mirrors my own tastes musically. Nowadays I focus the majority of my selection around the gaps between sounds as opposed to the stuff you can fit comfortably into genres. This track was one of the first tunes released during the new direction for the label, so it’s an important record for me moving into the future.