Elijah & Skilliam: grime’s hottest property when it comes to DJing and releasing records.
The pair behind the momentous Rinse:17 CD, weekly radio show, and founders of the Butterz brand have played a key role in pushing grime music onto new turf over the past few years, whilst retaining a respect for the roots of the music that drew so many to it in the first place. As a record label they have put out some of the most potent instrumentals of the past few years: think S-X‘s ‘Woo Riddim’, Champion‘s ‘Crystal Meth’, and Swindle‘s ‘Mood Swings’ – also recruiting the vocal talents of P Money, Blacks, Trim and Ruby Lee Ryder along the way.
So many young producers also cite the duo as crucial in their development; whether through radio play, inclusion in the Butterz .Zip packages, or just through friendly advice. Elijah said in a FACT interview that ‘anyone who sends [them] music is in with a shot’, this open and completely unprejudiced attitude to running the label has definitely been a factor in its success.
Ahead of Butterz’ third birthday at Cable on Saturday, Elijah & Skilliam took turns asking about pirate radio, rave moments, Elijah’s favourite literature and not smiling in press shots.
Elijah Interviews Skilliam:
When you first started out DJing did you have any big aims with it or was it just to be on the pirates?
I didn’t start off with any particularly big aims. Once I started though I had caught the bug andI knew I wouldn’t ever stop mixing. I was just buying records and mixing for my mates on radio, at youth centres and also at house parties with my brother, not even really thinking long term. I was in education as well so there were ups and downs in the level of activity. You can see this in the record collection. You have records I don’t have when I was in the low activity stage, especially during Sixth Form. I was out in Havering so I was a bit removed from the action. There was a project in Romford at that time that loads of MC’s used to come to. I would take records to college and go there on a Tuesday or Thursday. I only started to realise how far things could really go after starting on Rinse FM and I was excited when I got my first ever pirate show. To get on Rinse was a next level of excitement, also I definitely hadn’t envisaged playing in front of thousands of people.
What do you think you would be doing if we never met and did Butterz together?
I think I would probably working in a bank or something of the sort and playing at small clubs on the weekends. My dad used to work an office job – he also has loads of records that my mum always moaned about. She moaned even more when me and my brother started buying them so I kind of assume I would have followed a similar route to him.
What are your top 3 pirate radio shows of all time?
There are so many! Top of the list is definitely the Nasty Crew show. It had the most influence on me. Monday night ritual. I used to hook my radio up into a channel on my mixer and try to bring in a mix before Mak 10 did as silly as it sounds. Secondly, there was a talk show I used to listen to hosted by Marcus Blue and he would have live phone-ins, competitions, the whole shebang. As a listener I was thoroughly entertained. I would know the answers and I used to want to enter but the prizes were always tickets for over 21’s raves and I was way too young. Thirdly Plastician – always forward thinking and forward moving. Simple. Looking back at that response, that’s 3 different types of shows. One MC focused, one listener focused and one focused on the DJ and the music. I love pirate radio. There are no bounds.
Weird one, but what you think is the best rave you have ever been to?
I never really think about that. It’s tough to say, I can’t pin point one. Don’t want to be biased but the Cable parties have been my most enjoyable yet. Probably because of the tension of making it happen. If I had to omit them then I would say the RBMA Easter party in 2012 with Wookie, MJ Cole and T. Williams. You know sometimes it’s hard to switch off the DJ ear when you’re in a rave because of what we do naturally. We pick up on everything. Everybody played wicked sets and I had fun.
Do you ever wish you lived in a different era of music in a different country or something? Like how crazy must it have been to live in NYC in the early 90s when Hip-Hop was taking over the world.
That would have been nuts. The intensity would be insane. I was watching the Hip-Hop beefs documentary and the way DJs were breaking tunes was mad. In some ways though it still works in the same way in what we do. Just how music is absorbed today is a bit different. In 15 years someone in another country might be asking the same question but about what we do. I’m glad that we have had the opportunity to travel around the world and meet people and in turn learn about how their scenes have developed.
Who are your dream guests for the club nights and the label?
At the moment, it would be wicked to get a record out with Wiley, Dizzee and D Doube E. Three connoisseurs of the era we’ve grown up in. I don’t think it’s impossible but it would have to be right and not done just for the sake of it. In the club night, a bit out of the box but Jazzy Jeff would be sick, just so I could watch how he does everything and controls the decks.
When you gona finish some beats? And why are you always late?
I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to making tunes. When I go in, I just go missing for the day. I usually have an idea, work on it then get a block. Then I get another idea and open up a new project and start with it. The ideas never go the way I first planned as. I know the level of the music around us so I’m always trying to get everything to a certain standard. I’m still learning. I guess everyone is always learning. Maybe 2013 I’ll finish something properly. Regarding lateness I’m on usually on time, ha! Admit it though, I’m never late when it comes to something important. Plus it’s usually never my fault, obviously! Always stuck behind the 20mph drivers. I need a flying vehicle.
Skilliam Interviews Elijah:
Who are your top five artists/musicians?
I’ll just say five people that aren’t rappers and that don’t do Grime that I couldn’t live without. Prince, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley and R.Kelly. I could probably listen to music solely from those people exclusively for a month straight.
What would you do if tea ceased to exist? Do I need to find a straight jacket? Also if you could, would you do a club set drinking tea instead of a cold beverage?
Look tea is my only vice. I’ve never smoked anything, never done any drugs, barely drink so let me hype with a cup of tea yeah! Only reason I don’t drink tea in the club is because it’s usually hot in there innit bozo.
Do you think we will switch one day and I be the bad cop and you be the good cop?
Never! Everyone’s got their role in the crew innit. I’m Mr. No. – people will come to you if they want a yes.
You are always reading, which are your top three book encounters?
Ah you have noticed, and you NEVER read! I don’t have a top three books list but I don’t read Fiction. I like Charles Saatchi ‘Be The Worst You Can Be’, Seth Godin ‘The Icarus Deception’ and anything about geniuses really. Obviously I can relate.
What will make you smile in press shots? Roska wants to know.
I rarely smile in general. Not because I’m not happy. Too much time in casinos. Got my poker face locked down.
If you weren’t Butterz what do you think you would be?
Man I found it so difficult to get a job coming out of University I would probably still be self-employed but doing what… I’m not sure. Everything I want to do I get to do via Butterz anyway – DJing, Creative Directing, Marketing, Writing, Travelling. Once I learn to take pictures properly and set aside to work on some tunes I will be 100% happy. Might even smile.
Which country is high on the to do list?
Jamaica again! South America and Japan!