One of the UK’s most exciting club producers leads us on a nostalgic YouTube expedition.
Manchester-based south Londoner Gage has been bubbling under the surface for a while with his notably fucked up take on club forms. First making a small wave with 2013’s Tekken-infused dub ‘Yoshimitsu‘, Gage has gone on to release a Boxed anthem in the form of ‘Telo‘, and jittery ballroom on ‘Bad Bitch’ which featured the vocals of vogue icon Kevin Jz Prodigy. He’s now returning to UK label Crazylegs (dJJ, Ziro etc.) with his boldest piece of work yet in Mercury, which is out now.
Taking an angle grinder to the frameworks of grime, techno, industrial and ballroom on his new EP, Gage completely throws away the blueprint of any existing genre, instead honing in on a unique sound that’s as abrasive and unsettling as it is strangely euphoric. With the record born in the bedroom through a somewhat cathartic process, Gage says of creating its six cuts: “Most of the time making music is fun for me but at times it’s therapeutic too. The tracks on Mercury are generally ones that have externalised recent frustrations in my personal life and I think that comes across when you listen back. I kinda removed myself from the outside world for a bit and it freed up a lot of the limitations I used to unknowingly place on my work.”
Now he takes us through a collection of tracks that hold personal memories via his YouTube browsing history. You’ll be treated to new heat from prominent but now criminally overlooked grime supergroup The Movement, classic jazz from the legendary Billie Holiday, a banger from French rapper MHD, and yet more early grime in the form of Durrty Goodz and Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Stretch’ collaboration. It offers insight into some of the many sounds that go into Gage’s own constructions. Press play below…
1. Hi Tension – British Hustle
I found out about 5 years ago that my dad used to DJ around London in the 80s at different spots with a few mates, playing a load of soul, funk, lovers rock etc etc. He sold most of his 7″s but of the ones that are left, this is probably my favourite. This 12″ mix is my favourite version of the track but there’s a video online of them performing the 7″ version which is made for summer.
2. Mercston ft. Ghetts, Wretch 32 & Scorcher (The Movement) – All Now Remix
The Movement were so far ahead back around 2007. The influence they took from the US and rap is something that only really started to get explored on a wider scale within grime in the last couple years. I was gonna choose an old one but geeked out so hard when I first came across this, the way that they’ve all developed since splitting to focus on solo stuff is wicked. The chord sequence switch up before Scorcher goes through kills me.
3. Durrty Goodz – 12 Stretch (ft. Dizzee Rascal) – It’s Real Vol. 1
Always really liked yard flows in grime, Goodz (think he was doogz when this was made) was pretty untouchable. This is one of the most intense grime vocals I’ve heard to date and the speed of the beat coupled up with that bassline gets me mad.
4. The Horrors – ‘Sea Within A Sea’
I was obsessed with Primary Colours at college. At the time it opened my eyes to where live and electronic music could meet and compliment each other without sounding corny.
5. Smuggler’s Run 2. (PS2) Music 17. “Straight Outta Hell”
My final year project at uni was on the transatlantic journey of house and techno music in the 80s/90s. Hearing the tracks that Kevin Saunderson made as Tronik House, E-Dancer & Reese blew my mind. I could have chosen any of a few but I’ve been playing this one quite a bit recently and Smugglers Run 2 was a percy for me and my little sis.
6. Billie Holiday – Don’t Explain (Live @ Carnegie Hall) Verve Records 1956
This whole live album from Billie Holiday at Carnegie Hall is beautiful. Gilbert Millstein’s dry delivery of her memoirs only adds to it. As with a few of these there are a bunch of tracks from the album that I could have chosen but this one comes right after a short monologue depicting a rise in fame but still feeling like “the highest paid slave in town”. The intimacy of it is very real.
7. SHIZZLE (EAST CO) – STRAIGHT
Shizzle was one of my favourite MCs when I first started exploring grime. Outside of the original of ‘Pull Up Dat’ I think this is his strongest. The flow is so fluid, and ‘Straight’ was my favourite beat by a million miles at the time I first heard this. Spent fuckin ages tracking down a copy lol.
8. Zulu Warriors & Roland Clarke – 100 Zulu Warriors (Black Coffee Vocal Mix)
I used to work delivering pizza when i was still living in London and would drive around listening to Rinse FM all night. This was played (I think) by Fonti and Bushkin which led me to texting in ‘cos it proper threw me off of what I was doing. I remember not realising the bass was missing until it joined in and completely filled the space. When it did it fucked me up n I had to pull over to listen to the full track before spending a week trying to find it at home.
9. MHD – Roger Milla
Betty played ‘Afro Trap pt 3’ when we went b2b on Radar a while back and I haven’t been able to stop listenin to this guy since.
10. El Kid – Le Corbusier
I couldn’t find a version of this on YouTube but my favourite track of 2011. Reminds me of my first summer in Bristol and I revisit this at every opportunity.
Mercury is out now on Crazylegs. Grab a copy here.
Featured image: Lydia Clifford