The Leicester natives talk garage, early influences, production and more.
Back in the summer of this year, dubplate don and London favourite Riz La Teef dropped the first release for his brand-new label, South London Press. Riz has been shutting down parties country wide with his expertly curated dubplate sets that encompass the sound and energy of the UK underground. It’s no wonder then that when he launched his label with a peak time garage four-tracker from Leicester duo Y U QT, the 300 pressings sold out in a matter of days.
Those who missed out will be pleased to hear that the bouncy, stepping A1, ‘U Belong 2 Me’, has now seen a digital release, and to celebrate the record we were treated to a conversation between the duo behind the noise. Covering their musical backgrounds, love for garage, and trials of finding their sound, this is Darryl and Coops of Y U QT in their own words.
Darryl – What would you say was the first piece of music that you started listening to when you were younger?
Coops – The first piece of music I ever bought was a tape, Run DMC vs Jason Nevins – It’s Like That.
D – Big tune! That was at number 1 for so long!
C – And then, I think I bought a Cyprus Hill tape, but I stopped buying tapes ‘cos that was the end of them. The interesting thing about tapes was that my Mum had the big-boy tape deck, and she had this patient called Pete (rest in peace Pete) who lived in Enderby in this pretty sick house. He used to see my mum once a week and he would record every essential mix off the radio, you know like Dave Pearce’s dance anthems and anything Pete Tong and Judge Jules did. He’d bring the tapes to work for my mum to give to me, and the amazing thing was, he had this tiny, tiny hand writing.
D – I swear I remember seeing them…
C – Yeah, they were kicking around the house for ages, and then my Mum sold them at the car boot.
D – That’s pretty good that someone wanted to buy Dave Pearce’s Essential Mix from like 2004.
C – My mum said the lady who bought them said her husband was just gonna record over them, and I remember just being like, “why did you take them with you”, and she was like – “you never listen to them”. The cool thing was he used to write all the track listings on the little sleeves, so it was all in this tiny squiggly writing. I could never read it.
D – Yeah you could literally never read it, I remember that. I guess we should also say that we’ve been mates for years. When did we become friends, when you were like 14?
C – Nah it were earlier than that, we were like 11 or 12 innit.
D – We’ve been friends for years, and it’s been great.
C – We were skateboarding more than doing music originally weren’t we. I never used to make tunes back then.
D – Yeah true.
C – I’d sit next to you and watch you do it for so much time and never have a clue. I remember having an argument with Alan Tang because he said that at music college, “you know you’ll have to make a track right” and I was like, I can’t. He was like, “yeah you can”, and I said I literally can’t and I couldn’t get that out of my head type of thing.
D – You were more into DJing weren’t you?
C – I only got properly into production after college and doing it on my own and stuff took ages, and you’ve always been doing it.
D – Yeah, ‘cos obviously aside from this stuff, I tend to still make music between like grime, rap and garage and if I was to sit down at a computer and think – I’m gonna make the music that I want to make, it would be all of those things. Then you’d make more ambient stuff. So if I was like, here’s a massive studio, do what you want… that’s what you’d make.
C – Yeah that’s probably what I’d end up doing. I think it’s ‘cos when I used to teach myself in the flat I tried everything didn’t I? I liked Reason for ages, when I used to do those bassline tunes.
D – That’s one thing I cannot understand. You know when you were saying about that feeling of like… looking at something and just not getting it, even now after making music for about 11 years I just look at Reason and go – “nahhhh I’m alright” haha.
C – I also tried Logic for ages, but it wasn’t until I got Ableton that I felt like I was ever really getting anywhere making tunes.
D – Yeah, Ableton’s so sick.
C – But then I guess I ended up doing the ambient stuff ‘cos when I tried to make garage or house, I’d hear something and think, I’m gonna try to make something like that. But the only thing I ever ended up making that was my own sound was the ambient stuff.
D – With all that stuff like garage and grime… if you don’t have the right kick drum sampling or snare or swing, it doesn’t sound like that type of music.
C – Garage was the thing I enjoyed more than house. The records are collectible as well.
D – Yeah, it’s a nostalgic thing. It’s the same with grime. When I was growing up, I just absolutely loved grime. Even just hearing certain kick drums makes you go, “Oh, this song’s sick!”. It’s the same thing with garage. Even if it’s a new garage song, its gonna sound old in some way, so people can just instantly relate to it.
C – I think we came into electronic music when it was having a really strange time, nu-rave was shit hot and fidget house was the thing. We were playing our first sets when we were like seventeen and playing Mastercraft remixes of Chromeo, and Justice was shit hot… it was a completely weird time. But what then stood out was when you’d go down and drop a niche bassline tune, which was like 2-step and it would go off. That kind of sound was very Midlands anyway. Garage has obviously got massive associations with London, but I think like, niche is such a huge part of garage as well. It’s such a Midlands thing but it’s often forgotten about. It was all a bit more fancy and champagne bubbling in the South, and more aggy up North. It’s still the same now. A lot of the producers from northern areas, they’re making hard basslines…
D – Its hard up north innit haha.
C – I think our stuff kind of probably meets in the middle.
D – Yeah, definitely. I mean when we first started making stuff, what was sick was we had no purpose other than making music together which was fun. Then we made, it might have even been ‘U belong 2 Me’, and everyone really liked it. I always felt a bit like, we were holding back from doing more musical things, ‘cos I thought we were gonna go for a darker, bassy sound. Which we were at the start…
C – It was always a bit more grime sounding back then weren’t it.
D – That was the point when we realised, oh right cool – we can put musical things in it and people are still gonna like it.
C – It’s nice to hear melody in dance music again as well. There’s so much good music that doesn’t have too much melody to it with techno, house and the darker garage stuff. It’s nice to do stuff where we can experiment with musicality.
D – And then once we’d made the songs, you just sent them out to people, I didn’t even know who it was!
C – Well like, going back to me doing Grade 10, I was on Radar. If I played, I’d play garage. Not under my ambient name or anything, it was the Nokia Boys at that time. I never really got to know Riz [La Teef] down there, but I’d see him and his shows were the ones I’d always listen back to. He had all the sickest dubplates. It was funny ‘cos round that time I’d started this garage night which was me DJing for six hours with eight lads passing round a mic… it was well People Just Do Nothing haha. It was so much fun. Then we started making the tunes and that. I just thought he’s the guy to give them to. He’s the guy playing the best garage tunes and has the best records.
D – Yeah, it’s definitely a mad thing to see him play. ‘Cos I mean, not in a rude way to anyone, with dubplate culture and vinyl and stuff I’ve always just been like, whatever. But then when he played this party in Leicester I was like, this is something I’m never gonna hear or see again. This is sick. Every song that he played, he wasn’t just going through a USB like, this will mix well with that, it was all like proper selection.
C – Yeah, he’s properly mastered his craft.
D – So after that we just sent him everything we’ve done. He’s sick, he’s supported everything, which is amazing.
C – I mean we weren’t even looking to get them signed. He didn’t even have the label at the time. It was more like, if anyone will play them, he will. It’s just amazing that he had so much faith to start the label with us.
U Belong 2 Me is out now on South London Press.
Buy it here.