Sim Hutchins’ blistering new single ‘Melanotan II’ is a requiem for UK funky

The Essex-based audio-visual artist returns to No Pain In Pop for a double A-side single.

Following his brilliant debut album last year, I Enjoy To Sweep A Room, Sim Hutchins is back on the London label with two-track single Melanotan II / No Paco Rabanne, which is out today.

Built largely with samples of toy keyboards, the two cuts showcase a twisted and decaying vision of UK funky, and were written as a homage of sorts to the short-lived club sound.

Sim has an impressive collection of mixes from UK funky’s halcyon days, so we thought it was only right for him to take us on a tour of his hard drive, namely the folders “2008” and “2009”. Stream his latest single below and read on for personal insight into Sim’s experiences of that two year period where funky ruled the south east.

Focusing on a single 2 year period seems pretty absurd, but this isn’t written to be some sort of de-facto guide to the Funky genre, more what the music meant to me at the time. The years 2008-2009 were a tough time I won’t lie. I had lost a very good friend to suicide, and this lead to a complete social withdrawal for me. I’d left (been kicked off) pirate radio too and I just didn’t really have the heart to play what I was known for playing any more.

The silver lining in this new found sense of introversion (and the peace I found within it) is that it lead me to move away from DJing straight up Bashment/Grime and fall in love with a fledgling genre that was in flux/mutation from the very start. I knew however that my departed mate would have ripped me for my newly found penchant for Funky House, and it made me laugh to think about that.

 Apart from a few nights here and there, I had very little interest in going out at this point, so a lot of my Funky raving was done vicariously through DJ mixes, and my plan here is to guide you though a few of them.

I’m gonna talk in nonsensical loops, jump rope over them and hopefully end up forming some sort of oval shape to speculate as to how Grime’s influence crept in and out, and how darker sounds had an influence on the emerging (I’m cringing typing this) “Bass Music” genre. And I’m going to do this with files from a decaying USB hard drive. – Sim Hutchins


Sim Hutchins in 2007. Photo credit: James “J-Mode” Smith (RIP)

Marcus Nasty on 1xtra

Let’s kick things off here with the mix that started it all for me, Marcus Nasty’s 1xtra mix from ’08. This came to my attention when it was linked in a thread on Grimeforum speculating about why some DJs had switched genres, and had talk about Mac10 and Perempay (formally Bossman) also leaving 140 to join the House music fold. I remember loading this onto an mp3 player and driving back from Brighton to the sounds of Princess’ “Frontline”, Kyla’s “Do U Mind” (up yours Drake) and pranging out to Hard House Banton’s “Sirens” thinking I was gonna be pulled over again for my car’s extravagant mud flaps.
 Mr Nasty was playing a lot of these tunes before anyone else (and even had VIP mixes), and I feel this both encapsulates the spirit of the emerging genre, and showcases just how many hits came out in such a short time.

Cooly G Fact Mix

Next up is Cooly G’s Fact Mag mix, a mix that made me more aware of the darker sounds that were being pioneered at the time, songs like NB Funky’s Riddim Box and Hardsoul’s Self Religion (which isn’t a Funky record) seemed to conjure up feelings of the Bristol Dubstep and Detroit Techno respectfully having fucking good soundclash, as her own sparse, not-4/4 beats and soulful croonings soundtrack room 2. Love Dub Refix = bliss.

Scratcha DVA Fact Mix

And while we’re on the subject of Fact mixes, I really think Scratcha DVA’s addition to the series (dropping some 20 weeks after Cooly’s) encapsulated what was going on in the anthem end of the spectrum.
 DVA’s “I’m leaving”. Lil Silva’s “Seasons and Geeneus’ “Yellowtail” (whose pitch-wheeled synthline always reminded me a bit of the Count Duckula theme tune). He did however take us down more dimly lit streets, in the form of Felix Da Housecat’s “Big Fat Kick Drum” and Most Wanted Mega’s “Different Lextrix”, a track I see having some sort of affinity with the sound Egyptrixx pushed on his debut Night Slugs EP 2 years later, and Dj Mujava’s Township Funk.

Fantastic Four Rinse FM Show

This less soulful, more aggressive approach bears its teeth via a Rinse FM ‘Fantastic Four” guest show: a DJ/Producer supergroup comprised of a b2b2b2b Roska/DVA/D-Malice/Ill Blu. This show is interesting as it sees DVA toy with a more electro sound, Roska drop lost dubs, and future bangers being drawn for by Malice & Blue respectively. Hearing Roska introduce the mix by name-checking the record shops the Fantastic 4 release was available in seems weird now. Shops such as Uptown, Rhythm Division & Blackmarket have all since closed their doors and were responsible (I feel) for putting Funky on the shelves alongside Grime CDs (mixtapes being at the height of their popularity at this point) and transitioning people whose thirst for non-existent 140 vinyl could be quenched with tropical sounding plastic. I bought a stack of what I deemed to be “future classics” from shops at the time.

Marcus Nasty 7th Jan ’09

More from Marcus again, and this kicks things off with one of my favourite under-the-radar deep cuts DJ Mystery’s Speechless (ft. Natalie K) which reminds me of a summer holiday where I stayed in with the curtains drawn. I would listen regularly to him on Rinse and SubJam, and I think the reason I was so enthralled by this guy’s show at the time was the fact his foray into playing House seemed at odds with the Jammer’s-jaw-swinging grime-badguy persona I’d known him for as the head of Nasty Crew; like if you’d listened to the war dubs he’d made over the Nasty Crew beef it seemed hard to imagine him headlining shoes-n-shirts raves every weekend… but the world loves a villain, and especially one you know could kick the shit out of you with one hand whilst maintaining a grip on a champagne flute with the other.

The Heatwave Funky Bashment Mix

When we talk about Grime form this era, we’re talking about MCs. This was waaay before the instrumental revival had surfaced and even I’d completely moved away from producing for them at this point. How this is relevant to the next mix you might ask? Because on Gabriel Heatwave’s XLR8R podcast he appointed himself the task of bringing MCs into the genre (albeit in acapella form obv.), and in a way kick-started a whirlwind summer of Patois embellishment akin to the Ragga Jungle controversy of ’94. In all honesty I think people just got bored of that trend quickly and it died out, but Bashment pirate radio did go mad for this, and I remember tuning in and hearing someone chatting over Claude VonStroke’s ‘Who’s Afraid of Detroit’, ffs.

Melanotan II / No Paco Rabanne is out now on No Pain In Pop. Order it here.

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