Fiery club pressure from 2019 Pirate Prodigy winner Eclecticist.
Pirate Studios, the innovative tech brand that offers self-service 24-hour music studios, recently completed a second edition of Pirate Prodigy, their programme that finds and nurtures new British talent with the guidance of artists like Mr Scruff, Jamz Supernova, Toddla T, Jammer, Oneman, Naina and Plastician. With talent developed across the three categories of band, vocalist and DJ, naturally our ears were drawn towards the selector, with one DJ winner particularly making our heads turn, London’s very own Eclecticist.
Having been producing and hosting radio shows under the award-winning brand Eclectivity in Bristol for the past six years, he now produces specialist shows across BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio 1Xtra. An advocate of Eclecticism, his skills behind the controls equally sway towards a pair of decks, as he carves genre merging mixes that connect the dots between the worlds of techno, uk bass, gqom, baile funk and beyond.
Welcoming him to our mix series, it’s clear Eclecticist isn’t one to hold back, as he commands dancefloor attention via a 26-track blend of wonky club experiments from players like LOFT, Metrist, Siete Catorce, Overmono, Zenker Brothers and Wilted Woman. Press play below and read on to find out more on the man below.
You’ve a long history in radio production as well as DJing, tell us more about your background and how your journey has got you where you are today?
My Dad is into Soundsystem music, dub & Reggae and also lots of soul & R&B, he played loud music on his big self-made speakers often when I was growing up in Oxford. When I got to an age where I began to somewhat understand how to string a system together, I inherited some of his equipment, so I guess I started pseudo DJing at the age of about 9. Along the way, I heard a load of UK garage & jungle from various sources, mainly my Aunty’s car and my Uncle’s studio. DJing is something I continued to participate in and develop skills in throughout my teenage years, but more pro-dominantly I was an MC. I was a Grime MC primarily, although 16 bars soon became songs and I put out an album that I am no longer massively fond of, however, I really enjoyed performing with the band we put together when making the album.
Upon going to Uni in Bristol (and semi putting the mic down) I found Student Radio as the perfect medium to express myself musically and Bristol to be the perfect place to explore new sounds and people. I started a show called ‘Eclectic Sessions’ in second year and produced loads of content exploring some of my favourite record labels such as Hessle Audio, Night Slugs, Hyperdub, Livity Sound and Eglo to name a few. The show earned me a Student Radio Award back in 2014 which cemented my intention to continue doing radio and take it to the next level.
Following Uni, I moved to London to pursue a career in Radio Production, which after a few years of grafting eventually worked out. I am currently working on Trevor Nelson’s Rhythm Nation on BBC Radio 2 and Seani B on BBC Radio 1Xtra. Alongside producing radio I have continued to DJ, rave and explore forward thinking music, a lot of which my friends have been making (or at least I made friends with them because they make music I like). Over the past 5 years I have continued playing on Radio, holding down residencies on 1020 Radio, Noods Radio and the late Radar Radio. That sorta brings me to where I am now, ha.
What scenes, sounds or movements are you particularly drawn towards?
I guess I am part of this post UK-hardcore continuum generation, so whatever is next wave to come out of that is, I’ll be drawn towards? Bristol is my spiritual home. I lived there for 5 years whilst I was at uni, so naturally I am drawn towards a lot of the UK techno coming out of there.
Particularly everything coming from the Timedance family which I am lucky to feel part of. When I started raving, UK Funky was my ‘be all and end all’ for a short time (I was quite a decent Funky MC in fact), so now, I am drawn to some of the new UK funky Hybrids and some of the ‘Hard Drum’ I’ve been hearing recently. I am quite a fan of gqom and have been following and supporting the gqom scene quite avidly over the past few years, shout out Nan Kolé (Malumz) and the work he has done with Gqom-Oh! Very recently, I have become fascinated by some artists I have discovered in South America, you will hear some new bits from Mexico in my mix.
What to you makes a good DJ?
I like a DJ who can put something into a context that helps anyone understand and furthermore enjoy it. Sometimes dance music is hard for people to enjoy in a standalone context, but a good DJ will drop it in a mix or a set and it will suddenly resonate with those people. I like DJs who take you on a journey. I am not really a ‘drops’ man or a ‘banger after banger’ kinda fella, I like a good journey where you rarely ever notice tracks are being transitioned into others, seamless yet consistently evolving and unravelling.
With regards to specialism vs eclecticism, I am the Eclecticist… so obviously when it comes to DJing I tend to be eclectic. Being eclectic is a gift and a curse sometimes, as of which I have the utmost admiration for DJs who do it well, like Ben UFO. In fact, Ben UFO’s response to a question about specialism vs eclecticism in his 2014 Red Bull Music Academy lecture sums up how I feel so accurately that I chopped it up and played it at the start of my mix.
How does it feel to be a Pirate Prodigy 2019 winner?
It’s extremely exciting, I have been DJing and honing this craft for so long and I often have to guard against bitterness and self doubt with how little I get to play out. I have so much respect and admiration for the judges on the panel of the competition and hence I am pretty stoked that they saw something in me, it’s reassuring and quite liberating in fact. Above all else, I am pretty determined to make the most of this opportunity.
What’s the next challenge for Eclecticist?
Get lots more gigs under my belt, I love playing out so much and don’t feel I get to do it enough! I am looking to establish myself as a radio extraordinaire with my brand, Eclectivity, exploring and joining the dots in an ever developing experimental musical landscape. With that, I can hopefully draw a community of ‘eclecticists’ and together we will rejoice and find solace in exploring forward-thinking music.