“It’s mad because, the media names it something and then everyone goes along with it. It’s like when grime first came about: there wasn’t really a name for it and then everyone just decided to call it grime. As far as I’m concerned, a name is just a name.”

Roska’s verbal shrug is with regard to “funky”, the handle that he and his refreshingly raw, syncopated house music has become indelibly associated with. Funky has been used to describe everything from the roughshod almost-techno of Hard House Banton to Lil’ Silva’s “grime in disguise”, via the unreconstructed cheese of Crazy Cousinz. Funky is exciting precisely because of its plurality, its resistance to journalistic shorthand.

As for many of the scene’s notable figures, UK garage was Londoner Roska’s entry point into music-making: “I started MCing, me and my cousins just messing about in the bedroom and stuff like that. We did a few raves, and then we went our separate ways. It was all grime after that, and we weren’t really interested in it.”

Alienated by the badman chat endemic to grime – “a lot of the stuff that MCs were talking about, the gun lyrics, just didn’t relate to me” – Roska fell under the spell of house and broken beat, and swapped his mic for a producer’s chair. “These days I prefer being in the background, to be honest…” Roska’s three 12”s to date are already underground classics: the massive ‘Feeline’, notable for its Perlon-alike B-side ‘Boxed In’, the Climate Change EP and, most recently, Elevated Levels – on which you’ll find ‘Our Father’, a bolshy highlight of Marcus Nasty and Mak10’s scene-surveying September mix for Rinse.  But the past is of little interest to the affable, quietly ambitious Roska, who already has one eye on 2009:

“I’ve got two projects I’m working on and they should be ready for the first half of the year. There’s an electro sort of track, due at the end of January, and I’ve got also a four-track EP of vocal tracks on the way.”

Thanks to Roska and similarly inventive producers like D Malice and Scottie D, funky will continue to fly free of stylistic parameters. Whether we’ll ever be able to dispel the memory of ‘Bongo Jam’ remains to be seen.

Trilby Foxx



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