This Friday’s FACT mix comes from the presenter of Rinse FM’s breakfast show and Roska’s DJing partner in crime, Scratcha DVA.
Leon Smart to his mum, Scratcha’s not just a quality DJ (more than any DJ in Rinse history, his show’s been as much about the presenting as the music – something Smart puts down to his upbringing of Steve Jackson and Streetboy on former seminal London pirate station Kiss FM), he’s one of the best producers around. ‘Bullet A Go Fly’, his recent single on Keysound, is the only realistic competition to ‘Next Hype’ in the Grime Track of the Year stakes, and ‘I’m Leaving’, feat. Alanha, is a vocal anthem played by everyone from Spyro to Geiom.
Currently collaborating with Cooly G, Roska and D-Malice on tracks, he’s also contributed to Logan Sama’s Eath 616 imprint and is part of UK Funky unit the Fantastic Four, with Roska, D-Malice and Ill Blu. In particular you should watch out for him and Roska’s remix of So Solid Crew’s ’21 Seconds’ and solo track ‘Key to my House’, both of which should end the year as anthems. Did we mention he used to make jungle with a pre-grime Terror Danjah, was the man behind the Voice of Grime mixtape from back in the day, and that Slimzee cut dubs of some of his very first productions? Scratcha might be on the crest of a wave right now, but he’s done his time.
His FACT mix features material from Felix the Housecat, Karizma, Geeneus and Horsepower alongside new dubs by DVA, D-Malice, Roska and more. Scroll down for an interview with Scratcha where he talks his past, his experience in engineering for Wiley, and getting in trouble with Rinse FM boss Geeneus…
(Available for three weeks)
Ms Darks – Destiny Freestyle (Scratcha Dub)Lil Silva – SeasonsDVA ft Alahna – I’m Leaving (MA1 Remix)Geeneus – Yellow Tail (Part 2)Ill Blu – Dragon Pop (Fantastic 4)Conan Liquid – One Time (For Your Mind)Mark Ambience – Rain DanceDVA/D Malice (Soule Power) – Guro TribaFlawless/DVA – Melodies (Dub)DJ Naughty – Quick Time (Roska Remix)Felix The House Cat – Kick DrumDVA – God Made Me Funky (Fantastic 4)Cooly G – HardS.Chu – Tribal Widow (Drums Mix)Princess Nyah – Frontline (Scratcha Dub)Soul Dynamics – Make A Choice (Audiowhores Mix)MW Mega – Different LextrixCooly G – AkaiYotam Avni – Coke BouqetHorsepower Productions – Gorgon SoundRoska – Concrete JungleDVA – Nasty Nasty Nasty (Roska Remix)Mike D – (Dub)Kenny Dope – Watch DisSomore Part 4 – I Refuse (Sunshine Bros Mix)Karizma – TwistedIll Blu – Rider (Scratcha Dub)Claude Vonstroke – War PaintSoule Power (DVA) – Natty Dub
Interview with Scratcha after the jump…
Photo credit: Martin Clark
Most people, us included, only knew you from the Rinse breakfast show – it wasn’t ’til reading your interview with Martin Clark that we realised how long you’d been producing for…
“Well in that interview we talked about me and Terror Danjah back in the day, but it started before that – I’d been going to studios for ages, like looking in the Yellow Pages to look up recording studios, and I started going to one that was near my house. I remember buying George Michael tunes, and going to the studio and going ‘yeah, I want to make a jungle record out of this.’ The engineer must have been like ‘you idiot bruv…’
“So I’d just sample stuff, going to the studio and pay big money – and it was big money back then, I was like 14 or 15 – and just try to make jungle. This was late 90s, I just remember on my birthday wanting to spend some money, it started all from there…”
‘Cause DVA was originally a production group, right?
“There were two of us – the first release I ever ever had was with someone called Kobie. And that was a tune called ‘Takeoff’ on 4Front Records, which had DJ Faz; he made a tune called ‘Destiny’, an old garage tune. I heard Spyro play it the other day actually, it brought back bare memories. Anyway, that was the first on the label. And the second release on the label was mine – it was by Scratcha and Kobie, it was before I was DVA, they spelt my bloody name wrong on the vinyl too – I was pissed…”
Did they spell it with an ‘er’?
“Yeah, exactly – I hate it when people do that! I thought whatever though; it was on vinyl so I was happy – I got paid like 300 pound and thought I was a rudeboy. Went and spent it in one night; I thought I was big in the game in those times…”
I saw you say Slimzee used to cut your dubs, like that tune ‘Kurb Krawl’.
“Yeah, well after ‘Takeoff’, we thought the Scratcha and Kobie thing sounded dumb, like we just needed one name. And we were into all sorts of things – I still am; I’m influenced by loads of stuff – so we made the name Diverse Artz. Diverse: that’s what we are and do. So we did that, and start making this crazy stuff…I was coming out the drum and bass era, but drum and bass had moved away from melodies and towards the jump up stuff, and it was just producers showing off – like who can twist the sound the most or whatever.
“But anyway, we came from there but tried to combine it with the garage thing, and that’s where that sound comes from on records like ‘Kurb Krawl’. And at that time Slimzee was killing it with the grimey dubs; he took it on and just loved it. Back in those days, if you went Music House and ten people were interested in cutting your tune, you knew you had a hit.”
Were you engineering then?
“That was actually how I hooked up with Terror [Danjah]; I was engineering and MCs and all sorts used to come down to the studio. And he came down trying to get some vocals or whatever, ’cause in them times not everybody had a big studio. This was proper big, the one I was working in, like it wasn’t someone’s bedroom or something. It’s how I met Wiley, ’cause [Lady] Ny started coming, I dun’ a track with her. And Wiley at that time obviously, he was proper off, like he would get in some beef and need an emergency dub or something, and mine was the studio he’d be near a lot of the time ’cause he was staying in the area. More time MCs would come down the studio, and them and the engineer would get to making tunes – that’s just what happened with me and Wiley.”
“One day we came down and Gee was there waiting for me! He’d been listening, and he goes to me ‘come next door’ – I was like shit…”
Was Voice of Grime your first proper CD project?
“Yeah, ’cause that was when Ny was coming in – I wanted to get on that. The thing was 22 singers on grime, and I produced 11 of the tunes. It was heavily influenced by what Davinche and people like True Tiger and Terror Danjah started up; the whole R’n’G thing. I concentrated on that; a couple of people had done it, but I felt like no one had really stamped it, like made it a thing. So I think my CD was kind of the first to do that. There was no way I couldn’t involve other people; I had to get the producers and singers who’d been doing it from before me involved, like Soundboy Entertainment and stuff like that. That compilation was sort of like my introduction back into the scene, to say that DVA was its own thing. I’d moved away from Aftershock at that point…&q
How did the Rinse show happen?
“I spent a short amount of time on 1Xtra – it was more music based than the Rinse one, but I just wanted to talk all the time. I was co-presenting it with Aftershock, and I don’t think they could get their head around it; like they just wanted to play dubs and spit, and all I wanted to do was talk rubbish. It got to the point where I would do the show one week and Terror would do it the next one; it wasn’t working out. So after that, obviously I knew Slimzee and Geeneus and them from back in the day, and Geeneus was like ‘yeah, come to Rinse’.
“It started doing an evening show; they gave me Saturday evening. Then they gave me drive time on a Friday. And sometimes on the Friday I’d bring [future co-presenter] JJ, without Gee knowing – ’cause we weren’t allowed to bring people there. He was coming down, and now and again I’d let him say stuff on the mic. But then one day we came down and Gee was there waiting for me! He’d been listening, and he goes to me ‘come next door’ – I was like shit…
“So I basically told him I wanted a co-presenter, I wanted to make it some funny thing – like a Streetboy [from Kiss FM] sort of vibe. That was what I grew up with, and that was what I was trying to get at, but in a new way. I thought Gee was gonna go mad and kick me off, but he was cool. He was like ‘listen, you can bring him in, but he’s your responsibility.’ So I was lucky; that’s when I started working on the whole me and JJ thing. The problem with that was that it was like the Aftershock thing again; I wanted to come on and chat rubbish, and he wanted to play dubs – like he wanted to be Spyro, and I wanted to be Steve Jackson. So now he’s got his own show where he plays grime and gets MCs on, and I’m still here waffling crap…”
You’ve been doing tracks with both Cooly G and Roska lately, what else is on your plate?
“Er, I’ve got this band kind of thing going on. It stems from back in the Aftershock days; like me and Terror done a remix for Shaznay Lewis, and loads of my tunes sampled guitars. So now I’m doing a producer slash guitar thing, and we’ve got a keyboard player; there’s three of us, it’s called DVA Acoustic. We want to do something like Voice of Grime, at the moment we’ve got a DVA Acoustic track with Katy B – when you hear that you’ll know what I mean.
“Then there’s my album, No Right Turn, that’s pretty much done. I collaborated with…more down the weirder route, there’s a couple of bands on there: there’s a tune with Enter Shakari on there. What it is yeah, I’m from the Prodigy days – that’s where my roots are. Imagine a Prodigy album with local grime acts on; that’s what I’m going from. But I’m scared to put it out; I don’t know if people are ready for it yet. I’m too far forward; it always happens.”
You always DJ funky when you play out – you gonna start DJing grime anytime soon?
“Nah, I dunno what it is – like I love making grime; I love getting down with the keys and that. But playing out…I dunno. I like playing with Roska – it’s fun. I like what he plays, he likes what I play. People seemed to really enjoy it when we played Cargo, like I like playing tunes that I know no one there knows but they still dance – they still snap their neck.”
Like that Felix Da Housecat one [‘Kick Drum’]…
“That’s exactly it. Every time I play that people ask me what it is, and the first time I played it Roska hated it. He’s always like [puts on Roska voice] ‘don’t play that kick drum tune, I hate that one’. So I’d just play it to wind him up. He’s into all that innie – the girly vocals. Then I heard him bringing it in on his show, and I was like ‘oh my days’. Roska’s a cat, he’s a cat man. I was like ‘I thought you didn’t like it’, he’s all ‘nah, nah, I like it now.’ It’s one of those ones that grows on ya…”
For bookings, contact Scratcha DVA here.