“I remember being five or six, and my dad used to play acid house in the front room – Hacienda tunes, all that like. I suppose growing up North West [in Liverpool], where a lot of acid house in the North came from, me dad had just got raving round there. My history in that sense was all that. And quite a lot of Scouse house…but that’s complete shit. It’s fucking awful…[laughs]” – Slackk
When UK Funky broke in 2008, there was a lot of talk about it being the new grime, or “grime in disguise”; a reflection of the way grime DJs like Maximum, Spyro and notably Mac 10 were incorporating it into their sets, and anthems like Hard House Banton’s ‘Sirens’ and Lil Silva’s ‘Seasons’ (or, more literally, though it wasn’t as big a tune, Silva’s remix of Musical Mob’s grime riddim ‘Pulse X’) which shared early grime’s rough, twisted simplicity and had the same impact on London dance floors as grime anthems like ‘Duppy’ once did. But few to date* have combined grime and Funky in the same way Slackk does on his forthcoming debut single.
You might know Slackk from his work running pirate radio archive site Grimetapes, or you might know him from his Eski-House mix which was uploaded last weekend to Lower End Spasm. Pretty soon, I’d wager you’ll know him first and foremost for that aforementioned debut 12″, ‘Fire Flies’, which is due out at the end of April. But ‘Fire Flies’, an explicit combination of grime and Funky (Wiley fans will recognize the sample – and the title – like that) isn’t even half the story. Slackk’s been sending me tunes for months that range from hypercolour grime in the Starkey/Swindle mould to some of the most heartbreaking vocal house you’ll hear all year. Eager to find out more, I met up with Slackk – real name Paul Lynch – on Easter Monday to talk about football, grime and matters vaguely related to his own productions.
“I’ve been in London off and on, from when I was about 18”, Paul follows on from that Hacienda quote. “I’ve been here properly for a little while now, but I’ve always had mates who were down here I’d visit and that. I’m a bit of a nomad I suppose … I suppose [London was] when I first heard grime. As far as actually getting into it goes, buying records and that, that was more when I was based in Liverpool. I’d make trips to go pick up records, and try to play them to people in Liverpool who weren’t interested, at tiny, tiny events.”
“As much as I do like a softer edge to a lot of things, I find a lot of the slower tempo stuff grates on me.”
“Before house, I was trying to make grime for two and a half, three years. I just couldn’t make it rough enough. I’ve never been a fan of the 70bpm hip-hop type grime, this was more the 03-04 style [think Oddz, Alias and early Dizzee], but it never hit hard enough for me. I’ve made a couple of new grime bits that a few people have played though, like Elijah and Skilliam have played them. I actually used to make kind of downtempo hip-hop for a couple of years; J Dilla rip-offs, really obvious samples chopped up. Trying to be a shitty Scouse Pete Rock and failing miserably. I only started making house about 18 months ago to be honest.”
Was that Funky’s influence? “I suppose so. My main influence is grime [though]. I mean the tune that got me noticed was a grime refix [‘Fire Flies’] that I knocked out very quickly. And as much as I do like a softer edge to a lot of things, I find a lot of the slower tempo stuff grates on me. I don’t like a lot of the tasteful house that Funky seems to have become. I like the Lil Silva end more than Circle and Kismet – no disrespect to them, but it’s not my sound.”
And as for the prominent Wiley sample on ‘Fire Flies’? “I’m not worried. You know, it’s a really obvious bass sample and if Wiley knocks at my door then I’ll give him the £20 I’ll be making off the 12″, it’s no problem [laughs] it’s fine! Some of me stuff is sampled, and I’ve done a couple of grime remixes that are really obvious, but it’s only my influences to be honest. When I’m fucking about making music at two in the morning I’ll think ‘I wonder what this grime tune sounds like with Funky drums underneath it’, and that’s where that comes from. I’m not that bothered about sampling … there’s a long tradition of bootlegs in UK music. Look at Tubby and Footsie’s dubstep tunes, the amount of jungle samples is scandalous. If you’re sampling a tune, then it’s just referencing what came before you anyway, not to get into all that continuum bollocks. It’s a sample based culture.”
Page two of this article is a playlist of unreleased Slackk tracks available to stream – all the evidence you should need to get excited about this guy. Unfortunately ‘Lonely’, a gorgeous vocal house tune that’s been a favourite of those that know for a while now, is currently in the process of being re-vocalled, and so its final form isn’t ready in time for this feature. You can hear the original version though, as well as ‘Fire Flies’, ‘Peru’, his refix of Kerri Chandler’s ‘Bumba Bounce’ and more.
*Shout to Grievous Angel, for his 130bpm remix of Wiley’s ‘Ice Rink’.
Oh, and if you tune into Sub.FM at 11am this Sunday, you’ll be treated to a massive marathon session with Slackk, Deamonds, Deep Teknologi’s T. Williams, Oil Gang, M2J, Optimum, Trizla, this column’s Tom Lea and more.