Established in 2012, Artikal Music UK is a record label with a difference. The ethos of the label leans heavily on Dubstep’s roots, with an emphasis on vinyl presses for each release. Artikal still nods to the current scene with a fresh perspective by providing bonus digital tracks, embracing a new wave of online Dubstep lovers. They have released artists such as Perverse, Truth, Killawatt & Core, Genetix, Sleeper, Ipman, TMSV, Thelem and EshOne, more than proving their worth as a label to watch. Artikal is committed to representing the UK Bass music scene, and shows no sign of slowing down any time soon.
Taking over the JunoDownload Dubstep page with their newest release 'The Compilation', Artikal faces towards the future rather than looking back with a stunning collection of 14 unreleased and previously unheard tracks, from the likes of TMSV, label-head J:Kenzo, Thelem and American dubstep shaman EshOne amongst others. Artikal Music is proud to deliver a compilation that serves not a nostalgic retrospective, but showcases what the label does best, which is delivering up-to-the-minute thundering dubstep tunes by a unique selection of artists from all corners of the globe.
We've got the lowdown on the release from J:Kenzo himself, a very special mix, and even an exclusive free downloadable track which is not to be missed trust us!
Artikal is one of the most popular dubstep labels in the scene but some fans may not be aware that you are one of the joint founders. Can you tell us a little bit about how the label came about?
The label was started in January 2012. There was a track called 'Alone in the Darkness' (ARTKL001) which myself and Mosaix produced together. The track was getting a lot of interest around that time and we decided to put it out on our own. At this time I was getting sent a lot of quality music, which I felt deserved to be released so we decided to make the label an outlet for quality deep underground sounds.
Your name is synonymous with the deeper sound of Dubstep, have you always made this style of music or is your current signature sound something that took a lot of experimentation and development?
It’s been natural. I just make music that I'm feeling and the deeper edge suits my taste.
Can you tell us a little bit about the Artikal Compilation release; how long did it take for the release to come fruition and the thinking behind compiling the release?
This is our first compilation project, and it’s out now. It has been 9-10 months of hard work from the team and I to make this happen. This is a big step for us as a label and we have some great artists involved in the project. The compilation consists of 14 tracks from 12 different artists covering a whole heap of styles. We have been releasing music for over 2 years now and I’ve been playing a lot of the tracks from the compilation in my sets. I just felt it was the right time to release a larger project.
The dubstep scene has gone through a massive transition over the past few years, where do you see the scene heading in the future?
We have headed into the unknown, dubstep has shown that it is still relevant even after the money and commercial side of things have been and gone. It’s always been an underground sound and the passion from those who are involved in the scene is still as strong as ever.
Artikal always seems to have prioritised vinyl and digital in equal measure. Was this your original intention? What is your preference when gigging?
We have always seen the two formats as equal. Vinyl has been a big part of my life since I was a kid. It’s a blessing that the scene still has a huge fanbase of Vinyl DJs and collectors. Gig-wise I mostly play digital now especially when travelling but I still buy Vinyl and cut Dubplates.
You are very kindly giving away a track from the label as part of the takeover. A track that quite frankly you could be selling, and also a track that represents a change in style (well certainly bpm). Can you give us a little background on the track and why you decided to give this away?
This is a remix I did of one of my favourite tracks from the back catalogue - Truth's 'Babylon London'. The original track reflected exactly what the label is about and I wanted to give my spin on it. The tempo is upped but the vibe is still the same, building the boundaries between dubstep and drum & bass. It has had support from dBridge & Calibre as well as Youngsta and Loxy. I decided to give it away as a thank you to all who have supported the label.
You have a huge label tour of North America on the horizon can you give us a little insight into what fans can expect?
That’s correct - we are heading out there for the first ever Artikal Music UK Tour. Thelem, EshOne, Sleeper and myself have 14 shows lined up all over North America. Every artist involved will be bringing their own unique style to the table.
Are you excited to be touring North America ? What are your thoughts on the scene there?
It is a great place to play, every show is different. The scene in North America has become a vital part of Dubstep. The fans and promoters know exactly where this music came from and embrace it to the fullest.
OK last question, a bit of a final thoughts request. What are your plans for yourself and the label in 2015 and which upcoming artists do you feel we should be keeping an ear out for?
We are going to continue what we are doing and release quality music into 2015. There are some great projects lined up for the future which I am looking forward to. Keep your ears out for more music from Thelem, TMSV and EshOne.
Back after an absence of well over a year, the deep and moody Proxima is back in bass business, this time courtesy of Rinse. The beats are still around the 140 mark and the mood is still deep: "Trapped" kicks things off with some dark alleyway vibes - all shifty beats and general eeriness, "Fate" soon picks up the pace with some seriously anxious drum patterns and sweaty-palms-synth-pads and lastly the EP's heaviest track, "Fallout", is full of taut, writhing mechanical snarls. Still sinister, still fresh!
On his first release for Deep Medi Musik this year, Commodo taps up JME for a mean lyrical flow over the top of a typically monstrous production, making a perfect dubstep / grime crossover track in the process. JME has a blast pointing back to classic reference points from Kano and Wiley and many more in his conscious MC turn, while Commodo's beat prowls in the background with that exotic charm that has always marked out his style from the rest of the pack. There's a hooky chorus and plenty of grand stabs, and for those who just want the tune the instrumental is bundled in as well. The fact that the beat stands up on its own without any trouble says a lot about Commodo's studio prowess, which is no doubt why he continues to be a mainstay on Mala's label.
Trashbat has smashed 2014 to pieces with his MindStep releases, and we reckon this is his best yet. Showcasing his broadest sounds throughout, we range from deep dungeon-bound murkage on "Realness" to smoky future soul of "Scale & Tusk" (where Sarah Zad doesn't sound too far away from a young Ms Badu). Elsewhere we get heavily meditative by the spacious arrangement of "Gold Fire" and get drenched by the big Detroit synth sprays of "Moist Beat". Six tracks of originality, each one exploring a different shade of bass, may Trashbat continue smashing for a long time to come.
Midland murkers Deceit make their debut and it's a powerful mission statement. Featuring five tracks of smouldering bass fire, each cut is a kind reminder that dubstep doesn't need to be dungeon-bound to be deep. Robert Brian's game of lyrical Twister will have you falling over your feet on the title track, the tribal drum dynamics of "Cognitive Dissonance" play the consummate shaman for your next frenzy, the stark balance of crisp star-gazing synths and slimy subs on "Time" will leave you feeling warped and wounded while the powerful drum-focussed "Fire" plays with space and weight in a way that's not dissimilar to Truth. Finally "On The Road" closes the show with some very playful piano manipulation - a great way to end an exciting EP, it shows the duo's creative scope and hints at heaps more in the near future.
UK vs Italy: Step-A-Side, The Hooderz and Weaze collide to create "Hustle". With a rolling array of drum textures and Q&A rhythms, there's an unrelenting drama that twists and turns throughout. Those who prefer things a little darker should jump on Lowryder's remix where a more spacious bass mutters a menacing gurgle. Finally we hit "Sabotage". This time Lowryder joins the fray as the five-strong team cook up a moody, muddy fusion of Kenzo-flavoured alien bass and crisp naked beats. Icy vibes.
Famously outspoken cult figure The Last Skeptik is back with new LP I Don't Even Like You on Barely Breaking Even, and he clearly hasn't lost any of the fire in his belly. There are seven tracks here, all teeming with a creative tension: from the pained electro-soul of opener "Show Me", to the slo-mo bounce of retro horror movie soundtrack "Cheerio" via the future-laser stripclub bleep-jam of "The Computer Love". Dope!
This one's a strictly Romanian affair; both DarkMatteR and Blank have gained individual traction on labels such as Digital Weapons and it seems this hook-up with Sublimated Sounds is going to take them both to a new level. DarkMatteR initiates proceedings with "Mirage", a harrowing slice of prayer-call sub-smoke. Blank follows it with a darker, twisted, heavily textured roller "Dark Place". It's the title track - when the pair combine forces - that really stands out, though. With techy acid bubbles, mutated bass and a great sense of pensive drama, it's a great exercise in time, space and restraint. Stunning.