If you have not already heard the US is currently under a grime wave and Slit Jockey Records are the main the culprits. Founded in 2005 the forward thinking label aimed to take the UK sound stateside and they certainly achieved it with clubbers in the know currently going crazy for everything grime & bass. Let's not forget to mention that these guys were pushing the sound way before it had its recent resurgence in the UK.
The label is celebrating its 10th birthday and also the release of their hotly anticipated "Choice Cuts 4" compilation featuring 17 killer grime, bass & trap cuts from some of the most exciting names in the scene today. We caught up with label founders Starkey, El Carnicero & Dev79 for a chat about 10 years of Slit Jockey and the US scene. The guys are also giving away a free track "Geek Flex" by Shiftee & a specially recorded mix; which is 30 minutes of straight screwface essentials. Get downloading and enjoy!
So tell us a little about Slit Jockey Records, how it started and how you guys came together to form the label?
El Carnicero (E): I met Dev79 when his US tour stopped in Seattle. We stayed in touch after the shows, traded music, and initially discussed doing a dancehall label together around the time we all were discovering The Streets and Dizzee Rascal.
Dev79 (D): Starkey and I met playing gigs around Philly and started working together fairly quickly afterwards. I’d be friends with El Carnicero via the ‘net for a bit. There really was very few people that knew about grime in America at the time, no less was into it. So it was really exciting to find other people that were into the sound, that spark really initiated things amongst us. And the label aspect was a natural progression as no one else was really trying to champion grime in that capacity here, so we said fuck it lets do it ourselves.
2015 is the 10 year anniversary for the label, what accomplishments are you most proud of over the past 10 years?
Starkey (S): I think the thing that I’m happiest about is our quality control. We live in a time where it’s so easy to release everything. Even as a producer, it’s really easy to work on a track and post it to soundcloud or youtube, wherever, that day. And you really need to have the ability to step back and analyze things before you go and share it with the world; decide whether or not it’s actually good or not. We’ve always stood behind the music we put out 100% and I think that’s our greatest accomplishment. I really enjoyed putting together the mix we did for this takeover because I still think the music is great.
D: I’m proud that we didn’t have fear to tread unfamiliar ground and with that I truly feel that we were an important facet in the spreading of grime on a wider level. Outside of grime or even bass music at large, its an accomplishment to stick to your guns and be dedicated to running any independent label. Music industry is tough as fuck, I’m proud of our perseverance and passion.
E: I’m proud of the fact that as an American label releasing grime, we've been able to work with some very well respected artists in the scene. MCs like Kano, Ghetts, Trim, Riko and producers like Wonder and J Sweet who have been around since the beginning.
Slit Jockey was one of the first US-based labels to release grime. What drew you to that sound in the first place?
D: For me grime represented a raw and vibrant sound that combined the things I loved about rap, electronic and dancehall into one dope genre, that is at once concise and widely diverse.
S: I was living in England in 2001 when the garage scene was huge and people like So Solid Crew were coming out with big records as well as The Streets, and I guess the sound of the productions and style of the vocals is what got me interested. I kept in touch with what was going on through the pirate radio broadcasts, and all that early production from people like Jammer, Wiley and Dizzee is what made me want to incorporate the sound into my own production.
When you’re collecting tracks for a compilation like “Choice Cuts 4” are you approaching the curation with a specific agenda?
D: I think some comps may have more of an agenda than others but with the ‘Choice Cuts’ series I just see it as us grabbing hot tracks that fit in the Slit Jockey spectrum. Really happy to be able to present 17 sick songs on this edition, it's a firestorm!
How do you feel about the resurgence that grime has been having over the past year or so?
S: It’s interesting what’s going on because there’s been movement away from all the tracks being around 140bpm, plus there’s stuff that’s not necessarily dancefloor at all but retains a lot of the sort of signature ‘grime’ elements and sounds in the production. I think experimentation and branching out is what keeps a scene healthy.
D: Its dope, I’m bout it. I’ve been listening to grime for like 11 years and its still my fave “genre.” The more attention and growth it receives makes me happy.
E: I'm all for it. As long as people keep evolving and coming up with fresh sounds, it can't be bad!
Is there any area you see the label branching out to in the future?
S: 8 tracks will be the new casettes. ha.
D: We’d love to release some fresh wacky merch, people should yell at us and let us know what they want us to make!
What do you have planned for 2015?
D: We want to have a really special year, marking the anniversary with number of dope releases and special events. We can’t say too much now, but ‘Choice Cuts 4’ is just the start ;) I can let ya know that our newest artist Mattwizard is next on deck with some dope material.
Where do you see yourselves 10 years from now, will there be a 20 year Slit Jockey anniversary?
S: Definitely. It doesn’t feel like 10 years. It’s been fun.
D: I’ll be using a walker and barely able to roll my Rs but I’ll still say ‘brap’!
E: Maybe a few more gray hairs, but we will def still be releasing hot music!
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