Tuesday, 26 February 2013

One year on

One year on from the start of the UK Glitch Hop community and radio show, Morbidly Obese Midget takes a moment to reflect on where we've come from and where we find ourselves in 2013

The first UK Glitch Hop radio show aired on Glitch.FM on 27 February 2012, exactly a year ago this week. I first had the idea when the US-based radio show put out a call for more DJs back in 2010. At the time I was listening to a lot of West Coast glitch hop and bass music - Bassnectar, The Glitch Mob and ill.gates - and wanted to bring these artists to the UK. I figured a radio show would be a pretty good place to start, but I didn't know enough other heads to share the rotation with.

Tipper, who many see as the originator of the sound, hadn't played the UK for years and was living somewhere out in the States. Your Niece was the first DJ I heard playing US crunk music in the UK, but he was busy with other projects at the time. Chrome Kids were also on it, but seemed to have their own thing going on already. Hudson Mohawke was getting a lot of attention with a Glasgow sound, but he was huge in his own right. I began to see other signs of life though. Australian producer Spoonbill had played the Inspiral Lounge at Glade in 2009 and fellow antipodean Opiuo was beginning to grab a lot of people's attention here with a refreshingly funky bounce. The Ghetto Funk crew were leading a mid-tempo breaks revolution, with Parker from Bristol and a guy called Jpod the Beat Chef from Canada playing a lot of Opiuo in their sets. Meanwhile dubstep had gone mainstream on both sides of the pond. Drumstep was starting to blur boundaries and tempos, while G-funk inspired post-dubstep producers like Joker were beginning to get picked up State-side alongside Skream and Benga. Skanky Panky had just started up in Liverpool, but it took me a while to discover they were from the UK.

Then a number of things happened that made me get my act together. First of all, The Glitch Mob and Bassnectar started making regular trips to the UK, playing big nights at Fabric, Matter and Koko. US glitch hop was reaching UK audiences, but where were the homegrown acts and local nights? That summer Zen Death Squad released an EP on pivotal US label Muti Music, which sounded like the UK's answer to The Glitch Mob. Then in November 2011 I heard Zane Lowe play Mr Brown by Koan Sound on Radio 1. Here were a couple of lads from Bristol making full and funky, squelchy glitch hop, AND getting it heard on prime time radio. Another young dubstep producer, Culprate, also took a decidedly funky mid-tempo turn on the same label, Inspected Records, whilst Mouldy Soul and Krossbow's debut EP on Colony Productions shot to the top of the chart on Addictech. Strong signs of some serious UK talent.

Having seen The Glitch Mob play to a packed crowd at Electric Brixton at the start of November, I set up a UK Glitch Hop Facebook community and made another call out for DJs. Mouldy Soul, Mike Wallis of Colony Productions, William Breakspear from Skanky Panky and Your Niece responded. Orangudan designed us a logo based on a jokey tagline about whomp sauce on fish and glitch.

It took until February to get the show off the ground on Glitch.FM, but once we did we instantly begun to find new heads with similar tastes, producers, DJs, listeners, friends of friends. The first show featured an interview with Zen Death Squad. We then began to host regular guest mixers from all the new DJs and producers that we kept coming across, as well as old friends – Inaudible, Beat3, SixAM, Vent, Shamanic Technology, Dephicit, earegular, Pistol Shrimp, It Takes Two to Tango, Spenghead, Tryptich. We began to notice more UK acts gets signed to US labels, not to mention a new Australian outfit called Adapted Records. People started to tune in regularly and to join us in the chat room or on Soundcloud where our archive now receives around 500 plays each week.

One year on and I'm proud to say that it now feels like we actually have UK scene. The Meteor, created by the Uppercut crew at Glade Festival, was a watershed moment. It brought together for the first time producers, DJs, crews and labels from all over the country who had been representing separately until that point. Those who played talked about how happy they were to play together, while for the audience it felt like something distinctly different. Many who'd never heard of glitch hop before returned home with new tunes in their heads and a new love in their hearts. There are now regular glitch hop nights in London, Bristol, Exeter, Bournemouth, Birmingham, Liverpool and Worcester, with other DJs and producers doing their own thing in their own towns where a new night might spring up at any time.

To celebrate UK Glitch Hop's birthday, we've just held our first awards, an opportunity for our listeners to tell us what they've most enjoyed over the last year. Their impeccable tastes are a very true reflection of the way things are going. Opiuo, who has been the most positive influential force in the world for the last five years, was suitably rewarded a winner of five international categories; but he was closely followed by Koan Sound with three UK awards - a testament to their own huge impact and considerable originality and talent.

When I spoke to Freq Nasty at Glade in the summer, he told me that the UK would soon redevelop it's own style, distinct from the origins of Tipper and the influence of the West Coast. In the winners of the first UK Glitch Hop awards I feel that we're already there, with Koan Sound, Culprate&Maksim, Kursa, Reso, Standard&Push, Inspected Records and all of the UK artists on Adapted Records creating something that tastes uniquely here and now, with the influence of d'n'b producers like Spor as strong as any glitch hop act. Signed to OSWLA and with no signs of stopping, I reckon that Koan Sound will be the boys who take this inter-stellar, if they've not done so already. They're certainly set to conquer the US and beyond. Full power to them. 

Looking ahead, March 2013 sees the biggest concentration of glitch hop in the UK to date. It all kicks off with Shoreglitch, London's first monthly night, and our little UK Glitch Hop roadshow touring to Bristol and Liverpool. Then on 8 March Amon Tobin brings ISAM back to the UK one last time. The following week, on 16 March, the UK's leading psychedelic party promoters host US live act Beats Antique at :: Illumination :: alongside a strong home-grown line up. Towards the end of the month Opiuo returns for his second UK tour, with dates in Exeter, Bournemouth, Swansea and Brighton. He also plays two huge parties hosted by Koan Sound in Bristol and London. The month ends with another originator AMB playing yet another new London night and Omni Temple hosting its first major showcase in Bournemouth. Watch it grow.

Glitch Hop love has spread worldwide to, with our friends at Glitch Hop keeping on top of the bigger picture. International labels, artists and events from the US, Mexico, Europe, Russia, South Africa and Australia go from strength to strength.

Our little radio show definitely didn't start this, it didn't create this and it doesn't own this - in fact the term 'glitch hop' will probably become obsolete before long, as the sound continues to change - but we are glad to have been here to pulling people together while it's all been happening.  Huge love out to all our listeners and to the acts who continue to make UK Glitch Hop so pleasurable to our ears. Long may you reign!

Tune into UK Glitch Hop on Glitch.FM every Wednesday from 10PM-12PM GMT for exclusive guest mixes, the latest tunes, gig news and plenty of banter, or catch up with the archive here.

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