Oliver ‘Skream’ Jones had a huge influence in modern Dubstep, molding what it is today. Since moving into a wide variety of other genres he’s become a figure head in underground music. We linked up with him to talk club closures, the idea behind his ‘Open to Close’ series and more.
Q. You’re a busy guy at the moment. How was Mint Festival on Saturday?
A. Yeah, it was mint mate (laughs). The highlight of my set was the reaction I got from the crowd with two of my tunes.
Q. You’re starting a tour on October 8 called ‘Open to Close’. Tell me a bit about how you came up with the idea for it.
A: I started playing shows in America since moving from dubstep to techno. So it’s to show people what I was playing, as most were unsure. Another thing was that the DJ that played before me wouldn’t really know what to play either. I felt like I wasn’t coming across as well in my sets as I could have. It was more about showing America a side of me that they didn’t know. And I like to DJ for long periods of time anyway. The first show was a sell out in Chicago in a venue called Spybar, which was just unbelievable.
Q: What were you starting the nights out at genre/bpm wise?
A: I was starting off at around 80bpm. I was starting out with real funk and just building up then really. It just worked, I just really enjoyed it and obviously when I did the XOYO residency the first and last gig of that I did by myself all night. Two hours just never feels enough…
Q: It’s rare to see a DJ get an opportunity to play longer than two hours these days, in Ireland especially, and really showcase their collection and to bring the listeners on a journey.
A: Exactly, playing start to finish lets you dictate where the night goes. You haven’t got to worry if there’s somebody playing after you or think about what someone is playing before you. So it’s just literally a night about me showing off, (laughs).
Q: Do you think almost every artist at your level needs to have that freedom of going all night long at some stage in their career?
A: Yes most definitely, it’s a privilege in itself. The other thing is half the summer is very much about 90 minute sets at festivals and clubs, so it’s a really nice way to lead into the winter.
Q: You’re no stranger to Dublin, with the Twisted Pepper gigs sticking out. You Tweeted about the Pepper closing at the time saying you’ve played some of your best gigs there. Why was the pepper so iconic to you?
A: Well it was becoming a yearly occurrence, I was playing on the same date every year on a date in December. The promoters were such a great bunch so it was always an event to look forward. Even the last time I played the Pepper it was during the time of the genre change. They just didn’t care about that at all? That’s my sort of people!
Q: Do you prefer smaller intimate clubs or big arenas?
A: As a punter I prefer to go to smaller clubs really. I prefer dingy little clubs, mate. But to be fair, playing in front of a massive crowd is a huge buzz. When you’re younger you think that’s when you know you’ve made it.
Q: Speaking on the topic of clubs closing. Obviously the closure of fabric has had a huge impact on London clubbers.
A: Aw man, fabric… It was one of the first big clubs that I ever heard one of my songs played in. It’s had a negative effect on everyone, because the team at fabric was almost like family. It’s really not nice seeing it, a lot of people have lost their jobs essentially. The fact they’re closing fabric has people wondering what’s next? If they can close fabric they can close anywhere. There’s not much left…
Q: The reaction to the closing of fabric has gained such a reaction not only from people of London and the UK, but people internationally…
A: You know what though it’s absolutely amazing to see the money they’ve raised for it. It really is a proud feeling.
Q: It has shown though how strong and together the scene is within London.
A: That’s exactly it and it’s helped a lot of artists to get to where they are today.
Q: Do you also think the closures could mean an uprising of DIY collectives to shine through?
A: It’s hard to say as I feel it could be extremely hard for collectives. Back in the 90s it was a lot easier for these collectives to do different things and try out different ways of making their party stand out. It’s a nice idea but I just don’t think it would be the same.
Q: Another topic that seems to be very present, in electronic music especially, is mental health.
(We previously caught up with Huxley about mental health, click here to read his thoughts)
A: It’s always been a topic close to home with Benga and what not, and I thought he dealt with it amazingly.
Q: How much respect did you have for him when he spoke out about what he was going through and do you think it empowered other people to do the same?
A: I think it was a big relief for a lot of other people who felt they could open up and talk about it a lot more freely. It was one of the major positive things to take from it.
Q: That’s about it from me Ollie. Thank you so much for taking the time out to talk to us, have a wonderful week.
A: Absolute pleasure mate, thank you very much also.