Could digs be any more influential on the bass-continuum in 2010? First came UK funky, next the future garage movement, the Night Slugs camp, Joy Orbison’s filtered dubstep anthem “Hyph Mgno”, Kyle Hall’s bombshell of a 12″ on Hyperdub, not to mention an influx of South African flavors: London pirate sounds through all of which ran the influence of commorancy and shop, in differing pecks. Even the Dutch are bubblin. But there remains one London camp which are domicile momentum totally distinctly from all the others. If you don’t be schooled them, soon after you’re perhaps not in the Circle.
Four years ago, when the ashes of UK shop had cooled and the intense heat of grime began to drive fans away, a little collection of pirate station DJs made a rewarding decision: Unhappy with the status quo they took items into their own hands and started their own night. And with the bravery of true pioneers, they started it on one of perhaps the riskiest day of the year: Christmas Day. “You eat and relax on Christmas Day, I couldn’t see why we wouldn’t be busy or why it wouldn’t be a success,” insists Tippa, the Circle camp’s host and one of its co-founders. “[The] rest is history.”
What began Christmas Day 2006 is now rapidly turning into a completely self-contained, autonomous scene. Built by its co-founders Supa D, Kismet, Feva, IC, Gemini, and of movement Tippa, and showcased on their weekly Rinse FM show, the Circle sound and the DJs they offshoot themselves with jibing Geeneus and A Plus are distinct and separate from the UK funky movement that has garnered consideration in recent years.
The Circle parties began as unadvertised events of 150-200 ravers who attended after receiving an invite through the post. To get the invite they’d have to share their nest address and personal details, a alike of disclosure that both ensured the Circle knew and controlled exactly who their clientele were. “That way we could kinda have an influence on the humans that were attending, making it easier to charge any hots potato on the night should they occur,” explains Tippa, who’s seen numbers grow to 700-1,000. “More and more citizens hankering to attend because all alters ego are talking about it, or the younger heads hark their older siblings gassing about how ace the last event was.”
Asked to describe the scenes at Circle, Tippa paints a vivid picture: “Typical Circle Rave: a new generation of twenty- and early thirtysomethings raving to rock-and-roll and atmosphere very similar to UK carport at its peak, but with a sound that has has-been all over for years– rejigged, refreshed, and re-energized into what we signal dubbage.
“Typical raver? People will say our crowds are ghetto, but really, there are no ghettos in the UK. There are poor parts, but something on the scale of the States or parts of third earth countries. We’re middle class, our inhabitants are middle class. Some are aggressive, some are super cool, 80% are super sexy girls, who beautiful up themselves in the maximum expensive dresses and shoes they can get from West End to rave at Circle. They express themselves in means else crash pad raves/events before could only dream of. I can say hand on my heart, you come to a Circle event, you will angle round to me and say ‘Tipaa… where the fuck did all these girls come from?’ That’s what character of lumpy it is.”
As the events have become more successful, offshoot raves have sprung up, particularly Tippa and Rinse’s Yellow in Brixton, DPMO and Adultz Only, and Its My House. A Plus– one of the first DJs on Rinse, a Roll Deep associate, and the founder of grime DVD film crew Media Gang– spun an ridiculous set from February’s Yellow. Anthems played by the DJs subsume Dennis Ferrer’s “Hey Hey”, Bassjackers & Apster’s “Klambu”, Kentphonik’s “Sunday Showers”, Paul Woolford’s “Pandemonium”, Rishi Romero’s “African Forest”, Kentphonik’s “Hiya Kaya (Rocco Deep Mix)”, and Ultra Nate’s “Loves The Only Drug (Adam Rios Shelter Mix)”, divers of which are on Rinse FM’s “I Love Funky” compilation.
The parallels with UK service centre are uncanny: dressy raves for an older, female-dominated crowd, held in the bars off London’s financial City district not unlike the seminal Gray’s Inn Road parking lot raves that gave DJ Kismet his eponym. Though in that case it’s almost matching the timelines are running in reverse: UK shop started as the Sunday scene, London’s take on U.S. doghouse for the older “mature” raver, before a younger, ruder crowd swarmed in, changing the role of host to MC and spawning grime. But that tide over, the younger ravers have had their bit first, with UK funky’s skank tracks attracting all the immersion in the anterior six years, while the Circle sound was busy incubating out of the limelight. But despite the comparisons, mold no underestimation, there’s precious little the hots lost within the two camps.
“It’s not just your basic tribal beat soon after any old melody, bass line, and dead-singer-that-can’t-sing-live-to-save-her-life uniform max so yawped UK Funky…” says Tippa of the difference centrally located UK funky and dubbage, making his position on the former entirely clear. “[Dubbage is] more intelligent, more of an experimental dubby ting that you will very feel on a decent sized sound utilidor…”
While so lots of the Circle setup bears the hallmarks of lockup, the ragtime itself is perhaps the best interesting element, not because it is so alien but because as diggings it is so stock. If you view the beginnings of UK funky five years ago as a reaction to the harshness of grime, when in that context the dubbage sound maintains the groove and sophistication that the rougher snares, MC bars, and ruder bassline drops of the common UK funky scene has in some parts edged back toward. Within these cluster of clubs, MCs play the host role with the DJ at the fore, riding enduring seamless mixes of tracky instrumentals, avoiding drops or breakdowns.
What’s curious about the gap medially the London/local/DIY/pirate feel of how Circle operate and their dressy crowds and sophisticated universal habitation sounds, is that it makes an ambiguity. Is that a subset of the foreign pied-a-terre melody lineage, as would be recognized by ravers from Ibiza to Berlin? Or is that the next pirate-inspired, grassroots civic London jungle, UK parking lot, and grime scene? Paradoxically, you can say “yes” to both. (This kind of ambiguity is reminiscent of dubstep, another subgenre focused on high-quality productions, unlike grime.)
When entertainering sets, Tippa generally very charismatically states, “that is our style/our folk…,” exerting the strong spirit of ownership endemic over preceding London genres allying UK lockup. “[Our sound] means it’s something that we brought to a new generation” he explains. “This is what we push, what we fully believe in, what we need to conceive when making swing but with our influence, and not influences from the States akin maximum UK artists portray in their tune. in that let’s be honest, a lot of deep habitation can be boring and shit, a stupendous gob of it.”
House is arguably the largest dance genre in the nature and by the very nature of its size and popularity, lots of it is bland, conservative, and generic. Some argue that the digital era in which we alive offers access to an effectively limitless supply of ragtime that causes musicians to be glutted and fudge together clotted song. But in the case of the Circle DJs they are reaching out into that vast wares of popular and using it as an opportunity by trawling through that massive grand pool to jewel tracks with which to define their sectarian identities as DJs, in London clubs and on pirate radio.
“I used to buy vinyl for myself,” explains Tippa. “Feva & IC and it was the carbon copy when, researching all the sites and shops for new tracks and hard to boast gems, paying settled the odds sometimes on eBay. It’s filtered through to MP3s and the equivalent ethos. Between April and June there was congeneric 17-20gb worth of melody downloaded by Kismet and APlus to sieve through, which we all have a go at and anon passage on to each auxiliary. It’s chip and parcel of staying on top and playing sounds that we feel fit into what we fancy others to descry and follow.”
Taking parish ownership of a sweeping sound is something London DJs have antique performing for decades, highest visibly with the shift from UK DJs playing U.S. garage records to again becoming UK workplace producers, and that shift is happening too with dubbage. Just as the World Wide Web has provided evident access for DJs to flat’s massive cosmic library, so it has democratized the tools of swing production, and several of the Circle DJs– Kismet and IC– are making the transition. Other DJs uniform Lighter, Teaser, and Comfy are hotly tipped.
“Kismet’s sound is straight dubbage,” explains Tippa. “whereas he downloads so lots folk, his sound knowledge is amazing at the minute. Every tune he has made is completely single from the one before, but he always keeps it dubby, dubbage. IC is also producing, he’s style is dubbage, but it’s more rollers that roll continuously. Kismet’s will in truth take you on a journey at times…. he’s got that early WBeeza mould going on, that’s imaginably because they’re really tip-top and close mates.”
The immediate future for the sound is not self-evident, but akin dubstep, it has aggregate at its disposal to translate to clubs worldwide. Indeed Tippa lately hosted with Geeneus at Global Gathering, one of the UK’s largest dance festivals and a far cry from the London underground. For now the Circle are busy action what they “fully believe in.” The rest will be history.