Compa is an artist we’ve been really keen on since first hearing his music. It’s full of everything that made dubstep so exciting early, and that’s not something you hear too much of from young-ish producers these days. We had a quick chat about the dubstep scene right now, his label, and who to watch out for.
– Hi. Please start by introducing yourself to our readers.
Hello, My name is Compa. I’m a music producer based in Manchester, U.K at the moment. Originally from a small town called Clitheroe, North West U.K. I produce what a lot of people call Dubstep music.
– You’ve made a name for yourself partly by being one of a decreasing number of young producers making roots Dubstep. How do you think the UK Dubstep scene today compares to around 6 or 7 seven years ago?
The scene is strong in the U.K right now, with many new young producers (Like myself) pushing the original foundation sound, but of course the majority of the Dubstep music that people are hearing at the moment is the dance floor, club orientated sound. Personally i’m not a fan of that sound, those frequencies tend to grind me at times, although there are a few things i’m feeling.
There are more and more blogs and club nights that are pushing both sounds and all-around, The Dubstep scene, although it is slowing commercially, is blossoming on the underground again. Someone once told me that music returns on a ten year cycle, which would mean than right about now, if that is true, the ’02 sound should be coming back around. And it kinda is…
– Tell us a bit about your vinyl only label.
I run two labels, both with my housemate Brunks. WRWX (We Are Wax) which we haven’t launched yet – It will be a full-artwork label for official Compa and Brunks music to begin with, before we sign other artists, and i also run WXWL (Wax White Label Series). This is a label primarily for remixes; Single-sided Limited edition 180 gram – Almost collectors edition records. WXWL is vinyl-only, but WRWX records will also be available digitally.
So, why do i ‘Still’ play vinyl and cut dubplates? Back in 2003 when i started DJ’ing there where no CD-DJ’s. There where no CDJ’s. There where turntables. DJ’s bought records and cut dubplates. That was the way that i learned, that is what i was taught. My friends took me to a record shop in the town next to mine to buy House music, and later Drum n Bass music before Dubstep music, I bought turntables the same year age 13 i think and i’ve been playing and collecting records ever since. I have never changed, i’m passionate about records. Physicality is of massive importance to me. Owning my music physically. Looking through the crates, through the collection. It’s special. Each record is a memory, Each record means something and represents a time in my life and my music career. Vinyl is a special thing.
Digital music is invisible. It’s data! It doesn’t exist, but it does. It’s a strange concept. It just isn’t for me. I build and tune, and i cut a dubplate to play to people. That’s how i do it, and it’s how i’ve done it for nearly ten years. I will say that if i started DJ’ing in this day and age, maybe things would be different. But vinyl is my roots and i think it’s important to respect your roots.
– Do you think the more tear-out, jump-up Dubstep artists have, in any way, stained the reputation of the genre? How much has the US dubstep scene affected what people think?
Jump-Up Dubstep music has made it difficult for me to explain to people what music i play. For example today i was having a hair cut and i was chatting to the hairdresser about my U.S tour and she asked what music i play, I said Dubstep and she said she liked Skrillex… You get me. She had never heard of Digital Mystikz or Hatcha or even Skream and Benga… People know about Dubstep music as the commercial Dubstep music, but that’s fair enough. I’m here to educate and take people on a journey through my sound. I don’t care what anyone else is doing. I do my thing, i make my music and i play my music.
– Why do you think artists such as Pinch, Loefah, and Tes La Rok have turned their attentions to slower genres in terms of production, DJing and releases?
I think it’s about progression. They are moving forward and they have found something fresh, something new and exciting that almost resembled what Dubstep music was like in the early days, new and exciting. I’ll be honest lots of music being made down-tempo right now sounds to me like reproduced Techno and House, it’s been done, but it was forgotten about and now it’s seeing a resurgence, almost like old-skool Dubstep is too. It’s all very positive and inspiring. Good music is good music whatever genre ties or tempo it’s built at y’know.
– When DJing do you strictly play Dubstep? If not, what other kind of stuff do you play?
Not always, but mostly. When i play my radio sets on Sub Fm i sometimes play Soul, Jazz, Soundscapes, Drum n’ Bass and Disco as well as Dubstep (I just make it work!), but usually in a club i represent my sound and stay at about 138-142 throughout. Tonight i’m playing at Sankeys, Manchester and i’m aiming to play 45 minutes of Dubstep music and finish on 15 minutes of classic Drum n’ Bass that i have from back in the day! – Roni Size, Black Sun Empire, Basic Unit, Dillinja etc. I just want to surprise people, i can’t wait to check the reaction in front of over a thousand people!
– Can you name a few up-and-coming producers pushing a similar sound to your own?
For sure. Commodo and Biome are brilliant. I play their music in every set and have done for months. I am supporting some unreleased Kahn music at the moment too, he’s dope. It’s gritty. I love grime and it’s got that grime edge. Vaun from Bristol is making some nice music too. It’s deep but it retains the weight that drives in a club on a system. Look out for those guys.
– A favourite Dubstep, and favourite non-Dubstep release at the moment?
Favourite Dubstep record that i own is ‘Mala – Return II Space’. It’s a collection of three DMZ records in a gate-fold package, beautiful artwork and incredible music. ‘Pop Pop Epic’ is the tune for me. It’s got the energy to move a dance but it’s got the depth to really make people think.
Favourite Non-Dubstep release, that’s a hard one, ’cause i listen to a lot of music, but the favourite 12 of my bag at this point is ‘Rea & Christian feat. Veba – Spellbound (Old English Remix)’. Vibes.
Yes, Thanks to Mala and Joe Nice for the support and inspiration that really drives me to push forward and just put my all into my music. Out to Joe and Seb at Mixmag, Out to every single person that has ever bought one of my records. Out to Lisa, Joe and Alex, Out to the Get Darker crew, Bigup Jon at Boka Records, Ben at Area Recordings, Tallan at Redshift One, Porta and Charlie at Dubstrict, Alicia at Kokeshi and Chris at S. T. Holdings for making WXWL happen, and everyone that has and will book me to play for them, plus everyone i forgot. Thanks for the help and support.