Get To Know: Skream

 

“As one of Dubstep's spawning generation, Skream has already assured himself a place in the dance music hall of fame”

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As a young man, Skream's early influence helped to put Croydon and the music that was emanating from the sprawling south London suburb on the popular musical map. Emerging out of Big Apple records, booming out of Rinse FM and stumbling out of Plastic People, Dubstep defied belief and offered no quarter as it became all at once, the most popular and the most reviled musical genre since Nu Metal. As a 15 year old record store employee, it must have been improbable to the young Oliver Jones that Dubstep would assail the charts globally and as one part of Magnetic Man, along with contemporaries Benga & Artwork, he himself would tour the world playing the most renowned clubs and lauded festivals. 

Charting Skream's ascendency in music is almost Disney-like but beneath the shining veneer, Skream's success is undoubtedly due to his ability as a music maker. Influenced early on by his DJ brother Hijak, Skream quickly became adept at the music making software Fruity Loops, apparently penning annals of beats to which his audiences have heard but a fraction. Jungle, Drum and Bass and U.K. Garage surrounded the young producer and his passion quickly swelled. The success of his early work, coming in the main via Tempa records, culminated in his seminal album 'Skream! in 2006. With records like 'Midnight Request Line' and his 'Skreamizm' series cementing his place in the guild of Dubstep's most affecting artists, the sounds of south London began to seep into popular consciousness beyond the city. Skream, alongside a clutch of other artists capitalised and soon Dubstep had near celebrity status. Co-opted by a second wave, Dubstep as an cultural happening began to erode and although its popularity had never been greater, the music itself had suffered. 

 
 
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“Skream's success is undoubtedly due to his ability as a music maker”

Hybridised, Dubstep melted into EDM and after a decade of wild rides many of the artists who helped to mould the bass heavy scene started to look beyond their two step roots. The genre became a parody of what it set out to be and Skream, still only 26 years old, was one of the earliest  to embrace the established sounds of Chicago, Detroit and Berlin. To some, it may appear to have seemed like a 'career move' but an under appreciated aspect of music production is adaptability and Skream proved himself to prove highly adaptable. In 2013 Skream mixed a house compilation with Pete Tong for his Defected Records label. This signalled a shift in Jones' tastes and further imbued his audiences with a flavour of how far his talents could stretch. His club favourite ' Still Lemonade' came out shortly after that via Crosstown Rebels and with the success of that record, Skream became widely appreciated beyond the loyal bass fans that he had made earlier in his career. 

 
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With his touring Open to Close party, Jones takes full control of proceedings and is the now probably the best place to appreciate his ear and the passion his has for collecting music of all varieties. Still counted as a visionary producer and selector, his sets are now a blend of all his experiences and the tastes he has acquired along the way. Skream continues to tour the world, playing to big crowds each and every weekend. Away from this relentless schedule, Jones' own 'Of Unsound Mind' record label perfectly illustrates these myriad flavours and persuasions, releasing everything that might fall under the umbrella of dance music. 

 
 

As one of Dubstep's spawning generation, Skream has already assured himself a place in the dance music hall of fame. Not to rest on any laurels though, he continues to seek fresh ways to breathe life into the wider scene. Not an old man by any means, there's really no way of knowing what the next two decades might have in store for Jones and his fans.

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Jon Averill