Interview: DJ Raggs

To coincide with our first we caught up with DJ Raggs to get a female perspective on the underground bass music scene.

Posted on Nov 5th, 2012 in Features and Interviews, DJ Raggs / By Matthew Bayfield
Interview: DJ Raggs Bearded: Tell us a bit about yourself

DJ Raggs: I’m a musician, producer, singer-songwriter and DJ, currently specialising in dubstep. I live in Brixton, South London where I have my own studio, I have a show on Sub FM every Thursday 4-6pm, I write for Blues & Soul , and I run Croydub with Sgt Pokes.

Musically I work with Coki, Stinkahbell, Mutated Mindz, Dubfreq, Dubface, Beezy, Enme, El B, Killa P and a whole heap of other heads!

What made you choose the name DJ Raggs?

When I ran a record label with Nathan Lockett (Baffled, Headtop, So Solid, Colour Girl) who taught me a lot about music production and the biz, we used to write ‘Rags demo’ on rough bounces of beats we were working on in the studio. I remember Skream saying that they were going to call dubstep ‘raggastep’…! I have a huge love of Jamaican music – it was and still is a pivotal factor in dance music culture.

What does your studio setup consist of?

iMac, Logic Pro, Apogee Duet, KRK & Dyne Audio monitors, Technics 1200’s Pioneer CDJ1000 Mk3 & a 300, Allen & Heath xone:22, Rode NT1000 mic, Focusrite Platinum Trakmaster, MAudio keyboard, a flute, a saxophone, and a few other bits of random hardware!

When did you start producing and what inspired you?

I first got in the studio at 14: I was a backing vocalist/saxophonist in a band. I was always around instruments/music equipment and sound systems as a child as we had big parties/live bands at my home, but that was the first time I was involved in recording the music I was playing.

It was more of a progression than an inspiration. I was brought up in an open-minded hippyish environment where festivals and music were a way of life, and in rural Wales where I grew up the culture is also very firmly rooted in music.

The first time I got in a studio that wasn’t primarily analogue, would have been when I got together with Nathan Lockett to produce UKG.

For people who haven’t tuned into your SUB FM show on Thursdays, what can they expect?

The type of music I play is mostly dubstep, although I sometimes delve into my hip hop archives (I have a massive collection of hip hop vinyl, some of it is really rare), and I also play some reggae, dub and dancehall from my contacts in Jamaica.

The style of dubstep I play is hard beats with a heavy swing and tough subs. I play tear-out, dubby, dark half-time, four four, tribal, sometimes minimal if it’s dark enough! I pride myself on my selection, and guarantee every beat will have a noticeable groove. I play a wide selection from up and coming producers . I like to think my show is a giggle – it’s usually fairly lively in the chatroom, and certainly listeners enjoy hearing a female voice for a change!

Do you find it’s harder for female DJs to break into the scene?

It’s really hard for anyone to get in the game. If I said it was just as easy to be taken seriously in the underground scene as a woman, then I’d be lying, but for every wanker who talks down to you or treats you like a groupie while you’re in the studio, on the decks, there’s gonna be one who respects what women bring to the world of music. I’m not worried about using my femininity to get attention, because I know my music’s decent and speaks for itself. It saddens me how some of the most successful females in the music industry have achieved their status by presenting a highly sexualised media package that has little or nothing to do with musical talent.

How do you find the time to be a producer, artist, vocalist and a DJ?

Music is what I do – it’s my mission from the moment I wake every morning. What I struggle with is finding the time to fit my life in around it! Music is my passion: I have to do it because it hurts not to…

It’s well known that you play the sax, how long have you played and what made you choose that instrument?

I’ve played sax since I was 13. I tried piano, guitar and cello, but it seems woodwinds are my thing! I play flute as well. I think I just thought it was cool, and not something you expect to see a woman playing!

Any new releases or shows you’d like to share?

Yeah, you’ll hear my collaborations with Dubfreq in the mix, who is in my opinion a very talented up and comer. Sgt Pokes and I added him to the Croydub family in August, and the two tracks you’ll hear, ‘Coercion’ and ‘Metaphysic’, have already had some great support from Hatcha, Distance, Beezy, Joe Nice and various heads in the scene. These tracks are due for release early next year, along with an EP on Masterdubs featuring some of the tracks from my soundcloud.

Alongside the traditional bank holiday Croydub events at the Black Sheep Bar in Croydon, Pokes and I are also running smaller ‘sessions’ every couple of months, the first of which was Hatcha & Friends in July. These sessions are aimed at giving up and comers a look in and showcasing different styles of music alongside celebrated headliners.

Croydub will also be joining forces with various well-known brands (Wheel & Deal & Croydub at Cable 23rd Nov) to bring events where you can expect to see huge line-ups, and experience music and partying in that elusive underground style!

Any last words?

Thanks for the interview, and to anyone who’s taken the time to read it. Remember to keep it underground!

Keep an ear on DJ Raggs Soundcloud here and also listen to an exclusive mix by DJ Raggs herself here