Ortem Interview

So let’s start where it all began for you Scott…
I know people would generally know you as a producer/ label owner but you actually started as an MC back in the 90s right?

Ez Tom UK!! Yes you are right, I left school in 89’ straight into the acid house scene and a few of us kind of created a little posse doing the sixth form parties playing indie, hip hop, acid house and early rave, we were called the “headstrong massive” with me mc’in and Dj Windmill on the decks, although he was known as “space cadet” then… I even had a trade mark rap, We had badges and everything! 
Me and Windmill went on to do other raves in and around the area we had business cards titled the livin‘ hardcode!! Lol
Then on a random caravan holiday in Yarmouth with a few friends and the future wife we stumbbled into Tiffany’s night club during the day it was a bank holiday and in the small club at the front 2 guys were blasting out rave which was right up out slightly spaced out street. The guys were JMJ and Mike Bolton aka PFM I asked if I could mc, they surprising loved it and asked if I would come back on the bank holiday Monday to mc the all dayer with Carl Cox LTJ Bukem and themselves etc which I did and led to roughly 2 years of partying in Yarmouth with me mc’in and the future wife and sister in law dancing on stage… best days ever.

Pretty cool considering the circumstances and then subsequently what followed in the following years, amazing!!! I’m interested to know what your approach was to being a host at events back then, did you have all the rhymes? Were you a hype man on stage? Let us know! 

I was all about getting the crowd going, it was quite high energy fast loud noisy music at the big all dayers in Yarmouth. I did have little rhymes yes and a bizarre American accent. I was told at Clashmouth by PFM himself that he has video footage and recordings that he’s getting put together!!  At the time a lot of friends were out in the crowd raving hard too so there were a lot of shout outs, and whistle and horn blowing!!

Sounds like you were someone who had a mad passion and love for the music back then, well as much as the people in the crowd I would imagine when you were hosting! Can you give me some examples of djs and producers that you enjoyed most in that era?

Bukem was probably my favourite dj but obvs JMJ and Mike Bolton too. Dj Ron, Grooverider, Doc Scott etc usual suspects. I was big into bleeps too so a lot of warp stuff but those days were pre d&b or just on the cusp so a tune that took out the 4×4 was always a winner, more funk!! 4 hero – the scorcher, underkut – both ends, satin storm, lab technicians etc.

How about when you first started making tunes? Was this back in the 90s too?

I didn’t actually make any tunes then I wasn’t even really that much in to djing as everyone was a DJ although I did of course. I did however go into the studio with JMJ and mike to mc over a track but I think things go a bit messy. I also helped Windmill with his first tune and was always involved with others around the 3 counties who were making tunes… justice, blame, the moog, rotor, nrg etc our region was a hot bed for creativity to be fair.

So when exactly did you begin making music properly and what made you want to get into making beats properly?

Probably started to dabble in about 04’ after time out from clubbing and a bit of growing up settling down and having a daughter. But properly I would say 08’ started to release.

Coming from someone who’s seen the “rave” scene from its Inception and is still involved in the music industry at present day, how do you feel that things have evolved over time and also how would you say the scenes is from your perspective modern day?

I kind of stepped out of the “rave” scene around 93/94 as for me it spilt up a bit the music went either dark or to silly. We still carried on clubbing but went to us garage/house clubs like garage city or acid jazz nights at the African centre etc. We would go there dressed up, get nutted then come back to Bedfordshire and go jah at exodus which was a complete u turn but great fun . The Bukem sound was always a big love though…..
In Evolutionary terms I think The scene seems to have­ gone full circle back to the beginning. You can clearly hear it in the old skool samples and production sometimes but it’s hard to tell if it’s old or new. The represses are where it’s at for vinyls sales. The scene is strong and it’s great that the pioneering tunes are making a come back, it gives the younger fans a history lesson but we also need to innovate and bring things forward and champion those that do. I always wanted Ortem to be a more newer, fresher sound focusing on creating unique music, less sample based, more electronic, techy and thought provoking at times.

It’s interesting with it coming full circle and I agree with it being a great time for the younger generation of the scene to get a history lesson and feel for the Foundation, but do you feel it’s starting to over shadow the actual progressive side of the scene? I.e Ortem and other labels alike…

Yes possibly it is a bit but like anything it will probably all change again soon and go in another direction. As long as we all try to push things in as well as respect the past it will continue to be healthy I think.

Your back catalogue see’s you work with fellow “Lutonian” Justice on the regular, 2 albums and multiples other releases…… You guys have a great formula, do you find it easy making music with him? And when did this match up begin…?

We’ve been pals from around 16 we all used to go round a friends house and have a mix up early days. We would go out clubbing etc for years then after growing up a bit we bumped into each other in Luton with baby’s in buggy’s then hooked up musically around 06’ just as Tony had relaunch MJAZZ. We made a track and off the back of that 839. Justice is a great pal, a true friend, we got together musically at a time when i  personally was having a hard time and I can say that making music helped me through that time. We have always sung from the same sheet in musical taste as well as creativity, it’s always a pleasure. A new J&M lp is long overdue.

I`m gonna put this out there (and I’ve told Tony this too), I personally think the album “Oxymoron” is one of the most criminally overlooked albums within the last ten years and that is literally working off using reference from other music being made at the time and even stuff popping up now! Are there plans for another album???

Ah man thanks that means a lot! Yeah I guess we are a bit overlooked. Oxymoron was technically the second lp from us as we had the 839 remixes lp after the first lp 839. I enjoyed creating that LP with Tony and the whole project with its art work and cd packaging etc. A lot of people say Dope Boy is our best track. Yes we are hoping to start another J&M lp next year.

Talking of justice, probably good time to mention Mjazz too! We understand that you work with tony heavily with the label?

Yes since the relaunch I’ve worked with Tony on mjazz through every different selling platform and the old website all the design and bespoke packaging projects and concepts as well as musically of course. Long may it continue!!! it’s a Labour of love…I love a concept and seeing it through to production, it’s part of the joy when people enjoy the product as well the production.

For you with your design background it must be fun working on some of these bespoke projects and creating various cool packages , any particular you’ve worked on that you could reference you may have enjoyed the most?

I’ve been involved in so many and so much to be fair. All the mjazz stuff, MUJ, Ortem and more recently for other labels, I do love creative artworking. The modernists series for Mjazz was cool, we always tried to do something unique but also the nostalgic futurisms and oxymoron with the fold up cd sleeves and stencil spraying too, Also just creating a vinyl label artwork is fun too, the special projects and ant acid are pretty cool id say.

The Metro back catalogue see a ranges of styles, from rough and ready rave music, to progressive Drum and Bass and recently another hip hop/breaks release.
Is there any certain style that you prefer making in particular?

I really like the hip hop breaks mate…. love a good dig then come straight back in the studio to find a break or hook and create a little loop. 170 is a great tempo to work in, not entirely sure if all my output at that speed would be classed as d&b but I do like to throw it out there a bit. The pcms tracks and industrial unit EP on mjazz and to an extent the Ortem releases showcase what I think. I have dabbled in house and techno too!! Just love to sit and create really.

Let’s talk about the label “Ortem”.
For those who don’t know it’s “Metro” spelt backwards and one of my personal fave labels to pop up within the last 5 years…
Can you talk us through how it came about? And whys it called Ortem…

Ah thanks Tom appreciate the support from you and all that have been into the Ortem vibe. Yes it’s Metro backwards, Metro came about as I didn’t really have a decent producer name when I started with Justice so we came up with it as my surname is London, London being a metropolis etc etc. Tony actually came up with the name Ortem (Metro backwards) but it’s also a name he and Neil Trix used back in 01’ for their Data City project.

What about your approach to signing music for Ortem? 
There’s alot of your own music on the label but you’ve also had releases from people like books, subliminimal, Cuelock and recently Spinnet, how did these music signings come about?

Ortem was set up as an imprint for my own output but I always wanted it to be more for others too. Books was someone I had been following and we actually spoke about it for mjazz so it was a no brainer to ask him if he wanted to be a part of Ortem. Everyone under the Ortem umbrella has created music that to me fits perfectly with the sound and look of the label, I’m very happy with how it has been received and i look forward to the future…. it may be dark.

Going back to modern day metro music… Do always make time then to get into the studio and make bits? And prior to entering the studio do you have in mind which style you are gonna make?

No not really, haven’t had any time of late. If I go for a dig I always come back and play what I’ve bought and might have a mad half hour. I need to give myself more time especially For the next lp. Sometimes I might have an idea of direction but again that depends on what I’m making if it’s hip hop breaks then no just what pops at the time. If it’s a remix there may be some forward planning but sometimes it’s nice to just get in there and create and let it evolve or not. I think the next J&M lp will have some sort of concept to be fair.

And with that said what more can we expect from you in the future? (Ortem and Metro)

Ortem I hope will carry on and go I’d like the artists involved at the moment to release again hopefully Cuelock is going to send me some new bits. Metro needs to get his arse into gear for 2020!

With all this talk about production… Talk is through your set up and what you make music on?

If I told you I’d have to kill you 😀

Please don’t kill me…Ha ha ha…

Thank you for talking to me Scott! We look forward to what you and Ortem have in store!!!  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ortemsounds/

Bandcamp: https://ortem.bandcamp.com


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