A few words with Skitty

Words by Matthew Scott


Hello Skitty! First off, many thanks for agreeing to chat to us today. How’s it going?

Hi mate, yeah I’m good thanks! Just moved out to Vietnam for a while so just doing lots of boring stuff like looking for a place to live etc etc. Thank you for having me!

Now, the main focus today is on your recently resuscitated label, Foundation X. Before then though, let’s go right back to the beginning for a bit. You founded the label in 2009. Can you tell us a bit behind its birth, what your reasons were for setting it up, and what sort of ethos you had in mind for the imprint back then?

At the time I was running a nightclub and some events so had taken a break from making D&B and only had the odd booking. As the club was coming to an end I started thinking about D&B again, and how I would approach things when I became active again. I thought to myself that it would just have to be what I love the most, and that is breakbeats, subs and creative use of samples. The ethos for FDX was that I want this label that sounds really really black, taking influence from a wide variety of labels, DJs, and producers, from Mickey Finn to Jungle Fever Tapes, Amazon Tapes, Suburban Base, bits of Reinforced, bits of Congo Natty, and bits of Moving Shadow.

I then got to work making lots of tunes. Nolige started making beats on that tip as well and I recruited the likes of Morphy, Loxy, Ink, and Equniox for the early releases. The first three releases were on vinyl however when the distribution went bust that put a halt on the vinyl side of things, so we just churned out MP3 releases for a while after that.

Around 18 months ago, things went a little bit quiet, and then the label reappeared out of seemingly nowhere last year with the EP from yourself, Nolige, Threshold, and X Nation. What happened during this time? Did you consciously decide to have a break from the label, or did other things get in the way? And why was summer 2015 deemed the right time for a relaunch?

At the time of starting the label I’d also started at University, so the first few releases were all handled by the distributor; I didn’t really need to do anything other than supply the beats and artwork. However, as my work load increased at uni, I wasn’t prepared to sacrifice my studies for the sake of a little D&B label. Once the dust had settled the idea of bringing the label back to vinyl started to surface in my thoughts again, and at the same time Dan X-Nation messaged me as to what was happening with the label and said he would like to get in involved with running things.

The relaunch was actually meant to take place earlier in the year but finances got in the way. Eventually my mate Natty offered to invest in getting the label back on vinyl, and then we just hit the ground running. The idea for the first release was to put out some of our back catalogue that had only previously been available digitally, and offer them something new and exclusive to vinyl.

Yeah as you mention, the relaunch has seen you flip from releasing digitally to doing limited vinyl runs and no digital release at all. Can you say a bit more about the reasons behind this, and perhaps a bit about your thoughts on vinyl in general? What does it mean to you?

The reason for making the releases vinyl only is simply to add value for the customer. I think it’s common knowledge now that you need to offer people something worthwhile when you’re releasing music, and I feel that them knowing that only they have this release on vinyl – as well as good artwork on the sleeve – is good for them. Secondly, some great tunes can tend to get lost in the digital realm so it also shows our artists that we want to put the music out the way it should be, and that we have full confidence in what they do.

The release which has just dropped a couple of weeks ago is by your longtime friend and collaborator Digital. Two wicked – although very different – jungle tunes and one lovely dub/step offering. How did this release come about?

Digital had sent me ‘Teacher’ about a year and a bit before I signed it. I just loved the tune, and as a fan of Digital’s music I just had to have it. I had to pester him a few times and eventually he caved in haha! It’s an honour to release that tune trust me. The collab between ourselves was done at Digital’s place in Chiang Mai Thailand. I was going out there for 5 weeks so it made sense to get in the studio together, and we spent a few days eating, chilling, and eventually rolled out ‘Stop Out’. The idea to put a dubstep tune on the release came about simply as Digital was playing me loads of different bits he had been working on; he played me ‘Culture’ and I asked if he fancied putting it on the vinyl.

Whilst ‘Teacher’ features what one of my colleagues here at OHOD calls ‘Dom drums’, ‘Stop Out’ seems much more rugged and fuzzy round the edges, the antithesis to the clean, precise percussion in ‘Teacher’. And it of course is a collaboration between Digital and yourself. How did the two of you go about making this one, and what was the thought process behind it?

It was a case of me wanting to bring out the 2000/2001 Digital vibe seen on releases such as ‘Eaze Off’ which he done for Chronic. Because he uses a Mac with some flashy mouse pad thingy, I couldn’t use it, so I wasn’t pressing any of the buttons at all. So Steve got up some of his drums which fitted the vibe I was after, he added some nice plug ins to ruff it up, and then we went through sounds on my hard drive to lace the vibe across the top. We were just trying to create something nice and authentic with a certain dryness to it, but more importantly a vibe, and I hope we achieved that.

What are the plans for Foundation X in 2016, and what releases are in the immediate pipeline for us?

For now we will just keep releasing 12″s, keeping it simple. The next few months will see some upgrades to our merchandise range too. Release wise, the next FDX Black Series is now in process and features tunes from Dub One and Nolige. Over on the main label we have the ‘Thresholds’ EP pretty much ready to go, and we are really excited about people hearing that – personally I think it will be one of the best releases of the past 12 months. Besides this we have some quality music waiting in the wings, its just a case of working out a realistic release schedule, because the focus is definitely on quality rather than quantity.

In our opinion, there’s been a little bit of shift in jungle music in the last couple of years. We’ve seen people like Om Unit, Digital, Kid Lib, and various others doing new and interesting things with the original jungle template, and especially Sully, whose recent forays into the more Good Looking-esque side of jungle with tunes like ‘Flock’ and ‘Lifted’ we think are wonderful. But then again, labels like Scientific Wax, Paradox Music, and indeed Foundation X have been doing this for some time. The question is: what do you think about jungle at the moment, and what are your thoughts about what you could, perhaps not entirely accurately, call the upsurge of interest in jungle at the moment? Particularly some of the slower stuff the likes of Special Request and Benton have been churning out?

Good question. Jungle runs through my veins so my opinions on the new variations of it can swing from positive to down right negative, and the reason for this is that jungle music was this thing in my life that was just heavenly, dark, and mindblowing. It was the soundtrack to my youth and I hold it dear to my heart. That being said, thank god it’s still around and that people are trying new things with it. It’s been embraced by a new generation; there’s now something for everyone whether your into the more Aries/Jacky Murda style, The Rupture style, these slower vibes that Om Unit et al are doing, and obviously what we do. I LOVE Benton’s tunes, lost my head to them many a time at Swamp nights, but not sure I’m really convinced by the Special Request stuff to be honest. But hey, it’s jungle so it’s all good in my book.

On a personal level, might we be seeing any more Skitty tunes or remixes surfacing elsewhere over the next few months?

Yeah man, I’ve just got a release out now on Gremlinz and Ruffhouse’s new label UVB-76 with a tune called ‘Oppression’, I’ve got a jungle thing for Stretches AKO Beatz called ‘Sexy Sally’, and I’ll be featuring on one of the forthcoming FDX releases too. Just need to decide which tune now!

Last but not least…looking back throughout the entirety of the tunes Foundation X have put out, can you pick out two favourites, or two that are special to you in some way?

I’d have to say Morphy’s ‘Put Down Ya Gunz’ as one. It just haunted me the first time I heard Loxy play it when we were in Holland back in 2007, so when I started the label and saw that it hadn’t come out I had to have it. It still haunts me to this day, and plus there is a Pessimist remix of it in the works at the moment. Obviously ‘Teacher’ was a massive signing for the label as well, but me and Nolige had a great time just banging out tunes and keeping each other on our toes for years. FDX is all about a vibe, nothing technical.

That’s everything. Thanks very much for speaking to us, all the best for the label and yourself for the year ahead, and if you’ve got any final thoughts or shout outs now is the time to get them in…

Thank you guys for the interview, thanks to everyone who has supported the label from day one until now. It’s a team effort so big up to everyone who has helped get us back on our feet. Love ya.


Digital’s new release on Foundation X is out now, and you can still grab a copy of the vinyl by clicking here. Plus don’t forget to check out Skitty and Foundation X on Facebook and Soundcloud as well. 

 

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