It’s been a biblical month for MC/DJ cohort Problem Central.
The first MC-fronted act to hold down one of XOYO’s famous residencies, over the last three Fridays they’ve torn the legendary Shoreditch venue to pieces with their rave-ready, high-powered shows and curated line-ups.
Guests have included Brockie & Det, Frankee D, Basslayerz, Katalyst, Harry Shotta, Trigga, Ego Trippin, Amplify, DJ Phantasy and many more as the foursome make XOYO history, creating a pop-up community each and every week as supporters have tuned up regularly to mark this unique residency.
This Friday sees them step up to the intimate stage for one final blow-up before they return to the massive multi-thousand arena and marquee crowds they’re most used to. Hazard, Remarc Micky Finn, TNA and Georgie Riot will be on side for what looks set to be the biggest session of the series. We caught up with the full crew – Eksman, Evil B, Logan D and Majistrate – to catch a vibe of the project and find out how it’s inspired and influenced them in ways they didn’t expect.
How’s the residency being going?
Eksman: It’s been so sick. We’ve got all of our followers and supporters in one place and that makes the vibe crazy. If you’re at a festival or a big rave then people are there to see everyone on the line-up. But there you are the focus, all your fans are there to see you and they’re roaring in your face. XOYO is so intimate. It’s a close vibe, you get down and talk to them. It’s been amazing.
Evil B: Before we event started it’s nice to get recognition, you know? So many times on line-ups you see the DJ’s name at the top. Then way at the bottom you get the MCs. So for us it’s nice to get recognition as the front men as part of act. We come together. That’s what we are – me and Eks are at the front. Logan and Maji on the backline. That’s how we roll. So to get the recognition, at such a prestigious residency, and be the first of our kind to do that… That’s a good feeling.
Yeah! Curating the line-up must have been a joy. Like kids in a candy store picking your heroes and inspirations
Eksman: Yeah definitely. We picked people who’ve inspired us over the years. The cards we put out for the artists had quotes of ours with full respect. It’s like a family vibe. We couldn’t get everyone on there, but we got as many as we could and it’s been really special because of that.
What have the highlights been so far?
Logan D: Week one was a big highlight for me so far. The response from the crowd, and hearing them so loudly. We’re at festivals right now but being in such an intimate club and having that intensity right in our faces is amazing.
And thinking about it, XOYO is somewhere I’ve been raving to first. I went to Andy C’s residency and Shy FX was playing and I went down for a rave. So to play in a club I’ve raved in before I’ve DJ’d in is very rare. I don’t go out raving much these days so it’s wicked to have raved there first. I know what it’s like to be on that dancefloor, you know?
Evil B: It’s a mad thing to feed on but seeing the same faces on that dancefloor has been great, too. The real, real die-hards. I feel like they’re on our journey. Like the first week was a high but it was quite a peculiar feeling because we’d come off the back of a mad weekend with six or seven shows so it was like, ‘Rah how are we gonna get through this?’ But then you get through the door and the supporters are there and they give you the pick up you need.
There are things I buzz off personally, too… When Eks gets a big reaction from the crowd. That’s a highlight. When you’re getting the reaction yourself you’re so focused and in the moment. But when you’re watching your partner do it, it’s very special. The same thing when Dan and Maji have tricks up their sleeves and you see the reaction. I know what’s coming and I have that anticipation and I watch it kick off. It’s intense! But yeah I think the best thing is how beautiful it is to see people who’ve made the effort to come down and see us every week. Things are hard out there money-wise so for people do to that? There’s no bigger compliment.
Majistrate: It’s been a family vibe, too. You get to the big events and you don’t see many people. You’re just in through the back door, you do your set and you’re off site again. No time to catch up or take photos or whatever.
But here it’s intimate and people who’ve supported us since we started Problem Central have had a chance to come down and properly party with us. It’s been great to get to speak to people and hear what they’re thinking. And feeling that reaction. Rather than seeing it. You’re feeling that. There’s no backstage, you’re at the forefront, you’re with the ravers.
True! As a group, you don’t do small stages very often, do you?
Eksman: That’s right. It’s the intimacy of it all. You’re not hanging out backstage. You’re in the mix of everything.
Evil B: Because of how much it costs to book an act like us, I don’t think we’ve done an event in clubs this small. Not as Problem Central. It makes you realise how important these clubs are. Equally as important as festivals. Being in a small environment, me and Eks are performing to people within arms length and they’re singing away with us. Instead of at a rave when they’re 15 feet away.
Majistrate: I remember going to Groove’s night at Herbal every Sunday. You’d go there to listen to the tunes. It was a community thing and a family thing. And that’s been the same for us every Friday for this month.
Yeah! Drum & bass has a rich history of residencies doesn’t it? Movement, Speed, Blue Note…
Evil B: And those residencies have been DJ-based, too. So for it to be an MC one is more of a compliment. We’re not hosts. We’re shellers. That’s what we do. We go out and shell. To have someone say, ‘Yeah they’re coming here to do what they do!’ Is such a nice endorsement.
Would you say there’s less snobbery about MCs these days?
Eksman: I think promoters and festivals have seen the impact of what an MC can do now and how much they can lift a crowd. MCs were brought in for streams and tracks over covid and it definitely helped and we definitely are being booking more. We’ve always been at the back for years, even though the fanbase for MCs is huge. I think we’ve got a long way to go – but the residency shows that things are improving and proves the love we’re getting.
Quite right, too. So…. Hype people up for the grand finale. It’s going to be emotional!
Logan D: I don’t want to see it end. Residencies are good for the scene and most those classic ones you mentioned were midweek so for this to be on a Friday, when people can let their hair down, it’s been a great month. It’s a shame we’re coming to and end.
Majistrate: A whole moth takeover in London seems so surreal so I’m hoping this finale exceeds the rest because they’ve all been incredible. The more people who come out the better.
Evil B: It’s a weird feeling to be honest. Promoting is techy man. It’s techy. But the last Friday will be full send. The shackles will be fully off. Me and Eks will get fully into it and it’ll be like, ‘Let’s fucking go!’ It’ll be a poignant moment but we’ll give it our all you know.
Eksman: Every week I’ve gone to smash the life out of it. It will be emotional. We’re all be on our A-game. It’s going to be vibes through the roof. The alcohol will be flowing and it’ll be top class.
How have these XOYO shows influenced your other festival and rave sets?
Eksman: It’s made me realise how much I love club shows and the small intimate things, especially as a collective to do that together in a club.
Evil B: It’s given me a taste of doing these in smaller clubs. I hope we get an invite back to take it over again.
Logan D: What’s been interesting for me and Maji has been that we’re digging for different things and trying out new mixes and tunes every set. Some people have come to every show so we’re trying not to play the same tunes or mixes every week. So were testing out new mixes and putting more effort and time practicing beforehand.
Majistrate: It’s difficult to test things out in the bigger sets. We’re a bit more cautious when playing to such big crowds so it’s great to test things out on a smaller crowd. That wasn’t something we were expecting.
Yeah that’s an interesting one. So what’s up next?
Eksman: I’m looking forward to Glastonbury. That’s going to be amazing. We’ve not done it together before, so it’s a privilege to be on that line-up.
Logan D: Innovation In The Sun, too. That’s this week and our first gig abroad as a collective post covid so I’m looking forward to getting some sun.
Evil B: Rampage.
Logan D: Run All Day.
Evil B: That’s a favourite. Hospitality In The Woods, too. That’s in my top five as well. So yeah, a big summer. First, though, thanks to everyone who’s supported us at XOYO, it really means a lot to us. It’s been special.