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Ed White

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Coki and Trixx are Putting the Dub Back Into Dubstep

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Coki and Trixx are Putting the Dub Back Into Dubstep

For dubstep aficionados, no-one commands higher respect in the history of the genre than Coki. Both as a solo artist and alongside Mala as part of the Digital Mystikz duo (presiding over the legendary DMZ label and club night), Coki helped spawn an entire genre through a slew of productions on other seminal labels such as Big Apple, Tempa, and Deep Medi. Put simply, one of the most influential genres of the 21st Century would have never come to be without Coki.

Within the world of dub Trixx is also held in high esteem, especially in regards to reggae music with roots in the sound system movement from the UK, to France, Germany and Jamaica. Performing under various aliases including Patrixx Matic and Aba Ariginal, he has worked with a host of reggae and pop icons from Matumbi Aswa, UB40, Soul 2 Soul, Maxi Priest and Finley Quaye Yazz alongside a host of artists from Jamaica such as Dennis Brown, Big Youth, Alton Ellis Sly, Robbie Kymani Marley and Marcia Griffiths. Living in Jamaica as a studio engineer also enabled him to work with names such as Keith Richards, Mick Jagger (Rolling Stones), Dave Stewart, Annie Lennox, No Doubt, Jimmy Cliff and more. Even during this period he still had time to set up a drum & bass/jungle label, a house music label and a reggae label with his counterparts in the 1990s. He has always kept his ears to the sounds of the underground with a career spanning 40 plus years, still producing talented newcomers for his production label HFP.

The two legends within their respective musical communities have come together once again to explore the musical relationship between dub and dubstep. Following a chance encounter and the discovery of existing social connections, the musical partnership has generated a number of singles and EPs which combine Coki’s groundbreaking production techniques with Trixx’s melodic intervention. 

Their most recent project, Coki Meets Trixx Part Two EP, takes a deep dive into the Jamaican roots of Dubstep, drawing inspiration from the return of Carnival after two years of absence and Coki reflects on visiting Westmorland parish throughout his youth. 

We recently spoke to the duo about their latest project, the cultural significance of Carnival, and the unifying potential of music. 

Take us back to the start. How did you two legends meet?

Coki: Basically, I was with my cousin (Gus). Gus is Gussie P’s son, and Patrick has worked with Gussie P for a very long time! I was outside of the studio, Trixx came out of the studio and got talking to Gus, and then Gus said we should make tunes together! So, I took Patrick’s number and we linked up a couple weeks later. 

Trixx: I liked Celestial Dub!

Coki: He ran a sick solo on it and turned it into Celestial Horns. At that point, we thought we should put out a proper project. The universe put us together.

Trixx: I knew Gus’s dad from school, and we were always into music together. When we hooked up, I saw it as a great opportunity. I love all styles. Dubstep was one of the next big genres to be influenced by reggae, after jungle. I was a part of the jungle movement; I used to run nights in Moseley, called Earthquake Sound. I also ran a label called Rough Tone Recordings. That was between me going on the road – at the time, I was working with UB40. So, when I found out Coki was big in Dubstep, I knew we had to work together. I’ve always loved my Dubstep. Hearing these tracks really brought out the reggae and dub side of the genre. Coki brought out the electronic parts, and I brought the organic vibe and lots of melody with my trumpet. 

The EP is produced like Dubstep, but it contains buckets of original dub influences and instrumentation. It really puts the Dub back into Dubstep!

Trixx: Boom! I would say so. I don’t mind it when Coki brings all the wub wub wubs in…

Coki: I’m the original wub wub!

Trixx: I see the EP as a new step forward. Bringing the original sound back.

A lot of electronic music excludes acoustic elements, but when done well it can present some great opportunities for live performances…

Trixx: Music needs to have a live element. I would like to see Coki mix a track live, using all the stems from an original production. This already happens in the dub world! Stops people from just looking at the speakers. 

Trixx: Loads of DJs have their own productions and play them live… like Mad Professor!

Coki:.I was thinking of going down that road with Trixx. I didn’t know if that was for me, though. Some things you have a calling for, but mixing live has never been a hobby for me. I definitely want to try it, though!

Trixx: Get Coki off the ones and twos and onto the desk! Even with the Outlook Orchestra, that is a bit over-exaggerated for me. It tries to integrate street music into this elaborate orchestral thing with a conductor. We don’t have to go that far. We still have to keep it electronic. I want to do that on a bigger scale. This concept can work on big stages! We’ve done some gigs like that together already, actually; just Coki and myself. 

It would be great to see that happen, especially if there will be a part three to the project.

Coki: If there is, I want it to be recorded by a band! I might program some things, but the band will re-record it live.

That would make for a nice progression across the project! From the heavier Coki wubs, to balanced part two, to a more instrumental approach. It would really dig deep into the origins of dubstep in dub culture…

Coki: I grew up surrounded by reggae and dub. It comes naturally to have that style and merge it with what is going on in the UK. A lot of the inspiration came from Patrick being in Jamaica and me remembering when I used to go to stage shows like Unity Splash and watch many artists with a live band. They would tell the band to wheel it up, and they would! All these things came flooding back, and hearing melodies from old tape packs really inspired me to recreate them.

Music is shared, much like language. You hear a word or a melody elsewhere and end up repeating it.

Trixx: We only have twelve notes, so everything has probably already been done before! You can get inspiration from anywhere. Influences come from before us. We are just putting it all together, in the now.

It’s all cultural. Of course, Carnival has a special place in UK dub culture and is rightly celebrated by the EP…

Coki: Definitely! Around the time we were building the EP, Savanna La Mar was the first tune. The name came about as Patrick was staying in Westmorland, where alot of my Dad’s family are from. I know that parish well, and so does Trixx. Around that time, we started talking about how carnival was coming back, and we decided to send tunes over to the soundmen. I was in the process of building a tune to send, and from there we came up with Superman Riddim. 

Coki: You get all cultures at Carnival, and different stages for all kinds of music. Dub, garage, drum and bass, drill, trap… All UK genres are there now. 

And because of that, Carnival is a communal space. Music forms communities and communities allow for music to flourish; so, Carnival has a big role in sustaining social and communities through music…

Trixx: Music is a very big carrier for culture, beliefs, and social awareness. There was no carnival for two years, so people couldn’t come together and make one their beliefs. There was no way for us to bond over what we’ve been through (the pandemic). 

In a crowd setting, nothing brings people together of so many identities as much as a big heavy tune! It unites people, and without Carnival people were not united.

Trixx: That’s what Carnival does. It unites people, all the way from the ‘70s. But there were still issues with the police; if one incident happened, we wouldn’t be allowed to handle it ourselves.I can’t wait for it to come back, though!

Surely public safety wasn’t the main concern of the police. In the Caribbean, police won’t shut down Carnival early, and in the UK police aren’t that violent to football supporters, for example. There must have been other reasons for those actions, like denying cultural expression which didn’t originate in Britain…

Trixx: Early days Carnival was great because people came to enjoy Caribbean culture!

And of course, that starts getting shut down.

Trixx: You can see the movement. In the early days, there was ska. If you’re a Skinhead, you like ska music and the two-tone movement. All my English mates who loved it were Skinheads. They also loved football. Unfortunately, that meant they were open to influence from extreme right-wing people.They came in and told my mates to stay away from us and that’s how the National Front grew. What started as fighting between football supporters turned into fighting between the National Front and everyone else. And, of course, this led to clashes at Carnival. To keep Carnival going, the organisers were forced to bring in other cultures and make it a ‘London Carnival’. It wasn’t a Caribbean carnival anymore; it became a British thing. It took away what made Carnival what it was. Our influences were pushed out. I just want the culture to survive; it doesn’t matter if you’re Black or White. When I was born, I wasn’t called Black. It shouldn’t matter who is involved. All that matters is the culture.

As soon as you start pointing out differences in identity and draw attention to it, that’s when you start making it an issue!

Trixx: Exactly. You can call a cup or a glass a vessel; you don’t need to break down different drinking vessels into what type of vessel they are. 

Completely. It’s the same with any form of identity or difference.

Trixx: Bollocks to it! It’s not needed. Music helps to keep people as people instead of subjects of society.

Musical communities don’t just unite people of different identities; they can eliminate and disregard other identities which cause so much trouble. 

Trixx: I don’t like it when one culture comes up with an idea, and another claims it as their own. Look at house music; it comes from communities in Chicago and New York. In England, we liked it anyway. We didn’t associate it with that community. As that sound became acid house and bled into Germany, it became Techno, and now you have a whole generation of new listeners in those genres who think they made it all. The same happened with Carnival; other people claim it’s theirs. Once I saw a Carnival poster that looked Brazilian, not Caribbean! The mayor of London, whoever it was at the time, was celebrating it.

It really makes it a British thing, emphasising how diverse Britain is whilst homogenising a wealth of cultures. Really, the only thing that is being celebrated is Britain’s colonial history. Not the best thing to celebrate.

Trixx: Correct! Don’t put us all in one pot and say this is what it is like now.

Even though Carnival is musically diverse and has lots of Caribbean music, some genres like drum and bass continue to attract a majority white audience; effectively, some genres have reproduced racial differences. From the outside, it looks segregated! Why do you think this is the case? Surely something is going unsaid if racial divides persist in a place which emphasises unity…

Coki: Not sure on the history before me but in my experience, there was a lot more gang crime at Carnival, instead of racial conflicts. People used to go to Carnival to go on a mad ting. Now, there are metal detectors! I’m all for what is going on in Carnival right now. I think there were only two big issues last year. Apart from that, everything was nice. 

I recently read some accounts of African American hip hop producers who feel culturally disconnected from house and techno despite the Black origins of those genres. Have you noticed a similar phenomenon regarding genres like UKG or drum and bass within Jamaican communities?

Trixx: When it comes to reggae and dub, it has spread worldwide. You’re going to get cultures organising themselves around the music. So, you have English people building sound systems and putting their own twist on the music. And then, you have some Caribbean people saying ‘they’re copying us’. I don’t agree with that. I love sharing culture. I was at a festival in France last year for a dub festival, and I met someone who said that they were sad that one of the headliners of the festival was a French band. She said that the originators should be headliners; I turned around and asked her why the promoter made the French band headliners. It was because they were big in France! They were making the music. The culture is shared, and saying that some people are stealing culture is part of separatism. As long as no-one claims it as their own, people aren’t taking anything; music is never made just for a culture. Reggae music is never made just for Black people… it’s made for the world. Don’t use music to separate us.

Coki: People need to have some sentimental value to be attached to some music. This can distract us from the reason we listen to some music… It’s for dancing! If I hear music, I want to dance. Using music as a weapon is the wrong way to use it.

Trixx: Music is a healer.

Coki Meets Trixx Part Two EP is out now

WORDS
Drum & Bass
Coki
trixx

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