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Michael Janiec

Q&A

Transcending boundaries – How Innate MC is pushing the envelope in The Netherlands

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Transcending boundaries – How Innate MC is pushing the envelope in The Netherlands

Innate MC (Lewis Edwards) followed a path less travelled, in hindsight, the decision paved the way for a whole new chapter for the master of ceremony. He left familiarity behind to move abroad and make a name for himself in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, becoming the first and only UK MC in bass music to successfully do so.

Roughly nine years on Innate MC very much managed to establish his brand, turning it into a household one by becoming the resident at renowned local events like Blackout, Korsakov and Curated By – his signing at MB Artists further underlining his impressive progress ever since.

And with more than 15 years of experience on the mic – providing lyrical support to more than a hundred established names in the scene – there’s more than enough to cover in this exclusive interview for UKF.

Hello Lewis, great to finally have this talk, let’s start at the beginning: what motivated you to become an MC?

Hi, thanks for having me. I was introduced to jungle and early speed garage & UKG through my older sisters and cousins at a young age, and it was something that stuck with me.

My friends and I would practice DJing and MCing and all pretty much stems from this.

How did it evolve?

At first, we were just messing around at a friend’s house, A.M.C, Kyrist, Slippy Skills and a few others. Then after a while skills progressed, and we started doing little local events in bars, function rooms and at an online radio too. This was around 2008

How did you find your sound?

Back when I first started listening to event tape/CD packs, for example, Hysteria, Telepathy, Helter Skelter, the main MCs at that time were pretty much double-time and fast-paced.

So at the time, when I was young, I thought it was kind of the only way. As I got older, things were a little different. Especially with the internet. Being able to find different types of music and different types of parties. sub-genres and all this kind of stuff. It really opened my eyes.

Eventually, my friends and I started going to events like Renegade Hardware, Shogun, RAM… 

That’s mainly where I was introduced to other MCs that weren’t so constant and fast, but more about the whole hosting type of style; the bars in between.

For me, there’s like a fine line between being a host and an MC. I tried to drift in between the two, and eventually, I felt like I’d found my way.

You are the only English MC in the scene who moved to Holland. How did this come about?

I came in touch with a lot of people internationally through things like hosting at Let It Roll, shows abroad and also being involved event-wise. I let some people know that I was thinking about moving to NL, and they were like: yeah, move here, we would definitely want to book you and have you as a resident MC. So yeah, I took my chances.

You’re also signed with MB Artists these days

Yes, after working with Neurofunkgrid/Enter the Grid, I was pretty much working alone, in the sense of taking on my own bookings and reaching out to promoters.

After that, for a short time, my bookings were being dealt with via Korsakov. Once that came to an end, I was acting alone again. Then, around one and a half years ago, the guys who

were running Compass Agency in the Netherlands did a business merger with MB Artists.

They hit me up (big up to agent Alex (A-FLEX/ NCT) and asked if I would be interested in joining their roster after the merge. I was super excited because the agencies were both established with impressive rosters, so it was a huge privilege to be asked to join.

Since being with MB, things have been going really well, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future brings.

Did it help to have that UK heritage as well, because you guys have a rich MC culture?

To be honest, I’m not sure. Maybe it has added some authenticity to what I do, as the whole scene in general originated in the UK. 

But it’s a nice thought to think I’m bringing something over to another country and it being received well.

How would you summarise the essence of your role as an MC?

Personally, I like to make it about the DJ, the music, and the people as much as possible. I remember being at raves when I was young, and the MCs always did a good job of making everyone feel like they were part of something. Something big.

There’s almost a tribal togetherness that goes on in the crowd when the vibe is right. That’s the vibe I try to create while using the lyrics here and there when I feel it’s the right moment to do so.

What really motivates you to go up there and stand in front of crowds? Is it a certain feeling?

Yeah, for sure! Seeing how much they’re enjoying it – being a part of that energy is something special.

So what do you miss the most about England?

Family and friends of course, but also being able to go into nature. That isn’t so easy here in The Netherlands. It’s nice and there are some beautiful places to go, but the countryside and forests aren’t really the same as at home.

Inversion – you’re involved with that as well. Can you tell us something about that? 

We had our first edition in 2016, it was going really well for a few years and then the team were looking for a different venue, but then Corona hit…

It’s been only in the past year or so that I got in touch with my friend here, who also worked on this. I suggested to him to just try and bring the party back, and we approached a few different venues.

Then we ended up with a good response from Patronaat in Haarlem, which was nice, because they used to have Spektrum there a while ago. So we got a shot at bringing drum & bass back to Haarlem.

Are any announcements worth mentioning for the upcoming months regarding Inversion?

For now, I can’t say too much yet, but I can say the next event will be in October after the festival season.

You mentioned earlier about actually spending some time in the studio again

I have been trying to get back into this recently, but I have had so many other things going on in my personal life that studio stuff took a backseat for quite some time. Will eventually get a track done with a friend of mine Abstract from Breda, NL, who I got in touch with through TRIBE, while hosting some of their editions.

And also with someone else, but I don’t want to say too much yet, because I’m still kind of waiting to hear back. All will be revealed in time. Just not rushing myself for the sake of having something out soon.

Is there a certain night or event that stands out in your memory? Why so?

Well, off the backend of doing Renegade Hardware while still in the UK and then Neurofunkgrid – getting involved with Blackout (drum & bass night at TivoliVredeburg, Utrecht) was a huge one. Working with the guys from Black Sun Empire, while being a fan of their music for years, is a milestone. 

Multiplex, who’s resident there, really helped me with that by showing me the ropes when I moved here and being really welcoming and a good friend in general.

Do you feel like it’s a bit harder in the UK to become established, because there are so many MCs and there’s so much competition? 

Yeah, it’s a bit tougher to break into the scene, although it’s also easier to get your message out there these days with social media etc.

We used to try and record the best material of our lives in my friend’s bedroom and then, you know, burn like 30 CDs and then take them to the club and hand them out as much as we could… and basically pray that one of those people was an artist from the night or the promoter!

It’s easier to get your message across now, but there’s a lot of static on the line because everybody’s fighting for attention. So it’s also a matter of not only what you know, but who you know and properly networking. 

Yeah for sure, networking, being present and getting to know people within the scene is crucial I would say. Especially when starting out.

It comes with experience and having that balance, but when being on the mic, are there moments when you get too excited and overdo it?

I don’t know, it can easily become too (much) constant sometimes, you know, like, I also want to hear just the music. When someone constantly is emceeing, I want to see them step back a bit and let the DJ mix- see them interact with the crowd, big up people, and this kind of stuff.

For me, as an MC you want to make everyone feel included. The ‘you are all in it together’ kind of thing. It’s not like I’m the big MC and these guys are below me or something like that, we’re all here for the same thing, the music. That’s my approach, anyway.

Do you have certain goals in your mind for the future?

More studio stuff for sure, to have some really nice releases out on some established labels would be amazing. 
I also really want to be in a position where I’m getting approached for a New Zealand, Australia tour, or something like that, with some DJ friends of mine that I’d really like to travel with. That’s something I’d want to work towards.

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