Photography: Chelone Wolf
After five years of slapping, slugging and shoving us silly with his brazen broadsword tracks on the likes of Biological Beats, Prototype, Chronic, Smokin Riddims and Sweet Tooth, DJ Limited has signed to Playaz: The label he had his sights on when he first started producing… Consequently blowing up his nan’s computer in the process.
With sounds ranging from flabby bassline funk to zoological bone breakers, Limited has made a name for himself with his versatility and unpredictability within the realms of drum & bass. He’s also got a name for being ridiculously prolific… Last year he wrote over five EPs, two singles and a remix. And when he signed to Playaz he gave Hype an email of over 40 dubs. And that’s not even including the persy stash of liquid he’s been storing on the side.
With an extensive five year body of work behind him and a Santa-level sacks of unreleased beats ahead of him, this marks a next level chapter for Limited. And it started this month with his solo Playaz single, the safari set piece The Jaguar and The Elephant, both of which have been doing serious business on dub for those lucky to have their claws into them… Now out, and doing a roaring trade (not sorry), Limited celebrates this moment with his first ever interview.
What would you rather fight? An elephant sized jaguar or ten jaguar sized elephants?
What?! Oh man. They’re both beasts to be honest. Can the elephant run as fast as a jaguar?
Yes. Yes it can.
Damn imagine that! That’s ridiculous. 10 jaguar sized elephants all day long then mate. They’d be slow moving and a bit clumsy.
Quite cute in a way. Like dogs in elephants suits or something
Yeah you’d slap one out of the way then turn back and give it a cuddle (not really)
Haha. So this is your first interview but you’ve been on this for a long time…
I have never done an interview other than interviews for jobs, but that doesn’t count so this is my first. But yeah, my older brother Sam, Upgrade, was getting into music and I did too.
You came through pretty much at the same time?
A few years later. He had a release called Gunshots on Serial Killaz in 2009. They played it a Boomtown and he was away. The same happened for me around that time and in the years that followed for bit; I made everything, all D&B but some tech, some minimal, some jump up. But then as time goes by it’s kinda developed into the jungly jump up sound I have now.
That makes total sense. I remember Heist bigging you up to me a few years ago and he described you as an all-rounder
Was that around Kill The Snake?
Just before but Kill The Snake is my favourite tunes of yours. It’s so fat and cantankerous!
Ha. That track actually came from an idea I had when I made Two Left Feet on my first ever Biological Beats EP. They’ve helped me out so much. Fatman D is one of the soundest artists I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Two Left Feet was pure jazz swing. It had the same farty noise but wasn’t as fat as the one on Kill The Snake because I didn’t know as much in the studio, I guess. But Two Left Feet was inspired by the V stuff, Full Cycle etc.
That soul and funk
Yes! I worry there’s not enough soul in drum & bass…
It’s the soul you connect with. And that can’t be done technically
For me the soul is the goosebump factor which is translated in so many different ways. I don’t think it helps that we’ve got the crazy amount of subgenres so we sit in these bubbles and develop these sounds and we forget about all the other, bigger picture sometimes. We’re stuck in these silly genre wars but not focussing on the soul.
Where do you stand on the rollers/subgenre debate?
I was just about to ask you that too! No it’s definitely not a subgenre. It’s a style. It’s a term to express if a tune is good or not. This term has been around since jungle began and they can be found in every subgenre; Noisia make rollers, Hazard makes rollers, Calibre makes rollers. A roller is simply an expression of gratitude for a sick heads-down tune. You find them in all styles.
We find you in all styles too to be fair.
I want to try and keep people guessing. I don’t want people to predict what’s coming next. I’ve got some liquid bits coming and I’d like to have another platform for them but there’s just so many releases it’s hard to make space. I did seven or eight releases last year alone. I never want to be pigeonholed and I’ve had labels ask me to tweak things to sound more like another tune I’ve done and I always so no. I don’t want to tread over old path.
You’re pretty prolific. Your brother is. T>I is. Saxxon is. There’s A LOT of sick music coming from Norwich right now!
There must be something in the water. I think what it is, we’re all inspired by the elders/grandfathers of the jungle drum & bass genre… Guys who were banging out so many tunes! And not for any other reason but they had love for it and had something to say. If there’s any old path I’m treading over it’s that tradition and love for drum & bass. We all egg each other on.
That’s the basis of all the best crews
But we’re not a crew are we? We all do stuff for different labels and different camps. We’re all in our own lanes, doing our own thing for different labels. We’re all supportive of each other doing our own thing.
Talking about your own thing. Are you the type of artist who scraps a tune entirely if it’s not being released? Or do you recycle stuff or come back to it?
I remember hearing Noisia in an interview once; never delete an old project. There are tunes on Outer Edges that took years to complete and it’s true; you get an idea down and you enjoy it but you don’t know where it’s going so you move to something else, then something else, then something else and you’ve forgotten about it and stumble on it by accident. The Elephant is a year old, for example.
How old is The Jaguar?
The original idea for that was a track called Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde and the idea was to start with a nice jungle intro and drop into jump up. Going from the think break into heavier drums basically. That got picked up by a couple artists and it did okay. Well, the intro did okay but they quickly mixed out at the first drop. Which is the case with a lot of DJs now. Unless you’re Randall and you roll the whole thing out, which I will always admire. But most of us double drop and mix out a lot because that’s what crowds expect. I remember my first time playing Belgium in 2014. Wow that was an experience.
I had no idea what to expect so I assumed they liked it like they do in the UK so I came with a ragga tune and let it roll out for a bit and everyone just stopped. They didn’t move at all. I didn’t know what to do! I was scared. Then I realised it wasn’t the tunes I was playing so much, it was the way I was mixing them. For the crowds over there they go crazy to the drop and if something else isn’t being mixed in within 20 seconds they’ll stop and talk to their mates. It was an educational experience.
Haha. Biggup on signing to Playaz by the way. How did that come about?
I was approached by Hype a few years ago, I was about 20, but I wasn’t ready. I was still working what I wanted to do, how I wanted to sound. Mentally preparing myself for criticism and confidence. I suffer from anxiety, which I worry is a cliché thing to say now, but it plays such a huge part in everything I do and I didn’t think I’d have what it takes mentally to survive in this industry. I wanted to experiment more and find my sound and take the whole thing slowly. Then a year later, I’m at work, just minding my own businesses, and Kev gets in touch again asking if I was ready. AND Serial Killaz did the same about 20 minutes later. What a weird day that was but I told everyone no and to speak to Fatman. He’s done so much for me, I wouldn’t want to disrespect how he’s supported me. Then a year later I meet Hype, he came to Norwich to play and by then Sub Zero and I did our Vibrations EP on the label. I asked if he still wanted to sign me and he said ‘I’ve been waiting for yaaa’
I like how you didn’t rush it and did things on your terms
Playaz has always been the end goal but I kept putting it off because what do you do when you achieve that dream? I didn’t want to ruin a dream I had in my head. I didn’t want to make it and think ‘now what?’ And I got to release on some really sick labels like Prototype, Life Recordings, Chronic, Co-Lab, Serial Killaz etc.
Yes! So what can we expect on Playaz in the future?
We’re lining things up now. At first it was suggested The Elephant and The Jaguar came as an EP but those two tunes come in a pair. So there’ll be another EP following that. There’ll be another DJ Limited & Sub Zero collaboration and then hopefully another single. Ive got plenty of animalistic ideas and new tracks. But I’m not ready to show those yet…
Hang on, there’s other Limited animal tracks already. Kill The Snake…
Yeah I guess that’s animal themed. Also killing themed though…
Slug From A 45?
Different type of slug but also on a killing theme, I’ll give you that. But yeah there’ll be some more animal noise things I’m sure. I just put that idea to the side when I saw other people using the same animal noises. I want to carve my own sound and not be responsible for running a sound into the ground (like the fog horn stuff)
I’ve been chatting to Benny L about this. WHY copy? Surely you want to have your own sound?
You’d think that wouldn’t you? But sometimes the pressures of things like social media and trends mean you feel obliged to play up to expectations. Some artists make tunes that sound the same but I don’t think it’s because they can’t make other sounds, it’s because they feel that’s all people want from them. Sometimes it’s good to get out of the box and try different things, add more VSTs, get some hardware, try another DAW. Dominator, God rest his soul, tried to show me Cubase several times. Loads of people have. Do you know Diamond Eyes?
Do I ever!
I went to school with him! He suggested I tried Ableton which I love but it slowed my processed down so I went back on FL Studio. But I love experimenting; I love finding new sounds and fucking around with styles but as you progress you realise that originality is the only thing that really sticks and makes you stand out. I’ve worked hard at getting here and the real work starts now I’ve got a new platform to show that. It’s kinda like a new chapter, I guess. It’s exciting…