They call him the Grim Reaper…
Emerging through pirate stations such as Eruption FM and Underground FM, resident at seminal London raves such as Desire and Thunder & Joy, Loxy has been a formidable force in jungle drum & bass since the very beginning.
The north London DJ’s reputation was galvanised in the mid 90s as he became an integral part of two UK D&B institutions; Metalheadz and Renegade Hardware. Resident at both label’s events – at cult venues such as Blue Note and The End – his ability to draw for darker, heavier dubplates than any of his peers was at the heart of the genre and culture’s acceleration. Stepping on after Loxy and 2Shy at The End was one of the gravest challenges any DJ could face during that time.
Thanks to his consistency, blinkered focus on his own sound and his own weapons, Loxy’s reputation remains as fierce as ever. In the years that have passed since his first manoeuvres, he’s launched labels such as Cylon Recordings, he established the The Four Horsemen collective (with Ink, Dylan and Keaton) and created slews of work with long-time sparring partners Ink and Resound who he formed ILR Studios with in 2019… And proceeded to batter down our lockdowns with material throughout 2020.
Now into 2021, that battering will continue. He’s just dropped his debut release on Dispatch (which features the long-awaited Bongo Mania with Skeptical) and a remix single on ILR Studios. Within weeks of this interview being published they’ll be followed by a release on Metalheadz with Ink (Irrelevant), a release on Headz sister imprint Razor’s Edge with Ink and Resound (Think) and a Loxy and Ink remix of SKC & Bratwa on Hospital’s 25 years album. And that’s just the tip of his weapon box.
We asked Loxy to compile a playlist of influences and seminal tracks from jungle drum & bass’s most formative days and his own persy melting pot. Enjoy and read on…
You had a lot of release last year. You kept yourself busy during lockdown…
Yeah we had a lot music ready. Myself, Ink and Resound had launched ILR Studios and we were building towards 2020, it was going to be one of our busiest years. Obviously things didn’t work the way any of us wanted, but the bonus was that we still had all that music. It worked out, it kept us busy and had music to keep our names out there and have a constant flow. So that’s how it came about; we’d been working hard all through 2019.
How receptive have you found people to the music during the club closures?
It’s been a blessing in disguise. If anything it’s given the music more of a lifeline. People are discovering things at different times, some people didn’t clock the ILR stuff the first time round and are hearing the tunes for the first time. That’s been cool.
How did it affect you as a writer? I associate you with club music. Proper heavy club smack you-in-the-soul club music. So how has the club shutdown, and the fact you can’t test your weapons on the dancefloor, affected what you write?
You’d think it would, but I love deep stuff too so I’ve been experimenting and exploring on that side. I don’t need the club to test things because I know what’s going to work. I’d say the main way it’s affected me is the sense that everything is so shit right now, so I don’t necessarily want to go into the studio as much. But even that can work two ways; Ink and I work best when we’re pissed off. Some situation has pissed us off, we’ll write a tune for it. It happened a lot in The End days. Some type of negative interaction with someone, some type of business thing has pissed us off, anything like that would be fuel for the fire when we’re in the studio. So negative times can be motivating. But home-schooling and just the whole length of this situation means I’m simply not in the mood.
Not even inspired enough to be pissed off!
Yeah, too tired. But another thing is that I love making tunes to destroy a dancefloor. I want my own armoury. I’m making bullets for the weekend. Something new for this gig here or a special VIP for that gig there. It’s hard to maintain a thirst for that when I’m not DJing.
I love that phrase. Bullets for the weekend. You make tunes to hurt people!
Of course, yeah. I always make this comparison; a DJ and an assassin are very similar jobs. A contract killer gets paid to travel to a location to take out a target. We get paid to travel to a location and take out the dancefloor. It’s the same thing. Except without the killing.
Oh man, that’s amazing. Even on the kit side of things, like a case with all your killing tools
Yeah. That’s my arsenal.
Fuck off tunes, basically. You’re part of the earliest history of D&B’s fuck off tradition aren’t you?
It’s something we used to say back in the day. Me and Ink. Sometimes the tune would hurt you so much it would be like ‘oh fuck off! This DJ is taking the piss!’ Then it evolved from there. I heard it the most at Hardware and Metalheadz. To this day I think we spawned that. The End was integral to that because of how it was set up with the decks where they were. People could see you, they were right up in your face and they feed off what you’re doing and how we were going off to the music. It became what it became man, and recently I heard a tune where ‘fuck off’ is the chorus. People say it all around the world. Me and Ink should have patented it!
The psychology behind it is pretty fascinating. It’s such a British thing!
Oh for sure. Watch The History Of Swearwords with Nicholas Cage on Netflix, it’s all about that. It is fascinating, you’re right. You can withstand pain more if you swear, for example. There’s a psychological connection between pain and swearing.
Yes! Back to your music, I only recently learnt your very first tune was signed by Nico for the legendary No U-Turn!
Yeah that’s right. I did the track in Bizzy B’s studio called Uncontrollable Desire. He liked it but there were some changes to make and it got longed out. I think I was in college at the time and the timing didn’t work. Through that we built a great relationship so it worked out nicely.
Bizzy B’s responsible for a lot of stuff as well. He was involved in Zinc’s first release…
Correct. Bizzy B a proper OG. That was at the very same time with Swift. MC Rage, Swift and Zinc was who I rolled with back then. They were my crew.
When did the productions start to properly flourish for you? You were definitely very much a DJ first and foremost.
Oh totally. My first gigs were at Psychotic and Dungeons in 91 and that first track was 93. Then I was doing raves like Desire and Thunder & Joy in 93 and 94 and was obviously doing the pirates. So I’d be calling up labels, ringing up the mobile number on the white labels, blagging promos, sending the mixtapes, all that. That’s how I got my opportunities and got my exclusive records and test presses. Then when Blue Note started, around that time, I got the bug. I wanted my own exclusive records. Something that literally no one else has got. I was never going to get the dubs Groove or Scotty was getting so I wanted to have my own. Things that no other DJ had. That was always my drive as a producer, and still is. It was never about being the man, making big records, it’s about being me and sounding like me. That’s always been my thing. I want to play music you haven’t got.
Ah dubplate culture!
Yeah. The End really captured that. That’s when things got crazy. It was a war between brothers. Every week I’m coming to destroy you. Ink, Gremlinz, Usual Suspects, whoever – I’m looking to destroy you! That’s what it was all about.
Moving from the late 90s to the early 2000s, you launched Cylon which saw you go back to the hardcore roots a bit. A lot of people were doing that like Digital & Spirit.
Yeah Total Science as well. We were all driven by those breaks and that’s why the sound was so timeless. It still hurts now and has the same effect and always will.
You brought back Cylon a few years ago, right?
We went through various distribution companies and that’s why it wasn’t around for a bit. But I’ve never been intense with when releases should come out, or how frequent they should be. Music comes out when it needs to come out. It’s a bit like Grooverider and Prototype in that sense, I’m only going to put something out if it’s right or it means something.
You collaborate a lot. I’m guessing you prefer real time collaborations in the same studio? Although, I guess with Resound it’s got to be online as he’s in Finland…
With Resound we just clicked from the moment we met. Our birthdays are within a couple of days of each other and we’re just on the same wavelength. He’s more into the plug-ins, I’m the vibes guy and when we come together the ideas just flow. Not many people can do that long distance but that’s one of those special one-offs. Everyone else, it’s the studio together. When I was doing tunes with Dylan, always in the studio together. When I do tunes with Ink, always in the studio together. But I do like working online as well because it gives you time to explore ideas on your own with confidence and not have that added pressure of another person in the room. Especially if they’re more technical than you.
I bet there’s none of that with Ink. How did you two link-up?
Through the music. Record shopping and always seeing each other in the same places. He’d see me with my record bag and wonder what I was up to. I was on hunt for all the test presses and exclusives! Then Rage started a radio station in 94, Underground FM. I was on Eruption FM before left to join Rage’s station, which is where I met Kemistry & Storm as well as Ink and Quest who were all also on the station and it stemmed from there. We had the same tastes, both North London and it all came together. Kemistry & Storm used to play after me and they came down earlier, heard me and liked how I played so invited me to do Metalheadz. The rest is history. If it wasn’t for those two, I wouldn’t be here now. They’re my sisters.
They’re responsible for so much!
They’re responsible for everything. They were the driving force behind the club night, behind the label and introducing DJs.
Give me some memories of the Blue Note era…
Too many but there was one I’ll always remember. I think it was me, Scotty and Rider on the bill. I was doing the opening set and the club manager Meredith came over and said Scotty can’t make it so could I play the second set. I said no problem and carried on playing. Then a while later she said ‘sorry, but Groove can’t make it either.’ By then I’d been playing for four hours, but I was up for it so I played the whole Blue Note. 7pm to midnight. No other DJ can say they’ve done that or had that opportunity so I’m proud of that. Proud to have been a part of such a night full stop.
It was a super small venue wasn’t it?
Blue Note was a special place. It was very intense and it built up and up and up and the line was going around the block. You’d go one time and Robbie Williams would be there. Or David Bowie. Or Spice Girls. I met Lauryn Hill. You had every type of person from every type of background and style of music. I remember chatting to Robbie Williams.
Wow. Loxy and Robbie Williams. An unsuspecting encounter. What did you talk about?
It was around the time of his big split-up with Take That and I was asking him what he was going to do. I remember it really clearly.
It’s quite mad to think. Like, you’re making bullets to hurt people. This is crazily futuristic and underground music at the time. What did you make of having pretty cheesy popstars down there?
Some people weren’t into it. But I thought it was cool that underground music was holding the attention of them. People of that level of fame don’t have to be there. They’re not going because it’s cool or because they’re going to gain anything from it. The Spice Girls could be at some stupid poncey club but they chose to come to Metalheadz that night. And they never got paparazzi’d or any publicity. The Sun never did a big headline like ‘Spice Girls go to Metalheadz’ or anything. So there must have been a genuine interest in what we were doing and the music we were making.
Yeah. In fact it’s probably one of the only club nights where most people wouldn’t care about fame; they’re there for the music…
Yeah. They can go out, get on it or do whatever and no one is going to pay them a blind bit of notice because it’s an underground club night and people are there for the music.
Totally. So back to the future… You’ve got your Dispatch debut. How did that come about?
I’ve got releases due on Razor’s Edge and Metalheadz. I’d wrapped them up and sent Ant TC1 some more tracks. He said he thought they’d work on Headz but due to me already having a release on Headz he asked if we would be up for doing a Dispatch release. I was up for that. It’s easy to pigeonhole people and associate them with certain sounds or labels, so to appear on Dispatch it’s made people go ‘what?’
Bongo Mania made me say more than ‘what!’ You and Skeppy is a dream collab for many…
This has been around for a long time. A few people have said it’s like Imperial and I’m pretty sure we made that tune before it. I was one of the first DJs to play Skeptical tunes so we’ve always given each other tunes and he used to talk about the way I do bongos in tunes. I said ‘let’s do a bongo tune’ and I sent him so many bongo loops. A lot more than are in that tune. It’s been on a dub for a long time. Years and years. Ant suggested we put it on the EP. We had the release lined up and Ant suggested this as well. I didn’t even know he knew that tune!
Is that the oldest track on the EP?
Yeah. Psyche is pretty old too. I don’t give out tunes all the time, so a lot of things are old for me but fresh for everyone else. We make timeless tunes; we don’t follow trends, we don’t use samples or noises that date quickly. We build tunes to last and this creates this kind of echo effect where you think ‘have I heard this before?’ Yes you have, you’ve heard it in a Loxy set and nowhere else.
The assassins calling card!
Yeah. A bullet I hit you with years ago.
So what’s up next? Release on Razor’s Edge, Metalheadz… Anything else?
We’ve got two old tracks remixed on ILR. Fraggle Rock, which was me and Dylan. Need You which was Ink and Dylan. Me, Ink and Resound have remixed them and they’re out now. That’s coming out on ILR and there are also some new things coming on Cylon. At first that label was vinyl only but the last few years it’s been digital. But now I’m launching the Cylon Legacy series which will be vinyl only. That should start with some tunes that I did with Resound years ago; Fall VIP, Black Hole VIP and a track called Empire. People have been harassing us for a long time on them so that’s going to come on the Legacy series which is vinyl exclusive and limited edition. I’m waiting for the test presses and that’s ready to go.
Now is the time for this. We’ve kinda full circle here but the way people interact and appreciate art has changed since the lockdowns. People are investing in it a bit more…
I’ve seen a lot of this, yeah, and it is great, you’re right. People are back into physical things. Merch, vinyl, even cassettes. Go on eBay now and people are re-selling things for crazy money. I’m happy we’ve come back to that. I miss the tangible sensation of holding onto something. There’s nothing better than pulling a vinyl out of the sleeve. So that’s been nice to see, especially now in this climate, and any artist who’s able to put out these releases should do. You’d be mad not to. But as good as all of this is, I can’t wait to get back to being an assassin…