When most boys are sixteen-years-old, they’re busy rinsing the latest edition of FIFA and wondering how to get laid.
But Oscar Rawlinson, aka Memtrix, was laying down the foundations for a very solid drum & bass career instead.
The whizz-kid burst on to the scene faster than you can score a Messi hat-trick and has gone from strength to strength ever since – it’s no wonder his global DJ schedule is becoming increasingly hectic. Now aged nineteen, the wunderkind has his eyes set on asserting himself as one of the finest producers around.
We know he’s got the production skills to do it, and he’s now also got a collaboration with one of the scene’s heavy-hitters under his belt. Collaborating with Spor is the aspiration of many established artists, so for someone who isn’t even out of their teens to do it sums up his huge potential.
We caught up with Memtrix to discuss that collaboration and his meteoric rise to stardom.
Hi Oscar! How are you?
Pretty good thanks! I’m still thinking back to my set for UKF at Building Six last month, that was fun…
Wicked, glad you enjoyed it, we certainly did! Do you get nervous playing in front of crowds that size?
No I don’t really get nervous that often. Occasionally I’ll get a bit anxious a couple hours before the show when I’m alone at a hotel usually, but that tends to go as soon as I arrive at the venue.
You’re only nineteen, maybe when you hit twenty the nerves and anxiety will go altogether?
Haha, let’s hope so…
So then, talk to us about how you fell into this music business…
I kind of fell into it by accident to be honest. I started out writing lots of music on the guitar and then wanted to start recording myself playing, so I borrowed various bits of software from mates and found myself delving into the production side of the software. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing or any idea about electronic music at the time but I became pretty intrigued when I started hearing all these weird sounds coming out of my computer. I started to get quite good at producing and have loved it ever since – that’s where my heart is, DJing came as a necessary secondary add-on.
Wwhat kind of stuff did you make when you borrowed this software?
I don’t know now and I don’t think I even knew then! I was a massive metal head until the age of about fourteen or fifteen, so to hear all of these electronic sounds was really odd. I think I was just stringing random sounds together at first – it wasn’t really any specific genre. There are definitely parallels between rock music and drum & bass, though, and I don’t think my stuff would sound the way it does today if it wasn’t for my rock upbringing.
Do you still listen to rock music today? What else do you listen to?
Yeah I listen to a little bit of rock music. I think it’s really important to listen to other genres otherwise drum & bass can begin to sound quite stale. At the moment I’m listening to quite a lot of piano music to rest my ears – not exactly Slipknot. In terms of drum & bass, I’m really liking the stuff that Joe Ford, Teddy Killerz and Spor are putting out.
Ah, would that Spor material happen to include your recent collaboration with him?
Haha, I guess that might sound a little bit arrogant if I included that EP! But yeah, I’m really happy with how it came out. Working with him was awesome. To be honest I didn’t really know just quite how big he was until everyone started telling me about him when I started touring a few years back. We came into contact not long ago and the whole process was super fast and natural. We didn’t really plan anything, we just messed around to see what we came up with and luckily we ended up with two decent tunes.
Decent is an understatement. What’s the reception been to it?
It’s been really positive. I think people expected us to make a really heavy EP but when you put two creative people together, you’re likely to get something a bit unexpected. It came out a bit more melodic and musical which is cool, even if it wasn’t exactly what people were expecting.
The EP is entitled Darkest Hour – has there been a dark hour in your career so far?
Hmm, I’d say it’s all been pretty positive really. I don’t think there’s ever been a day where I’ve doubted doing music as a career as it’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was about five. However, sometimes it gets a little bit daunting thinking that I have to make a certain style of music when I want to try different things. Last year in particular I felt a little bit stressed thinking about what might happen if I made a different style of music – would people care? Would everyone stop buying my music? I get over this by writing and playing my guitar a lot more, which gives me a fresh perspective on music in general.
So you obviously spend a lot of time thinking about what kind of music to produce next?
I just want to produce everything that comes into my head really, I’m not that bothered about styles, but at the moment I don’t want to steer too far away from this particular sound as I feel like it’s going well. Drum & bass is the main priority right now but I want to gradually incorporate different sounds and styles because I think keeping it one-dimensional all the time isn’t a good thing in the long run.
People often say that drum & bass is hard to produce. Have you found this?
Definitely! When I first started producing it I found it such a challenge, which is the main reason I enjoyed it. Producing any other stye of music now seems fairly easy in comparison to those early drum & bass days. From an engineering side, it’s definitely helped me a lot.
You’re probably sick of hearing this, but you started out when you were very young. How was it?
Haha, it’s all good! I started the whole drum & bass thing when I was at school but never really told anyone about it. It all really kicked off when I was at college – and kicked off so fast that I had to quit midway through my course. I guess that was the moment when I realised the music thing might actually work out. I was getting a lot of gigs and even my parents said a career in music might be feasible – you know something’s going right when even your parents advise you to quit college!
Big ups to your mum and dad for that! How have you progressed since then?
The way I’ve progressed to where I am now is by not looking at what people are saying online and focussing solely on what I want to do. I focus on making music that I think will sound cool – not music that people want me to make. There is some consideration when it comes to releasing new music, however, as it’s definitely good to have some perspective on what people want. But ultimately, I can’t put out something that I’m not personally feeling; it’s got to be honest and from the heart.
Has this always been the case?
Not really; when I was younger I found myself listening to other producers and taking ideas from them, but as I’ve got a bit older I just want to do whatever pops into my head and whatever artistic idea I think might be cool. I want to go on a weird musical journey and see where it takes me…
And who were those producers you drew inspiration from?
Current Value, Pendulum and Noisia were three of the main ones that really got me into the genre.
Other than those artists, what is to thank for your rise to fame?
Lifted Music really help put me on the map. I uploaded some tunes to Soundcloud when I was about sixteen but didn’t have a clue what I was doing, I just wanted to see if anyone gave a shit. Then a few people started hitting me up including Lifted, and we took things from there. They’ve really helped me get on track with this whole project and taught me the business side of things, which is really important these days. They also introduced me to the world of DJing.
Have you found the touring side of things quite challenging? Where’s the best place you’ve played so far?
I really like travelling so I don’t mind touring at all. I often see a few producers complaining about it but I can’t see why! Maybe in five years time my view will change though, you’ll have to get back to me on that… If I wasn’t touring I’d just be locking myself in the studio which sends me a bit insane, it also makes going back into the studio a bit more refreshing too. I think the best place I’ve played was Moscow, there was about 5,000 people there and the likes of Pendulum and Camo & Krooked were on the bill too, so everyone was really up for it!
And what’s in the pipeline?…
I have a single coming out at the end of October on Lifted and a few collaborations with people I used to listen to when I was younger which is really exciting. I’ve also been working on a remix recently.