Dubstep pioneer now plays whatever the hell he wants

Following the news story on Plastician remastering his back catalogue, DJ Mag speaks to the dubstep pioneer looking to the past as he begins to move to greener pastures...

Chris Reed, aka Plastician (or the artist formerly known as Plasticman), has announced a forthcoming album of remastered material from the early '00s, a selection of work that helped form an international, multi-million-pound genre. The album will consist of 21 remasters of previously releases, along with two VIP mixes and two unreleased tracks that may be used for a deluxe version. Following this will also be a series of remix EPs, with one even getting a limited, hand-stamped, hand-written 12-inch press.

But why the sudden burst of nostalgia? DJ Mag caught up with Reed himself to find out...

What inspired you to remaster and re-release your old material?
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for some time, but only recently realised that I was able to open the older versions of FL Studio and Fruityloops. I started the project about a year ago, firstly just bouncing the old tracks to WAV format. Around the same time, Zomby hit me up about remixing 'Cha' so I bounced the stems for him, that pretty much kick-started the idea of bouncing stems for other artists, which in turn snowballed into bouncing the entire back cat for this album. 

“I also think, out of pure luck, there is a resurgence in nostalgia for this early grime stuff. A lot of people want the vinyl classics in digital formats, and many producers are trying to emulate the days of old. This is a good chance for me to flex my muscles and remind people I was doing this 12 years ago!”

The limited 12" pressing will be the first vinyl release on Terrorhythm since Om Unit's 'The Corridor', is this the start of a return to the old format?
“I'd love to press more releases onto vinyl, but sadly the market is not really there. I know there are plenty of buyers, but the majority of them are just collectors as opposed to DJs. Where our focus at the label is to unearth new styles and talents, much of the stuff we're putting out is artist's first releases, and music that doesn't really fit within any set genres — with that in mind, you kind of rule out any kind of motivation for collectors of certain artists, or genres.
“Digital allows me to take more risks, without compromising on quality. Moving to digital only, I've managed to put 15 releases out since this point in 2010, and before that I'd managed nine releases over the course of seven years! I do spend a lot more time focused on the label side of the job now though, so would not rule more vinyl out, I just think I have to be selective.”

What prompted you to open your palette and develop your sound?
“Having been a professional DJ for 12 or so years now, I’ve been exposed to so many artists and styles of music. I always felt like being on Rinse and having been a part of London’s grime and dubstep movements so centrally, I had to represent that side of things as opposed to spinning all the stuff I was enjoying listening to.
“Last year I stayed in Los Angeles for three months to get my fingers into the scene out there; I’ve always kept a keen eye on the LA beats side of things, so wanted to get a feel for the vibe at the events and meet some of the artists whose music I had been spinning. I had loads of people guest on my Rinse show, and was particularly taken aback by DJs like Salva, Jerome LOL, Gaslamp Killer, Kastle and countless others who just spun whatever they wanted, without giving a fuck about it. I loved that. It kind of hit me like a eureka moment; there was absolutely nothing stopping me from doing this myself.”

What were the results of this revelation?
“I think I carved out the beginnings of a trademark sound. In the past year I’ve introduced people in the UK to artists like AWE, Mr Carmack, Djemba Djemba, GANZ and loads more. It’s always nice to know I played a part in breaking acts who are looking like they’ll be doing some seriously big things in the near future. Some tracks sound like a fusion of UK bass and US trap, some of it sounds like Timbaland-style hip-hop drums fused with dubstep-like bass weight, and then at times it’ll sound like 2004-esque grime, with a tinge of that Bristol 'purple' sound. Mix all that together with the fringes of the darker edge of UK house and techno, and you’re round about there.
“I don’t think sonically it’s a thousand miles from the sounds I built my name on, but it’s a much more forward-thinking and open outlook. I want people to think of me as a risk-taker and an innovator of forward-thinking and groundbreaking music — that’s precisely why I had to broaden my selection. I’m in a position now where I can play absolutely anything I want to — as a DJ, there is no better position to be in than that.”

What can we expect from you and Terrorhythm following this remastered release?
“The label is firing on all cylinders right now. I'm currently working a debut release for Parkinson White & Kyle Cook, which I'd imagine will actually drop before the album and remix series. I've also lined up an EP for Dutch artist Deon Custom which is sounding great, and an EP from Krane, which is almost finished. Of course, I'm always looking to put more music out from the family as well, I'd imagine you'll be hearing more from AWE and Anton F before the year's out.”

Words: Ben Hindle