GET TO KNOW - UPSON
As bass continues to be boom through the city of Leicester, we spoke to one of Leicester’s up and coming bass DJ’s, Upson.
The Sunday chills had me melted into the sofa, then once the sun went down Chris Upson dropped by for an interview. We sat upstairs and Chris started it off by talking us through how he fell into the life of a DJ: “So I joined DJ society for DMU, I think the first year I went to DMU, so last year. Didn’t really do anything there, then one of my mates Manny Jhutts, he was like, shown a bit of interest in djing. We went to Beastwang, saw Flava D and stuff like that, and just thought fuck it, we’ll go dj society see what it’s all about.
Met a few people there and just started DJing, bought our own stuff and just got into it there, went to a few Beastwangs and got a lot more into the rave scene and stuff like that and just started from there really.”
Upson has quickly found himself at previous Beastwang events, and he explained how DJ society helped him get a foot in the door. “Tallulah, she’s a bit of a local, like, tech house/disco DJ, goes like On The Menu and stuff like that. She was a Beastwang rep at the time, I think she was saying how like, she used to sell us tickets, and fucking I’m trying to think, I think she was like, I cant remember what she said but she got me and Manny into being reps and we joined the rep team."
"Then yeah joined through there sold tickets and made a few mixes for radio and Nico picked up on them. I think we just had a good foot in the door at the moment, I think the one that got us a set was, me and manny did a garage mix. Nico just had a day at the station where it was just him, and he played our mix and he was like, oh shit this is sick, and I think he booked us like right there and then for the garage night, that was our first set for Beastwang. And then since then we’ve had, we’re not residents but we’ve had basically had sets at a few (nights). After UKG we had grime, which was like our sickest set ever, if there’s a spot going we’ll take it.”
"I think it has to have distinct, wobbly sound..."
Upson went on to talk about his recent headline event in Nottingham on 2nd of February: “Yeah we’ve just got a headline set in Notts which is fucking huge, that’s with 2step. So 2step is run by a guy called Poach, Poach is Will Hurtford, he’s the safest guy I’ve ever met. Basically he just proper rated mine and Manny’s tunes, me and Manny have got some garage tunes out."
“So he listened to them, he’s big into garage that guy, he’s probably like the garage don. He said to Manny, like in passing, yo we’ll book you for one of our nights, and we just thought nothing of it really. He tells us he’s got it booked, he showed us the poster and our names are like fucking size 500 font, I was like oh shit. So yeah it’s big, we’ve basically got a headline set."
“It’s got good amount of people going to it at the moment as well, it’s n Bar 11 which his a lot more intimate, which is what I love. I love smaller venues. We’ve got an hour and a half set, 1:30-3, gonna start garage and go into bassline, it’s going to be fucking hard.”
Besides his DJing, Upson is a keen producer and he told us how long he’s been doing it for: “I’ve been producing for like 3 or 4 years but I didn't started making bass music, I started making, like, trap. There’s a genre called Fonk which is like chilled beats, I used to put acapellas over it, I used to be really into that.
“Yeah and just making beats is what I was into, and it kinda kicked off a little bit, that was going well for me. Then I came to uni and kinda stopped for a little bit, just didn’t have the time for it. Then I got back into Beastwang and i started DJing into bass music and i thought fuck it, I've got the history of producing let me try and make something, and I made Wifey Riddem which is one of my biggest tracks at the moment. I made that track and it kicked off so i thought fuck it I'm gonna just try and make bass music, and from there I just started making garage, and grime, that’s like my 3 genres there, garage, bass and grime. I think I’ve been making bass music for about 6 months now, I think I was on flstudio or something when I was in college, and I made trap beats in college and shit.”
Upson carried on to say changing his course at university has helped him musically: “ I went DMU last year and did computer science. I was into it before i went to uni, I thought fuck I wanna be into that, but it wasn’t for me, the math was just not me.
“I was going to change my course and everyone was like, yo you do music all the time, music is you. I was like fuck that’s true, music is me, I've always been into music, fuck it like. Just thought I’d do a music tech course and it’s been the biggest thing, I’ve been able to, you know, go to studios and shit and just make music on actual good shit. When I'm at home I just go to college, ah sound I need to do this, i need to do this, or get the input of a professional."
“It’s good to have other ears, I’ve always been into that. I'm the sort of person that needs someone else to tell me the tracks good, or have to get Manny to come round and like, yo what do you think of this track or something. So yeah this course has been really sick to me, I can just go to college, make music and get to test it on speakers and stuff like that.”
A question that comes up a lot is the difference between bass and bassline, I asked Upson on his thoughts on the debate: “I’m really intricate with this sort of stuff, I know manny is to, recently I think there’s a big difference between bassline, you might say bassline is like exclusively 140, like old school baselines shit like that. I class bassline as anything 135 bpm up really, I think it has to have distinct, wobbly sound. Don’t get me wrong, bass music is my thing, I love bass music.
I’ve always classed that now as like slower stuff, bass music is more like My Nu Leng, Chris Lorenzo, a lot slower shit. Really dirty bassline, I feel like, has got a lot more garage drums and influence like that, and it’s just more fast, there’s always gonna be a debate but yeah I love all genres man.”
As we welcome the new year we welcome the unlimited possibilities of endless music, Upson let me in on who he’s listening to at the moment: “I’m really into people like Deppz, NuBass, Burt Cope, these guys are really going to blow up this year.
“Burt Cope is sick, he sent me a few of his tracks the other day, he’s definitely going to blow up this year. I rate him, and Sammy Virji as well, i really rate Sammy Virji. They’re the sort of guys like, Sammy Virji and Burt Cope that are making bassline, like swingy drums and garage influence and that’s what I think bassline should be, not that there should be a definition. It’s a unique sound.”
I mentioned how I feel that bassline is somewhat taking the same road as dubstep, where tunes are becoming an over the top, synth drop. Upson elaborated: “It’s all about the age of the producer I feel. Not gonna lie I grew up listening to dubstep, that was what I used to listen to, and I think a lot of people who are producing music, like Darkzy, is the same age as me I think, or a few years older, and I know he grew up listening to dubstep and you can definitely tell in his tracks that he's got influence. I think it all depends on what the producer is listening to, you’ve gotta give people like Skepsis props, cos bassline would just not be where it’s at now without them.
“He’s going on tours and shit like that, but yeah it’s blown up recently. It’s good and bad, you get a lot of people that just don’t appreciate where it came from.”
"You’ve gotta give people like Skepsis props, cos bassline would just not be where it’s at now without them..."
The rise in popularity of bassline is always good thing, but Upson reinforces that you’ve got to respect the roots to understand how the genre is where it is today: “Because it’s got a crowd, because it’s big, but they don’t appreciate things like 2011 Jamie Duggan’s bassline cd which is what I used to download all the time. I keep going back to Manny but like, he grew up on like Birmingham bassline, that’s the OG stuff, and people don’t really appreciate it.
“Good way to explore bass music is to just go on SoundCloud, and there’s so many underrated people, people like Deppz. There’s always new music there. I think that’s why Lengoland has got it’s perks. It’s a bit of a bait group, it’s got some underrated producers on there and it’s really great to find music on there as well.”
Despite most events being secret as of yet, Upson told us what he’s got planned for 2018: “I’ve got a lot of things planned and I’ve got some stuff that I can’t really talk about, but definitely keep your eyes open. But I’ve got a track with Vortex coming, a track with a guy called Liyja, who’s a bristol producer.”
He went on to say how he’s linked up with other artists: “Just Legoland man, gotta give props to it, cos I wouldn’t have met these people through it. Well I know Vortex, Vortex lives in Leicester, he goes DMU, he’s a local guy. But people like logo and stuff like that, that’s how I spoke to Burt Cope, just rating their tracks and just messaging them.
“Yeah man i think people are like, oh he’s a big producer, but they’ll be more than happy. I know I’ll be more than happy, if someone was like, yo I rate your track, i’d be like, yo have all my fucking dubs innit I don’t care, I appreciate it bare. I think a lot of people get a little bit too nervous to message people but you’ve just gotta fucking do it.
“I’ve got a few tracks coming out, I’ve got one track on Trench Bass Records which is really soon, probably just more work with Pack London as well, garage tracks and stuff like that. I really wanna get a lot of releases out there this year.”
Upson is keen to focus on his producing this year: “Yeah, obviously sets have been good like I’ve already got a lot of bookings this year, I can only talk about two which is really peak. Just local stuff, I’ve got a few things planned in Nottingham and maybe Bristol so that’s pretty big. But obviously, you’ll hear about it as it comes, but I can’t really talk about it right now which is a bit peak. But yeah got a lot of plans, produce music and get more bookings."
Big up Chris and everyone doing their thing!!
January 22nd 2018