Preamble | DJ Polo

DJ Polo shares with the CDR team three UK Funky record bag essentials, the collaboration process and his journey until now.
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For those who aren’t familiar with your journey, how did you get into producing?

I’ve been a musician since I was young having learnt to play piano, saxophone, and guitar although it wasn’t until I left school and studied Music Tech at college in 2006 where I started producing.  I never really took it seriously until a couple of years later when I heard Benga’s album ‘Diary of an Afro warrior’.  At the time I hadn’t heard anything like it before and it inspired me to start learning new techniques and creating my own sound.  In the next couple of years the Dubstep sound was evolving rapidly and led me onto other genres like the ‘Night Slugs sound’, which has really influenced my production across the years.  Since then, I’ve just been refining my sound and experimenting with different genres.  There’s always something new to learn with production. 

UK Funky, UKG and dancehall has been making its mark once again in dance music, what do you attribute this long overdue resurgence to?

One thing I’ve noticed is that everything goes round in cycles. I’d say that for the last few years, it's UKGs time. The last I saw UK Funky have that sort of resurgence was around 2016 when a lot of people started producing new UK funky and you would hear it out in clubs a lot more. 

I think the birth of Amapiano has changed the sound in the UK, a lot of producers that used to make UK Funky are now making Amapiano/Afro House, or an adaptation of Funky with influences from Funky, Amapiano and Gqom.  I wouldn't even know what to call this genre! 

I think there’s always a few people that hold up a genre and keep it rolling in the background whether it's ‘in’ or not, like Roska. He’s stuck to his guns with Funky since he started and always will hold that pioneer status.

I guess when seeing a resurgence in any genre, it attributes to a group of artists/producers looking to push the same sound and working together to push that genre to bigger audiences. 

You’ve been championing UK Funky solidly for the best part of a decade now, what are three tracks from your record bag you can’t leave the house without?

If I'm doing a UK Funky set, then these tracks are getting played every time:

Finga Print - Takeover

Crazy Cousinz – Always Be My Baby

Gracious K - Migraine Skank 

Collaboration is an integral part of your creative process, how do you approach working with other producers and vocalists?

I usually tend to collaborate with producers that I’ve worked with previously, or already have a working relationship with in some capacity.  A lot of collaborations tend to be a ‘swap’ (collab for collab) so I have a few ongoing. 

My most recent collaboration was put forward by a label, which was interesting as they obviously had a vision to put us 3 artists together and it came together nicely.  

With vocalists it’s slightly different, I tend to reach out if I like someone’s style and think it can fit with my production, then share ideas or get into a studio and write something together.

What is the collaboration you’re most proud of and why?

There are a couple that have really stood out. The first one being ‘Bless The Earth’ with Scratcha, Mez & Scottie Dee. This was originally a track on a previous EP of Scratcha’s called ‘Banx Skanx’ and it was re-released on Hyperdub featuring Mez.  Really happy with how that turned out and I think you can clearly hear everyones input on the production. 

The second, being a track I made with AM, Egypt and JB MADE IT. Sadly that’s probably never going to see the light of day but at the time it was pushing boundaries mixing the 2 genres together (Drill & UK funky hybrid). I also learnt a lot producing with JB as well. 

As a producer, are you a software or hardware geezer or a bit of both? 

Solely software!  Hardware has an incredible sound but it’s never really appealed to me.  Most of the time I want to get an idea down quick so it stays fresh. 

You have a talent for making both smooth rollers and peak time bangers, what are the main influences behind the ‘NOSTALGIA EP with Ramzee?

With Nostalgia the main focus was to create an EP that paid homage to the classic UK Funky sound - raw, broken rhythms, fun and catchy hooks. Ramzee drafted a list of MCs he wanted to work with and it came together pretty quickly to be honest!  All of the featured MCs came from Funky, so we all had the same vision. 

Talk us through the track you last [cmd] ‘S’d ? ([ctrl] ‘S’ to PC users)?

Last track I [cmd] S was a remix. I’m excited for this one to surface as it’s coming out on one of my all time favourite labels that’s really influenced my sound over the years. 

This track is also a collaboration and there’s been a lot of back and forth where we’re working on it remotely, I think we’re on version 14 now!  But we just finished it up.  Sometimes it's challenging when collaborating remotely as any small change can take much longer than necessary as you’re not sat in the same room together.  

What can the CDR audiences expect from your time with us?

I think it’d be good to go through my drum work & rhythms, how I’d work through a track from its inception and just give a look into my creative process as a whole.  My production techniques are quite simple but things like sample selection and manipulation are quite important in my tracks. 

And finally, for those just getting to grips with producing and keen to get their Works In Progress out there, what advice do you have for them?

Reach out.. send the email, dm, tweet, whatever means of contact you have with labels/DJs you want to get your music to. 

Ask for feedback, but don’t change your sound to suit someone else’s taste. Just do your thing.

Try to collaborate with other artists because you learn things from them you might not have done on your own. 

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Preamble | DJ Polo

DJ Polo shares with the CDR team three UK Funky record bag essentials, the collaboration process and his journey until now.

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Yewande Adeniran
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Published On
January 23, 2023
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Published By
Yewande Adeniran
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March 25, 2024
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For those who aren’t familiar with your journey, how did you get into producing?

I’ve been a musician since I was young having learnt to play piano, saxophone, and guitar although it wasn’t until I left school and studied Music Tech at college in 2006 where I started producing.  I never really took it seriously until a couple of years later when I heard Benga’s album ‘Diary of an Afro warrior’.  At the time I hadn’t heard anything like it before and it inspired me to start learning new techniques and creating my own sound.  In the next couple of years the Dubstep sound was evolving rapidly and led me onto other genres like the ‘Night Slugs sound’, which has really influenced my production across the years.  Since then, I’ve just been refining my sound and experimenting with different genres.  There’s always something new to learn with production. 

UK Funky, UKG and dancehall has been making its mark once again in dance music, what do you attribute this long overdue resurgence to?

One thing I’ve noticed is that everything goes round in cycles. I’d say that for the last few years, it's UKGs time. The last I saw UK Funky have that sort of resurgence was around 2016 when a lot of people started producing new UK funky and you would hear it out in clubs a lot more. 

I think the birth of Amapiano has changed the sound in the UK, a lot of producers that used to make UK Funky are now making Amapiano/Afro House, or an adaptation of Funky with influences from Funky, Amapiano and Gqom.  I wouldn't even know what to call this genre! 

I think there’s always a few people that hold up a genre and keep it rolling in the background whether it's ‘in’ or not, like Roska. He’s stuck to his guns with Funky since he started and always will hold that pioneer status.

I guess when seeing a resurgence in any genre, it attributes to a group of artists/producers looking to push the same sound and working together to push that genre to bigger audiences. 

You’ve been championing UK Funky solidly for the best part of a decade now, what are three tracks from your record bag you can’t leave the house without?

If I'm doing a UK Funky set, then these tracks are getting played every time:

Finga Print - Takeover

Crazy Cousinz – Always Be My Baby

Gracious K - Migraine Skank 

Collaboration is an integral part of your creative process, how do you approach working with other producers and vocalists?

I usually tend to collaborate with producers that I’ve worked with previously, or already have a working relationship with in some capacity.  A lot of collaborations tend to be a ‘swap’ (collab for collab) so I have a few ongoing. 

My most recent collaboration was put forward by a label, which was interesting as they obviously had a vision to put us 3 artists together and it came together nicely.  

With vocalists it’s slightly different, I tend to reach out if I like someone’s style and think it can fit with my production, then share ideas or get into a studio and write something together.

What is the collaboration you’re most proud of and why?

There are a couple that have really stood out. The first one being ‘Bless The Earth’ with Scratcha, Mez & Scottie Dee. This was originally a track on a previous EP of Scratcha’s called ‘Banx Skanx’ and it was re-released on Hyperdub featuring Mez.  Really happy with how that turned out and I think you can clearly hear everyones input on the production. 

The second, being a track I made with AM, Egypt and JB MADE IT. Sadly that’s probably never going to see the light of day but at the time it was pushing boundaries mixing the 2 genres together (Drill & UK funky hybrid). I also learnt a lot producing with JB as well. 

As a producer, are you a software or hardware geezer or a bit of both? 

Solely software!  Hardware has an incredible sound but it’s never really appealed to me.  Most of the time I want to get an idea down quick so it stays fresh. 

You have a talent for making both smooth rollers and peak time bangers, what are the main influences behind the ‘NOSTALGIA EP with Ramzee?

With Nostalgia the main focus was to create an EP that paid homage to the classic UK Funky sound - raw, broken rhythms, fun and catchy hooks. Ramzee drafted a list of MCs he wanted to work with and it came together pretty quickly to be honest!  All of the featured MCs came from Funky, so we all had the same vision. 

Talk us through the track you last [cmd] ‘S’d ? ([ctrl] ‘S’ to PC users)?

Last track I [cmd] S was a remix. I’m excited for this one to surface as it’s coming out on one of my all time favourite labels that’s really influenced my sound over the years. 

This track is also a collaboration and there’s been a lot of back and forth where we’re working on it remotely, I think we’re on version 14 now!  But we just finished it up.  Sometimes it's challenging when collaborating remotely as any small change can take much longer than necessary as you’re not sat in the same room together.  

What can the CDR audiences expect from your time with us?

I think it’d be good to go through my drum work & rhythms, how I’d work through a track from its inception and just give a look into my creative process as a whole.  My production techniques are quite simple but things like sample selection and manipulation are quite important in my tracks. 

And finally, for those just getting to grips with producing and keen to get their Works In Progress out there, what advice do you have for them?

Reach out.. send the email, dm, tweet, whatever means of contact you have with labels/DJs you want to get your music to. 

Ask for feedback, but don’t change your sound to suit someone else’s taste. Just do your thing.

Try to collaborate with other artists because you learn things from them you might not have done on your own. 

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