Elijah & Skilliam are two of grime’s most celebrated ambassadors. First coming to prominence on Rinse FM‘s weekly grime show in 2008, they then set up their own label and night, Butterz, in 2010. The idea behind the label was to bring more grime to vinyl, breathing new life into the scene as they focused on producers as much as the emcees. Their success at bringing grime to new audiences allowed them to launch a new club night, Jamz, in London, Manchester, Leeds and Berlin, as well as put together FabricLive 75, the latest in Fabric’s celebrated mix series and the first to focus entirely on grime.
With 2015 set to be another great year for the pair, we caught up with Elijah to chat about his music career and the dangers of hearing loss and tinnitus in the music industry.
EARPEACE: Elijah, could you tell us about how you first started making music? What were your initial inspirations? Pirate Radio in London brought me up. Reggae, Jungle, Hip Hop, House, Garage and eventually Grime. I focus on Grime just because to me I can find elements of all the pirate radio music in it.
EARPEACE: You’ve got a new podcast series where you record in different locations around the world. How did you come up with the idea? Which location was your favourite? Where are you headed next? We just started it to be a bit more flexible in terms of when we put things out. We recorded the first edition in Japan with some MCs there and that got a crazy reaction. I will record some sets with Birmingham and Manchester MCs hopefully before the year is out too.
EARPEACE: What is the concept behind your new club night Jamz? The roller disco looked great; any more events coming up? There are a few reasons we started a night. One was to have more regular things up and down the country in clubs and with people we enjoy playing for. Instead of doing big shows once a year in places like Leeds and Manchester we have regular small things happening with friends and family playing alongside us. The other reason is to expand what kind of parties we can do. Things like the Roller Disco are unorthodox especially for Grime and we want to just surprise people with different concepts and spaces. We will expand on these special parties next year.
EARPEACE: Elijah & Skilliam are inseparable in our minds, especially because you have built up a great reputation with each other’s support. Do you enjoy working as a duo? Do you have a solo project planned? We enjoy working together because we were friends beforehand so everything just feels like a development from playing back to back in my bedroom rather than some grand plan. We did a Fabriclive compilation this year which was a huge honour and introduced us to a new audience so will continue working together on projects. Next year you will see more separate DJ sets and projects just because we have so many different ideas we want to explore. Even things we have developed together some may just have one person carrying it out as we can’t always be together anymore.
EARPEACE: How did you first hear about tinnitus? From being told to move from in front of the speaker at FWD>> back in the day. Never thought about what I was doing until this.
EARPEACE: Do you suffer from tinnitus or know of anyone who suffers from it? Can you elaborate on the effects? I’m not a sufferer but I can see how it develops with people. Even just in the studio people listen to loud music all day without breaks and think it won’t affect them because it isn’t a club. Sometimes it’s so gradual that people wont know until it’s too late
EARPEACE: What steps should be taken to raise awareness of tinnitus? Is raising awareness about hearing protection and the use of concert earplugs enough? I’m quite critical of school education in general. I got out and realised how much it doesn’t teach you about the real world. Most people will want to experience music live, but have no idea about decibels and how you can enjoy them safely.
EARPEACE: What is the role of DJs, musicians, venues and promoters in raising awareness and preventing tinnitus? Do you think there is enough support from the industry? Promoters and venues are pretty stretched as it is. Their business is pretty hard as it is. Companies like Apple should really be protecting peoples ears not giving people in effect giant speakers for them.
Any words of wisdom regarding tinnitus? Learn more about sound, hearing, speakers and venues. It’s actually really interesting. Will probably inform your production too!
We asked Elijah’s 5 favourite mixes/releases from the label. Check them out below and enjoy!