Upfront 029 / June 29, 2015


He invented dubstep and now he's taking it back to its roots 'with a 2015 touch'. Go in deep for an hour with this percussive, funky and 100% live roller of a mix from the godfather himself, and see why he's fallen in love with dubstep all over again.

About this mix

Hatched is a thing we put together a couple of years ago now, to get another label out there that was pushing the true sound of dubstep, because it'd been getting a very mixed reception in the public eye in the last few years. It's also about pushing through the new, young talent that had been finding it hard to break through into the scene, because there's so many undiscovered talents out there making a really good, proper dubstep sound, and not getting heard beyond a couple of mates. I want to dedicate time to these guys, so I've focused it right down. Originally there was close to fifteen artists I wanted to release, all pure quality, but pretty quickly I worked out that given time and resources, it was much better to get a crew that I can help develop, so over the rest of this year, it's going to be all about Kloudmen, Max Mudie, Cato and Noclu... maybe one or two more if I can.

Everyone knows that dubstep took a wrong turn a few years back, through getting to the point where everyone was trying to be louder than the next man, and we ended up with nothing but chainsaw noises. For a year or two, it was just too easy, it was all square and predictable, you didn't have to have a good ear, just have all the big tunes and hit the button at the right time. I like tough tunes, yes, but not if it means getting rid of everything else we originally loved. There have only been a few labels that have come through it all and kept to that original sound – ones like DMZ, Tempa, Chesplate, Artikal – so that means there's plenty of room for more to fill that space, and that's what I want to do.

And you know what? When I'm in the rave, it gives me goosebumps sometimes. We come in and play all this minimal, tribal, rolling stuff – the majority of my dubstep set now is Hatched material – and people get it straight away, even if they don't know that this is what dubstep really is. Remember there's kids in clubs that probably only first heard dubstep in 2011 when it was all tear-out shit, so to them this is a new sound. They don't even feel like it's minimal or moody or whatever people say dubstep is, either, because it's still got that garage swing in it, the percussion, the groove to it. It's NICE! So I'm playing dubstep, actual dubstep again, and I love it, I'm excited for the next tune to come in. I'm not really a producer: I dabble a bit, but really I'm a DJ, that's my job, and to be back to this, back to having all the exclusives in the bag, to surprising people with each new one, and getting deep into it when I'm mixing, trust me there's no better feeling.


Boiler Room says...

Hatcha IS dubstep.

This isn't hyperbole – the DJ otherwise known as Terry Leonard can not only legitimately claim to have invented both the term and the sound, but his career has been a perfect microcosm of the dubstep scene, with all the highs, lows and reinventions that that entails.

Hatcha is a second generation bass-head, his mother having been part of the notorious Sunday Roast junglist setup, and has been DJing since the age of TEN. The motley Big Apple record store / label crew in Croydon formed a second family for him as he moved through jungle and garage and into his own unique style. As a radio DJ and Big Apple buyer, his preference for the sparse and dark dubs on garage tracks, mixed with the first proto-grime beats, created the blueprint for Skream, Benga, Mala, Coki and co, and the rest is well documented history.

Well mostly well documented, anyway. Perhaps Hatcha's big, showbizzy personality, and the legacy of his early work, overshadow people from pointing out two things: that he remains an incredible DJ, and that he has always been an incredible producer. He was as guilty as anyone of getting caught in the madness (sonic and literal) of dubstep's commercial peak – but even in the loony-tunes days of 2010-11, anyone who has witnessed his 4-deck Sin City team-ups with DJ N-Type will know that their flair, funk and skills on the CDJs transcended any limitations of the sound.

Productionwise, his releases have been few and far between – a couple of legendary early Tempa 12”s and one or two killer tracks on the likes of Black Box – but they always showed a unique style, deeply rooted in dubstep's groove-based beginnings but constantly pushing forwards and happy to interpolate grime, techno and house stylings. Which is why we're properly excited that this mix of exclusives from his Hatched label contains some new collaborations from the man himself. It helps, of course, that his ear for new talent is as sharp as ever – and that his mixing (this mix is 100% live) is as tight as it's possible to be. This is dubstep as it was always meant to be...

Joe Muggs

Joe Muggs

Joe is a key Boiler Room contributor. As well as years of freelance writing, he has been a compiler, curator and compere, and he drinks a lot of tea.