Logan Sama Interview

Host of the only legal Grime radio show in the world, record label owner AND a regular Jim’ll Fix It to Grime MC’s and producers, Logan Sama is Grime’s go to guy. The last quarter of 2009 unfortunately saw his KISS show cut by an hour, in line with the stations’ desire for more playlist airtime.

But it seems even pluralizing radio bosses can’t hold the Essex selector back, as he embarks on some new, exciting projects he hopes will rejuvenate the scene and provide fans with much needed coverage.

We caught up with him for a chat.

Logan, what was your highlight of 2009?

The best thing about 2009 was people being consistent over a long period of time. In a music sense, people were getting music made and getting it released.

Do you think this increase in work rate reflected the audiences’ renewed interest in music?

Yeah I think MC’s have been meeting the demand.

2009 was a year that heralded great commercial success for a handful of Grime MC’s, yet they achieved this without making Grime music. What does this mean for Grime going forward?

In a positive sense you get more people finding out about these artists, where they have come from and what they have previously done. Then, hopefully, you get a trickle-down effect [into the scene] However, there is the other side of it whereby you have weak-minded artists that think the only path they can take towards success is in making stuff [that’s currently popular] that they weren’t making in the first place.

Do you think this reduces longevity and, in some cases, cheapens the ‘worth’ of the Grime scene?

Yeah I think it’s got low longevity to be honest, especially the stuff out now because it’s not particularly adventurous – artistically or musically.

Whilst major label interest continues to influence what music Grime artists’ record, there is an equal reaction fighting it’s allure. What hope do these acts have in reintroducing and popularising the fundamental principles of Grime; hype, innovation and attitude?

I don’t think that the worlds ready to hear their shit to be honest and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

What can you envisage happening then?

[Formulation of] a self sufficient industry that’s independent of the mainstream but people can still make a living from. You can make D‘n’B records without sounding like DJ Marky & LK’s ‘I like it’ and go round the world and make a good living. We have equally qualified artists who have taken years to build up their expertise and their craft.

Who do you see as leading the way against the pull of the mainstream?

Jamie because he has absolutely no fucking interest in it whatsoever. He’s not done any of it and he really doesn’t want to. Everyone else is just focusing on their music.

Elijah and Skilliam are championing a new outlook in Grime, focusing on DJ’s and producers rather than MC’s, who often let their ego muddy the music. Do you welcome this move?

Yeah, they show a different side of Grime and put their personal stamp on what they play as DJ’s, which I think is very important. It’s important because it gives a breadth to the appeal of Grime, especially to people that don’t like MC’s, but appreciate the beats and mixing.

To be honest, the more DJ’s we have representing different sounds and working with producers that they like, the better. Terror Danjah and Swindle hadn’t put out a tremendous amount of beats and music in 2009 and audiences weren’t really hearing a lot of their stuff. However, working with Butterz has opened doors for them because as producers, they are getting highlighted whereas in my show for example, they get lost in the mix.

I have a show which has to cover across the board and my main aim to play the most popular stuff alongside the most appealing stuff. DJ’s on the pirate circuit can focus on one avenue of Grime, which is healthy for the scene.

Some argue that Grime is dead and that the music made during Grime’s ‘golden era’ is not being made now. Is it evolution, or is it economics?

I don’t think the sound has changed, it has just widened. Music as an entity changes based on the questions asked of it by the consumer. If it was still rewarding to make beats and spit over them on radio, not just financially but status-wise, then people would be doing that a lot more. But, the focus has come away from that now.

That is one of the main reasons as to why there aren’t many Grime DJ’s anymore -it’s just not rewarding enough, and people think Grime DJ’s are somehow lesser than other DJ’s who may even be technically inferior.

Is that something you have faced?

I see a lot of guys getting bookings, from other scenes. When I got my KISS show, my vision as a professional DJ was based upon going to raves where you’d have Tim Westwood playing hiphop and Double D or Goldfinger playing dancehall. I would therefore, in the same way, go to those events and play a Grime set. That’s how I imagined it.

Obviously that never really materialised even though this genre of music is still going strong in terms of producing well-known artists and well known tracks. Instead, we’ve seen a rise in budget DJ’s that play everything but stand for nothing and that’s across the board – generic urban nights to trendy Shoreditch nights, where people are the flavour of the fucking month playing uninspired selections.

Going back to the evolution of the Grime sound, you said earlier that the consumer dictates where the sound goes. Therefore, in your opinion, was it ever a conscious decision by producers and MC’s that saw what was going on Stateside, to adapt their sound and tie in with that market?

I think it’s subtle and slow. If you are an MC with a microphone, you will want to say more stuff and work on your technical ability to ensure you’re better than the other MC’s out there. That became quite important in 2005 – 2006 whereby flows and lyricism became prominent and guys spitting for reloads were looked down upon a bit.

At the same time, when the mixtape thing became popular, there was a big lack of live events. Now, live events are restricted to people turning up and doing P.A’s of their singles. So, like I said, the reward for some of the skills people had and practiced, is not there anymore.

The five MC’s that are rated for reloads now are the ones that were doing it back then. D Double E is the reload guy and will always be rated for that. But for new guys coming through, I don’t really see the recognition or reward for having that sort of live element. Now, it’s all based around singles which is a wider-based thing. Guys like Chipmunk for example, who have never been involved with that live element, are taking the culture with them [into the mainstream] and I think it’s good. I really do. In Chipmunk’s case he is a positive young man and works hard.

As a Grime MC, those live skills are not respected by wider audiences, and I don’t know why that is. It might be fault of our own because we’ve not let people understand how important those things are and allowed them to die but, at the end of the day, guys like Spyro who are fantastic technical DJ’s are not getting the rewards for their skill.



Which is crazy when you consider how many parallels there are between Grime and Dancehall. In Jamaica they have festivals with massive crowds…

Yeah, but that is the cultural backbone which has taken many years to develop. You have to remember Grime is only 6-7 years old.

Over those 6-7 years do you feel the press has represented Grime fairly?

I don’t think the press has made enough of it. Elijah and I had an amusing conversation about this the other day concerning Grime DJ’s in the press. Look at any other scene and the press will write about anyone if they are flavour of the month.

When you try and get something about Grime into a publication they’re like ‘What’s the catch? What’s the story?’ and it’s hypocritical. What’s the story about Ibiza this year? Or another DJ that’s playing the same tunes in Shoreditch or Yo-Yo’s that everyone else is playing already?

All they have over us is the right press officer [but] if you are good at what you do, people will want to read about it! That’s how music journalism should work. Your ‘story’ has nothing to do with your talent and it’s up to the journalist to find it.

You’ve said that Grime is a real meritocracy in that there are no proven ‘formulas’ and that experimentation within the scene is always high – in both music and media. You think this is still the case?

If you are hot, people will discover you. People talk about knowing this person or that person, or being in certain circles, but really, if you get into the real world of music, because it’s all so structured and there is a network there, it is all about talent.

Try and become a big D‘n’B MC without being brought in by the three main big promoters and five big DJ’s co-signing you. It’s really locked down tight! Whereas if you do Grime music, people gravitate towards you – no one gives a shit where anybody’s from. If you’re doing stuff people like, then you’ll get noticed. I think Grime is THE most open genre at the moment.

How did you take the news when KISS first announced the 1 hour cut to your show?

You can’t do anything about it so I immediately thought about what I could do to make things work, rather than getting pissed off about it. It was a wake-up call for me because I had become a bit complacent – happy to do my radio show and not any other stuff that I could have been doing.

Were you surprised with the amount of support you received?

Yeah man, all the people online got noticed by the management and it was discussed. It was great, but the seeds had already been planted. We’ll see what happens going forwards.

Last year you debated with MistaJam over Twitter, concerning Grime’s lack of coverage and reference on mainstream radio and other media channels. Could you clarify what you said for those that missed it because I think it was an interesting point…

I think there are numerous platforms, not just 1xtra, where people could be made more aware of the fact that these stars are coming from Grime. I felt that 1xtra was one of the places where Grime wasn’t being promoted. It’s subtle and I don’t think it was intentional on their behalf, but they had a jingle on [Mista Jam’s] radio show where it said what music he played and that didn’t include ‘Grime’ – even though the jingles were Tinchy Stryder and Chipmunk.

That’s important because it erases ‘Grime’ from the subconscious of people listening to it. If it’s not there, it’s easy to forget it.

Trim said in an interview a while ago that even the word ‘Grime’ registers negative expectations and it’s hard for artists to rise above them. Do you think there is any truth in that?

I don’t think that’s true because so many people have come from it and have done really well. But like I said, achievements in Grime are looked down upon and not really acknowledged. It’s like ‘ok you’ve done that, now come and do some real stuff.’

What do you think is the cause for that lack of respect?

The music and the image we put out isn’t professional – all that cussin’, bickering, misbehaving and unreliability undermines the huge amounts of creativity and hard work people in this scene put in. We fail on a bunch of superficial principles that the rest of the music industry base themselves on.

Your label Earth 616 has gone rather quiet recently, after releasing three vinyl EP’s last year. What happened and will we see more releases this year?

They didn’t sell a lot of units and cost me a shit load of money – so much so that it took four months for me to recover my costs. Financially it was unstable. I will be putting out more stuff in the next couple of months but it will be based on an entirely different business model. I’m still trying to confirm artists for that, but [in the meantime] I’m doing a couple of digital releases, both of which are vocal cuts.

What projects you are working on at the moment?

At the moment I’m working on getting the Sharky Major and the B-Live & Spyda tunes out because they’re hot tunes and I want to see them out before they disappear off the face of the Earth. Both are likely to be released at the start of March.

I’m also working with some of the lesser known artists who can’t get their stuff out properly and end up giving it away for free. I want to help those people.

The last mix you made available for download was your birthday one, which was very well received by fans. Have you got any more up your sleeve?

I’m going to try and do a bi-monthly mix that people can buy on iTunes, if I can sort out the legalities of it. It won’t be free, but it will be a Logan mixtape available for a couple of quid featuring exclusive freestyles and what’s hot at the moment.

Any plans for another Nike One Away project?

Not at this moment in time. I’d love to do that again but it means going into the studio and holding everyone at gunpoint until they finish their bars!

Break down what that whole recording process was like…

I spent a lot of time – about two weeks in total – sitting in studios with people until they did their tune.

Name a personal highlight from that time?

I wrote Skeptas’ ‘I Spy’ dubplate which was cool! And getting a Newham Generals dub is always fun too…

What was your favourite dub on there?

Erm…Murked again. That was sick. Battle riddim was also…

Listening back to your old mixes you used to drop a fair bit of Dancehall in there, but not so much anymore. Why?

My attention has just drifted away and I’ve not noticed as many big records as I had done. I’m a bit out of touch now.

Last but by no means least do you have any tips for this year?

Producer wise – J Beatz and Nuklea. MC wise I’d like to see Scruface do stuff this year.

Kristian

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2 Responses to “Logan Sama Interview”

  1. ilovegrime Says:

    Top notch interview, look forward to reading more in the coming months

  2. Logik Says:

    big interview

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