An interview with Youngsta
Celebrating the collaborative TEMPA111
In dubstep, there are a few producers and DJs that have stayed on everyone’s radar since the genre started.
Youngsta is one of those ‘allstars’ in dubstep. The man needs little introduction. As one of the finest curators in 140bpm bass music, Yunx has honed an impeccable set of A&R skills (cataloguing the evolving dubstep sound on the world-famous Tempa Records), documented the latest anthems on his iconic Minimal Mondays show on Rinse FM and blown a dance or two apart with his seamless blends (on vinyl or the CDJs). He will always be known as one of the key protagonists in dubstep’s story.
Over the years, Youngsta has collaborated with a number of dubstep’s most respected artists. For his latest outing on Tempa, on TEMPA111, the producer has teamed up with FKOF fam Cimm to deliver yet another top-notch release. We managed to sit down with Youngsta earlier this week to discuss the release, his thoughts on dubstep and much, much more…
Yunx, it’s an honour. How are you?
I’m very well, thank you!
What is dubstep to you?
Dubstep is many things to me. It’s a big part of my musical lineage; as well as a big part of me in general. Being there from the start of dubstep and helping it grow into the global scene means that I have seen the development of the sound and the scene over the years. As the sound started to move into different directions, I stuck to what I believed in and kept pushing a sound which I always felt was a big part of me as both a DJ and an artist. It’s good to see in 2016 that dubstep as a sound is still expanding, but in a more natural and concise way compared to its original global expansion in 2009 / 2010. I believe that dubstep has a long time ahead of it to grow and create.
What’s the hardest part of being A&R at the legendary Tempa?
I’m not too sure if there’s anything hard about A&R’ing for Tempa now because I’ve been doing it for so long! It’s more along the lines of signing something which I think fits the aesthetic of the label and compliments the catalogue — rather than something sticking out and disrupting the flow of the output over the past 16 years.
What do you look for in tunes you want to sign?
I don’t feel like I look for anything specific, it’s more along the lines of something which catches my ears. I get sent a lot of music on a day to day basis and I listen to everything I get sent. It’s normally about someone or something which has a distinct sound and vibe, something unique to that producer which I haven’t heard before. I also have to feel like the producer is ready for a platform like Tempa as well, where they can be self-sufficient and believe in their own music, while also being able to accept some sense of direction if we feel like we can help them to develop and grow.
How has the sound evolved over the years you’ve been involved?
The sound has evolved in many ways over the years through genre and tempo. Tempa has never been a ‘one sound label’ and never will be. The label has continually changed and shifted from the earlier days of dark garage and other hybrids to dubstep and now the current trend of slower tempos taking influence from other strains of UK music. It’s all about finding fresh music and then giving it the time and space to incubate and grow into something different which can hopefully influence the next set of producers who come and we can help them in the same cycle.
You’ve worked with many incredible producers throughout your career. What’s it like to sit down with some of your best mates, create a banger and release it on such an iconic label like Tempa?
It’s a great experience and always very natural. I only work with people who I get along with; people who I’m happy to create a vibe with. I don’t feel like we sit down there trying to create a banger, but it’s more along the lines of trying to create something which we both feel works. When bouncing off another producer, you’re also more open to trying things which you may be unsure about so it’s all about having a degree of trust. There may be a sound in a tune you’re unsure about but with the confidence of another person there you may be more willing to explore and experiment.
What’s forthcoming on the label (that you can tell us about)?
At the moment we have another Alex Coulton EP to round off the year. This will be his most significant work to date so there will be more details about that soon. We also have another Tempa Allstars coming in the near future — but that’s it for the moment. I also have some other projects (separate from Tempa) on the go which I will announce nearer the time.
How’s the Rinse show doing these days? Like the genre, the show’s evolved into something more than just strict/ minimal 140. What are your plans for the show over the coming months/ year?
There’s never really any plan for the show, I just play what I like! As you’ve most probably heard, the show has evolved a lot over the past couple of years, from me playing strictly 140, to then me incorporating loads of different sounds and tempos. I feel like this has always played towards the same narrative and is a perfect representation of me as an artist and a DJ. I’ll always play and support music I believe in and the openness to other tempos means that I have been able to reflect this view in my radio shows. The only plan, really, is to continually push this openness to sound and tempo — for as long as I have the platform of a radio show.
The minimal style in your productions seems to be a signature style of yours. What can you tell us about your creative process behind putting a tune together?
It’s just about choosing the right sounds and making something which creates the sense of space and tension I’m looking for. I’m very picky about the sounds I choose and how they sit in the mix. Once everything is sitting in the right place, it means it’s all about arrangement and sequencing — which is also very important. It’s all about keeping things interesting while the tune develops and expands. Minimalism works for me because it allows me to create in many different ways, especially with my DJing.
How did your collaborations with Cimm come about?
I met Cimm through Seven at one of his Uprise Audio nights. After chatting a bit and hanging out, Cimm started to show me some of the music he was working on. I realised that he was a good producer with a lot of potential. Though he was writing stuff, he didn’t have much confidence at the same so I started to encourage him to get his beats out there more. As this relationship developed and I started to heavily support his music on radio, it just became a natural progression that we ended up in the studio together.
Of the tunes you’ve signed or A&R’d, which are you most proud of?
I’m proud of all the music I’ve signed to Tempa; it would be hard for me to single out any one tune as it would be unfair on the other artists who I have supported over the years.
Of your own material, what one track signifies the ‘Youngsta sound’?
I would choose Destruction. It’s one of my favourite tunes I’ve ever made and it just encapsulates what I feel as my vibe. The sense of tension down to the drop and the everything in between. I still drop it in my sets to this day and it still goes off 4 years down the line.
Can you give us three artists you’re rating right now?
1. Ivy Lab
What are you up to with Contact these days? Any dances coming up?
Contact is continually growing! It’s been nice to see the response we’ve had over the past couple of years and everything is going from strength to strength. We’ve currently got a room at Sub Dub coming up with Pinch, Jack Sparrow vs Headhunter, Sam Binga and SP:MC. Other than that, we have more events in the pipeline which we will let be known in due course.
Any final words or shoutouts?
Sarah, Rat, Parris and the whole Tempa Team!
As well as sitting down with Yunx, the Tempa team have kindly given us TEMPA111 to premiere here on FKOF. Here’s a few words on the release…
Split Minds is 2016's grimey growler of an anthem — that tune you need in the record bag. With its beats, space and bass, Split Minds keeps things simple yet incredibly effective. The extra crispy percussion adds a welcome accompaniment to the synths and low end that cleave through the mix. This is the kind of tune that’ll rumble the system extra hard when dropped in the dance — watch for the vocal samples that keeps things moving before the grimey second drop rolls in.
The flip, Redshift, is a completely different affair. A throbbing sub supports the tune’s minimal atmospheres; atmospheres that ebb and flow like the tide. Redshift documents a different side to Youngsta & Cimm’s collaborative efforts — just the right contrast Tempa’s 111th record needs, in our opinion. If you love a more textured and resonating jam, you’ll be enjoying this one on repeat. This is an excellent record from the two producers — and we hope this won’t be their last collaborative efforts to see the light of day…
TEMPA111D is out now
The vinyl release drops in two weeks