Interview with Ant TC1: from his first DJ show at 14, to managing Metalheadz

Manager of Metalheadz, co-founder of Dispatch Recordings and well known for his high energy DJ sets and dark productions, Ant TC1 is no stranger to the Drum ‘n’ Bass scene. This year Nozstock will be playing host to one of the most innovative and respected labels in the dance music scene, none of other of course than Metalheadz. Fresh back from living in Thailand, we caught up with Ant TC1 who will be representing for the Headz alongside Dillinja, S.P.Y, Randall, Amoss, Octo Pi  and Scope on Friday night at #Nozstock2018

So, what have you been up to recently?

I’ve pretty much only just moved back to the country, just getting used to being back here most of all and climatising. I’ve got 2 shows this weekend coming up and need to get some practice in and shake the rust off beforehand, can feel the nerves creeping in!

So, let’s start from the beginning. I’ve heard you’ve been DJing on pirate radios and in clubs since a very young age?

Yeah I turned 40 in Feb and I started falling in love with rave, jungle and as it’s now more commonly termed Drum & Bass at the age of 13 so back in 1991. Hearing Grooverider mix records together from a Fantazia live event mixtape in 1992 was what cemented my passion for only thinking about music 24-7 and wanting to learn to DJ and anything else I’m now doing today in relation to the music I still love a lot. I handed a demo in to a pirate radio station owner via a friend to get my first ever DJ show on pirate radio aged 14. I passed it over via a friend as I didn’t want the radio station owner / manager to know my age, I remember him laughing when I first showed up with a bag of vinyl ready for my first ever slot on the station but he let go at it, he was just shocked at my age really.

Since then you’ve made quite the name for yourself in the scene over the years and that all started off with yourself and Hidden Agenda launching Dispatch Recordings, right? Tell us a bit about that.

Yeah it was mostly Jason from Hidden Agenda, he’d moved to Leeds and I already had a residency at D.O.P.E (a weekly D&B night in the city that ran from I think 1994 onward), we met there, struck up a friendship and realised we were both into real similar music (swerving towards the deeper stuff at the time). I was already a massive fan of him and his brother Mark (who is now sadly no longer with us) as the Hidden Agenda duo, I just tried to not let on too much and be all fanboy about it. He asked for my help in setting up his own imprint and the label just grew into it’s own thing really over time, eventually Jason decided on a relocation back up north and wanted to take day job stuff / career more seriously as he’d recently had his first child, so rather than close the label I decided to carry it on with Jason’s full blessing.

What then got you into producing?

I’m not gonna lie, I had what I felt were strong ideas towards making music but was always petrified of approaching making music, it all looked so daunting and too complicated, I lacked confidence, just like I did in my DJ’ing for the first 2 years even though I can now look back and see technically I was OK at least (at a young age really I guess) for way longer than I felt I was personally. Eventually I met an old friend Graham (AKA Stress Level) who was starting out on musical production at the time, he had way more technical know how than me and taught me the basics, I always felt our first collabs were way more me simply adding to his own productions and I felt some unease at even having my name next to his on a finished track but through experience and his teaching I got a lot more involved. Next thing, after dedicated weekends working on our sound we sent out demos and got stuff signed pretty quickly, next thing we were having music played on radio 1 and both DJ’ing all over Europe and the rest of the world (which was something neither of us had really had the opportunity of doing much of previously other than the odd local shows at the odd night).

How did all of this then lead onto you managing Metalheadz?

Long story short, I started working on Headz events for Goldie. One day he called me and asked me to run the label, he liked what I’d done with Dispatch and said he liked working with me all round. He told me that he felt I genuinely loved the music, understood it and put it first above anything else so I was the person he felt comfortable offering the role to. I accepted, crazy feeling at the time and now, I had 2nd copies of the first Headz singles on my wall as a teenager, never would have imagined one day managing the label.

So you’re booked for the Garden Stage at Nozstock this year alongside Dillinja, Randall, S.P.Y, Amoss & more…how do you think that’s going to go down?

You’ve got some real varied artists on, it’s a great line up, everyone is gonna offer something different and all of those artists are strong faves of mine, I think people are gonna have a blast start to finish, I hope so anyway!

What three things can’t you live without at a festival?

Jaffa Cakes, a spare back up tent and of course, the music.

What can we expect from Metalheadz in the rest of 2018?

We’ve got heaps of events worldwide, the label is showing no signs of slowing down, singles and EPs most weeks and albums from Blocks & Escher, OneMind, Goldie, Agzilla, we’ve got Lenzman, Jubei and Commix well into progress on their 2nd / follow up albums also.

Tell us about one of your favourite festival sets?

I’ve been lucky to play many over the years now, Outlook festival is always a good one, good memories of playing in the ‘Moat Arena’ to an almost ‘bumper sized long corridor’ arena full of people down the side wall of an abandoned fort. There’s something really unique about looking out at the crowd from the performance area.

Thanks to Ant Tc1 for taking time out of what sounds like a very busy schedule! We look forward to seeing him in July.

Interview: Macka B on how it all began, his new EP and more…

We caught up with British reggae artist, performer and activist Christopher McFarlane aka Macka B to discuss the beginning of his career and what he just can’t do without at a festival.

How did your career start? 

My career started on Sound Systems in Wolverhampton playing in Youth Clubs. At first, just going to the record shop at weekends and bringing home music to play on the sound was enough for me. Carrying boxes and being part of the sound system was great. At home I  used to practice on the microphone but I wasn’t confident enough to do it in public. One day we set up the sound at a local youth club and I was left to watch the sound while the others got something to eat. Thinking everyone had gone, I picked up the microphone and tried it out. They hadn’t gone yet and they ran back saying ‘we didn’t know you could chat on the mic’. So from then I had to keep chatting on the sound.

What three things can’t you live without at a festival? 

Music, water and vibes.

Who are you most looking forward to seeing at Nozstock? 

Smiling faces.

What music are you working on right now? 

Working on a new EP vintage style riddims.

We’re a big fan of your health is wealth video series…whats your favourite vegetable? 

Callaloo.

What is your favourite memory from performing? 

Performing at Jamaica’s Reggae Sunsplash for the first time and getting a great reception.


Macka B will be performing on the Orchard Stage, click here to find out who else is on the line up.

Kasra – Q&A

Ahead of this years festival we caught up with Kasra, the founder of Critical Music, for a chat about the history of his label. Founded 15 years ago in London the label is widely regarded as being at the forefront of the modern underground drum and bass scene.

“Kasra is a gatekeeper to what is under the surface in drum & bass. He does what he does with passion and care. He is a kindred spirit.”
Goldie, Metalheadz

How did Critical Music come about?

I had been a long time fan of the genre and was hearing more and more music by unsigned/new producers. I wanted to get involved in the scene so decided to try my hand at running a label.

When did you know or feel that your label had become a staple in the Drum & Bass scene?

I wouldnt like to say, i suppose thats for others to acknowledge. We’ve been doing this quite a while now and i think its something we are good at, we just keep on doing our thing.

What is your most memorable performance to date?

Probably our MainStage takeover at Boomtown last year or my first set at Glastonbury.

When you’re not making music or DJing, what are you doing?

Overseeing the running of the label, spending time with my girlfriend and friends or thinking about music!

Which artists do you look up to and why?

Anyone who sticks to what they believe in.

What is your favorite tune atm, apart from your own?

Probably a forthcoming Critical tune called “Blej’ by Halogenix.

What are your future plans for Critical Music?

This year is a big one so focusing on the releases in the forthcoming months including our 15 special anniversary album.

What can we expect for ’20 years of Critical’?

Ask me in 4 years when i start thinking about it !

What three things can you not live without at a music festival?

Sun Block (even in the UK) , inlfatable mattress (if camping), the missus

#Nozcast 002: Jurassic 5 Interview with Akil The MC

“What is this thing? … Oh this is hip-hop.”

Ahead of their European tour, J5’s Akil the MC talks to Mica Millar about his experience of the growing and shifting hip-hop scene, his first ever performance and the reasons behind the break-up and reunion of the band.

Growing up in L.A in the ’70’s, Akil was right in the centre of the emerging hip-hop scene. Controversially though, he doesn’t see hip-hop culture forming with the likes of Sugar-Hill Gang and Grandmaster Flash – he associates the start of the movement with the arrival of Run-DMC:
“Sugar-Hill Gang came out and I still didn’t know it was hip-hop. Even though they was like ‘hip-hop a hippy…’ but we just thought it was like some… funny type of song or whatnot…Then when Run-DMC came, that’s when I said ‘what is this thing?’…Oh this is hip-hop. That’s when all the elements came together, from rapping to graffiti to mc-ing.”

Akil pinpoints 1983, when he was 13 years old, as when “hip-hop came to [him] as an artform and a culture”. It was around this time that he attempted an open-mic contest and very openly admits that he’d only written his rap on the day and it didn’t quite go to plan:
“I was like I’m gonna mention my friends’ names and this that and the other… and then I got up there and I was like ‘errrrrrrr…’ I just froze. *laughs*”

Since then, though, his career skyrocketed with the birth of Jurassic 5. Despite their success, however, they decided to split in 2007, a period of time that they would all rather forget by the sounds of it. On the subject Akil said that “the universe has its ways of saying okay it’s time to stop… [and] okay it’s time to come back together and stuff.” He used a very relatable analogy of sibling rivalry:
“Yo, you go to your room, I’ll go to my room, but if someone is trying to break into your house… you’re gonna forget being mad at your brother or sister and you’re both gonna come together to try to protect the house.”

It seems then that Jurassic 5 are back and here to defend their house. Akil suggests that he wants to get back to the “hypnotising” beats and “nice lyrics” of ‘90s hip-hop and just send out something different from the club tracks and braggadocious tracks that are out at the moment. He does say that there are a couple of artists that he likes right now, Kendrick Lamar being one of those. He says that Kendrick is what he feels hip-hop should be right now, bringing back the aesthetic of the past whilst still being connected to today: “I can appreciate him meshing the two and then coming out on his own and saying I’mma show you the future”. Now that would be one hell of a collaboration!

Catch J5, Saturday night, on the Orchard Stage.

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