We Spoke to Mr. Mitch About Gobstopper and the Future of Weightless Grime
He's also kindly given us an exclusive listen to a Logos rework of "The Man Waits".
Mr. Mitch is one of the ever-growing instrumental grime scene's stalwarts. While he has produced more conventional vocal tracks for some of the UK's finest MCs, Miles Mitchell has been at the forefront of pushing the grime sound into new, far more experimental reaches. Using his label Gobstopper as a hub, he has pooled together an ever-expanding roster of talent, ranging from haunting ambience to heavy hitting percussive sounds, that has helped to broaden a genre's horizons that early detractors claimed had limited crossover ability. With the 5th birthday of Gobstopper this year, the label will re-issue two of it's pivotal releases, Mr. Mitch's "The Man Waits" and Bloom's "Quartz" complete with remixes from a selection of some of the best that instrumental grime has to offer.
We're premiering fellow Boxed team mate Logos' remix of "The Man Waits" over here and it's a stunning crawl through the 'weightless' grime that Logos has come to popularise. Gradually unfurling into grand ambience, the track hisses through cosmic bouts of melody, grounded by throbs of subby goodness.
Mr. Mitch ever so kindly took some time to chat to us about Gobstopper's origins, future and the progression of instrumental grime as a whole. Check out the video and the interview below:
THUMP: How was Gobstopper Records born? Were there any particular goals that you set out to achieve five years ago?
Mr Mitch: Gobstopper didn't start out with any major goals at all. I had a song that I wanted released and there weren't really any labels back then putting out instrumental grime so I just started one. Once it was started I thought I might as well start putting out some other peoples music that I liked and thought other people should hear.
Bloom's "Quartz" and your "The Man Waits" releases are being reissued as a celebration of the label's birthday, but if you had to pick one other from Gobstopper's catalogue to re-release, what would it be?
I feel like each release fits the time that it came out but if I was forced to rerelease one it would probably be Moony's I'm a UK G EP. He's a very versatile producer and each track on the EP could (and still do) work within a variety of different sets.
Instrumental grime of differing forms runs through the Gobstopper catalogue pretty heavily, was there a particular aesthetic or sound that you had at the beginning, or has it formed over time?
At the beginning I was mainly trying to put out grime music that I thought people would like, I would think about which DJ would play them and how they would go down in a club. So the early releases were a bit harder. As much as I like the earlier releases I realised that I would personally only buy music like that to DJ and I wanted to start putting out music that I would like listen to in or outside of a club.
What, to you, constitutes a grime record? It seems that the genre means different things to different people.
There's no specific sounds or formula that make something grime for me. I just see grime as a progressive genre that takes elements from it's former self and continuously evolves into something else. I think a lot of other people would like to say that this evolution is the creation of new genres but I don't see anything wrong with calling it all grime.
Do you think that the genre's young age has something to do with why its key properties are so open for debate?
Definitely, but I also think there a lot of producers working hard to make sure the genre stays fluid. The way I see the more people there are making experimental stuff and calling it grime the less likely we are to fall into the formulaic trap of other genres before us.
I find that a lot of Gobstopper releases are usually intense listens, but also heavily meditative. Is that mix of extremes something that interests you?
I like immersive music and I like emotive music. I like music that takes me to a away from whatever situation I'm in and puts me in a new body with new emotions. That's the stuff that stands out to me the most but its not the only thing.
Have you felt a shift in the way grime is perceived in the five years you've been running Gobstopper?
In 2009 when I said to people that I made instrumental grime they were always confused by the concept and would usually say "yeah but your making it for MCs right?". It's a very different place now and there are producers everywhere making grime that stands up on its own without the need for an MC.
Your sound itself has shifted across your career, would you ever return to your earlier of beatmaking for the likes of Trim/Skepta etc?
Some of my earlier work was a bit more conventional as I tried to make stuff that I thought people would like, stuff that was a bit more functional. Music that grime DJs could play and tunes that would get a reload in a club but even then I was considered an experimental grime producer. I now only make music that I like and that I'd like to hear and hopefully others will feel the same. Skepta actually wanted one the tracks from my album at one point, the track called 'The Night'. It would have been for his next album.
What sort of music influences you and informs that Gobstopper sound? It has parallels with grime, but it seems like there are a number of other influences in there.
I don't listen to much music these days to be honest. I'm either making it or DJing it and that's mostly music from friends and other people who email me their stuff. I think the music that I listen to the most outside of grime is pop music, stuff that's just on the radio while I'm driving. It's the stuff that's the least challenging for me and I guess I like that, it's probably where my love for hooky melodies comes from. Also in my day job I'm on the the playlist team for a radio station so listening to the music that gets submitted for that must imprint something on my brain.
A Gobstopper track doesn't immediately jump out as demanding an MC as it is quite heavy on melody, was this an intention? Are there any MCs right now that you'd like to hear on any of the tracks?
A lot of this music was created without a vocalist in mind. I think for these tracks to work with MCs or singers, elements would need to be taken out of some them to allow room for the vocal to sit. I do know the artists on the label are keen to with work vocalists though and there's definitely room for vocal music on Gobstopper in the future.
The idea of Peace Edits is something that I felt ran along with a shift in the ideals of grime. Can you explain where the idea came from?
A couple years back when a lot of producers were making war dubs for each other, I thought I would try and jump in the mix but the aggressive nature of war dub beats didn't come naturally to me. A typical thing to do with a war dub was to flip another producers song and recreate elements of it and better it, I thought I'd do something similar but instead of making the beats more aggressive I would slow them down and bring things to peace. That process definitely changed something about the way I approached my productions.
The genre as a whole has gained a wider mainstream following recently, have you felt that effect on your work or anything you've released? What do you put the success down to?
Yeah definitely, there are doors opening for me now that I didn't even know were there before. It's down to a few things both on the producer and MC side of things but I definitely feel that the creation Boxed was an important moment. When we started the night there were a batch of different producers approaching grime from different angles and Boxed acted as a home for it all and help cultivate its growth.
Can you tell us about the Logos remix of "The Man Waits" that you've so kindly allowed us to premiere?
The Logos remix was the one that kick started the whole remix EP. He asked me last year if he could remix it and then sent me this a few weeks after I gave him the stems. The first time I listened to it I had my eyes closed the whole time and it really took me somewhere else - I needed a reason to release it. Luckily I managed to get some other great remixes to sit alongside it.
What are the label's plans for the future?
To continue growing and continue releasing music that intrigues me and hopefully the rest of you. Very thankful for everyone who supports the music that we put out.
Mr Mitch's The Main Waits (Remixes) package is out tomorrow on Gobstopper.