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Fabric Live 47: Toddla T

“Are you ready?” is a common question you’ll be asked by 24 year old Sheffield wunderkind Toddla T, and it’s a good question to ask yourself before listening to his FABRICLIVE 47 mix.

Eva Oyon

Date published: 6th Jul 2009

In amongst his wide vocabulary of homegrown slang and off-the-wall catchphrases, Toddla T (known to his mum as Tom Bell) is a bright embodiment of boundless enthusiasm, unmatched charisma and a musical personality unlikely to be found anywhere else on the planet. His otherworldly taste in beats is often hard to keep up with as he shuffles effortlessly through genres and styles at a reckless pace, guided by an energy that, if bottled, could power the very same soundsystems that rattle with his electro dancehall and bashment-flavoured sets around the globe. It’s difficult to picture the lanky, wild-haired, motor-mouthed lad even getting exposed to said soundclash-geared sounds, and that very well could be the key to his success and explosive prominence. From the release of his much vaunted ‘Ghettoblaster’ mixtape to the quick-fire releases of his debut artist album ‘Skanky Skanky’ and now this official debut mix album, it has been a rollercoaster two years.     

First picking up a set of turntables aged 12 (hence the Toddla moniker) after a cousin got him hooked on hip hop, it all began four years later when he discovered the skankier sounds of Sheffield: dancehall, ragga, grime and techno. “I grew up in an area that was mixed; I went to a mixed school and was really encouraged to get stuck into all kinds of cultures and people. It’s the only way I’ve known. If it was any different, it would be a bit weird. I was encouraged to get stuck into everything and it paid off now with the music. Seeing music as being one thing rather than little pockets of things, it’s all just one thing to me really.” – Toddla T

This inclusive attitude, which epitomizes British music in 2009, has driven his DJing since day one, and it’s the fuel for his creative fire. And it’s contagious. In fact, it’s the reason why, aged 18, he was picked up as a studio engineer at the Kenwood Studios in Sheffield where Dizzee Rascal had made ‘Boy In Da Corner’, working with the likes of Cash Money and Roots Manuva, with no previous experience to speak of. “The only reason I got into the engineering side was because it was the only way; I didn’t know anyone who made music so the only way to do it was learn myself. I spent a few years doing that and it was amazing, I met some wicked people and I learnt how to be in studio environments with everyone from local bands to pop stars.”

Toddla’s first taste of being an artist in his own right came with his original production setup, Small Arms Fiya; a collaboration with fellow producer Scott Moncrieff which yielded several releases and remixes. But it was the combination of releasing his ‘Ghettoblaster’ mixtape and working solo on production that firmly put him on the map. “I wanted to put the mixtape out because I wanted to represent what I was about - not just a couple of rhythm tracks. And then it just went berserk, it got out of hand really! Then I got signed to an album off the back of it, which was just incredible.”

This signing, to 1965 Records – a Sony subsidiary – led to the release of his debut album, ‘Skanky Skanky’, in May of this year. In the couple of years leading to the album, he had carved a name for himself as a producer and remixer of massive repute. From his show stealing production on Roots Manuva’s ‘Buff Nuff’ and ‘Do Nah Bodda Mi’ to the unbridled personality injections in his remixes of the likes of Hot Chip, Tricky and Esser – he repeatedly proved his ability to sculpt tracks that buzz with the crackling energy of dancehall and gut-wrenching low-end.

As for what the young artist is currently working on production-wise, the list is virtually endless. But it’s best put in his own words (which may require a translator) – for, as seen on his cult-worshipped Toddla TV youtube series, there’s no such thing as a conversation with Toddla T; it’s all a whirlwind of character, liveliness and whim.“I've been doing some production, I did 2 tracks for Bashy’s album, 'Catch Me If You Can,’ one of which was lead single - 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.’ I’ve done a track for Tinchy Stryder’s album, which he absolutely murked. Been in with Roisin Murphy working on her record. I’m goin’ to Jamaica in a couple of months for a coupla days in the studio...READY. Also about to go in with Trojan Soundsystem. Started my monthly Radio 1 show, every third Friday of the month, 2-4am....Steel City sonix nation wiiide!!!”

In comes the Steel City via FABRICLIVE 47, a living, breathing summation of all that is exciting about club music today, and for years to come. Veering from genre to genre, never missing a beat, Toddla – aided by the vocals of long term sparring partner MC Serocee – scorches through a searing seventy minute mix that lurches from the familiar electro dancehall of Cavemen’s remix of Duffy and Toddla’s own ‘Fill Up Mi Portion;’ to the Bristol jump-up drum & wobble of the Clipz/Toddla collabo; to the funky of Geeneus and Lil Silva; to dubstep from Untold and Caspa, with plenty of bends and tangents in between. Laced with VIPs, edits, medleys and exclusives throughout, this mix is the sound of one of the world’s most boxfresh artists, standing absolutely on top of the game. “I really wanted to represent an average DJ set in fabric from Toddla T & Serocee, Sheffield sonic stylee – as if a sweaty Sheffield basement was deported to Farringdon for the night! I’ve got exclusives and unreleased stuff from Roots Manuva, Skream, Drums Of Death, Untold, Shake Alleti, Toddla T (obviously), Martelo, Oris Jay, Oneman & Mr Versatile, as well as a few cheeky blends that have never been done before! So hopefully a lot of stuff will be brand new to people’s ears. This is fierce club kinda fodder!” – Toddla T

Tracklisting:

01 Philly - Love Action - Philly
02 Duffy - Stepping Stone (Cavemen Remix) – Universal/Polydor
03 Monkey Steak - Tigris Riddim – Steak House
04 Backyard Dog - Baddest Ruffest (Pipes & Slippers Mix) - WMI
05 Toddla T ft Mr Versatile - Fill Up Mi Portion RMX ft Afrikan Boy & Batty Rymer – 1965/Sony
06 Stone ft Roots Manuva – Amen – Stone Riddims
07 Toddla T ft Trigganom Vs Clipz - Boom DJ From The Bristol City – 1965/Sony
Toddla T – Boom DJ From The Steel City – 1965/Sony
Clipz – Offline VIP – Audio Zoo
08 Toddla T ft Serocee - Manbadman (Andy George Refix) – 1965/Sony
09 Toddla T ft Serocee - Shake It (Martelo Megashake) - 1965/Sony
Fish Go Deep – Cure And The Cause – Defected
Geeneus & Zinc – Emotions [Geeneus Mix] – Rinse/Ammunition
La Silva – Funky Flex – Lil Silva
10 Shake Aletti - The Way He Does (Toddla T RMX ft Serocee) – Shake Aletti
11 Bart B More & Diplo Vs Bashy - Millionaire Bingo – Bashy
Bashy – Who Wants To Be A Millionaire – Bashy
Bingo Players - Get Up [Diplo Mix] - Secure
12 Drums Of Death - Lonely Days (DOD's Glasgow to Sheffield Nightbus Version) - Greco/Roman
13 Alex Mills - Beyond Words (Wittyboy Remix) – Roll Deep
14 Skream - Toddla T Special – Tempa/Ammunition
15 Toddla T ft Tinchy Stryder & Mr Versatile Vs Untold - Anaconda Safe
Toddla T – Safe – 1965/Sony
Untold – Anaconda VIP – Hessle Audio
16 Busy Signal Vs Pulse X - Tic Toc (J Needles Driver Blend)
Busy Signal – TicToc – VP Music
Youngsta – Pulse X – DDJS Productions
17 Sticky Ft Lady Chann - Sticky Situation - Unity
18 Toddla T & Oneman Ft Mr Versatile - Right Leg Shuffle – Girls Music
19 Oris Jay - 4 Real – Oris Jay
20 Toddla T Ft. Benjiman Zephinia & Joe Godard - Rebel (Skream Remix) – 1965/Sony
21 Deadmau5 – I Remember (Caspa Remix) - Virgin