Preditah spoke to Martin Guttridge-Hewitt about his new FABRICLIVE mix, grime's popularity, running a label and much more ahead of his summer gigs.
Last updated: 2nd Jun 2017
From hitting the road as Skepta’s tour DJ, to producing some of the finest club bangers in recent years, Nathan Gerald will be no stranger to the majority of grime, garage, bass music fans.
Also known as Preditah, his phenomenal rise to become one of the most recognisable faces in a scene currently filled with household names is hardly surprising, given his phenomenal skills on the turntables, and esteemed ear for tracking down special sounds, calling on influences ranging from orchestral harmonies to dark, low slung dirt.
With this in mind it’s understandable that the good folk down at Fabric have called upon him to mix the latest instalment in the prized FABRICLIVE mix series, with No.92 featuring a host of his comrades in tunes - DJ Q, Wiley, Joker, Swindle, Flava D, Shorty and Bassboy, to check just a few. Now the album has dropped we gave him a call to talk spinning wax, representing properly, and his impending summer plans.
Yeah man, can’t complain, all good. Had a gig in Sheffield which was good.
The FABRICLIVE mix album just landed. We imagine you were pretty chuffed to be asked?
It’s recorded in one take, as in a proper set, why did you decide to do that?
Err, well I DJ for a living, and I used to do radio, so there wasn’t much pressure in terms of making mistakes, I just focussed on getting the playlist right and the artist choices, so other than that it’s really just second nature.
Still, very few recorded mixes are put down in this way, with no post-edits.
Yeah. Well it’s a FABRICLIVE so I wanted to give it that. Even if there’s a mix that wasn't perfect I wanted to keep it in there, and not make it just a perfect mix. I’m not saying there’s any clanging in there, but I wanted to feel like I was mixing live, not just making it on Logic. So even if there’s a little mistake in there it’s fine, I wanted to capture that moment as well.
It certainly sounds like a proper mix, like someone just cracked on the decks. What do you think of people who spend ages perfecting the arrangements and pretty much pre-recording? Cheating, or each to their own?
Bit of both. Each to their own, but then there are two types of DJs. DJs, and then Serato DJs- I’m not saying if you use Serato you’re not a good DJ. Skills are different- either loops and stuff, or just having a good mix. If you want to spend all that time getting things perfect then anyone can do that to a point, but not everyone can DJ on the spot and mix and select good tunes. I’m old school so like to do things in the moment really.
So you wouldn’t have known what the results would be like until after the mix?
Basically, yeah. Listening back and thinking ‘that wasn’t too bad’.
The artists featured, in terms of the 32 tracks, are all people you’re associated with. Even so, how hard was it to whittle it down to just those?
It was hard to get it down to 32 tracks to represent. I know so many artists and producers it was still a case of ‘what!?’ Especially when it comes to tracks that aren’t mine. What tracks do I actually like? So like the Black Loops track, I’ve been playing that for the last three years. Hardly anyone knows it, but if one person does and is like ‘I love that track’ it’s like you know exactly why they love it. It’s not a commercial tune.
But then there’s tunes like Feed ‘Em To The Lions, which I made, that I had to put on that mix because there’s labels behind it now. It’s my biggest to date, so it had to be on there no matter how commercial it is or how well-known it is now. So it was more about picking 32 tracks that represent me. And all these do represent me in different ways.
How about who you should be representing?
To be fair, I’m loyal to myself. So everyone I’ve got on that CD I have a relationship with. It’s like if you’ve got friends, you grew up with them, and then now you’ve made it you f’d them off and started hanging around with new people. I’m not one of those types.
Musically everyone on there I talk to and have a relationship with, so now I’ve got a CD coming out I’m going to represent them even more. People like Bassboy and Skepta, I talk to them guys. So with the opportunity of this album of course they were going on there. I didn’t want to just get the new 'in' guy because he’s in, I never want to do any of that. So, yeah.
Do you think there are too many people who do that - like the press, picking up and then quickly putting people down for the next new name?
You know what, everyone has got their place in the game. Press is still important, radio is still important, but the most important people to me are the people. So when someone like yourselves comes to interview me, I want the people to read it. I don’t care about another magazine or company seeing it.
I mean, I care about them for what they are but I want to make sure the people who should know know this is coming out. It’s hard enough to have a CD coming out that I’m not in control of, in terms of when it’s out and stuff. It’s Fabric’s CD. So I want people to feel like it’s a Preditah CD as much as a Fabric CD. So I want my people to know, Preditah- he’s not over there he’s still here.
Control of your work is obviously important. A few years ago grime seemed at risk of selling out completely, but has done a decent job protecting itself from mass commercialism. Or are we way off the mark?
Again it’s the same - it’s a bit of both. For example, I’ve always played grime in my sets for years, even when dubstep was big and house was big, when I’d go to a house night I’d still play grime, because that’s me. But now when grime is so commercial- and when I say that I hope people know I’m a grime guy- it’s almost like playing pop music because everyone knows it.
It feels good in the right places. But if I was in Selfridges playing a set whilst everyone was getting some shopping done and it was supposed to be a grime set I wouldn’t like it. It’s not for Selfridges. I mean it is for Selfridges because you want it to be as big as possible, but to just play the biggest tunes doesn’t mean people know what it is. If I was to play, I don’t know, some deep, unknown artists I feel like people are saying "what’s that?" Whereas if you play Stormzy it’s like, "Oh yeah, that’s grime."
That’s why grime has got it great, but also a bit commercial, and I don’t want to be commercial. It’s a hard ball to play, but I’m happy for it and everyone is making money off grime now which is great. And one thing I will say about grime is I don’t think it will die out. It has always been the underground sound of the UK, and there’s no way it’s dying out. It’s only going to get bigger.
A lot has been said about grime crews outside London recently. How is Birmingham on that front?
There aren't any crews in Birmingham anymore. Or if there are I’m none the wiser. Birmingham has a massive grime fan base, but there aren't enough grime nights in the city to really see that. When I'm in Birmingham people of all ages and cultures know what I’ve done because of grime, so I know there’s a big following there. There have been some big nights in Birmingham that have sold out, loads of people, loads of girls as well, but there aren't enough events still.
Why do you think that is?
Birmingham can be a very serious place to be fair. It’s not a joke. It used to be a really serious place. So it’s the usual story with police and stuff - nightclubs, the whole grime scene. It’s a very urban city. But I think that will change eventually.
In terms of authorities and their stance towards grime?
I remember there was this Eskimo Dance event that was sold out, and there were no problems at all there. And I remember security at the time saying "Oh, we’ll do more events like this from now on", and there has been. But it’s more about the promoters putting stuff on rather than the police.
It seems to be a problem in a lot of the country - huge following but not enough grime events.
What events have you got coming up though?
Well, although I’m a DJ first and foremost I'm a music producer and have a lot of music coming out, aside from this CD. Yeah man, I’m really inspired at the moment. I pretty much travel the world through DJing, and every time I’ve been out somewhere like Australia I’ve thought "friggin’ hell man, you don’t really know about grime or even bass music", so I need to get back in the studio and make some more. It’s exciting times really. I’m going to be releasing a lot of other people’s music on my own label, too.
How’s the label going?
Really well. At the moment I’ve got Bassboy on there who’s my mate and will be adding more people over time. It’s more about releases really. So hopefully will have a DJ Q EP coming out, and a Disclosure one. It’s more about putting out what I like.
In terms of the practicalities of running a label, how have you found that?
To be fair it hasn’t been that deep yet. It’s still early days so there haven’t been any problems yet. But we’ll see. I don’t really want to gas too much as a lot of people gas about their stuff too much.
Finally, what summer plans have you got?
Well I’m at pretty much most of the big festivals, and then Ibiza for Ibiza Rocks and I have a residency at Eden, so yeah should be good man. That’s another point to make- festival season this year is going to show everyone how big grime is- not just me but everyone involved in the scene.