Skepsis talks bassline’s resurgence, his elusive first EP, and donks Down Under with Martin Guttridge-Hewitt.
Date published: 15th Mar 2018
Born in northern England, specifically Yorkshire, amid the post-millennial haze, the archetypal sounds of clubs like Niche in Sheffield are amongst the most British forms of dance music ever created. A short, sharp middle finger to the chin-stroking seriousness that often feels omnipresent during nocturnal pursuits, replacing it with unabashed wonkiness, plenty of pace, and tonnes of sweat.
Move the date to roughly a decade or so ago, and bassline’s days seemed numbered. A 2005 police raid led to Niche’s closure after ongoing problems with police, shuttering an already-specialist scene’s home, while commercial airwaves and playlists did what they always do to the grass roots.
What sounds like a death knell was, in reality, just the onset of an inevitable hangover following years of chaotic partying. Around 2015 a bassline resurgence began to be touted as a new generation of names took the mantel, or at least started sharing it, with the original godfathers.
Bringing things up to date, Skepsis — AKA Scott Jenkins — has well and truly cemented his place on the list of young contemporaries flying the flag for this furiously upfront place, where UK garage, electro, rave, and pop elements try and knock one another out of the way. Eager to hear what he has to say about the current Second Coming, we caught him on the flip side of several Australian dates to talk terrifying foreigners with this uniquely Blighty strain of banger, and where things are at right now.
Hi Scott, hope all is well with you today? What’s been happening?
I’m just back from Australia, I was doing a tour there, ten days, it was pretty good to be fair, so hot. I started in Perth, then Sydney, Brisbane, and a couple of other smaller places as well.
It’s the first time I’ve been. The big city ones, Brisbane and Sydney, were great, like being in the UK really. The whole thing is spreading across the world, which is good to see really.
Bassline isn’t really associated with Oz at all. Did they get it?
Yeah I know. I think a lot of people were shocked. Well, not shocked, but… it’s definitely growing over there, they are hungry for it. People told me some of the clubs were super-busy compared to what they usually are, which obviously shows there’s interest for it. So as long as we can keep it going, pushing the foundations of it worldwide. The UK is pretty much there now.
So the revival is real then?
I dunno. People like to call it bassline or whatever, but I wouldn’t necessarily say I make bassline. I never meant to. I just make what I like and then people like to label things to make it easier.
But the revival in general has been a bit mad over the last couple of years, the size of it at the moment and continuing to grow- you just don’t know where it’s going to stop really. Obviously that’s pretty exciting. There are pros and cons to the growth, but it’s mostly a positive thing I’d say.
What about the cons?
Well obviously with anything that’s seen as cool you get a lot of people who don’t really like it as such. A lot more people at some of the clubs are, they are not like the core fans. But I guess with popularity shifts and stuff that’s just how it goes. But like I say it’s mainly positive, the size of the shows and stuff. There hasn’t been much mainstream media coverage about it, but I don’t know that might come in the future.
You were too young to be in clubs when bassline first exploded, and lived in London when the sound was very regional. How did you and it cross paths?
Yeah there wasn’t much round in London really at all, and I didn’t really hear about it. Obviously there were some tunes that went massive, like T2 ‘Heartbroken’ and stuff, that I heard about down south, it just wasn’t about really. I more came to the style through early My Nu Leng, bass house, Black Butter Records, around 2013-14. Then a year on it really started coming through.
So what sounds did define your formative years?
Well, like I mentioned, My Nu Leng, Flava D, Formula Records. I more came up on dubstep and drum n bass, just because of where I’m from. Dubstep was probably the first form of electronic music I really got into when I was about 15, and that was when I started DJing as well and producing.
So there’s lots of different elements to it, I’ve been through so many phases of production. I used to make grime beats, obviously that’s a London sound. I didn’t really get anywhere with them, it was only when I started doing four-on-four.
How much of that is really just because you had more studio experience?
Err, yeah, a bit I’d say. Production is definitely harder than DJing, but then obviously you want to try and do both nowadays.
In terms of today, is there still the regional divide with the sound?
It’s nationwide now. I play a lot of cities and there doesn’t really seem to be the same divide as there was. There are different reactions depending on where you play, but there doesn’t seem to be a major area that’s missing out really. It’s still very much a UK thing though.
How many times have you shocked foreign crowds then?
Yeah, I don’t know if they are always ready. Obviously I just did Australia, it’s pretty good in Belgium but they love their drum ’n’ bass. Holland is alright, and I was in Ayia Napa last summer.
Ayia Napa? How was that?
Well bassline isn’t really a thing there either, more just people partying… or whatever. But it was alright yeah.
How do crowds differ in this country then?
I’ve always got a rough idea of what I want to play when, but it’s obviously a case of just reading crowds. In terms of specific cities there have been different highlights in different places. But to name one, the Midlands always goes off— Birmingham, Nottingham. Obviously Sheffield, too, but that’s the north.
You’re touring at the moment. Do you see dates differently when they are labelled a ‘tour’?
Yeah the tour dates are a bit more special. Obviously there are a lot of gigs but these are more focused on you, so I’d say I do look forward to them more than usual. There is a bit more pressure maybe, but I don’t really feel that anymore.
Touring as a concept is everywhere in electronic music, but that wasn’t always the case.
Yeah it’s odd that people didn’t really cotton on to it until more recently. I don’t know why, it’s a simple idea, and obviously it is a marketable thing. And just to reflect yourself really, show promoters that you can sell tickets and bring in the fans, I guess. So there are different aspects to it.
What else are you working on, other than dates?
I’m just working on my EP at the moment. I haven’t actually released an EP yet so I’m looking forward to it. I’ve got one track left to do.
How long have you been working on it?
Hahaha. Well there’s a lot of good stuff on there.
Have you got a release date in mind?
Probably spring, but don’t quote me on that, I’ve been saying it for a while. It will definitely be this year though.
Why no EP before?
I’ve done singles, downloads, but no larger work. I don’t know why, I’ve wanted to do one for a while but the way things have gone I just haven’t really got round to it. Especially being busy touring and stuff means you can’t really spend that much time in the studio. You have to balance everything out.