Toddla T Interview: I knew that she would deliver something special

Read our interview with Toddla T where he discusses the merits of his latest project with Bacardi Beginnings.

Jimmy Coultas

Date published: 20th Sep 2013

Toddla T is pretty hot right now. The baby faced brigadier of bass has spent the last few years pushing forward his very own unique fusion of reggae, dancehall, dubstep and carnival house, initially catching the ears of clubland with his sassy bootlegs and DJ sets but since exploding into a fully formed live project and blisteringly successful genre fusionist.

He recently signed up to be involved in the second instalment of the Bacardi Beginnings Beats per minute’ project, a forward thinking bastion of creativity which pits two musical minds into collaborative nirvana and then releases the fruits of their work online via social media. The key difference though is each beat is released to follow a tweet or like on Twitter or Facebook; meaning the appearance of the song is a race against time. (check the video at the top to learn more)

The track in question was ‘Pandora’s Box’ (stream below), recorded alongside Roses Gabor, and will also provide an opportunity for fledgling producers to get ahead by remixing it (head to the Bacardi site here for further info). We caught up with Toddla to discuss the project, his upcoming date at The Warehouse in Leeds and the joys of his recent fatherhood.

So you’ve just created a track for the BACARDI Beginnings project; are you pleased with the final result?

I am genuinely really pleased with it. Records like what I’ve made with her is something that I’ve wanted to try for a long time. The bassline I used on it is called a 303 which is a real classic bass tone which techno and house was built on. I’ve always been a massive fan of the sound but never managed to get the sound in any of my records.

But on this record here, I’ve managed to get the 303 in there, and I’m really happy with how it sounds. And I think what Roses has done on it is brilliant; a really good, clever, simple song. I’ll definitely look back on it and be proud of that one.

What attracted to be part of the project?

First and foremost, I’ve seen who’s been involved in the past. I noticed that Jessie Ware and Joe Goddard worked on this project and I’m a massive fan of both of them. And then knowing who else was going to be doing the project this year as well, like Rudimental, instantly I knew it was something that I would be interested in getting involved in and I knew that there was a degree of credibility to the project which is important. 

Also, being able to work with someone out of my choice, which I do anyway. I’m lucky enough day to day that I can approach people or people approach me, and to do this in a documented manner, it was a no-brainer really. And then finally the remix aspect of it, is an exciting thing which means that when the project is finished, there is still content coming in that’s going to make me excited. 

 Do you think utilising social media in this manner represents the future of music?

I do. It’s not just social media, I think that the way I market my music and everyone I know markets their music, is pretty much 90%on the internet now. And the BPM project is an example of what can happen. The internet to me is the new record shop. Where I would walk into the record shop and buy stuff, check stuff out and chat to people, and recommend records, it’s all just done via my phone now. And this is project is just pushing it further.

You’ve worked with Roses Gabor before, was that the thinking behind selecting her to join you on the track? And what is it about her voice and song writing that appeals to you as a musician?

Partly, because I knew that she would be able to deliver something special. That side, whether I knew her or not, I think that she is a really unique individual artist, and that’s what this was about; it’s about bringing someone to the table who I genuinely am a fan of and rate, and has a bright future in music. So the fact that I knew her was just a bonus. She would have been someone that I would pick anyway. 

Her voice is just one of a kind – her writing, lyrically it’s very intricate, and quite complex, but the melody is drawn from so many influences; there’s a simplicity and complexity in her style that is really quite individual. Her tone is really airy and light which is really nice to work with sonically because you can put it on big heavy beats and it doesn’t get cluttered. The all-important studio process is really effortless for her. You know that when you work with her, there’s going to be a result no matter what. 

Are there any other remixes or productions you have forthcoming you can let us know about?

I have a production (video and single are now out) it’s called ‘Flash’ and it’s a production with my outfit Toddla T Sound, which is myself, Shola Ama, Serocee and MC DRS. We’ve been on the road all year, doing festival season – a semi live show – and we’ve started bringing our music together as a collective as well. So that record is something that we’d made on the road, performed it on the road, and shot the video over the summer at different festivals and carnivals.

Re production, I’m working with Skepta and Stylo G on their individual projects, and also with my Toddla T Sound crew, I want to be able to get enough material to put an album together and tour again next year. 

You recently became a dad earlier in the year, congratulations! How has fatherhood changed your outlook on music, and has it been difficult for both you and your partner Annie Mac to balance your music schedules in light of this?

Without any doubt the best thing I’ve ever done. Funnily enough, I’ve actually found myself a lot more productive since I’ve had my child, because there's no time to muck about! It’s actually made my output and focus a lot more precise, which I thought before would have been the opposite. If anything it’s endorsed my musical output, and the way my life is structured is much better than it was before. It’s been positive in all ways – it’s been amazing! 

How has your summer been in terms of gigs?

It’s been one of the best ones I’ve ever had because of the Toddla T Sound shows; it’s a new semi-live show, and it’s more interactive and more of a different experience than just turning up and playing records. One of the best shows I’ve ever done was at Parklife in Manchester, on the main stage before Azealia Banks, it was a massive show for us.

We just did Bestival the other day where I DJ’ed on a cruise ship that they put up in the festival, then at Glastonbury I hosted my own party, and I had some really good sound shows in Ibiza. I just think doing these Toddla T Sound shows this summer has been a completely different experience; a lot more special to what I’d been doing before. It’s been one of the best summers for gigs.  

We’ve noticed you’re due to play Leeds Warehouse soon. Being from relatively nearby in Sheffield, do you enjoy playing for the Yorkshire crowds?

100%! I love playing up north; Sheffield is my favourite place to play in the whole world, because a load of mates come out, I stay with my mum, the fans are really special to me there. Obviously Leeds and Manchester, they were the places I used to go, to buy records, watch DJs. There’s definitely a soft spot for me up north. I love going there, it’s almost like going home.  

What music has excited you so far this year, any new artists you’ve discovered recently?

There’s a rapper from America called Riff Raff that I think is quite exciting, due to the fact that he’s really on his own tip and very humorous with it. I think hip hop lacks strong artists these days and to me Rif Raf is a true artist. I’m looking forward to more material from him. 

Producer-wise, there's a guy from Manchester called Chimpo, he’s been doing his thing for a while. I think in the last year, he’s really refined his sound, he’s really exciting and special now. He’s someone to look for. And obviously Roses Gabor – she’s got a bag more material, definitely keep your eye out for her.

And finally, what else lies in the immediate future for you?

We’re going to be judging the remixes for the Bacardi BPM project. Then I’m going to sit with the winner and do a little studio mentor which I’m really looking forward to, because whoever makes this best remix is probably going to be able to show me some stuff as well! And it’s going to be cool to meet the person up who took the time to do the remix. 

Also, every Thursday, I do a Radio 1 show. There will be more production with my Toddla T Sound crew, for other artists, including Skepta and Stylo G. And of course, more work with Roses. 


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