Volume Four in the Urban Essence mix series comes from 19 year old Joe Stapleton, aka Obey, and coincides nicely with our first birthday! Happy birthday to us. We’ve been following Joe’s monthly Autonomic mixes for a while now and in an age compounded by countless nonsensical mixes collating the latest tunes, what’s striking about his is the painstaking care taken over their curation and creation. We’re all about patience and diligence with creativity here at Urban Essence, so it seemed appropriate to get Joe on board.
For the mix, Joe’s delivered a hard-hitting melange of machine music, comprising an array of tough warehouse-worthy tracks from the expansive catalogue of dubstep, house and drum&bass’ peripheral sounds. Seamlessly drifting between genres in a sort of ethereal haze, it’s a fairly dark and subliminal offering from Obey, from the eerie introductory sounds of They Live, through to the militant tribalism and housey groove of the second half. We caught up with Joe in the hope he could shed some light on this mysterious mix…
So for those who may not know, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m Joe, a 19 year old electronic DJ based in Milton Keynes. I go by the alias ‘Obey’ (inspired by the film ‘They Live’) and I’m mainly interested in the deeper, darker more experimental side of drum & bass and 140bpm music.
How did you first get into electronic music, and how has it brought you to where you are now with this mix?
When I was about 13 I was pretty into the Industrial/Noise scene, and I just started discovering artists more and more into the electronic side of the genre, rather than the ‘rock’ based side. Eventually I stumbled across the harder styles of drum & bass and began to pick up albums such as BSE’s ‘Driving Insane’, Future Prophecies’s ‘Warlords Rising’ and Kryptic Minds’ ‘Lost All Faith’ and this basically got me hooked. Over the years I’ve sort of moved from sub genre to sub genre as I discovered more artists and more tracks. In regards to the mix, a lot of the tracks are either signed or produced by labels and artists that have links to the drum & bass or dubstep scene; Instra:Mental, Jon Convex and They Live for example.
What was the ethos behind the mix?
A lot of influence was gained from dBridge’s shows on Rinse, and I didn’t want to put together a mix of solely one genre. Originally I was going to do a mix of Autonomic themed drum & bass, as this is what I mainly play in my studio mixes, however the scene’s been fairly quiet recently and I didn’t want to put together a tracklist of tunes people had already heard; I wanted to go a bit deeper, a bit darker, and more experimental, and I couldn’t do that sticking to only one genre.
What kit did you use to record the mix?
Tracktor Scratch Pro, Numark M4 and 2 KAM DDx750’s (which need replacing). Recorded and slightly edited on Audacity.
Looking at the tracklist, there’s a healthy amount of Exit and NonPlus tracks in there. Have these labels been particularly influential in forming your sound?
Definately. Exit, to me, is a label really pushing boundaries and continues to bring out consecutive high quality releases. I think They Live’s ‘Cancel Standard’ is one of the best and most interesting LPs I own. Nonplus on the other hand is just a label that really mixes it up, Skream’s ‘Exothermic Reaction’ for example was just a track I did not expect from them.
You cover a variety of styles in the mix, from dubstep to house and their peripheral sounds. Are you one for advocating more cross-genre DJ sets in the clubbing world?
Very much so, especially when I’m mixing at home or creating a mix for home listening, it’s always good to experiment. Playing out I primarily mix drum & bass but I still try to keep things mixed and work in a mixture range of styles, although always keeping things dark.
Do you dabble in production at all, or do you have any plans to?
I do occasionally dabble in production, at the minute it’s mostly just soundscape/ambient bits but I have created a couple of minimal dubstep tracks as well. One of which, a track entitled ‘Headhunter’ is up on my dubstep Soundcloud, but it’s still in its early stages and, to be honest, I have no plans to finish it. I do plan to get more into the production side of things in the future.
Finally, what is your one and only ‘urban essential’ that you just couldn’t live without?
Ha, this probably sounds cliché but I would have to say my iPod (which once again needs replacing…). Can’t stand heading out without any music on.