Goldie: The Wildstyle Manifesto

Goldie: The Wildstyle Manifesto

Quality, not quantity… There is no situation where this mantra doesn’t ring true. From food, to friends. Sex to stories. Mark over multitude is crucial in everything we do.

Just look at Metalheadz – they’re celebrating both their 18th year and their 100th release right now. That’s an average of 5.555555 releases a year. In comparison to today’s audio assault, it’s remarkably slim. To celebrate? A timeless slice of quintessential Goldie….

And a mission statement, etched by the man himself.

Music to me is unconditional, and when it enters your heart – and not your head – it touches you in a way that nothing else can…

Summarising both music’s true magic and the label’s founding formula, this one sentence alone befits the work Goldie and the Metalheadz family have done over the years in a salute-worthy, understated fashion.

“The usual prescription seems to be ‘squeeze as many tracks onto a compilation and see what happens’, that’s how I see it from an industry point of view,” sighs Goldie, a man with so many projects and deadlines it’s taken him a month to get round to doing interviews on the 100th release. “I understand the commerce of it. I understand people have to make money. I’m not fucking stupid! But there’s a line.”

Full Metal Jacketz

Every label draws their own line, but few as clearly as Goldie. Sprayed with same stark, distinctive flare as his work on canvas. Naturally it comes with a well-considered theory.

“When I got into raving I waited for the flyer,” he grins. “I waited for the event. I didn’t hear this music anywhere else. I didn’t hear it in my living room. I didn’t have forced down my neck. I had to go out and find it because I wanted to. To hear that music! To hear those DJs and try and see what they were playing, and go investigating for ages to find out what that fucking tune was! Call me old fashioned but you have to understand this is the first time that tangible feeling I love about this music is leaving us. Nine times out of 10 people who listen to this music don’t go out as much as they did.”

It’s true: the days of hunting down raves off the M25 and going ‘what’s that tune that goes buuurrp, buuuurrp, boooop, boooop’ to a bored geezer behind the record shop counter are long gone. But from the evidence of our own Drum&BassArena  community alone, there’s still an active interest in tune I.Ds, DJ set lists and events.  Unlike rave’s early beginnings, however, information is everywhere. And so is the music… From TV ads to urgent pop wannabes, hoping the day time airplay dubstep express way will shoot them to the stars. It goes back to quality, not quantity. And Goldie’s pointing the finger.

“We are the people who are responsible for inspiring, educating and influencing our youth culture,” he states. “The minute we let our guard down and become cheap as chips, they become cheap as chips. That’s what it’s about for me – leading by example as opposed to looking to make as much money as possible. I feel that some people are feeding kids stuff that they wouldn’t feed their own kids. People are saying I’m being a bit dark about it. I’m not – I’m being straight forward. It’s one of those things that for me, I look at it and think ‘this is our label’s position’ – this is the choice we make!”

Wildstyle Council

Goldie describes his choice as investing back into youth culture. And unlike the greedy bankers he’s not looking for a quick return.

“When I first made a record it was Phil Collins with an Amen break,” he says. “I just wanted to make people jump up and down! There’s been a musical progression since then. For me and for music. There’s more complexity and layers. Now that early rave stuff was my arrival point. What’s the entry point for kids just arriving who just want to make people jump up and down? I want to see what their music is like in 10 or 15 year’s time.”

He up-keeps his side of the bargain with consistent quality (not unit-shifting quantity); the young minds it inspires pay back with a whole new level of complexity later on down the line. It’s a bargain he’s kept since 1994; he proudly explains how many of the first 20 releases spawned major label deals; Peshay, Alex Reece, J Majik, Dillinja, Photek, all within the first year of business.

“Metalheadz is like wildstyle graffiti,” he explains. “The purest form! And a lot of people responsible for it have never had the recognition they deserve. A lot of artists have been doing it for 30 years in New York and are only now getting their dues. They’ve been on a long road. That’s distillation. Wildstyle is complicated. People are just making bubble letters right now. And sadly a lot of those people making the bubble letters can actually make really good wildstyle. But that’s their choice.”

Here’s the crux; bubble letters can be extremely effective, inviting new ears, energy and attention to the scene. It’s a case of how, and when, the bubble letters are drawn. And who they’re drawn by.

“I respect people like Fresh. He made his name in the wildstyles!” says Goldie. “That’s cool. He can do whatever he likes and do it well because he’s done the hard work, done the graft and learned the craft. But if you haven’t learned that craft. If you haven’t learned wildstyle then fuck off and find some other bandwagon.”

We don’t know who this is aimed at. And didn’t ask. One man’s bubble is another man’s banger… But this firm manifesto has driven Metalheadz into the influential position it is today. What’s more, behind the articulated rant, the man driving it is still inspired.

“When I think of drum & bass and you’re talking about the levels that dBridge and others like him have gone to, it blows me away. And still it keeps coming. Against all odds! We’re the bastard child of rave music, we’re the bastard child of house music, we’re the bastard child of techno. Now dubstep is the legitimate son of drum & bass. And as long as they deal with the fall out of the commercial exposure properly, I can’t wait to hear what’s next.”

Freedom is out now. Listen and download

Drum&BassArena Editor: Dave Jenkins has documented beats for over 15 years working with the likes of UKF, Mixmag, DJ Mag, iDJ, Bandcamp, Resident Advisor, Radio 1 Xtra and many more.


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