When I tell people I come from Bath, their usual reaction is to give a little gasp and say, “Ooh, I’ve heard it’s pretty”. Which it is (unless you miss the city centre and end up in Twerton). That was always scant consolation, however, for a teenager seeking a messy musical education. Due to the city’s unique combination of smalltown conservatism and hippyish apathy, very little music of note comes from Bath, although it’s just close enough to Bristol to experience the faintest of trickledown effects. So while Bristol has become dubstep central, I was cheered to discover that Appleblim, one of the most fêted proponents of the new Bristol sound, was actually stationed in my old hometown 12 miles down the road.
Appleblim—aka Laurie Osborne—and his mate Sam Shackleton are second-generation dubsteppers who were seduced by the then Croydon-centric sound in the early days of the FWD>> and DMZ nights. With a series of excellent releases on their own Skull Disco label, they propelled the sound in a deeper, more experimental direction, impressively pricking up the ears of Berlin bass legends Maurizio (from Basic Channel / Rhythm & Sound) and Pole. Dubstep’s got a reputation for being a bit spotty male angst, all scowly dudes in black hoodies. But Appleblim’s new Dubstep Allstars 6 comp is not like that at all, it’s all burnished and serene. Here’s what the thoroughly genial Appleblim had to say for himself, anyway.
Congrats on getting to mix a Dubstep Allstars comp, does that mean you're dubstep royalty now?
Haha, nah man, I've just been given a lucky opportunity! It's a real honour to be considered for the mix, I was very surprised when Soulja asked me, of course I jumped at the chance. It’s kinda strange, as I am such a fan, to see my name in the same line up as Hatcha, N-type, Youngsta and Kode9. Odd, but very cool!
You've been involved in both the London and Bristol dubstep scenes, how would you say they differ in terms of musical attitude?
I think the most striking thing about Bristol is the intimacy and general closeness of the people involved, which I guess comes from the secene being slightly smaller and the place physically being smaller, u know? That's not to say London people aren't supportive of each other, in fact obv with crews like House Party, Dubz On Sunday, Standard Place etc, these are all people that perhaps met thru FWD>> and DMZ and are supportive of each others night. I think people on the dubstep scene generally help each other out a lot. But it’s not as easy because Bristol is mellow and London is cut throat. What I like about Bristol is the fact that no-one really seems to be obsessed with cred or being cutting edge, they just get on with it, whereas London, where I lived for nearly a decade, the wider musical/cultural scene can be a bit like 'We're the most cutting edge!'…I used to be like that even… I was like, ‘How can peeps be all laidback in places like Bristol?’ – but now I love it like that!
How did you get into making music in the first place?
My ma and pa were music fans, folk, jazz, etc, so I grew up round it, guitars round the house… I was in bands from 15 so it just went from there really.
When and how did you hook up with Shackleton to form Skull Disco?
Me and Shack hooked up thru a mutual friend I worked with at a London 2nd hand record shop, and we started going to gigs and clubs together. FWD>> blew us away, Youngsta and Hatcha’s sets down there in late '02 and early '03 were stunning, and when DMZ came thru we were there going mad to these insane tunes getting dropped on this bonkers system… great times!
Is there an ethos behind the music you make or what you put out on the label?
It sounds cheesy, but just music from the heart I think. It started out just being us, but thru the label we met and started working with other really interesting artists like Peverelist, Pole, T++ and so on, so it widened out to include some of that.
What was it like getting props from the like of Rhythm & Sound, Pole and Villalobos?
Obviously very cool, but it was just a welcome surprise really, not at all the reason we started the label. I never could imagine the Rhythm & Sound lot digging it, they were some of the music that me and Shack bonded over, putting it on after going out to FWD>> and so on, so it's a gem that they like it… but u know, its great that ANYONE likes it, we really didn't think anyone would!
You stuck the likes of Alice Coltrane and The Beach Boys amongst the dubbier, beatier stuff on your last Rinse.FM podcast. Do you think some dubstep DJs can be a bit too insular?
Not really, I think single-mindedness can sometimes be positive, pushing everyone on, u know? But yeah, it’s cool to include influences and just interesting music – it was just a way of turning people onto some stuff and making use of some of the incredible records I am lucky enough to own and love. That's what being into music for me is all about, spreading things, picking up on other people’s recommendations and so on… That's really not to say 'I’m more eclectic than you' – I think everyone who plays on Rinse plays really interesting music, it doesn't matter what they select.
What is your new label Applepips label about?
Basically it's a way of giving something back to the artists who pass me their music. I get to DJ all over the world using their trax so I figure the next logical thing is to give them some more exposure. Skull Disco was always the two of us, we had to agree on things, whereas this is all me, so it’s great fun in that respect.
I heard you used to live in Bath. That's where I'm from, how did you find it?
I left London and went to uni there. I studied music technology, it changed my life, that's when I started the label. Bath was cool for studying, and when we got a bit bored of the nightlife there we started going to Bristol as we saw flyers with dubstep on… that was Context, Pinch's first night, so that's how we met all that lot. I put them on in Bath and we remained friends ever since! I managed to put on Blazey and Pinch there a couple of times, and they were fun nights. They led to a lot of positive things for me, so yeah, big up Bath!
How would you describe the new music you're working on at the moment?
Hmmmm… just beats really! I have done a couple of tracks with Geiom that I really like, one has a 2step feel, the other is this weird techno stepping thing. I've also started working with Ramadanman on something – early days but so far I love it! Massive trance synths, and I’m not joking!
Which other names should we look out for?
Oooh, Greena, Jus Wan, Pangaea, Vista, Gemmy, Forsaken, RSD, Antisocial Ent (Quest, Silkie, Heny G & J5)….
Oh, and finally, how did you get the name Appleblim?
Aha, I was chatting to a prominent member of the grime scene after a FWD or Rinsessions at Plastic People, and I accidentally spat a 'blim' of an apple I was eating at them! My mate Necta Selecta seemed to find this very funny, luckily the DJ in question didn't notice, but Necta cracked up and referred to it later as “the apple blim” – so when I needed a name for the first skull disco release it couldn't be anything else, really! Very daft name, but u know, I was in a band called The Monsoon Bassoon, so I think I may be cursed!