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Concrete-19: LCY & Kirbstomp with the Low Down

I rarely set forth out into the depths of Pompey now my student days are over. Attending a rave nowadays involves a complicated series of deductive calculations rather than £8.50, a bottle of Glen’s vodka for pre’s and only my gun fingers to hand. I did, however, feel the need to make an exception when I spotted that LCY was headlining a Concrete night at Astoria  – a solid trip down nostalgia lane for me alongside the opportunity to see one of my go-to-listens behind the decks for the first time as her new alias. The Glen’s got boycotted but, rest assured, the night still did not disappoint. 
I have a confession to make though: I was in fact here a few weeks prior, having it out to Sherelle on a jam-packed dance floor in the basement of the club; another exception I made and the only one, I swear. Aesthetically, both crowds were cut from the same cloth but different to how I remember the Concrete assembly ‘back in my day’… which, trust me, is not something to moan about. From the get go, the vibes were as smooth as the get ups. The girls were surprisingly fully clothed in swaggy sportswear, much like the boys, who, actually, had control over their jaws in more ways than one. For the record, I was quietly impressed. The downstairs room in Astoria provides an up close and personal experience, with those exclusive but somewhat dingy Boiler Room feels… but there was something a bit more sinister going on at the LCY gig. 
Luring us into a false sense of security, Porter warmed up the dance with some groovy tech-house tremors before Billy Oz, Concrete’s head-honcho, bumped up the richter scale with a blend of weighty old-school dubstep and some swampy sounding shin twisters. It was almost enough to detract my attention away from the gaps in the crowd. Folk seemed scattered compared to Sherrelle and rather than the outside area being a mass fag-for-all, everyone was sectioned off into their individually coloured smoking sheds… which, I must add, charismatically matched our cups. This soon became rightly impertinent as I got back inside the ride and Kirbstomp cranked the levels up with a relentless set of pure naughty 140 – showcasing releases from his label, Hotplates Recordings, and teasing a wedge of unreleased dubs from the likes of Sepia, Darkimh and Lord Jabu. This really should have been the topic of conversation but there was a murmur overhead and something else dominating chit chat: The Covid-19 pandemic.
Now, at this point, I am nowhere near sure of the severity of the virus. I don’t think anyone is, or anyone has the chance to even care once LCY has entered the booth. She instantly drew everyone in by effortlessly laying down an assemblage of bumpy 130 bpm breaks – I think both feet were off the floor simultaneously at one point. It’s infectious, and clearly took precedence over the possibility of contracting any virus as the crowd became more cohesive. Ensuring that no-one got too comfortable though, LCY picked up the pace and injected some industrialised wobs which warped, yet again, into some gratified garage beats. As if on cue, there was some benign serenading going down as I wonder if people realised that this may be the last rave of 2020. It fully seemed like LCY did as she ended the evening with some hard, neuro-apocalyptic drum & bass – which felt rather fitting and just what the doctor ordered before lockdown.
As well as shaking my stuff on the floor, I also caught up with LCY and Kirbstomp backstage to get their takes on the night, as well as what’s going on in their respective camps.

Yo LCY,

So recently, you have levelled up to a new alias alongside losing the mask. I understand that it was there to ensure a certain level of anonymity but what actually inspired the mask specifically? 

Well, I never like to be in photos and I always cover my face. One of the first things I noticed is that you can post a picture of yourself and it gets loads of likes and then you can post something else that you are really passionate about and it gets 0. You’re like, shit. There were also a couple articles that I was reading on female producers which made me think, ahhhh, this is so image based. I never wanted to be, so I thought I would take away the image and do the mask thing. 

Was it difficult to maintain? 

Yeah, you have to commit to it. You can’t just take it off mid-set just because you feel a bit panicked. You just have to struggle to breath. 

It is quite a powerful message…

Yeah it was supposed to be but I think it got drawn apart.

Did you get any stick for it?

I feel like people in serious circles didn’t really take me seriously for it initially. People that hadn’t listened to my music or saw me at face value would think it was gimmicky, I had a few gimmicky comments. I feel like people thought it was a ploy to get people to follow me rather than the opposite. 

Isn’t it odd that everyone’s put the mask on the moment you take it off?

Haha, it is so fucking weird though! It’s actually weird! Cus’ obviously this is the first gig I have played without a mask. I went to get on the tube today and every single person had a mask on. It’s bizarre for me… I am trying so hard to take it off but everyone’s now got one. I have still got one in my pocket but it’s uncomfortable. I wish I had one. It’s a comfort now.

So the reason for getting rid is because it became too focal being the opposite of your intentions. Are you gonna practice any other means of ensuring people focus on the music or do you feel like you have made your point, mission accomplished kinda thing? 

I just want people to focus on the art and the music. Instead of people focusing on the mask specifically, I want them to focus on the art that I am creating, the music and the different creative directions that I am going in. I don’t want my face to be a thing. 

Creative directions, like SZNS7N? Can you tell us what that is all about? 

SZNS7N is about bringing through people that I feel deserve a platform. I have a small enough platform or a large enough platform, depending on what perspective you have, to put these people on as well as releasing my own music. So many people I know personally and musically can really do with even just the contacts that I have. I have seen it happen, people that I have released with are now going on to do other releases and it’s sick. I’m really happy with it and think it is something positive. 

So, your next session is on the 9th April? 

Yeeeeeee yeeeeee. Are you coming?

I mean, I hope so! 

I hope so too. So long as it’s not cancelled, fucking hell. 

Will you be incorporating art into the nights?

So I’m doing live AV shows soon and I need to buy a projector. Financially, I can’t really afford to incorporate massive art shows. If I had sponsorship, I would love to do that and I think down the line, there is definitely space for it.

So what can we expect from LCY compared to LUCY? 

Similar but I think a more honest approach, no mystery or anything like that. If you feel like there is mystery in the art or the output then that’s fine.

In terms of tempo… is there gonna be a change of bpm to bpm?

So I’m gonna sort that out by just doing live shows instead ‘cus then people will just expect my music. I feel like it can throw people off a little bit. 

You shouldn’t be restricted to a bpm though. 

I know but I feel like I am always assuming that people love everything. I think it’s interesting when you don’t know what you are gonna play and you just chuck shit at people. I love everything I play but not necessarily the crowd will so I need to refine a little bit – be a bit more particular. 

I also wanted to mention 6 Figure Gang. You lot have exploded at the forefront of the UK bass scene. What is next?

Well we were supposed to be playing some big festivals. We don’t know if the festivals are gonna happen though! There are some sick things that are going on, we can’t say too much but it is all really positive. So as long as we stay committed to the cause and are able to coexist with each other… We love each other dearly. 

And you are smashing it for the females. 

Yeeeeeeee. That wasn’t intentional you know!

Lastly, I have recently read that your sound has been coined the future of UK bass heavy dance music. That must be a mad thing to read about yourself… 

Ahhh yes, I read that and it was like ‘this is the future, groundbreaking, meet the DJ that is innovating music’… but nah, I would hope that everyone is the future and that we aren’t going to die from corona and that.

Yo Kirbstomp,

How have you enjoyed tonight? Is this your first time playing at a Concrete night?

Yeah, I’ve had a sick night. All the sets have gone off and it’s been a vibe on the dance-floor. I was happy to be able to showcase some forthcoming music from my label, Hotplates Recordings, and see the crowd’s reaction. Big Shouts to the Concrete boys for having me down. I’ve been a part of the scene for years and have attended many a Concrete night but this was my first time behind the decks for them.

Ok, so you have been in Portsmouth a while and your label pushes 140. Would you say there is a dubstep scene here? 

When I arrived 7 years ago, there was a substantial scene for bass music. There were D&B nights run by UP-DNB and a bass music night, Subliminal, who booked the likes of Om Unit and Kahn. The nights came to pass due to rules and regulations and the closure of multiple venues. There hasn’t been much of a dubstep scene ever since which is why I stepped up when Billy Oz asked me to play some tonight. It could’ve been one of the first dubstep sets played in Portsmouth for a while – hopefully there’s more to come! 

So how did your label, Hotplates Recordings, initially come about?  

It started as a pirate radio show on a station called Lush FM in various locations in and around Pompey. It was an all vinyl show, usually hosted by Joe Raygun, and we would get local upcoming artists involved such as Ipman and Sepia… Lush FM ceased due to the usual pirate radio problems but I wanted to keep the Hotplates ideology alive and so decided to start my own label. 

So can you run me through what you played tonight? Any bits from your label? 

My latest release from Saule was definitely in there, as well as the next release which actually landed in my inbox today. Can’t say too much about that though.. Darkimh’s latest release on Infernal Sounds was in there too. That’s a corker!

It was certainly a weighty set, do you plan on putting on any nights in the near future? 

It’s something I have been looking into and I’ve been running line ups through my head for a while now but, to be honest, I think I’d venture out to Bristol or London as the dubstep scenes out there are thriving. There must be something in the water!

Written by Meg Babey Davies

Photography by Tom Hall