Corby turntablist DJ OP1 is a fixture on the NN scene, and his mash-ups have finally led to his own creation, ‘Time Off Beat Tape’. New Boots got up close and personal.
How and when did you first get into DJing and mashing up sounds?
I guess I’ve always had an interest in sound and music manipulation. I used to have copies of cassettes from the Dreamscape tape packs and always was curious as to how they got the music continuously blending seamlessly with new sounds coming in and out. At the time I had no idea that it was all mixed on decks; in fact I don’t even think I was aware of what a DJ was back then [in my defence I was about 12 and naïve, so the whole rave scene was a kind of an imagined blur of mystery to me]. I just knew I loved the whole energy of it all, and the way the sounds were woven together really stuck with me. Fast forward a few years and I got heavily into the Beastie Boys and DJ Shadow. The way they cut up samples and beats made me want to do the same, and as soon as I saw the video to ‘Three MCs and one DJ’ on MTV I knew I had to get some decks. It all went from there.
This move into making your own music, how did that come about?
I’ve always been a big fan of the whole cut and paste sampling style, so it was a logical step to buy a four-track tape recorder. I did a lot of my early mix-tapes on that, then finally bought an Akai sampler, allowing me to start to make my own beats.
How has lockdown been for you? Not been able to DJ in the usual way must be harsh.
Lockdown has been both a blessing and a curse. Its allowed me to focus all my free time into making beats and putting out mixes, while not having the time pressure of working the full-time job. Gig-wise though I’ve had to adapt. It has been strange not being out playing in a venue each weekend and I’ve really missed the human interaction. Luckily though I have been able to do live streams on Facebook, Instagram and Twitch along with a few virtual festival sets which as been great, albeit slightly strange playing to a bedroom wall! But its kept my hand in, and also allowed me to connect with and gain followers along the way.
Tell us everything about this release, ‘Time Off Beat Tape’.
The beat tape came about kinda organically. I was never intentionally going to release anything, I wasn’t super confident in myself. But I had posted a lot of my beats as ‘sketches’ on Insta and lots of my friends pushed me to put it out properly. So I took the plunge and made the tape! Its all sampled (mostly) from vinyl and made using my really basic set up of Maschine, two turntables, a mixer and multi-tracked in Audacity. I guess the sound of the tape leans heavily towards ’90s-era boom bap and lo-fi instrumental hip-hop. Crunchy drums and hazy soulful samples. I’ve been out on my bike in the countryside during lockdown and as a result I’ve tried to make the vibe of the beats reflect that.
What can one expect from an OP1 set?
My DJing roots are in hip-hop, so that mixing style will always run through my sets. I play a broad mix of styles from chilled soulful beats to funk, to breaks, to rap, to d&b – with the odd curveball and skills thrown in for good measure. I’d say ‘expect the unexpected, but always expect good music’!
Favourite NN venues to play? Time for shout outs.
We’re really lucky to have so many sick venues in Northampton and I’ve always been super lucky to be booked on the strength of my musical style. I especially love playing The Garibaldi Hotel and The Lab. They always have a great vibe to them. Big up The Brad, The Pomfret, The Lamplighter and The Black Prince as well as the other independent venues in town.
What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Tom Misch and Yussef Dayes What Kinda Music.
What is your burning desire to do with music in the future? Any plans?
Aside from actually playing a proper gig that’s not from my bedroom I’m going to keep working on and pushing my own music and mixes. I’m always open to collaborate with local artists on stuff too. I’ve got lot of things bubbling in the background. My twice-monthly ‘The O.P.1 show’ on Gold Dust Radio and I’m working on a couple of remix projects which will be out later this year. I’m now part of Kings Gambit, as well as DJing for Leeds rapper ExP.
‘Time Off Beat Tape’ is out now on Bandcamp