Shy FX - No Confusion It Was Always About the Culture
31 Aug 2020
Masterclasses From Tunes to Carnival and a Lost Exchange Dug up From an Old Release
Shy FX has gone from strength to strength over the 25+ years he's been in the game. From groundbreaking sounds of Original Nuttah in the early 90s to jump-up favourites and crossover hits into the 2000s he has always been constantly refining and coming out with sounds that tie together current urban flavours with the styles of his roots. Whether its jump-up drum'n'bass or funky house or dubstep or roots reggae what really connects everything is a love for the sounds of the culture that surrounds him and the sounds that move the dancefloor.
It's with no surprise that the imprint his recent Raggamuffin SoundTape projects have revolved around is called Cult.ure. The SoundTape project was a masterclass in cutting edge production and marketing. First by building up hype on the album tracks for over a year and leaving everyone blown away when it dropped with an assortment of stunning collaboration efforts full of quality DnB/reggae/RnB style. Then running a carefully curated series of club nights that focused on top djs and acts including every name connection from his contact list like Idris Elba and David Rodigan alongside a ton of top DnB artists. The hottest parties focused on the hottest tunes and vibes: a brilliantly executed next-level operation that are rooted in a love for the soundsystem culture and rave ethos that he grew up in. For years Shy hosted stages at Notting Hill Carnival following the same formula. With profile friends like Lily Allen and Mark Ronson appearing with DJs and MCs from the forefront of London vibemakers like Seb Chew, Ms. Dynamite, Breakage and Redlight ready to throw down multi-bass-genre tunes new and old for the masses. Despite maybe not receiving certain DnB documentary coverage, he has never lost sight of the drum'n'bass movement he helped propel all these years either. Case in point: After all these years, touching on different styles and being connected to the urban underground displayed in part on the ,,Raggamuffin SoundTape, when it came time to release a selection of remixes of the tracks this year, he chose to feature 100% drum'n'bass artists. The Raggamuffin Reloaded edition is nothing but remix after remix of the highest quality DnB flavours. His love for the style and determination to keep pushing it forward while staying true to the soundsystem roots keeps Shy FX in highest regard throughout the scene and UK music culture.
No Confusion #
Recently while enjoying his latest radio mix creation, I reminisced about some of the historical sets he brought flair and dubplates to and then I stumbled upon some lost work. Doing his part to help uplift people on pandemic lockdown back in May Shy linked up with longtime vocal collaborator Stamina MC and did a smashing mix of dubs and classics for Radio 1 called Honey, I Shrunk The Rave. A 30 minute journey of Raggamuffin... bits and new remixes and some old faves in there too for a perfectly fun snapshot of many of the styles that make up the culture I've been talking about this whole post. Much rewinding and jawdropping here also with some of the dubplates included like new material from one of his aliases from back in the day, 45 Roller, which then got released later in August - more crafting marketing. The soundsystem ethos of coming correct with the best tunes continues to not fail him. One other tune featured in the mix that was a nice throwback: Bambatta. A song that came out in 1998 and many in DnB will have fond memories of. At the time the scene was rapidly trending towards techstep sounds and off in jazzy dnb territory also and Shy FX came out with a stunningly fresh jungle-ish breakbeat frenzy of a tune. I remembered him playing it to Toronto ears when in town for a party and appearing on the top local DnB radio show The Prophecy. Every tune was on fire and the session (that also featured MC's Fearless & Skibadee) would go down in local history as one of the best shows of all time. One of Shy FX's djing trademarks is also to come with custom intros (CNN news report spoofs etc), one-off versions of songs with altered lyrics praising his name and other little gimmicks to make his sets stand out. In surfing around and reminiscing about Bambatta I noticed the underground smash also had a CD-single release. Not too common for none but the most popular of DnB releases and I noticed it had an expanded tracklist from the vinyl release. Most if not all of us would have picked up the vinyl at the time and been happy without even knowing there was a CD. But the CD has some extra tracks! There are three extra 'interlude' tracks on it which are kind of the dj-tool type things Shy would feature in his sets. Some random hiphop interludes and then this: Confused - a short skit that features a funny exchange with a youngster:
Just thought that was a funny random find that I don't think anyone has talked about or heard in years, if at all. The subject matter is a bit curious too as it references the divide and/or difficulty in genre-naming that was a topic around the time of its release, when really most settled on jungle-drum'n'bass or one of either interchangeably. This connects to Shy FX's central M.O. - it's not about the genre names and definitions but the core ingredients - beats, bass and vibes coming together - that drives his continuing quest for the culture.
Cover Photo: Shy FX playing @ Switch, 9th June 2006, Ministry of Sound, London.