TiD&B Interview: Future Thinkin

Posted by on Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

One of the most exciting, dynamic and interesting crews in the British underground D&B scene, Future Thinkin are active in the recording, performing and radio arenas.  Based around a core group of DJs and MCs, FT have been making waves both in their own right and in collaboration with friends within the industry for well over a decade.

In an attempt to understand more about the collective; their history, philosophy and upcoming plans, we went in deep with some of the original members of the crew, MC Shylo, Danny Exile, DM-C.U.T and I-One…

TiD&B: Can you introduce us to the members of Future Thinkin and tell us more about both the crew and the label’s history; how did you guys start rolling together?

Shylo: Well the initial spark was down to myself and another guy called Johann waaay back in 1996, at one stage we had 14-15 people, DJs and vocalists working under the FT banner.  Danny Exile and DM-C.U.T came on board early on and over the years have become the core of what we now do as Future Thinkin.  I suppose those earlier days were about us finding our sound, making a decision about how we wanted to go about things and on the performance side of things, we had to build our vibe, work on the understanding between DJs and MCs.  As for the label, that just seemed like a natural progression for us, we were surrounded by new music, new producers, and they were making great music that wasn’t getting the attention it deserved.  So we carried over the ethos of our club nights and decided to provide a platform for new producers to get their music out and heard.

TiD&B: As artists in your own right, how long have you been performing and can you tell us more about your inspirations?

Danny Exile: I first started DJing in the mid 90′s after catching the raving bug from about ’92 onwards, initially I played jungle in a local junior ragga sound system, as the designated jungle selector, I almost got into this by accident as my friends at the time needed a jungle selector as it was becoming a real trend in the sound system world and I was an avid record buyer with limited bedroom DJing experience.  In terms of influences, I found that I was as much influenced by vibes and specific events as I was by the DJs themselves, and as with many others, always loved hearing the likes of Randall doing what he does so well, but I must admit a lot of my favourite DJs were those who graced the pirate radio scene around that time.  I also specifically remember hearing the late G.E Real playing at Roller Express on 4 decks, he was a Birmingham based DJ, and it would have been some time in the early to mid ‘90s.  I remember being amazed at the showmanship and precision of a true craftsman at work, and he was a true inspiration.  DJing is an art form that I believe has been diluted with the dawn of digital DJ’s and something that an entire generation will never get to see the like of today.

Shylo: DM-C.U.T started DJing in 1988 and then joined his first sound system in 1989.  Since then he’s built up a rich musical experience ranging from playing on both legal and pirate stations, to different events around the world…For me, I’m just a host for these guys’ sets, my job is to provide a presence, highlight the qualities of the music that’s being played and provide a link between the DJ and listener/raver – I spent a long time listening to people like Conrad, Fats, Moose and GQ when raving and these guys are part of the reason I’ve got the love for D&B that I do, they worked hard to make the music shine, and that’s what I try to do for crowds now.

I-One: I’ve been doing vocals to drum and bass for about the last twelve years.  I studied Performing Arts from an early age and attended the BRIT School and have always written poetry.  I was a big fan of garage and jungle music in the ’90s and started to write and record…I stumbled into drum and bass after attending a Bukem night at Brixton Academy. I loved the freedom of drum and bass and felt that it had scope to express many styles.  I hooked up with the FT guys in the early days and they gave me the opportunity to really grow and learn my craft.

TiD&B: What was the impetus for starting your own label? How did it come about and what’s it like running it?

Shylo: Like I said, there was no real impetus moment, the label was just the next step we felt we should take! It’s been a ride and a half so far as we’ve been trying to establish a label while witnessing the collapse of vinyl as a viable format for the distribution of music, but we’re still very happy with the music we have out, and the quality we’ve maintained, I think we’re about 30-40 releases in now and have got the ‘Words Matter’ album, and Terminal State EP to come! 

TiD&B: What would you say defines Future Thinkin as a label?

Shylo: I’d like to think that the music we release never follows the D&B trends, we only release music we feel, regardless of whichever sub-genre it might fall into.  Hopefully people recognise and appreciate the quality and understand the vibe… 

TiD&B: You also have your popular weekly slot on Kool London, how did the hookup with them come about?

Shylo: Well we’d been on Origin FM for nearly 8 years and had pretty much done all we could there – the only place to go was Kool really.  I did have a few concerns with regards to how we’d be received on there, as what we play isn’t the normal Kool output, but we’ve managed to find a nice home on Liquid Mondays with Chris Intaface and other like-minded artists and it’s all going well! 

Check out a snippet of FT in action on Kool (recorded Sept’2010):

TiD&B: As a collective you are definitely on a down-to-earth, approachable vibe, which transcends into everything you do, including your events and radio shows, is there a particular philosophy which you all stand by?

Shylo: Cheers! Erm our vibe & philosophy is the same as it’s been since the early days; musically we love D&B, believe it should be represented in a certain way, and do so whenever we play out or do a show – overall, we’re just a bunch of like-minded people committed to ensuring the more specialist sides of D&B have a home.  I think a lot of what people like about what we do is that there’s no pretension, no ego, no fake gangster-ism, it’s just a celebration of everything that’s good about the music we love.

TiD&B: So what’s coming up for you guys in the near future?

Shylo: Well label-wise we have the ‘Words Matter’ album that we are quite excited about!  It’s been a long time coming, but will be worth the wait.  As per normal with our label, the album features fresh new producers and a wide range of sounds, we’re looking to get that out late October/early November time, and that will be followed by an EP by our latest signings to Future Thinkin Digital, Terminal State.  We’ve had great feedback on the Terminal State tracks and got high hopes for them! On the club front, we are proud to be on the bill for the 20 Years of Kool with a K at Fire, London on Saturday 19th November! We’re also at our spiritual home, The Rhythm Factory in London, this Friday 7th October for D&B Central – an event that’s right down our street, its all about bringing ALL styles of D&B back under one roof, a concept we are happy to get behind! 

TiD&B: Finally, any messages for the TID&B readers, and any shouts you’d like to kick?

DM: Future Thinkin is nothing without the people.  So join us in the creation of audio, visual and generally good vibrations.   Keep an eye on our website and check out our show on Kool, every Monday 7-9pm (BST).

Shylo: Just a quick shout to the music lovers that have supported us over the years, to Rusher & Fox, Outlaw, Eastman, and all at KoolLondon, Lyds, Moose, Johnny Rhythm (RIP) and as always much love to all the Future Thinkers out there!

Posted on: 04/10/11 Categories: Interviews TiD&B Features

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