Exclusive Interview: Logan Sama talks his landmark Fabriclive CD & more
We caught up with the legendary DJ to discuss his very exciting new project among other topics...
It was around 18 months ago that Logan Sama departed from his long-running Kiss FM show, a weekly live broadcast in which the majority of the grime scene made their commercial radio debuts, and while its conclusion was lamented by the loyal following, who continued to tune in even as the show was pushed shorter and later in the scheduling, the parting of ways has enabled the DJ & grime ambassador to do more than ever.
“Just doing the radio show was enough,” said Logan, during a recent call with RWD. “It kept me relevant, I was at the top of my game, [with the] best radio show of the genre. Removing the radio show meant that for me to maintain my position, I have to go out and do all these things otherwise I fade into obscurity.”
‘These things’ include a series of Boiler Room sessions at ICA London, in which he showcased grime acts young and old on monthly live streams; running a stage with Butterz at this summer’s Outlook Festival in Croatia, hosting a line-up that ranged from Kahn & Neek to Killa P to DJ EZ; and launching 3310, an Amsterdam club night in which emerging MCs such as Jammz and Mez join Logan in the Dutch capital. “Skepta’s going out there, Stormzy is going out there, Novelist is going out there – but we’re getting these new artists out there as well to follow-up, just to show them the rest of the scene because it’s important people see that shit.”
There is also his Sixty Minutes residency on BBC 1Xtra, an hour mix every other Wednesday for the final hour of Mistajam’s show. It is a mix in which Logan does not speak , which is in keeping with the change of focus. “Everything I’ve done in the past 18 months has been entirely around the music, not being a personality,” he said. “I’ve seen a positive response from that in terms of the recognition I’m getting for my skill set.”
The last week saw another big example of this with his landmark release of Fabriclive 83. In what must be the boldest effort in the CD series thus far, Logan’s mix features a remarkable 66 of the genre’s leading MCs spraying over 24 exclusive productions he has curated. Each track is courtesy of a different producer, and in a Fabriclive first the instrumentals will be released on vinyl in November. “The way I put it together, I didn’t gather MCs for a tune, “ Logan said. “I just gathered acapellas from MCs and built it as a collage.” This personal curation allows us to hear prospects such as AJ Tracey and PK vocal a legend such as Davinche (‘Kestra’), or Capo Lee spraying alongside Jamakabi (‘Crud’). Jammer is back on the boards. Maxsta is at his angry best. There is a seven-minute epic from Dullahbeatz, ‘Final Stage’, which features Kano, SafOne, Mayhem, Deadly, PRessure, Bomma B, Tornado, Flowdan, Killa P, GodsGift, Cadell, Shifman and MIK. It’s everything a grime fan could want.
The vocal stems, gathered by Logan over a couple of months, are mastered in such a way that the raw energy is still at the heart of the experience. There are points during Family Tree features, for example, when they can be heard egging each other on in the background. “I wanted the sound quality to be good, but not to sanitise it,” Logan said. It is these moments, combined with MCs spitting some of their most famous bars across the CD, that present grime at its very best on a series that will be introducing the sound to new and curious ears. “The fabriclive CD is for grime fans, everything I do will always be for grime fans, but it’s not designed only for grime fans,” he explained. “I want people who aren’t grime fans to listen to it and say ‘Ok this is this shit that’s everyone’s talking about, that new sound I don’t know…Oh it sounds great, I love the energy and excitement and passion these guys are putting in’.”
The album is definitely something to celebrate, but the work doesn’t stop for Logan. “I’m trying to do as much online independently as I can,” he said, and chief among these will be the continued growth of his KeepinitGrimy brand. The legendary YouTube channel expanded to a beta Keepinitgrimy website earlier this year, collating grime music and videos from various platforms and, in a particularly impressive feature, displaying calendars for grime events and retail releases. Customisation and improved search capabilities are the aim moving forward – “I think it’s important that people can be able to make things that are specific to them” – as well as some exciting plans that will be revealed in due course. We’ve seen the progression of Logan alongside grime itself over the last year and a half, and the signs look good for the 18 months ahead too.
Logan on…the recent grime chart success
This whole digital era is really democratising everything. Record labels can spend 100 bags on marketing but the stuff that these guys are doing online, legitimately? It’s crazy. Guys getting two million, four million, five million views on freestyles and it probably cost £200 to shoot. A lot of these companies will spend six figures and not manage to attain that. It just shows the worth of what these guys are doing, and I want these guys to see that and more people getting what they’re worth for their artistry, fanbase and work rate. It’s not by chance that Bugzy and Stormzy are in the positions they’re in now.
Logan on…what defines grime
I would say as hip-hop is reflective of American culture and bashment & dancehall is reflective of Jamaican culture, grime is reflective of UK culture. We have people in this country that do bashment, dancehall and hip-hop, but grime is that element that makes it British.
The sound of grime is so wide, so difficult to just pin it down to a stereotypical sound, it’s sort of come to mean UK MCs rapping about gritty stuff. Giggs is musically definitely ‘grimy’ in culture and content – sonically it’s not grime, but it’s definitely from the same culture that grew grime, do you know what I mean? It’s UK street culture, what grime is. There’s always going to be crossover with UK rap because it comes from the same place. It’s impossible for it to not be similar. It’s like two brothers, you’ve grown up in the same household so you’re going to have very similar traits.
Logan on…UK rap being labelled as grime
The general music listening public are not the most educated when it comes to grime because they’ve not heard enough of it, not experienced enough of it and that’s really just the mainstream media’s fault. If people are getting labelled grime and they’re making f*cking good music, I’m not going to rush out of the way like “No! That’s not grime! Stop!”, you know? Section Boyz is a good example, because I wouldn’t say they make grime but they make nang music and they did a collaboration with Heavytrackerz, grime producers.
You’re looking at a whole generation of kids…grime has been going for 13 years now, so the entire time you’ve been musically aware, grime’s been there. They’ve grown up in an era when grime’s been there, but also they were making music when grime wasn’t really the thing to do and hip-hop was really popping off, and that’s why you’ve got that music being made now by guys like Section Boyz which is really undefinable because it’s born of grime, like the culture and the ethos behind it, approached from a rap/trap background. It’s very exciting musically, and it’s so representative of our whole demographic, of our whole culture.
There will be a launch party at Fabric on Friday 9 October for this CD, with Keepinitgrimy & Butterz taking over the club’s main room. There will be sets from Logan (obviously), Wiley, Elijah, Terror Danjah B2B P-Jam, Jammz & Finn and Grandmixxer B2B Dullahbeatz. For tickets or more information, click here.