Skream and dubstep: the two words are practically inextricable. Or at least they were. As a teenager, the Croydon-raised Oliver Jones was instrumental in taking a sparse, forbidding musical form and turning it into a world-beating behemoth. Tracks like “Midnight Request Line” showed that dubstep could do hummable melodies just as easily as urban paranoia. Jones’ career has since gone stratospheric. In 2010 and 2011 he had chart success as part of Magnetic Man, a trio with fellow Croydonites Benga and Artwork. Last year he produced tracks for Kelis and Miles Kane and landed a weekly Radio 1 slot.
As a figurehead of contemporary British dance music, then, it’s perhaps appropriate that Jones is about to leave dubstep behind. There’s no doubting that UK electronic music is experiencing a boom-time, but the poster boys of the new generation – Disclosure et al. – are increasingly of a house persuasion. It’s a development Jones has been following with keen interest, showcasing an increasing amount of house and techno in his sets over the past year.
With his contribution to Pete Tong’s mix series for Defected out this month, it seems the transformation is complete. The mix is a bold, colourful trip through sunny disco and more aggressive UK sounds, spanning from Dusky and Midland to Justin Martin and Duke Dumont. RBMA caught up with Skream shortly after a triumphant “classics set” at dubstep institution DMZ to find out why such sets will soon be a rarity and discuss the inspiration behind his new mix.