Q+A with DJ Agro (Sub-liminal)

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Former Island resident DJ Agro spent years smashing nights with his uncompromising, bass-loving sets. Several years on and now residing in Worthing, he is returning to the Island scene to open a Ryde-based outlet of his Sub-liminal nights that have been causing mayhem for the last few years on the south coast. Ahead of the first Sub-liminal at The Balcony on May 2nd I spoke with him about the night, his new label and more (plus he rightly gives me a ticking off for missing one of his headliners out!).

So you’ve got your first Sub-liminal event on the Isle of Wight after several years of Brighton-based parties. Are you looking forward to returning to the Island?

Yes, Firstly I’d like to expand my business beyond Brighton to include where it all started – the Isle of Wight. The events held in Brighton at ‘The Volks’ that I’ve been promoting are run single-handedly by myself, Whereas the event here in Ryde will be run in conjunction with my colleague ‘Too Greezey’ (Jordan Cook).

You were a lynchpin of the scene here for a long time with your Bass Hertz and Karnage nights, what are your fondest memories from then?

One of my fondest memories from that time is a joint birthday bash I held for me and my friend Shane Hackling at Temptations nightclub where Subzero was the special guest and headlining DJ. There where wicked vibes from start to finish and it was the biggest party we pulled off on the island. Closely followed by the Biological Beats event we held at The Studio, Newport in 2010 where we invited Fatman D, DJ Klip & MC Mekar for a showcase, it was the most popular drum and bass event I’ve seen at The Studio since DJ Krooks held Punishment there. I can’t take any credit for Bass Hertz. Although I was one of the resident DJs there, the promotion was down to Pablo Riddler.

You’ve chosen to put the night on at The Balcony which hasn’t seen much in the way of ‘proper’ dance music for a long time and has rather dodgy reputation amongst Island punters. Brave? Foolish? Don’t give a monkeys what people say?

The Balcony is a commercial club now, I am friends with the manager, a fellow drum and bass fan and I’ve been approached and asked to hold this event there. The club is decent size and good location for islanders as well as mainlanders, Im my time as a DJ I’ve seen many clubs shut and re-open across the country and you have to remember that a venue is essentially bricks and mortar. I’ve seen some of the scene’s A-list artists perform there such as Pendulum, DJ Fresh, Hazard and Clipz (Redlight). I think over recent years the scene has changed and become a lot more mainstream reflecting on the audience. I’m confident that Sub-liminal will be successful no matter which venue I choose. Perhaps I’m being a bit brave, I wouldn’t say foolish, and as to the not giving a monkeys what people say, I normally find that the neysayers are those that lack the bravery to even try

Any plans for extra sound, light, fireworks etc at the venue?

Yes, we have plans to hire a Funktion 1 rig and have the normal Sub-liminal decor and lazier light show, along with 4 Pioneer CDJS to spice things up a bit!

The headliner for the first Sub-liminal IOW is a monster of a booking – Original Sin. For people who haven’t heard him play or any of his productions, what’s in store?

Original Sin AKA one half of the drum and bass outfit Generation Dub has been a pioneer of the jump up/Dancefloor d&b sound going back about 20 years now. If you’ve ever heard DJ Hype, Hazard, Andy C or any other A-list d&b act then I’m sure you will of heard some of his tracks. Some of his biggest production include ‘Don’t Be Silly’, ‘Overfiend’ and more recently, ‘Labyrinth’. He’s also had the privilege of remixing for Rusko, DC Breaks, Ebony Dubsters to name a few. As far as his live shows go, I actually saw him last night when I was waiting to DJ at United Sounds, Bristol, and I can tell you for a fact that it was one of the most energetic and diverse sets I’ve seen so far this year. With his new ‘No limit E.P’ due for release on Playaz in the forthcoming weeks, I’m sure he won’t be short of new material.

I have also booked Devilman to headline who you have failed to mention; Devilman is one of the most iconic Grime artists ever. He came to fame ten years ago when he clashed Skepta on Lord of the Mic’s 1 when he was just 18! Since then he’s been away from the scene but over the last few years he’s come back with a bang in the Jump up d&b scene. I’ve been working with him for over a year now and we have cooked up some bangers in the studio that we will be playing on the night so look out for those!

You’ve expanded your empire to now have a record label. Is it going to be pure dnb or are you looking wider musically? 

I’ve been looking forward to somebody asking me about the label! I’ve been working closely, not exclusively, but closely, with DJ Levela’s label, Multifunction music over the last 4 years or so. I’ve been presented with many chances to start my own label but didn’t think it would be something I wanted to do, although after achieving my degree and experiencing a decade in the scene myself it seemed to be my next logical move, although I will still be a Multifunction music artist and I hope that won’t change as they have shown me nothing but love and encouragement over the last few years and I still have forthcoming releases on Multifunction Including my next E.P dropping very soon.

The first release on Sub-liminal Recordings is available for download from all major mp3 outlets such as iTunes, Amazon and Juno from the 20th of March. The track is called ‘Giants Breath’ by an artist called Damage Report, it also includes a remix from Total Recall. Although these tracks may be pigeon-holed as jump up I believe them to have a dark sound. I also have forthcoming music coming on the label from artists such as Dialogue, Version, Fena, Kenji & the Island’s very own Leaf and in due course myself Too Greezey and Deviation. Although the label is predominantly d&b, I have the freedom to release anything I want too on it. The secondary genre would more than likely sway towards grime.

Since leaving the Island your bookings and reputation seem to have grown hugely. Could this have happened if you’d stayed here?

No! Since leaving the Island, I’ve played at most of the UK’s leading events and I’ve been through college and gained a degree in music production. Considering the Isle of Wight College wouldn’t event let me in as a music student I don’t see how any of this would of been possible if I had stayed on the Isle of Wight. I could always return if I wanted to, but I don’t at this time.

Finally, sum up in four words what people can expect on May 2nd…

And its the D-E-Velopment!!!!!!!!

Sub-liminal heads to The Balcony in Ryde on Saturday May 2nd. Advanced tickets are £7 and are available via the Facebook event page.


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