You might not know this, but UK dubstep is about to be unleashed in the US via some of the original founders of dubstep – Magnetic Man. The dubstep trio consisting of Artwork, Benga and Skream have been ripping up the Europe scene and causing some serious bass havoc everywhere they go.

Stream Only: Magnetic Man – The Bug

’The Bug’

Having just released their self titled ‘Magnetic Man Album‘ in the States, on Friday 15th of April the group will land on American soil for the Coachella Festival. So before this momentous gig, we thought we’d catchup with Artwork from Magnetic man and see how their preparations are going, but also find out about the groups history and they came from Croydon London boys to Dubstep heroes

You were one of the original founders of dubstep in the UK – talk us through the journey:

Well it started off 10 years ago when we had a record shop in Croydon which was “Big Apple” and it wasn’t in the cool part of London – it was a record shop that started selling house, drum & bass and stuff like that. We weren’t like a specialist ‘one type’ of music shop – it was a bit of everything. There was techno there, there was house there, there was jungle & drum ‘n’ bass stuff and there was a really good little community.

Artwork, Goodfella and Skream in Big Apple records Croydon, circa 2001. Shot by former shop owner John Kennedy. Pic thanks to Blackdown

It was a meeting place,  somewhere you just don’t get any more… you don’t get that place where people go to meet. I’m not talking about a nightclub ‘cus you can’t talk to anyone there, but in a record shop – you got to hang out day in day out with people and it’s sort of like a university of music – you know what i mean?It’s a weird kinda thing which has gone now and that’s really sad.

So that’s how it started and I had a recording studio above the shop. I’d be making stuff to sell in the shop, then we decided to make Apple Records which was like just a record label that would only be sold in our shop. We wanted to make something different so that people would have to come to Croydon to buy the records and this is before the Internet, before you could download stuff you know. It was a weird kinda time but it was a great time you know. Everybody was coming down to the shop cus they were interested – this kind of new music that was being made and there was a club in London called Forward.

Every thursday, we’d all get together and go up to the club together, there was only 50 people in the club and 40 of them were producers, so we’d all go there hang out and play all our music on the system.

How did you start making records yourself and how did that form into Magnetic Man:
Well I was making garage records back a long time ago and it was kinda dark dark garage, really sort of strange stuff and when we started the label we wanted to make stuff that was completely different, you know? There was no songs in it, it was electronicy, sort of techno-ish, sort of two-step kind of style but a lot darker. There were people in the shop like Benny Ill,  Digital Mystikz and everyone, so there were these sort of sounds going around.

Then Hatch started to play a lot dubbier sort of music – and he was getting everyone to make darker and darker stuff, he’d say “do me a track that’s even nastier than that”

Even more bass!

Yeah even more bass! haha. So that was it, we were all making tracks in the week, then he’d go and play at Forward and it would get on the radio too on Rinse FM. So between the three of us – that’s how it sort of started you know.

Skream and Benga in Big Apple records Croydon, circa 2001. Shot by former shop owner John Kennedy

Skream and Benga in Big Apple records Croydon, circa 2001. Shot by former shop owner John Kennedy. Pic via Blackdown

So you’ve known Benga & Skream some time then?
Yeah we knew each other for 10 years, basically Benga and Skream use to come in the shop when they were like 15 years old. They started making beats on PlayStation and bringing them in. They’d bring them up to my studio, watch me work, and within a year – they were bringing in some awesome stuff.


Now I had £30k’s worth of gear, they were making records on a PlayStation’s and i was like “Shit… this stuff is sounding better than mine!” haha..

On a PlayStation 1! haha… brilliant. So moving onto the new Magnetic Man Album, it hit the UK #5 and now you’re about to unleash it on the U.S. How did the record come about?
Well it was completely upside down ‘cus when we started 4 years ago, we started making beats together just to play out at dub plates and nobody knew who it was. We were making these track and we had a friend on the Arts Council who said “look, you wanna make this a live act ‘cus I’ve got money that’s just waiting for you”. So we said “yeah fine”, so he gave us the money and we made some tracks to go out on tour with and we did 3 years of touring.

We were playing to crowds of like 15,000 people and Sony came to us [puzzled] saying “who ARE you?”,  “what albums are these tracks from?” – we were like “it’s not from an album, we’re just making tracks live for touring” and they were like “woah – go on then – make an album”.

So they gave us some money and were like – just go and make it. So we hired a mansion in the middle of no-where, we went down there for 2months, went stir crazy and did everything that rock bands do.

So you lived together for 2 months then??

Yeah it was mad, we had like an outdoor heated swimming pool in winter in Cornwall which we insisted they heated it to 85degrees… we spent £2.5k worth of oil!

These lorries of oil kept turning up and we were like “why are these lorries turning up” and they were like “its your oil for your pool mate!”. After that we realised this has to be one of the most un ecological albums ever made! haha.

Haha… sounded like you partied hard! What happened to all the B-Sides you made?

We almost made about 50 tracks and ideas, then we whittled them down and they got pushed aside. They’re all on a hard drive somewhere you know, there’s some good stuff and actually we were sitting down in France on tour and Skream pulled out a couple and was like “we missed a trick on this one” and that was just this weekend so there’s more stuff there!

I think the first song I heard you guys play was “Mad“… that track is insane!
It’s a pretty mental record – you see that was the thing – we knew we had to release one track first before anything else. If we’d had gone to Radio 1 straight away  (‘cus they were asking for stuff for ages) and been like “here’s one of the tracks”, people would have been like “what the hell!” – so we released it first and let Zane Lowe play it.

So your heading to the US – one word – COACHELLA… !
Yeah we’re properly excited. I’m sorting out the little bits and pieces as we speak and watching the tv at the same time! haha. To see your name with all those people at a festival like that is just amazing.

Plus, it’s America man… we never thought it [dubstep] would go there when we started it 10 years ago and if some one had said back then that we would be playing at an American festival, quite high up on the bill with such an amazing line up we’d have been like “naaah... get out man!”.

Who have you earmarked to go and see?
You always do this and think “i’m definitely definitely gonna see them” and the you walk through and think “hello who’s that?!” and you get properly surprised so you’ve just gotta have a good look around, find some new shit you know?

You’re renowned for amazing looking shows, can you tell us anything about what your first US set will look like?
It’s just gonna be an AMAZING show. hahahah

Compared to the UK, dupstep hasn’t hit the mainstream yet in the states. What’s your thoughts about music coming out of America at the moment?
I’ve always loved American music, they’ve always been top of the game in production and song writing wise. You’ve got so many people in America that your always gonna get the cream of the crop, but they seem to have stagnated a bit recently. Now they’re biting back by taking influences from Eurotracks from the early 90’s so they need something fresh man, you know?

What are you most looking forward to doing or seeing in America:
Just going out in LA really – there’s so many good parties in LA and it’s such an amazing place. Hopefully we can hook up with Snoop and hang out.

haha.. standard. So since putting out the Magnetic Man record in the UK – has the dynamic of the group changed at all?
You look at that record, how that has done it, and now you know where you can go – you know what i mean? We were sort of testing the water and thinking “ aww mann what are people gonna think of this record?” and when they really like it you think “right well I tell you what, don’t wait around let’s do another fucker!”

Magnetic Man has been labelled dubsteps “Super-Group” – what do you think to that?

The name “Super-Group” is just something that the press just stuck to us, but you can’t really say you don’t like it cus it’s better than being called a “Crap-Group” haha.

But it’s really good to see music from the very start, and it’s taking 10 years to evolve into what it is now and to watch it go step to step to step has just been amazing. I feel very very lucky.
I often wonder what it was like at the start of punk, especially British punk – I’d have loved to have been in that and seen how that came through, but we’ve done it and seen it with dubstep and it’s a privilege man.

I suppose the Forward club is your Hacienda
Yeah it was, that club night was it man… it was like amazing!

Moving on a bit…do you prefer the role of big brother or father to Skream and Benga?
I’ll go for big brother please! haha.

Ha! Do you have any favourite tracks of theirs?
Yeah, at the moment I just can’t stop playing Skream’swhere you should be” from his album and Benga’s new stuff he’s doing is just phenomenal but i keep going back to how ground breaking tracks like 26 basslines and stuff.. it’s just amazing – just a real real talent.

So do you and the boys have any guilty pleasure songs?
We have, we got a blinder from the French tour that we were just on!

Skream and I stayed up later than anyone else on the tour bus but we’d get up at like 5am! So we’d be driving through France and at 5am put put on [starts singing] “you probably think that you’re cooler than me” [Mike Posner – Cooler Than Me]. We’d go through through the bus waking everyone up and dancing for them.. haha – we weren’t very popular!

So on the road – you use much of twitter, facebook etc?

It’s a bit bad, but usually after a big show I have a scoop through twitter and look at what people are saying – haha.

We use twitter all the time but I don’t use it how I should, i just kind of take the piss and say what I’m doing. I should be advertising, pushing stuff out cus i see people are doing it all the time.. haha.. Like re tweeting and shit and I’m like “Please… come on”. I saw one that said “Your really cool – i love your record” and the artist re-tweeted it and i was thinking “just say thanks!”… haha you don’t need show everyone by re-tweeting!

Where do you look for your new music?
Me? I just look at Skreams computer ‘cus he’s just a nut bag – hahaha.

But i go onto BeatPort quite a lot and a few blogs. I love a lot of old music as well so I go onto a lot of the old music as well.

Do you have any new artists your you’d recommend our readers to check out?
If you don’t know already – Distance he’s amazing. Also, if you don’t know Kito – then she’s amazing… but there’s so many out there man!


Then conversation to turned to random things not worth mentioning but honestly, interviewing Artwork was an absolute honour and we wish Magnetic Man all the best for their US album launch & tour.


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