Interview: DJ Format

A player on the UK hip hop scene since the sleeper success in 2003 of his first album, Music for the Mature B-Boy, DJ Format is known for his funk-flavoured rewinds of retro hip hop sounds. Successful too as a club DJ, he has packed dancefloors worldwide and released several mixes, among them 2006’s Fabriclive.27, one of the most well received in the big selling series. In the past few years Format has lent his b-boy Midas touch to styles as varied as underground Eastern European beats, on the now collectable European Vacation in 2006, and Latin rhythms in 2007 on Fania DJ Series – DJ Format.

For his third and latest album release, Statement of Intent, he has decided to mix up his trademark funky dancefloor fillers. “Funk is becoming very run of the mill” he says. “If you are making old school you have got to bring something new to the table.” The title, Statement of Intent, he declares “is to send a message to people like me who don’t want to hear the same old crap every day. I am laying down the gauntlet”.

Inspired by ground breaking artists from the 80s and 90s golden age of hip hop, such as Run–D.M.C and the Beastie Boys, Format says he has “gone down the guitars route, but in an updated fashion, bringing in 60s psychedelia, but with a modern sensibility”.

Band collaborations proved a tricky business for Format as he says “some worked, but some just didn’t fit”. Bands that made it on to the album include the space-funk oddity of The Simon Sound, vintage rock’n’soul outfit Derriere and jazz blues group Nostalgia 77.

The album’s hip hop collaborators are characteristically left field and offer further intriguing style mashes. They include Mr Lif, Edan, Phill Most Chill who he says is “an old school rapper that I grew up respecting”, and Sureshot La Rock, who features on MR DJ, the first single from the album and a sure-fire crowd pleaser.

Five years in the making, the album took so long because, he says, “It had to be right”. Time-travelling between inspirations as far flung as 80s hip hop, 70s funk and 60s psychedelic rock it is hard to imagine how it will work. But what sounds like a tall order for most was a natural progression to Format as he says it was “music that has grown with me, it was just what I felt in my heart”.

The key to making it all work, Format feels, was “to keep the drums raw and to work with MCs that are very old school sensibility, but with a modern twist”. Simple then.

Statement of Intent will be released in February 2012 on Project Blue Book records. The first single, MR DJ, is available now on 12” vinyl and MP3.

Previously published on The Brighton Source

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