Interview with Toddla T ahead of Tramlines 2014.
Sheffield owes a lot to Toddla T. It’s thanks to the Radio 1 DJ that we have so much good music caressing our eardrums every summer at Tramlines Festival. And us journalist-types are like proud parents, who have seen the once cheeky, ‘Ghettoblaster’-clad beginner grow into the superstar Sheffield representative that he is today. Before he plays his vibrant bag of DJ hits on Friday 25th, Samantha Fielding gave Tom Bell, A.K.A Toddla T, a ring in London (boo) to talk about Tramlines and all things Sheffield (yay).
Hello, Mr. T. You’re currently in your studio at the moment – what’cha up to?
TT: At this precise moment I’m with my mate Steve, just mucking about with some tempos. I’m down here most days, so it’s kinda normal for me to just be writing and remixing all the time.
Is there anything new in the works?
TT: Yeah, I’ve just finished a remix for Clean Bandit, actually. That’ll be out soon.
Ace, we can’t wait. We’re so happy you’re coming back to Tramlines, something that you helped to found many moons ago. How did you first get involved?
TT: Well, I was still living in Sheffield at the time, so James O’Hara, Dave Healy and I got our heads together and booked people for the weekend. It made sense for us to work together, as we were all into different things. Ever since then, Tramlines has just got bigger and bigger every year. It’s an honour to be a part of it, really.
Obviously it’s come a long way in six years, you must be pretty chuffed!
TT: Yeah I guess. It’s funny, because our initial attitude was to just see where it went. But as the first year was such a success, it was clear that it would survive. I don’t even have to explain to people outside of Sheffield what Tramlines is now. It’s a staple in the Sheffield calendar, but it’s also made an impact in other areas as well.
Why do you love Sheffield so much?
TT: After growing up here, I have so many memories. The city was the setting for some massive moments in my life. Whenever I go back, I’m reminded of how it’s one of the most friendly, warm places on the planet, with humble, nice people. That’s something you can’t fake. After travelling around for five or six years, I’ve very rarely found that.
You’ve also been given your own Henderson’s label… is it weird pouring something with your name on it all over your chips?
TT: Haha! It’s brilliant! We started it at Christmas and it’s such a nice thing to have. Basically, I emailed Henderson’s with the idea, and it turns out their son was a fan of mine, which was a good way in. So we did it, and now it’s sitting next to the rest of my ornaments in the studio. I know it’s just a bit of fun but it means a lot to me. Especially because you never see it down in London.
We think you’ve just found a gap in the London market. What can we expect from your Tramlines sets on Friday?
TT: I’m doing two shows on the Friday, one on the Main Stage at 8pm, which will be a bumped-up, live version of my set. I’ll have vocalists, and hopefully some great visual stuff going on. It’s going to be a lot more interactive. For the after party at Fez Club, I’ll be mixing with Benji B, one of my favourite DJs from Sheffield. That set will have the ‘sweaty underground club’ dynamic that we’re used to. I’m glad I get to play in both environments.
Will you be going to see anyone yourself?
TT: Oh! Saturday looks great, especially Public Enemy. Unfortunately I’m going to be away most of Saturday as I’m performing at Global Gathering, but I’m going to come back up for the evening. [Girlfriend] Annie Mac will be playing the O2 Academy, alongside Monki and Mele ft. Slick Don. It’s gonna be really special. Then on Sunday, I’m just going to see what happens.
And will you be going out afterwards? If so, where?
TT: As I’m really busy this weekend, it’ll probably just be a chill at the Gatsby or The Bowery – wherever there’s good ale and some company! When I was growing up in Sheffield, the nightlife was a bit shit, if I’m honest. So most of our nights out were one-off parties, in peoples’ houses and empty spaces. They really inspired me, but I’m glad so many clubs have popped up in Sheffield over the past few years.
And finally, if HMV was burning down, which record would you save?
TT: That’s easy. Notorious B.I.G – Ready to Die. Couldn’t live without it!
Toddla T will be performing on the Tramlines Main Stage on Friday at 8pm. He will also be hosting the Tramlines Special at Fez Club later that night. For more information, visit www.tramlines.org.uk and /twitter.com/tramlines.
The notable moments in Toddla’s career so far:
Born in 1985, Toddla starts DJing as a teenager and quickly earns his moniker from older DJs on the circuit.
Toddla T’s first album, Skanky Skanky, encompasses hip-hop, electro, garage, dancehall and house and is released in May 2009. It features collaborations with Matt Helders, Benjamin Zephaniah, Roots Manuva and Tinchy Stryder.
After occasional appearances on their In New Music We Trust Slot for a couple of years, in 2011 Toddla gets a regular slot on Radio 1.