DJ Pioneer has got a lot to talk about, as well as being a prolific Kiss FM presenter and DJ where constantly breaks new artists on his show. He is also credited as being a driving force in the creation of the UK Funky – the diverse sound that pulls together all his cultural influences. But it’s his OFFICIAL remix of rap’s own Zoey Dollaz ‘Post & Delete’ feat the epic Chris Brown that is drawing the industry’s attention. We catch up with him to talk about his origins, why he thinks everyone is a DJ and how the remix came about…
Let’s start with your name…
When I was on my first radio show at 17 I was DJ Viper and the ads came on and I heard MC Viper… I had to change my name. I liked the idea of a pioneer as a teenager, being a trendsetter, someone that’s leading something new… of course at the time there wasn’t any Pioneer equipment at the time. People ask me that now- did I name myself after CD Jays?
So what’s your background?
I come from Hackney, my family’s from a Jamaican background. Grew up on a lot of Reggae music and Dancehall is what really got me into music in the first place. When I was about twelve years old I was listening to a lot of Jungle, coming from Hackney the massive names were right next to me. Jungle was a massive influence to me; those were the first records I bought. I got into House and Garage a couple of years after.
Do you still incorporate those sounds and styles into your music?
Yes, yes definitely. I don’t mix the conventional way; especially with House I mix it quicker than your average DJ.
What does House music mean to you, what would you say the philosophy behind House music is?
It’s like a lifestyle really. When you get into House you realise it’s never ending. That’s what I love about it. House never stops. There’s always a style for the mood that you’re in. It’s the best of dance music. When I play and put my events on, you’ve got all walks of life there, you’ll have young, old, black, white… everyone’s there and that’s the beauty of House.
You pioneered UK Funky, how would you describe that style?
UK Funky has elements of Garage, House and Broken Beat even. It’s got Reggae influence in it, Soca and definitely tribal sounds. It’s a fusion. We had to give it a title because people were complaining and were calling it “Funky House”… so we had to say “This is UK Funky then” because they weren’t gonna leave the funky alone.
We are a streaming generation now. Do you still think Radio is important?
The people are in control now; everyone is their own DJ. They don’t have to wait until 9 o clock to hear their DJ play that track, the newer generation are so used to just having it. Compared to back in the day when radio meant so much because you couldn’t play a tune if you didn’t have it back then, now it’s accessible to everyone. A lot of people listen to my show under player, they’re happy to listen back to a show in their own time, when they want to do it. They’re in control.
Tell me about some of the experiences you had as a DJ on pirate radio.
I started when I was 17. I used to be on Magic FM, which was a massive Garage radio station back then. My first show was at 4am to 6am Saturday night going into Sunday morning- the raw graveyard shift. I remember getting on the night bus with my records killing my back and heading to the 17th floor on an estate in Dalston. I have so many good memories; cause back then there was real interaction on the phone line. There was a freedom to it as well and a thrill of it… there was a danger element to it because sometimes you didn’t know if the DTI was gonna turn up. Pirate radio is definitely one of the things that made me.
Is pirate radio still important now?
I still listen to pirate radio now, because they still have that freedom that I used to have. Yes I still play a lot of underground songs, but in my world you can get caught up in the big names whereas on the pirate radio they just play music. I saw the transition around 2007 where we started to see that legal radio started to be more popular in breaking new music.
Is that what you ultimately what you want to do with Kiss FM, break new artists?
I love new music. I did Kiss FM for the last nine years, for the last three years I’ve been on Kiss fresh. And the difference is Kiss Fresh is basically making your show about brand new music. I’ve always got so many new tracks and I don’t limit myself to one genre. Breaking new tunes is what keeps me excited.
Are there any big artists that you remember championing?
Loads… Roska, Champion, DJ Naughty… there are so many names that I’ve pushed out. I don’t like to take any glory for it I’m happy to just help people out and it’s a joy to see what people are doing.
Tell me about your label SOTU?
It started as a club night in Shoreditch at the east village. Producers who were making good tracks had no outlet. SOTU was on a Thursday night in Shoreditch and it was going off. Producers would play a track they’d just made yesterday, not even fully mastered yet, but it would tear the club down. I thought it was so good; lets make it into a label. We’ve got our next release coming out on the 19th of February which is a track called Ancestors.
Why did you choose to remix ‘Post and Delete’?
Zoey Dollaz reached out to me and TJ and we jumped at it. Zoey wants to strengthen his connection with the UK and Europe, which he thinks are interesting places to release. We haven’t been able to play it in a club yet unfortunately because of the circumstances but it’s getting good feedback already.