Review: Deep Medi 10
Arriving at the venue, the queue stretching all the way past Lambeth Town Hall, the true onset of Autumn finally hitting and the smell of weed smoke heavy in the air, there was a simmering sense of anticipation. Just over the road from where DMZ started just over a decade ago, Mala’s beloved dubstep label Deep Medi Musik was now also celebrating 10 years and (nearly) 100 releases.
During that strange period after dubstep had taken its moment in the spotlight, and commentators were now quick to announce its demise, the label simply got its head down and continued to concentrate on releasing quality product; always staying true to its roots while also pushing the envelope of what the label could be. This love for the music and the culture, combined with true perseverance and work ethic, has seen the label embed itself even more deeply – indeed, the night is completely sold out, a testament to the level of feeling people have for this music.
While Deep Medi nights are usually associated with relatively intimate affairs, I wondered how the vibe might be changed by the larger capacity at Electric Brixton. Turns out 1,800 people in the building means a lot of love and a lot of vibes. The distance between the decks and the crowd could have resulted in a more detached atmosphere, but this was more than compensated for by the energy that the DJs rolled with. You could tell this was a special night for all involved, with exclusives and dubplates aplenty, and countless reloads.
The Deep Medi crew’s dedication to soundsystem culture is immense. Rather than rely on the Brixton in-house setup, they brought in their own rig – the Void Soundsystem by Neuron Pro Audio. Now, I’m certainly no audiophile, but this is the sort of pressure you feel with your gut rather than your ears. Throughout the night, the bass was clear and seriously heavy-hitting, with the pure force of the subs sending shockwaves rattling through my chest.
The lineup was, unsurprisingly, absolutely stacked. Featuring almost all the artists who’ve released on the label in the last three years or so, and a whole host of old hands as well. With so many names to fit in, this meant a lot of B2Bs, which added to the celebratory atmosphere. Most pairings got one hour sets, so anthems rather than slow builds were the order of the night. No matter – it was just that sort of party, and the crowd more than rose to the occasion.
Too many sets to cover in detail, but here’s a run through of some of my highlights. Arriving in time to catch Bukez Finezt and Compa was certainly a good decision. An inspired team-up between the German veteran (his recent Subway Recordings album isn’t called Decade of Weight for nothing) and one of the most talented young producers on the scene, their musical chemistry was perfectly in sync. Later on, the real highlight of the night might have been three more of the newer wave flying the flag for dubstep – Commodo together with Kahn & Neek, drawing for all sorts of heavyweight heat, The Bug/Riko Dan’s ‘Iceman’ proving a particularly strong moment.
Mala has made it clear that Deep Medi is not about him – indeed he wasn’t even listed on the running order pinned up inside the venue, although he did join Goth-Trad and Truth for the end of their B2B, who between them seemed to have all the best dubplates. Goth-Trad’s own productions ‘Babylon Fall’ and ‘Cut End’ were also clear highlights. Anyway, Mala made a powerful speech about how he started the label for artists to be creative, to be themselves, before punctuating it with the ultimate brain-twister that is ‘Headache’ by Bukez Finezt. A musical mic drop if ever there was one.
The night also doubled as a release party for the label’s newest release – Sir Spyro’s ‘Topper Top’, featuring the vocal talents of Lady Chann, Killa P and the mysterious Teddy Bruckshot. Although I am prone to it, I say this without hyperbole – ‘Topper Top’ is the track of the year. There, come at me. Starting out life as a super-exclusive dubplate (I remember Kahn & Neek playing it on one particularly memorable occasion), it was then the centerpiece of a surprisingly raucous Boiler Room in the summer, where it got a grand total of seven reloads. After a year’s worth of organic hype, the vinyl sold out pretty much instantly after going up for pre-order the other week.
So the night’s main showcase was a celebration of the fertile intersection between dubstep and grime, as Spooky and Spyro went B2B with the supreme showman Killa P on mic duties. The set as a whole was great, with Spooky in particular showing off his impressive dubplate arsenal, and MC of the moment Capo Lee pitching up as a surprise guest. The crowd understands what the set is building to though – this time I lost track of the number of rewinds that 'Topper Top' gets. Sadly no masked appearance from Mr Bruckshot, but when Lady Chann erupts onto the stage the place absolutely goes off, Mala grinning from ear to ear at the side of the stage. Content to leave on a high while I still had energy for the journey home, I walked out into the night and cued up the radio rip of ‘Topper Top’ that I’ve been rinsing since January. Deep Medi 10 was a fitting tribute to the label's past, and a wonderful celebration of the importance that it holds in the present.