Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on September 2009
From The Pop Group to Portishead, Rip Rig & Panic to Roni Size, the city of Bristol in south-west England has never had much trouble holding its own against the music emanating from the capital.
In recent years, the area has become closely associated with dubstep, that amorphous, bass-heavy genre which first oozed out of the London suburb of Croydon in the early part of the decade. Today, many of the scene’s most exciting producers hail from Bristol, including Joker, Guido, Gemmy, Pinch, Peverelist, Headhunter, Gatekeeper—I could go on, but we’d be here all night.
Laurie “Appleblim” Osborne was a more recent arrival: the DJ and producer first rocked up in the city three years ago, after spending much of his life ping-ponging around the country. This included a formative period spent in London at the creative peak of the ’90s drum’n’bass scene, which he says he was “blown away by.”
From the sounds of things, he hasn’t had much chance to get settled into his current home. “I don’t go to nights in Bristol that often any more, because I’m always away,” he says by phone from the UK. “I see [other dubstep producers] around. We’ve got certain nights that we all go to and that we all hang out at, and we’ve got mutual people that we send tunes to and listen to tunes by. But I think everyone’s so busy these days…”
Osborne’s own DJ schedule has seen him play in New York, Vancouver, Berlin and Ibiza this summer. The rash of bookings seems to have taken him by surprise. “It’s become sort of, yeah, a job kind of thing,” he says. “Which is great.”
It’s also served to distract him from his other big project. Last year, he and fellow producer Sam Shackleton called time on Skull Disco, the influential label that they had been running together since 2005. Undaunted, Osborne immediately started his own imprint, Apple Pips, which has since put out 12-inches by the likes of London dubstep wunderkind Martyn and Berlin techno producer T++. While Skull Disco peddled a stark, eerily stripped-back version of dubstep, Apple Pips releases tend to be warmer and more sensual, with rhythms redolent of house and two-step.
“It’s not something that I ever expected to work as a business,” Osborne admits. “It’s just like a fun thing which I tried out, and it’s kind of turned into something which is doing pretty well. I just want to build it to get things happening quicker… because there’s so much good music around, from the people that I know and the people that send me music, and I just want to get that all out there.”
His own releases on the label have come in the form of collaborations with producers Peverelist and Ramadanman—a useful solution to the creative block that he’s been suffering from for the past year or two. “It’s been pretty hectic, which doesn’t lend well to studio stuff,” he says with a chuckle. “But I don’t try to force it: if it’s not happening, it’s not happening.”
Having played at Daikanyama club Unit the last time he was in Tokyo, Osborne sounds genuinely excited to be appearing at the grungier Module in Shibuya this time around. “I’m definitely up for playing somewhere a bit rawer and more underground,” he says. “Unit was very, very smart.”
He’ll also be catching up with his brother, who lives with his family in the seaside town of Hayama, Kanagawa Prefecture. “He described it as like the Devon of Tokyo,” Osborne explains. Now there’s a thought.
Super Sonic. Dubstep, break beats: DJs Ono, Appleblim, etc. From 11pm, ¥3,000 w/1d. Shibuya. Tel: 03-3464-8432. www.module-tokyo.com