Starkey on Mary Anne Hobbs / XFM 30 June 2011.
I have a long history with Starkey. He first sprang on to my radar with the amazing track 'Bounce' in 2007. All the dubstep I was into at the time was coming out of the UK and this didn't sound anything like it. With a big hip hop influence it owed more to grime than dubstep. This was just proof that Starkey had been cultivating his own style without influence from the UK scene. It was a refreshing change from a scene dominated and being written by artists like Digital Mystiks, Skream and Distance.
A year later he played on the Generation Bass special hosted by Mary Anne Hobbs. The concept of the show was for artists that appeared on Mary Anne's breakthrough 2007 Dubstep Wars show to choose a set each by an artist they admire. It was the originals of the scene introducing the second generation. Mala chose Silkie, Kode9 chose Joker and Jaime Vex'd chose Starkey. Along with Joker's, Starkey's set became an instant classic. Mostly playing tracks from his forthcoming debut album for Planet Mu, it confirmed him as one of my favourite new artists. With tracks like Miracles and Spacewalk, for a while I had it on constant repeat.
A few months later and that album was released. Titled Ephemeral Exhibits the striking thing about it was how different it was. Still refusing to just rip-off the UK sound, Ephemeral Exhibits is synth heavy, hip hop inspired alien music. And laden with Starkey's amazing gift for melody.
The gap between album one and two gave us the Miracles 12" in 2009. With the Jaime Vex'd remix becoming one of my most played tunes of the year. Also doing the rounds on mixes at the time was a track called Murderous Words. A track seemingly designed to keep me so excited by this producer at all costs. Heavy snyths building uplifting melodies without ever being cheesy. Being up behind the decks when Kito played it one night at Void is one of my favourite memories from running that club.
In 2010 came Ear Drums And Black Holes. Compared to Ephemeral Exhibits, Starkey had come down to Earth. His same basic template was there but now it was a lot more varied. It struck a perfect balance between vocal and instrumental tracks. Murderous Words appeared but now it had a rapper on top of the beats. And it worked perfectly. Numb is a headphone grime masterpiece and Club Games is a brilliant piece of futuristic hip hop. The instrumental tracks were classic Starkey. 11th Hour being my personal highlight. It's rhythm and melody so strong it seems to tell a story without the need for vocals.
So here we are in 2011. I have to admit Starkey has been a bit hit and miss in his mixes over the last few years. Sometimes leaning way to close to the old chainsaw sound everyone with ears got sick of after five minutes. As the below mix proves it's his own productions and remixes that are the highlights. His new track for Ninja Tune hints at great things for the future. His gift for melody and drama still firmly in place. The non-Starkey highlight on this mix is Araabmusik's AT2. One of my favourite tunes this year, it's great to see how perfectly it fits into a mix like this.
Emil - Deadwood (Starkey Remix) (B Unique)
Splurt - Red & White (Dub)
Starkey - Two Lives (Dub)
Starkey - Street Rockers (Civil Music)
16Bit - Boston Cream (MTA)
Dev79 & Thrills - Off In a Minute (ft. Skamma) (Slit Jockey)
Starkey - Cannibals (Dub)
Swindle - Ringworm (Dub)
Juicy J & Lex Luger - Who Da Neighbors (Mixtape)
Araabmuzik - AT2 (Duke Productions)
Stagga - Wild For the Night (Slit Jockey)
Amon Tobin - Wooden Toy (Starkey Remix) (Ninja Tune)
Starkey - Rayguns (Ninja Tune)
Saturn Never Sleeps - All Seasons Are Good (Starkey Remix) (SNS)