Fresh UK garage from the scene's breakout star.
When you're on a roll, you're on a roll. No producer has made a bigger impact in UK garage over the past 18 months than Conducta. He's the West Country-born, West London-residing DJ behind RA's Mix of 2019, founder and A&R for the surging Kiwi Rekords and producer of AJ Tracey’s "Ladbroke Grove," the first UKG tune to shift a million copies since the days of So Solid Crew and Daniel Bedingfield.
That last part is worth bearing in mind. Since the early 2000s, UK garage has been a notoriously tricky scene to break into, and break out of. But a common misconception is that it trades exclusively on former glories, a nostalgia loop of Moschino threads and re-rewinds. This overlooks a long history of colourful mutations: bassline, enormous in the north and south-west of England since the mid-'00s; the playful end of dubstep and grime; and a slew of cheeky 2-step bootlegs which light up any party they're aired at. Kiwi's signature sound is what happens when you put all this into a blender, add a few spoonfuls of extra sugar, and drink the lot in one go.
RA.724 is packed with exclusives, edits and producers so (lime) green that they are yet to have a formal release to their name. The entire Kiwi starting XI are present too, including Prescribe Da Vibe, Sharda, Sammy Virji, Jack Junior, Smokey Bubblin B, Mind Of A Dragon and Conducta himself. There are wheel-ups aplenty, references to Turkish takeaways over the road from Ladbroke Grove station, and a Madison Avenue edit, just in case Conducta's bootleg of Roger Sanchez’s "Another Chance" on Kiwi Krush wasn’t enough. RA.724 is a 43-track joyride through new UK garage, one that reinforces why this anything-goes and everything-slaps approach is proving highly popular with a new generation of listeners. In a dark time, it is quite simply bags of fun.
What have you been up to recently?
The corona pandemic has had a dramatic effect on the way we've all been living—my natural response has been to make the best of a challenging situation and to help others around me where I can. My label Kiwi Rekords is running a remix competition at the moment called the Kiwi Kup. We're sending out stems from the Kiwi catalogue and letting anyone from MCs to vocalists to producers add their twist to it, with a guarantee of landing a remix on a forthcoming release as well as a set at a Kiwi Klub show once we are allowed to set them up again. It's partially to occupy everyone stuck indoors, but also as an open call to get new artists involved in the label and the scene as a whole. We might as well be proactive instead of sitting on our hands and letting this momentum slip away.
How and where was the mix recorded?
This mix was recorded from the comforts of my living room coffee table on a Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX2.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
The approach was to showcase the breadth of new UK garage to a wider audience who might come across this via Resident Advisor and not have a given grasp of the sound's history, let alone the resurgence that's underway. Rather than fill it with exclusives and bootlegs, I wanted to use this to show the full range of sounds you get within the scene, while still maintaining that upbeat energy that everyone knows and loves UKG for.
Following the Kiwi Manifesto, Kiwi Krush and the Kiwi Sound, this is your fourth major mix of new music in just over a year. How are all these producers finding their way to you, and what makes the grade to your ears?
I think the sheer volume of material available at the moment is a testament to the openness and sense of community in this new scene. It's all changed in a flash. If you're a fan, it doesn't take hours of searching for records that you're into and are probably priced out of buying anyway—and if you're an artist, you're not competing against others to get a tiny foothold. There's no barrier between the up-and-coming artists and the more established producers either. There's an abundance of artists pushing boundaries and flourishing; the music speaks for itself.
I try to get through as many promos and purchases as I can, and I'm rarely disappointed. The best feeling to me is actually hearing a producer's first demos, clocking the potential, then hearing them progress, hone in on their sound and run away with it. In terms of "making the grade," sometimes you hear something and you just know!
UK garage has traditionally bottlenecked around a small number of producers and labels who experience major success. Are there plans in place to make sure as many people as possible will benefit from the current surge in UKG's popularity?
The key thing for Kiwi Rekords was to create an ecosystem for producers and DJs across the board to be a part of, and enjoy the benefits of a community. We're always looking to encourage and promote new talent, and to give artists a platform. The Kiwi Kup remix competition is one of the ways we're doing that. I can't wait to get back into the club again and start sharing all this music that gets made in isolation.
What are you up to next?
For now, I'll be carrying on my Conducta's Crib livestreams, stacking up new music and plotting out the next moves for the label. The world has completely changed over the past few weeks, so I'm just trying to adapt our gameplan so we can keep contributing positively to the UKG scene and the wider music community.