Frustrated with the few-and-far-between coverage of burgeoning artists, the lack of actual releases, and the negative connotations of grime, Elijah Bishop and his BFF, Skilliam decided to do things their own way. Starting as a blog, the Butterz concept grew into one of the most significant grime enterprises going. After DJing, running raves and securing their own Rinse FM slot, the natural progression arrived; Butterz the label assumed its place at the forefront of UK grime. We spoke to Bishop; meticulous perfectionist, and one half of the project about what’s so special about the Butterz rosta, and how he plans to prove that grime is far from dead.
How did Butterz begin as a blog?
I was at university in 2007 and most of the blogs I liked covering grime had dried up, and I just started one myself, doing interviews with people that I hadn’t seen covered before.
Why did you decide to turn it into a label?
Me and Skilliam were always buying records, but not really taking the DJing thing seriously, it was just a casual thing, he’d come round my place to have a mix, and then we started connecting with different producers in the scene, getting new music, and we decided to take it up a notch.
And are you and Skilliam actually brothers?
Haha, no the twin thing comes around because people always see us together, then when you don’t, you ask where the other one is.
Where did you meet?
At university, like all great romances.
But is it also a way of kind of getting something off your chest? I saw your recent post about grime nights and the negative connotations of grime?
Yeah, people think I don’t do a lot of nights because I’m lazy, or don’t DJ all the time because I’m not a known DJ or something. But those barriers still remain. So it makes all the difference in terms of how far I can take this.
Have you had much difficulty putting on nights?
Yeah man, a lot of club bookers are not grime fans, so don’t understand the music or audience. They make the assumption that if I play a Wiley track people will be letting off machine guns and having wrestling matches. Sounds ridiculous, but not far from the excuses people make. Life would be easier if I was putting on a future UK bass post dubstep wonk night. But that’s not me.
How influential has the Rinse been to the label’s progression?
I’ve grown up listening to Rinse, most of my favourite DJs are on or have been on Rinse FM and I’ve been going to the raves as long as I’ve been able and now I play on the station. Literally life changing.
What is special about the artists on Butterz?
They are all rooted in really different influences, but share the same values, and that’s all you need to bring people together. Terror Danjah is the godfather role for everyone: the oldest, most experienced, very underrated. I have been learning from him since I met him how to run a label, deal with artists and so on. Swindle is just music through and through, he makes music nearly every day. He is really funked out, nobody else in grime sounds like him at all. Royal-T is the youngest, he’s from Southampton so he has a refreshing outsiders perspective.
And what’s the future for Butterz?
We’ve got our big party at Cable on March 24 which is where people hear all the new music for the first time. Like our version of DMZ or FWD>>. The next two releases are Swindle v Silkie on a collaboration called Unlimited and Terror Danjah collab’ with a singer called Ruby Lee Ryder on a track called “Let Me Be The One”. I hope this year we can create a balance between putting out grime records that are experimental, and tracks that you can hear on the radio in the daytime. Hopefully we’ll grow enough to have regular events up and down the country.
Words: Shannon Mahanty