“The grime scene was looking very grey for a while”
To talk about progressive grime it is to talk about Royal-T. In recent years, a fresh crop of producers has taken instrumental grime to wider credibility and new levels of popularity. Young Southampton resident Mark ‘Royal-T’ Taylor is at the epicentre of this wave, consistently turning out fresh takes on the genre, with no two tracks sounding quite the same.
Often imbibing his productions with an overwhelming UK garage influence, while referencing a diverse selection of genres from the 1990s – from rave and jungle to dubstep, breakbeat and even computer game soundtracks – the beauty of Royal-T’s production rests in his ability to retain the frenetic energy that defines grime.
And while most other grime producers were making ‘riddims’ they hoped a big MC would vocal for their mixtape, Royal-T was making music that would work in clubs. It’s this that’s enabled his tunes to finder traction across the wider ‘bass music’ movement.
With a forthcoming album and new show on Rinse, striving to be different has obviously paid off in a big way. Trap thought it was time we caught up with Southampton’s biggest grime export…
EZ! The big news is that you have an album coming out on Rinse, how does that feel and what can we expect?
It’s starting to sink in now. I’m so excited about it. The whole album thing was something I’d wanted for years, ever since I started producing. I always wanted a full grime album of mine in HMV or whatever, and now that’s happening. It’s full of the Royal-T sound; some bits listeners might have heard floating around on radio and some completely new stuff waiting to be heard.
How are you finding your show on the station?
I love doing the show; it’s opened up a lot for me. It’s nice to directly interact with listeners and to get sent and listen to new music all the time. It’s made me write a lot more music too, to fill in the gaps.
You’ve said before that you want grime to be seen as electronic / dance music again, rather than just an MC-based genre. Why do you feel this would help the scene?
I’ve always felt that way really; I think the producers’ focus got lost a few years ago and bringing that back will also bring back the sound. The direction of the scene was looking very grey for a while and with dubstep going global, I think it was only right for grime to come back to the clubs. It’s the producers’ job to make this happen.
You’re part of the new wave of producers innovating in the scene; do you feel the attention has switched back to the guys making the beats recently?
Yeah, I think the most important people know what’s going on in grime right now and they understand who we are all. It’s good to see MCs doing their thing too, though, don’t get me wrong.
Garage is obviously a big influence on you, but what other genres have influenced your sound?
I suppose bassline would be one of them and, of course, elements of dubstep and breakbeat, but Garage was really the main influence on my production. There is a lot of music I listen to outside of the ‘bass’ genres and I do take a lot of influence from that, I’m a huge fan of anything by the Neptunes and N*E*R*D, for example.
There are several big collaborations on the album, which is your favourite and why?
I would probably have to say the P Money collaboration, just because of where things are now with it. The first time most people would have heard of Royal-T is ‘1UP’, which P Money vocalled, so it’s nice a couple years down the line for him to be on the first track on my debut LP.
How do you feel about the resurgence of events such as Eskimo Dance? Would you like to play there?
I think it’s good for the genre for things like Eski dance to be back, just so newer fans can experience a bit of history that they might not have been around for originally. I was probably only in my early teens when the originals happened, so I didn’t even get to go myself. It would be cool to play there one time, because it would be nice to be able to showcase what I do on that platform.
How has DJing effected your production? Every grime producer seems to DJ now…
I just think it’s the right thing to do for artist development. A singer will perform their songs on stage as well as having music available for personal listening, so I guess it’s only right for us producers to have something like that too.
What’s the dream for the coming year and rest of your career?
For everyone to enjoy the album, and for me to just to keep rising. Everything’s going cool but there’s always something I’m working to improve.
Big up all my supporters, the Butterz gang and the Rinse team.
Words: Sam Bates