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In conversation with Garnett

“It’s not about being in the limelight; but making a positive impact as a collective”

Using music to express past experiences to create a patchwork of influences is how GARNETT approaches his craft. Born and raised in Northampton, England, now based in Utrecht, Garnett continues his musical journey carrying with him the disciplines and inspiration cultivated by the communities he surrounded himself with growing up. Building his sound around his passion for Reggae and Dub, Garnett echoes dancehall’s past eras within the current club scene. We spoke with Garnett, discussing his love for the Detroit sound, attention spans in the club in the age of social media, and how to embrace his ‘grandpa era’. Read below for the full interview.

Hey, how are you today?
I’m blessed right now, on a wellness trip at the moment. I had surgery recently so taking things extra slow and focusing on getting better, today is another day on the road to recovery. Following my rehabilitation programme, eating good, reading and watching films.

Nice. How do you describe your DJ style?
I’ve always enjoyed a wide range of music, and when I play I try to merge sounds from different genres. I like to find the commonalities between sounds despite them typically belonging to different categories and genres. To me, approaching any set with very few limits on what can be played is like creating a musical patchwork where contrasting elements harmonise.

What’s your main source of inspiration?
I think it’s an amalgamation of the experiences I’ve had growing up in Northampton, the people around me, the work of the communities I’m a part of and what my friends do in their own creative disciplines. All of this rubs off on me, how I present myself and the music I play.

Which DJs are you most influenced by?
I find a lot of inspiration from DJs and artists who’ve mastered their craft, like Theo Parrish and Marcellus Pittman. Their ability to tell a musical story has had a big impact on my own style, especially considering my fascination with the Detroit sound when I started collecting records. Contemporary artists like Josey Rebelle and Cooly G stand out for me, Josey Rebelle effortlessly blends various electronic elements with mad finesse, showing no bounds with her selections. Cooly G’s music, with its stripped-back style and a strong emphasis on low-end frequencies, deeply rooted in sound system culture, definitely influences the types of sounds I’m looking for. What I truly admire about these artists is their unwavering commitment to their artistic vision.

If you could think of your favourite club lineup what would it be?
Two rooms. Two sound systems
Main room: Cooly G b2b Ikonika, LCY b2b MJKLTJ Bukem b2b Tim Reaper
Room two:  Aba Shanti-I ...all night!!

Besides DJing, what do you do in your daily life?
I work a full-time job, building community activities with my bredrins for Live at the BBQ and slowly trying to embrace my grandpa era as my 30s are getting unsettlingly close.

Embracing it with style nonetheless! How does your work interact with the communities you’re in?
For me it’s about being a positive influence. With the support of some talented artists and creators we’re combining forces to relaunch Live at the BBQ, a former club night at Bitterzoet, as a music centered collective. The music community here has so much undiscovered talent and our goal is to support other marginalised artists, bring people closer, help local talent grow, celebrate different music styles, and offer learning opportunities for up-and-coming creators. It’s not about being in the limelight; but making a positive impact as a collective.

If you could change anything about the industry what would it be?
I’d simply stop the constant weekly club highlight reels (I’ve been guilty of this too and I’m trying to refrain from it). Don’t get me wrong, I think documenting the culture is important but I feel that showcasing peak moments in sets is having an impact on our collective attention span in the club. Big drops and bangers only can be fun, but I think we’re seeing far more go-go sets than storytelling that embrace a variety of energies whilst working the frequencies of the sound system.

What advice would you would give young DJs trying to break into the industry?
Do it for the love of it. Be patient. Hone your craft. Find a mentor. Tell your story.

What’s something that you can’t live without?
Apple juice. It’s quite sad, really.

What are you manifesting for the rest of 2023?
I’m just looking forward to getting back to full health, as I’ve had to take a break from gigs and playing for a couple months. So it’d be nice to get out and about again and catch some club nights and see friends play.

Thank you so much for speaking with me and I wish you a speedy recovery <3

Words by Dexter Burningham


Listen to Garnett here!


Images courtesy of the artist