Influences: Diamond D, The Beatnuts, The Beatminers, DJ Premier, James Brown,
Dudley Moore, Q Tip, T-Ray, Baris Manco, L. Dolo, Alan Hawkshaw, Isaac Hayes
Downstroke is a DJ / producer based in Crawley, West Sussex. He has been into hip hop, DJing and collecting records since the mid 80’s and has been making beats since the mid 90’s. “I used to own a Cheetah SX16 sampler which only had about 5 1/2 seconds of sample time, it was really grimey sounding but It taught me to be really inventive with the limitations of the gear. I used to pester L. Dolo (of Champions Of Nature fame) for help with it because he was way ahead of me in terms of technical know-how and knowledge of breaks at the time”.
After becoming a dad in 97, hip hop took a back seat and he gradually lost touch from the scene, however in 2006, after the relationship with his daughter’s mother broke down, he dusted off his old Technics and picked himself back up again. By this time he discovered he had missed a golden age of UK hip hop, and had to play catch up for a few years. “I bought an iMac, and started messing with Garageband, just throwing breaks in there seeing what I could come up with, much like I used to do with old pause button mix tapes”. From there it led to getting a cracked copy of Reason, where he started to get his head round midi, and eventually led to him picking up an MPC1000.
He began working with a few local MC’s, including Drew from Stash Sounds, who was an old friend from back in the day. They put out an album together called ‘Troubador Blues’ in 2012 featuring the majority of production by Downstroke. Although the album failed to have much of an impact, it did introduce Downstroke to the rapper Gee Bag, who featured on the song ‘So Far Away’. Gee had been in a group with Drew called ‘35 Above’ who released a 12” called ‘The Icemen’ in 2000, as well as a solo album in 2006 called ‘No Worries’ which had received critical praise. At that time Gee was taking a musical sabbatical, but began recording new material with Downstroke, which led to the album ‘Show & Tell’ released in December 2014. Downstroke also released a beat project/mixtape called ‘Attack Of The Generic Drums’ in 2014, which consisted of various break heavy tracks that had been gathering dust on his hard drive.
As a producer, Downstroke is particular about only sampling from vinyl, including his drums. “It’s just the way I learned, back when there was no YouTube, blogs or torrents, it made the whole process a challenge. Back then, hip hop producers would consider anyone who sampled off sample CD’s and the like suckers, it just showed you weren’t as invested in your sound if you were happy to take those short cuts. To have fresh sounds, you had to put the work in. I know it’s different today and I’m not criticising those that do that, but it just means you’re going to have the same drums that everyone else on the internet has.” These days, his main weapon of choice in the Akai MPC Renaissance, which he feels captures the workflow of the previous MPC’s perfectly without the long drawn out process of having to track out stems for final mixdown. He’s currently working on new material with various MC’s, including a supergroup project called ‘The Gatecrasherz’ featuring GeeBag, Oliver Sudden, Big Toast & Jack Diggs.
He also DJ’s regularly at The Cypher Lounge in Brixton and Higher Learning in Deptford, as well as supporting GeeBag and The Gatecrasherz in their live shows.