Scratch turntablists are a rare breed of DJ nowadays and very few can say they’ve played sets in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Perth, Paris, Lisbon, Brussels, Glastonbury Festival & hundreds more across the globe. Complexion’s name has been constantly spreading throughout the contemporary urban music scenes. He took some time on an interview with us where we talked about his musical heritage, his new show on BBC1Xtra, the current state of the future beats scene in general, and more.
How did your journey as a DJ start?
When I was in High School back in the days, I wanted to impress this girl and told her I was a DJ. That's actually the reason I got into DJing. Since then I stucked with it. I always loved music and genuinely couldn't get enough of it, especially being British and growing up to American music which I loved. I really took it all in and had to watch music videos and read as many interviews as possible. So, that's how it started!
Is there an artist or sound that influenced you back in the days?
It wouldn't say artists in particular, but DJs for sure. For example there was DJ Swing, he was amazing! An incredible DJ. I used to listen to him a lot when he was playing on ChoiceFM, Radio1, and KissFM. He was one of the best DJs I ever heard. Sadly, he got really sick and passed away in early 2000. I used to DJ with him sometimes, and he was such a great person. He inspired me so much!
When was the point where you decided for yourself you want to get into radio shows?
I always wanted to produce, but for me that's kind of not my lane right now. I much rather use my position where I can support producers and DJs. Back in the days I wasn't given as much help as I think I would've liked. For example a lot of people wouldn't book me for club gigs. Even when I started the Future Beats Show, not many people were interested. So I said to myself, my role will be promoting good music through my radio show, because when I can help other DJs and Artists on their journey, that's when I'm happy.
Speaking of the Future Beats Show, you are almost at 300 episodes. How did your journey start on this well-known radio show?
Yes, 300 Shows which is crazy. I was actually going to stop at episode 200, but people kept saying: no way! you have to keep going. So the journey started about 8 years ago when I used to have a show where I played Hip Hop and R&B music, which are genres that I love as well. But what happened was, after I was DJing around the UK and driving home late nights for like 2 hours the last thing that I wanted to listen to was more Hip Hop and R&B, or anything loud. So at that time I discovered genres like Lo Fi, Ambient music, and Future Beats. I really loved these sounds. So I looked out for more of them on Soundcloud. That's when I found about for example Sango and esta. I was so excited so see that also wIth Soulection there is a whole label behind this sound. From there I started to play these kind of sounds on my radio show and slowly transitioned from Hip Hop and R&B to this music called Future Beats.
Speaking of Soundcloud and Soulection. As Joe Kay did 3 Shows as a tribute to the Golden Era of Soundcloud and Future Beats. How do you see the current state of Future Beats in general?
That's a good question because, I do miss those old Soundcloud days because there were so many great artists and producers. But what is amazing to see is, that some of the artists that I played on my show in 2015-2016 are on labels, creating beats for Bryson Tiller, or are even signed to OVO. For me it is great to see that I played a really small part on their journey. Because some of them gained a little more confidence by hearing their songs on the show. Seeing them doing amazing things is just great. Currently the scene is in a really interesting state because people are getting more familiar with Future Beats. Like when you tell people I listen to Future Beats many say: Oh I know what you mean. Also what I really think is great, is that so many artists right now are doing music that sounds like Future Beats, they just call it wavy R&B or something else but to be honest it sounds like Future Beats music to me. So I feel like the sound is getting bigger and bigger. It is kind of frustrating because I really liked it when it was underground, but when you love something you definitely want it to get bigger and to grow and I support artists that are have already a name but also underground artists with the same energy.
For me, this whole Future Beats scene is like a community from all over the globe charing the love for those futuristic sounds.
You are right, we are a community. I really love to see that. Of course every music scene has a community and now I feel like we have one as well. It's great to work and connect with people! Even though some might think we are in competition, for example when someone posted: Who wins? Soulection or the Future Beats Show? I was like you guys win because you have 2 good radio shows. I have no problem with Joe Kay and these guys. Same thing them with me. They book me for their events and I did a Soulection Takeover. I simply don't like when people make a competition out of it. If one of us wins, we all win! I tell you, I played artists who have 100 followers to artists like Kaytranada. If I like the music I play it. It's that simple.
The last 2 years were tough for everyone. What kept you going during the pandemic?
The Future Beats Show kept me going for real. I also like to play video games and watched some of my friends Twitch streams. So they said to me that I should stream on Twitch. I was like, I'll do it one day but when covid happened it simply became the best thing to do. I started to stream the Future Beats Show and other DJ Sets on this platform. I brought me closer to my community and we did many great things, like for example charity events. That's what kept me going during lockdown one hundred percent. It was simply great that I was sitting in my room but could reach the entire world. Having people in the chat is great, I love to see when people reacting to the songs. When I know the next song will be huge I like to see the reactions in the chat, because on soundcloud of course I'm not able to see that. Sometimes when a producer is sending me a song, I'll tell them to come to the livestream to see the reaction of the people, which is nice as well. Like I said, the most important thing is to have a community.
What are you currently listening to?
I love and hate this question because it's so difficult to answer but I'm going to open up my Spotify right now. So there is a artist called Ferdous and the song is named "Gravity" which I love so much. Pink Panthresss. This music reminds me of growing up in London. I love it!
So let's have a look on the Albums. Lately I have been listening to A Tribe Called Quest's Album "The Love Movement", Frank Ocean, and Tyler The Creator. There is also an amazing electronic artist called Com Truise which I am currently listening to. He makes like 80s vintage electronic music. His music sounds like it should be on "Stranger Things". He is amazing!
How did the collaboration with BBC1Xtra for your new show "Future Wave" take place?
At BBC there are 3 different people who are in charge now. Faron McKenzie who is the new head of BBC1xtra, loved the Future Beats Show and reached out to me if I wanted to do a Show on BBC. We talked about this a couple of months, and so I got a weekly slot where I can play whatever I like. The "Future Wave" has a bit more soulful side though. I previously did a show for Black History Month with a tribute to J Dilla and Pete Rock because I know that many Future Beats artists are inspired by them.
Your plans for the future?
It's so incredible to work for BBC. It's like a dream come true! So I hope to to more for them in the future. For me personal, I will definietly continue doing the Future Beats Show. I would love to travel more through Europe as well, now that it's safe to travel again. Not only to only DJ, also to see, connect, and party with people. Not in the sense of looking for bookings, simply to be a guest on a party and to enjoy myself but also to continue supporting various artists all over. It's great that I live in London because Paris is not far away, Berlin, Amsterdam and many more cities are really close to me. You can do a lot online but I want to do more face to face. Also early next year I will be on US Tour and doing some Events in London of course. I'm also planning of bringing back my Record Label. I don't just want to put songs on Soundcloud though, I want the artists to get fairly payed and get their music on Advertisements,TV Shows, and more.