Beneath the surface of Southampton’s glitzy pop-house, endless indie landfill, and tours of past-their-prime metal bands, there is a murky underworld of electronic music. One the key orchestrators behind this scene is Joe Raygun, a promoter and emcee, who after a few months hiatus is back with an impressive new line-up of shows to kick the underground back into action.

Beneath the surface of Southampton’s glitzy pop-house, endless indie landfill, and tours of past-their-prime metal bands, there is a murky underworld of electronic music. One the key orchestrators behind this scene is Joe Raygun, a promoter and MC, who after a few months hiatus is back with an impressive new line-up of shows to kick the underground back into action.

So, the story so far… How did you get into promoting shows?

“I’ve been plugging away in Southampton, doing shows for about 7 years or so. It all started off at The Nexus – R.I.P. The Nexus. We did some Hospitality nights, Southampton Uni’, various other venues. Then we settled down and just kept stuff to the Cellar.

Raygun was running, Release was running, Wax was running… it was absolutely popping off. It was such an inspirational time being around the likes of Gerra and Visionobi. [It’s] absolutely inspiring seeing them work, how they’ve developed and how professionally they’ve gone about everything.

It’s as much just been about booking things that i wanna see, that I think Southampton needs and the nights that I enjoy, it sounds selfish but you’ve gotta do what you love.”

What pushed you to make the jump to emceeing events yourself?

“I got involved playing shows, DJ-ing for Brighton based rapper Influx. We were playing in Croatia at Outlook. I went on a boat party with my friends, a hip-hop crew called The Four Owls, from High Focus Records. They were doing a hip-hop set and then there was like three and a half hours of dubstep but no MC. Fliptrix (Four Owls) and Luke Murray from Dub Optic, were running the boat and pulled me off the subs bench to host it. And you know, half a bottle of Honey Jack Daniels later… I had a wicked time.

The first DJ on was Seven, he really enjoyed his set and the vibe we created so asked me to do another with him. I went the next day and did the Wheel & Deal boat party, and that was it.”

How would you describe your style?

“Being a rapper, or wannabe rapper, I wanna rap… I’ve spent years with Gerra & Stone and Visionobi and they have really helped me to appreciate and grow a love for the deeper styles. The emcees we look up to, they don’t say much. You say the right thing at the right time, ‘cause you want to compliment the music, not hear someone chat all over it. When its done right, and you cut the balance, you make everyone feel welcome. You make the connection between the music and the crowd and just spit the odd good bar.

Other than that just being a drunken shambles most of the time to be honest. It’s a party so that’s the way I look at it. I wanna do a good job and a professional job, but at the end of the day I’m there to party, so if I can enjoy it myself and get people in the mood then that’s it, job done.”

You mentioned Seven before, you featured on his title track for the Uprise Audio compilation last year; have you looked at doing more tracks like this or maybe doing your own music?

“Yeah it’s something that I’m working harder on at the moment. I’ve got myself set up at home with some studio equipment… kind of teaching myself the ropes. Living with Gerra & Stone and having people like Seven around is massively helpful.

The way the ‘Live From The Future’ thing came about was we did a Kmag mix, and I sent Ed [Seven] loads of vocals and hosting for it. He started playing around with it and the tune was put together with that vocal input of mine, and he named the album after it… I was humbled.

It’s incredible that he wants me involved and he wants to put me on that pedestal with those artists. Some of the best dubstep producers in the game and I’m up there alongside of them. It’s an absolute honour and it’s definitely inspired me to get out there and pursue it.”

Is there anyone in particular you’d like to work with at the moment?

“To be honest, Uprise Audio. We’ve got a real good family there. It’s an incredible roster of producers and its being helmed really well by Ed and Verity. They’re such good people, and they’ve got such a good vision and such passion for it. It’s so enjoyable being a part of. There are lots of projects on the boil for this year, with various people, so I’m looking to hopefully get some more vocal inputs on tunes. And yeah, just get out emceeing; I’m humbled to emcee for whichever DJ will let me on their set. I’ve been honoured to host for some great DJs, some great legendary producers, and I just wanna keep getting out there and enjoying it.”

Uprise Audio came second in the Best New Label category at the Dubstep Forum Awards this year. For a growing label, how did it feel getting that support?

“Yeah it’s amazing. We won last year and got second this year… It’s good to be a part of. To come second with all those votes, and the Live For The Future LP to come second as well, its humbling and its testament to the work that’s gone in from Ed, Verity and everyone on the team. There’s a good buzz about the scene, a lot of strong producers and labels coming through, and its really healthy. It’s pushing the boundaries and yeah, I’m just happy to be a part of it.”

The nights that you’ve organised, you’ve got massive names there: Metalheadz, Pharoahe Monch, Horizons festival… how did you get involved with them?

This is possibly one of the most exciting runs of shows that we’ve ever put together. It’s a bigger venue, Roxx, they’ve got a Funktion One and a real warehouse vibe going on… gives us a chance to spread our wings a bit, try and pull some bigger names, and try and reignite the scene a bit. I’m not saying its dead, not in Southampton, but the sort of the music that we do in our scene has tailed a little bit to be honest.

Ourselves as well, we’ve been off the boil, had a little hiatus, working things out… and everyone’s busy with other projects. But ultimately we’re still here and we wanna go to nights that we wanna go to. There’s some wicked nights, some wicked promoters in Southampton, don’t get me wrong, but we’ve got our groove and our sound that we like and we want to represent that.

You’ve been doing your best to promote the underground music scene in Southampton, would you encourage other young emcees and DJs to get involved with setting up nights?

“Yeah, definitely. We’ve all gotta start somewhere… like the guys who do Outlook – they started that as just a party for them and their mates, and now they’re selling Outlook at like 20,000 a year, 2 festivals, various other things. You start small and just do what you love. You’ve gotta kind of make it commercial and financially viable to sell it in a town like Southampton, for instance a night or a brand, but ultimately if its what you love then you can build a scene to yourself.”

Where do you see the Raygun brand going in the future? Do you want to keep boosting the local scene around here? Or would you take it further afield?

“To be honest, its just something that I’ve always done down the years… We’ve had thoughts and had ideas about taking it and pushing it in different directions, but to be honest with you, I want more to further my emceeing than to be a full time promoter. I wanna do shows that I wanna do, like these wicked line ups that we can go to and enjoy in our home town, but when I’ve got the spare time and more effort I wanna put it into my own music and emceeing, getting out and about.”

Finally, could you give us 3 acts that you’d tell everyone to look out for this year?

“A friend of mine, a rapper called Jester Jacobs, he should have a mixtape and an album coming this year… he’s one of the funniest people on planet earth. I’m looking forward to Chewie; he’s got an EP coming on Uprise. I’m a massive fan of his beats, ‘Silver & Gold’ on the Live From The Future album is just absolutely killer, and I’ve heard a few bits and bobs that he’s been working on, its exciting. And number three… it’s gotta be Gerra & Stone. I’m lucky enough to live with the two of them, and their work rate has just been ridiculous recently. Since Dave [Stone] moved into the yard, the two of them have just been absolutely churning the beats out. I know they’ve got some stuff forthcoming on dispatch, and then just an arsenal of tunes.”

Ben Hindle

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