Secrecy has always been part of underground UK dance music but thanks to producers’ fear of tracks being leaked or not selling, the concept has been taken to the extreme by UK Funky producers who won’t even release their tracks as mp3s. Nowhere is this more apparent then with DEVINE RECORDINGS, a five-man east London collective numbering DJs Jewlsy [pictured], G Smallz, Smokey D and producers Mad One [pictured] and Murdz who have stealthily become one of the scene’s core units thanks to House Girls, their timestretched eight-parts-and-counting anthem that refuses to die despite first surfacing over a year and a half ago (listen on the right). While some have rued how the internet has made it harder for musicians to keep their mystique, Devine seem to have bypassed this problem entirely as apart from a few Facebook profiles, they have next to no web presence. A purist’s dream, they are only accessible if you turn up to a club where they’re DJing or listen to Live FM, arguably London’s most vital pirate now that Rinse has gone legal, and where they feature daily. I tracked down three members of Devine near Canning Town to find out why Google is not always a good thing.
How did you all get together?
Mad One: Jewlsy is like blood to me. With Murdz, I knew him from Flirt FM, which I used to own. We used to have a few man come up there. Fumin’, Gods Gift, Crazy Titch. I done a few tracks with Wiley and Jookie Mundo but Grime didn’t really work for me so I gave up for a while, and Jewlsy went back to DJing. We were playing nothing funky or tribal, just commersh house. But I used to listen to old ’89 stuff and old hardcore so when Funky came along, I could bubble to it.
Tell me how House Girls came about.
Mad One: Basically, Marcus Nasty started it off. I gave him the track, he plays a lot of clubs all around the UK and got the tune about. From there, Marc Ryder from My House got in touch and gave me an opportunity to do my thing on the decks. I played House Girls and from there, it just escalated. Everyone was on it.
What’s behind all the versions?
Mad One: You know what it is? It’s the pattern. I just love the pattern so much that I thought to myself, ‘I could do more, I could do more’. So I’m doing part one up to ten. I’m gonna go up to ten then call it a day.
Why haven’t you released anything yet?
Mad One: We stay away from the leakage department.
Murdz: That’s why there’s such a mystery. People say they hear our tracks but they don’t see us or know how they can hear our stuff.
Do you like that? The fact people know little about you but know your music?
Mad One: To be honest, before I get myself in a situation where I’m just handing my tunes to anyone and it’s getting leaked all over the place, I’d rather know who’s got my stuff. We’re just protecting ourselves. Look at House Girls Part One, it’s done well, and I’m grateful ‘cos that got us on the map, but it’s been leaked.
How much do you have to do with Live FM? You seem to be on there every day.
Jewlsy: We don’t run the station. Out to Fats. He runs it. But I would like to think we are one of the main lot on there, the backbone. Devine are on every day apart from Saturday. Other stations, they’re listening to us now, so I must be doing something right. And 90% of the time I hardly play what else is going on. Sometimes on a Tuesday I play vocals or past and present, but on a Friday, I’m playing only us. There’s not enough time to play anyone else.
What are your thoughts on Rinse finally going legal?
All: That’s a good look.
Mad One: But certain things that Rinse could do, they’re not going to be able to do now. If you’re legal, you’ve got strict rules.
Jewlsy: You probably can’t act how you used to act. Like, we have so much fun on our shows and some of Rinse’s shows sound so computerised. But that’s what they have to do. I respect that they have to drop certain things to get somewhere. But we are leaders now. ‘Cos Rinse is legal, it leaves it open for us.