Chris Reed is a Croydon sorcerer with the golden touch of the dub/grime genre, better known as Plastician.
His pirate radio shows and 'Rephlex' compilations helped construct the foundations that vaulted the sub culture of Londons underground revelation. Following production responsiblities with Wiley, Skepta, JME and notably, Bizzle's 'Against All Oddz', the humble mix-maestro has turned to solo work, with the release of his critically acclaimed 'Beg To Differ'. Clash managed to make the travelling producer/label owner/musician stay still for at least five minutes, so we could interrogate this elusive chap.
Hello Mr Reed, a.k.a Plastician. How are you feeling today?
I mainly just wanted to record my own tapes with my favourite tracks on at first, then it became more serious
Tired / jet lagged from my trip to vegas.
No better time to launch into some in-depth questioning! Before pirate radio cult status and BBC radio residencies, who was the inspiration? What artists made you so passionate about your music?
I used to listen to UK Garage tape packs and radio shows, mainly DJ EZ - I always enjoyed listening to his mixes and wanted to become a DJ off the back of hearing him. I mainly just wanted to record my own tapes with my favourite tracks on at first, then it became more serious and I aimed for bookings and radio slots. Thats what got me into production - I felt it would help me gain some kind of status which would aid my chances of getting heard as a DJ.
So that Canadian techno-junkie Plastikman demanded that you dropped your original pseudonym 'Plasticman', hence Plastician. Was that tough to swallow? Or will it just be another story to add come autobiography time?
I think at the time I was worried, I was gaining a lot of momentum and it happened right before I started my Radio One stint. Now though I think it happened at a good time. Dubstep and Grime have gained a lot in popularity since and I think a large majority of people who know about "Plastician" may not have known about me in the Plasticman days. Whereas if it happened now, there would be a lot more people I had to try and spread the word to.
In your 8 long years to date you have worked with Wiley, Skepta and even the Bizzle. Not to forget involvement with the Ministry of Sound. Which artist did you enjoy working with the most?
I enjoy collaborating with vocalists a lot. We recorded Intensive Snare and Real Things across two days in the studio and they were a good laugh from start to finish!! Before Boy Better Know formed with DJ Maximum, I used to play a lot of gigs as Skepta and JME's DJ, so we did loads of touring, travelling together and working together on stage - the two of them are a good laugh and more often than not it wouldn't feel like work at all, more like 3 lads going abroad on a road trip or something!!
Noting that you have worked with Lethal Bizzle and Wiley, would it be safe to assume you distance yourself from the rivalry of the grime scene?
I take a keen interest in it - rivalry can be healthy and it seems to bring the best out of some MC's - but I don't get involved in any picking of sides!!!
Plastic People in Shoreditch will always hold a place in my heart
You're debut solo album 'Beg to Differ' has seen surprising world wide acknowledgement. Is this the reaped benefits of hard touring, or was it quite a shock? Does this create added pressure when you record?
I think it surprised me how well it's done digitally - I was expecting the CD to outsell the MP3's but it hasn't - a sign of the times definitely. It also makes me wonder how the vinyl will do once we release a few tracks from it in the coming months. I've found it difficult to produce new tracks for a couple of years now as I want to make sure I still sound different to others, and there are so many producers appearing all the time, this is becoming increasingly difficult to keep on top of the game.
A solo album, frequent overseas gigs and a residency at Rinse FM... How do you fit time in for your label Terrorhythm? And what made you start it?
Its difficult but I run it with my mate Charles now so we spread the workload! I started it mainly to use as an outlet for releasing my own material - so that I earnt all of the money on my own!! Back then though we were only putting out 500 to 1000 units and they were mainly selling to garage stockists inside the M25, a lot has changed now and we're looking forward to releasing loads of stuff over the next 6 months from various interesting artists.
Through live demand you have been performing up and down the country, as well as Tokyo, Paris and Rome to name a few. You're even in St Petersburg this November, how do you cope with life on the road? What is the most mind blowing venue you have played?
I love travelling but it does take the fun out of going to the airport!! I used to love being there just before I was going on holiday but now its just a pain in the arse. I still love the sightseeing and taking in the various cultures on my travels though, its nice if I get a couple of days around a show to have a look round - but this is becoming a rarity too. I think I've played at a lot of good venues, all good for different reasons. Some of my favourites would have to be a cathedral in Tunisia, and a disused train station in Brussels for their architecture. Plastic People in Shoreditch will always hold a place in my heart, as well as London's End Club - both for their brilliant sound systems and atmosphere. Love playing in Los Angeles for the energy of the party goers, and the same goes for most of the venues I've played in the USA, special mentions going out to the Miami crew as well!! I loved the sightseeing and the bustling streets of Tokyo, and I'm really excited about going to Australia and New Zealand for the weather in December.
Thanks for your time and all the best.