The Mobo-award-winning DJ tells Time Out about respect and creativity
What will your set be like? I just want people to understand that I’m bringing some energy and be prepared to hear some new music as well as the classics. I know a lot of people just like to hear the classic stuff, but there’s a lot of good new music out there as well. I like to put a spin on music that I play – it’s not about what you play it’s how you play it.
Do you make your own music? I do but it hasn’t been unleashed on people as of yet. At the moment I’m just giving people a chance to get used to what my flavour is. I’m making stuff right now, but I’m always working and it’s hard to produce your own stuff when you’re DJing all the time, not to mention doing radio shows and raising a family.
You’ve worked with big names. Who was the most down-to-earth? I’d say Jay-Z was very down-to-earth. That was a while ago, though, and I haven’t seen him since then. And back in the day The Wu Tang Clan were really cool dudes.
Have you ever had problems with high maintenance artists? I don’t find myself getting into those kinds of situations because I don’t try to be around them all day. I’ll tell them who I am, give them respect and then carry on doing my thing. I’m not really trying to fit in; I’ve got my own stuff to do. But I won’t tolerate anyone trying to be [difficult] with me because I don’t give them any cause for them to be that way.
What do you look for when you’re listening to other DJs? I like DJs who aren’t copycats. I like to listen to DJs who bring something new and put their own spin on things in what they do.
How has winning a Mobo award in 2003 helped with your DJing? It helped with exposure, at the time Mobos were bigger than they are now. But when some people think ‘London DJ’ they also think Mobo and so that obviously does help to push my brand forward. I won the DJ category the same year 50 Cent won four of them.
Where does your DJ name come from originally? ‘Shortee’ is the name my family gave me when I was a kid because I’m quite short – even though a lot of my family are short. When it came time to actually find a name, I really didn’t want to have a regular one. And for me, hip hop is all about being yourself, so I thought, why not be exactly who people know me as? I’m not trying to be anyone else.
Did your family influence your career in any way? Definitely – I think the people that really inspired me were my uncles. I went to my grandma’s on Fridays and my uncles and aunties would be there. They listen to everything from hip hop and reggae to indie rock. Anything that had a vibe to it. I owe it all to them, really.