Artful Dodger interview

UK garage forefathers are still at it - and coming to Dubai

MC Alistair from Artful Dodger tells us about the band’s upcoming gig in Dubai.

The Artful Dodger line-up may have changed from former members Mark Hill and Pete Devereux in 2000, but their distinctive tracks are just as popular. Known for their lively sets and hype, today the group consists of Essex native DJ Dave Low and MC Alistair from Southampton.

The name is derived from a loveable and cunning character in the Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist, and from the many bootlegs they made in the early days. They were also artful at dodging our phone calls leading up to the interview, thanks to their busy touring schedule across Europe and Australia.

After finally tracking down one half of the pair (in Egypt), we got the lowdown on their upcoming gig at Level 41, Media One Hotel, which takes place on Thursday, August 28. On holiday to celebrate his 34th birthday, MC Alistair describes himself and Dave as ‘a pair of characters.’

‘We like to holiday. We’re an energetic pair and we like to put on a show. Expect a lot of hype. We like to dance and jump. It’s high energy music,’ explains Alistair.

With a number of chart-topping hits, including the popular ‘Re-Rewind’ – the track that gave Craig David a career boost after it reached number two in the UK charts – Artful Dodger earned a place as one of the most successful UK garage acts to emerge from the underground scene.

‘Myself and Craig (David) used to play at the local West End London clubs. R&B and reggae used to be quite niche, and it wasn’t as big or as commercial as it became. ‘Re-Rewind’ was a massive hit underground and it all went from there. Underground was all organic, we made music because we loved it. There were no two ways about it. We didn’t do it to become famous, it was sheer love. If it hadn’t become big, we would have loved it just as much,’ says Alistair.

Both Alistair and Dave were involved with Artful Dodger in the early days. Dave is the co-owner of Public Demand Records, which was responsible for signing and breaking the group and giving it its first break. When the original members decided to pursue other projects, Alistair and Dave decided to continue with the success that Artful Dodger had come to gain.

‘The first time I heard us on Radio One I was driving the car and I nearly crashed. It was unbelievable. It was, “Re-rewind” and I thought: “This is serious, it just got real.” You have to be experimental to move forward and at the same time you have to listen to what’s going on around you. It’s a delicate line and it’s an art form in itself,’ says Alistair.

The group had numerous hits in the noughties such as ‘Moving Too Fast’ and ‘Woman Trouble’ and a platinum selling album titled It’s All About the Stragglers.

‘All music, no matter how long it’s around, will always come back. There are patterns, a few years ago guitar-based music and rock was more relevant than anything else.

I’m sure that will come around again, it’s different tastes like fashions. The UK garage sound is at the forefront and things like house derive from garage and dubstep and grime.

I think being the only true British sound, it’s a good place to go back to,’ says Alistair.

The duo, who are performing alongside Sigma and Hannah Wants in Dubai as part of Media One Hotel’s Summer Series, will play a mix of dubstep, deep, funky, soulful house, electro and garage music.

‘You have to move with the times, you can’t stay in one genre. I don’t think that’s the way any artist wants to be. I think you have to look around you and see what’s going on and embrace it. There are new fans that are embracing the music and they love it. First and foremost, we like to entertain, we have quite a high energy set,’ explains Alistair.

Having entertained crowds in Dubai for the first time in 2000, the pair are no strangers to the nightlife the city has to offer. ‘The first time we came to Dubai, there were only two clubs. I remember we went to an event called, Raindance on the beach and it rained Evian water. When we come to Dubai we like to try new restaurants and are big fans of partying at Armani,’ says Alistair.

With a number of lively garage tracks under their belt, coupled with the pair’s enthusiasm for clubbing Artful Dodger is sure to entertain the Dubai crowds.
Dhs100 advance. Dhs120 on the door. Thu August 28, 9pm-3am. Warehouse Dubai, Level 41, Media One Hotel (04 427 1000).


Garage nights

If you’re a fan of UK garage, then you might want to try these drum’n’ bass and electro music nights.

1. Bassworx Old School Party
Head down to Casa Latina in Al Barsha for a night of drum’n’ bass, jungle, ’90s classics and UK garage.
www.ibishotel.com (04 399 6699).

2. Unite Thursdays
Join Jean B on the dancefloor spinning a mix of house, urban, new and old School R&B tunes at Boutiq Dubai.
www.boutiq.ae (052 801 855).

3. Okku Sunday love
Check out the new electric chic sounds of DJ Marc Marshall every week.
www.okku.com (04 501 8777).

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