my image gallery
More shots -


"It is dubstep," says J:Kenzo of the deep, dark and sub-heavy music that makes up his eponymous debut album for Tempa. "Some people like to call it different names - dungeon, stuff like that," he smiles. "But to me it is dubstep, like it was when it first came out. Stripped down beats and bass, quite simply."

Opener 'Statement of Intent', swells from silence to a thick, rocky groove that rattles speaker cones like an earthquake. It's punishing, but carried along by an implicit sense of funk, each element placed for maximum impact. Throughout the album's length, these traits are repeated - flickers of electro riffage punctuating 'Invaderz' and 'Contagion', Rod Azlan's toasting to herald a monstrous drop in 'Ruffhouse'. What's striking about J:Kenzo's tracks is how few elements they contain, but how powerfully each is utilised: he reduces dubstep to its very essence, leaving only the barest essentials required to shake a dancefloor to the foundations.

Having grown up on soul, reggae and rare groove before delving deep into jungle, drum & bass and later garage, when he first came across the sound developing at FWD>> and DMZ, something immediately clicked. As he honed his production skills, those wide-ranging musical influences began to express themselves, lending his tracks the open-minded feel that has become his calling card. It was something Rinse FM's Youngsta noticed immediately when Kenzo first sent him the track that would become his 2011 Tempa debut single, 'The Roteks'. "Youngsta took it under his wing and just blew it up, exposed it to a whole group of people who had never heard me or my sound before” .

The album contines to show off that diversity. Although still unmistakably dubstep, it channels a range of other sounds - dub's woozy skank; twisting conga lines; blistering electro synths; Reconstruct’s techno momentum; while Grime makes an appear- ance too, with Newham Generals' MC Footsie on 'No Man's Land'.

'Eyes Wide Open', meanwhile, boldly shows off dubstep's ability to be a uniquely flexible form of pop music. While the majority of dubstep that hits the charts is shorn of all subtlety, here its half-sung, half-whispered lyrics and gorgeous descending arpeggio turn oceanic halfstep into a deep, meditative vocal track, equally at home in headphones, on late-night radio or cutting through the crowd at FWD>>.

And therein lies the root of J:Kenzo's appeal – remaining tied to dubstep's core values while pushing it along new pathways.

"That's the good thing about dubstep – it allows that. It's good experimental music."