This month, March 2015, is a very special one for FatKidOnFire as they are celebrating their fifth birthday. FatKidOnFire, the leading dubstep platform founded by Wil Benton, is continuously providing quality promotion via SoundCloud, as well as delivering detailed reviews, hosting a well-respected release series “FKOFd”, setting up live events and in general representing a currently 20.000-strong community. To celebrate a half decade of 140bpm bass music, Korrupt, producer/DJ and co-founder at FKOF, takes us on a musical journey of what represents the FatKidOnFire sound. Press “play” on our fifth “DUPLOC Podcast” below and enjoy our exclusive interview with Wil Benton.

Hey Wil, congratulations with these five amazing years! Personally we’ve only been following FKOF for about one year, though we have to say we are really inspired by the content you’ve been pushing, so please tell us, how did it all start?

Hey DUPLOC team and readers! Great to be speaking to you guys and thanks for taking the time to talk to us. How did it all start? That’s a good question. I think the simplest answer is something we’ve all probably suffered from (haha) – I was studying for my finals at university and didn’t really want to study! Inspired by what The Daily Street guys were doing, basically one of the best lifestyle and culture blogs in the UK, I started FKOF five years ago to fill what I perceived as a fairly large gap in the market. At the time, the majority of the blogs were recycling the same press release, they were not even adding any value to the reader. I wanted to add my own spin on things, and that to me was talking to the brands, labels and musicians on a personal level. Getting to know them as people rather than a press release.

If you go back to the early days of FKOF, when it was a lowly Tumblr blog, FKOF was very much an all-encompassing publication documenting my life as a student. Music played a big part, but it was also fashion, lifestyle, culture. Pretty much anything I was doing (and thought would be of interest) would be documented. The music side of things only really started taking off when the MakeItGood x FKOF content partnership really got going. Still gutted it ended.

So basically FatKidOnFire transformed from a lifestyle blog to a music platform?

That wasn’t an entirely conscious decision to be fair. I tried to keep the site as lifestyle as possible but it got to a point where the music side of things was getting the most attention and also becoming the most popular content we created. We had a few contributors who helped me from the fashion side of things, but the majority were students and went on to bigger and better things! Chris, for example, who wrote fashion and lifestyle posts for the site (and was responsible for quite a few mix covers and the first 6 FKOFd covers) finished uni and got a job with the Lotus Formula 1 team!

We understood you won the “Digital Journalist” award by The Guardian for FatKidOnFire already in 2010, how did that happen?

So I started FKOF in March 2010, blogging for the last few months of my biomedical science degree in London. Towards the start of the summer, one of my friends (out to you, Big Maz) noticed The Guardian were advertising the ‘Student Media Awards’, an awards ceremony that recognised some of the best young journalists (across various media forms like print, digital, audio, photography etc.) in UK education. I applied for the “Digital Journalist” category and ended up winning the 2010 award. That award got me my first proper job at a digital agency and is responsible for the resulting career I’ve had so far!

We assume founding a dubstep-based platform in 2010, while the commercial music business took over the genre, wasn’t that obvious at the time? We also understood that especially in the last two years FatKidOnFire really started booming. We’ve seen many producers, labels and blogs mentioning there’s now space again for the “original” sounds to shine through. Do you have any words on that? How did you see the FKOF imprint developing throughout these five years?

I guess you could say that – I was at Uni in London but was a fairly ‘late stage bloomer’. I didn’t really discover dubstep until late 2007 (around the time of Caspa & Rusko’s Fabriclive came out). I didn’t really follow a trend, but apparently just kind of stumbled upon the darker, deeper side of the genre. I think it was hearing the ‘In For The Kill’ Skreamix that really set me on the path though, so as always, it’s Skream’s fault (haha)!

The last 12-18 months have been the best ‘on record’. That’s in part thanks to being able to dedicate almost all of my time to FKOF after leaving my last job. But I also think, like you say, that it was the resurgence of the deeper side of the sound which helped us grow. We haven’t really changed or developed what we do or who we support over the last five years. We’ve just stayed true to what we do and if more people like that and engage with it the better. :)

While the FKOF community has been growing strong, you also founded a label and we noticed that you recently released FKOFd017 already?

Yep! Since we started releasing tracks via our FKOFd series on a monthly basis a year and a half ago. FKOFd017 is one of the best releases we’ve had in recent months, I think BunZer0’s ‘First Lesson’ is one of my all-time favourite FKOFd tracks. Amazing release from a truly brilliant (and often overlooked) producer. Out to you, BunZ!

It definitely is good to see a Belgian producer involved in the FKOFd series. At what point did you feel the need to start putting out music yourself?

Releasing music was a concept I’d been toying with for a while prior to Dubfreq’s FKOFd001. Our FKOF free downloads are pretty popular, but there are some people who seem to think we’re devaluing music by giving it away for free. Inspired by that point of view, as well as the quality of music we were having submitted, we decided to get a digital label rolling. Dubfreq kicked it off and we haven’t looked back since.

What’s to come for FatKidOnFire? Any events, releases or worth-mentioning projects to announce for the coming months?

Well in fact we had an amazing fifth birthday dance last weekend in London with Uncle N-Type and the Wheely Dealers at Fire in Vauxhall. One of the best labels, run by one of my favourite DJs/producers, and one of the best clubs in the capital. Pretty FKOFing awesome way to celebrate the half decade! Other than that, we’ve got a few other gigs in discussion at the moment, but I’d love to get more planned. Please do get in touch if you can help make this happen! We’re also working on the mythical debut FKOFv release and a few other bits and pieces I can’t yet discuss. What do you guys want to see from FKOF? Let us know!

We’ll be announcing FKOFd018 in the next three weeks as well, so keep an eye on the site and the FKOF SoundCloud. It’s an absolutely huge EP from a producer collective we think are on the verge of blowing up. Big up George and the gang – watch for them! Other than that, we’ve got releases from some of our favourite producers (big and small) scheduled until the end of the year. So the music’s still coming…!

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Could you tell us a bit more about your new “30 minutes of” series?

I got talking to Dubbacle one night last year, bemoaning the fact that the mass market thought they knew “dubstep” but had no idea who was responsible for its creation or curation in the early days. Deepak and I discussed the concept of featuring dubstep’s founding fathers in a 30 minute mix – with effectively a short bio on the site to accompany – as a way of inspiring the want to discover more about each producer or DJ we feature. It’s a topic that often inspires heated debate, given each mix is entirely subjective to the DJ that creates it, but the series is not intended to be a definitive documentation of each producer. It’s supposed to be enough to get you interested in learning more. And, given it’s the most popular feature series we’ve ever done with FKOF, I’d say we’ve achieved our aim. Big love Deepak, Olaf and the rest of the team!

With so many projects going on, what are your ambitions for FatKidOnFire? Where do you see the community in 5 years?

To be truthful, I’m not really sure where FKOF will be in 5 years. Ambitions-wise, I’d love to keep the brand growing and the community scaling to new heights, especially given the “deeper” side of dubstep is coming back into fashion, but I’d also be quite happy with it doing its thing as it has been. I’ve spent five years sinking money into it and I’m not quite sure where to take it. Events? Vinyl? Digital-only label? Again, I think where we are in five years will be dictated by what our community wants us to become.

We love how you mention “dubstep is coming back into fashion”. Do you think the deeper side of dubstep has the “potential” to ever be as popular to the masses as how the tearout side blew up back in 2010 and as for example how deep house now is the next big thing?

Interesting thought I guess. I think “tearout” blew up because you could run it through the standard arena/festival stage sound system and get the impact from the majority of the music. Whereas with the deeper stuff, you need an engineer who understands the sound and, more importantly, a sound system that can cope with the lows of this type of music. At larger scale events like the huge arena shows the tearout guys do, the lows in the deeper side will get lost (although I was impressed with the RC1 in front of the 2/3,000-strong crowd at DMZ’s last London birthday) – I don’t really think this type of dance music works in a huge setting. For it to be its most powerful, you really do need to feel it. I think the experience you’ll have will always be much better with a massive system in a relatively small capacity club with the lights down. Maybe that’s just me though?!

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We’re curious to know, how did you personally see the dubstep sound evolving and where do you see it going?

It’s an interesting topic – dubstep ‘evolving’. Back when FKOF started, Caspa and Rusko were just breaking through with their (what would become) tearout style, but it was still at a level where it hadn’t been cannibalised into the horrible screechy shit it is these days. It still had groove. That’s what I love about this sound – the kind of emotion you can distil with a wall of sub. Skream had just broken through onto mainstream airplay with the La Roux mix and it all started getting exciting.

Then Kryptic Minds came along with their album and the young producers started aping the KM ‘dungeon’ sound, and we all got stuck in that rut for a while. But then the newer labels started breaking through, IMR etc, with the producers no one could really pigeonhole. When things went stale, and they really did for a while, there were a group of producers who started experimenting. Perverse, Gantz, Thelem, Killawatt, Kaiju, Sleeper etc. (don’t be offended if you’re a producer not listed here – there’s way too many of you to mention individually, these are just who came to mind first)! And the sound started getting broader, more exciting and fresh.

That process has continued – with KM now disbanded (RIP), but the now-established fresh blood ruling the genre. Perverse nailed it with their Artikal Music UK releases, setting the standard for what you could do with a dubstep tune, Gantz is at the cutting edge of what you can do with bass music, Thelem has the new album coming (and is responsible for some of the sickest tunes around), Killawatt is cutting through the techno world and Kaiju and Sleeper are flying the flag for dubstep these days. It’s been a true honour growing up with these guys and their sound.

And now we’ve got the new wave of American producers testing the water, we’ve got the older tearout heads returning to try their hand at the deeper sound again and we’ve got UK promoters and venues willing to bet on dubstep again. Such an exciting time for the genre.

It definitely is! Thanks for your time Wil, and a big shout out to Olaf (Korrupt) for the mix! As we mentioned earlier, we’ve been really inspired by the FatKidOnFire community and therefore we would like to give you just a little birthday present – below our listeners can find a 50-track playlist of our deeper and darker premieres on YouTube labelled with the FKOF approval stamp. If you cannot get enough of Korrupt’s podcast you can spend a few hours discovering some fresh bits in here!


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Credits to Luiza Popa for the press-pictures.