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Page last updated at 10:16 GMT, Thursday, 28 May 2009 11:16 UK
Toddla T's all star debut album

By Greg Cochrane
Newsbeat music reporter

Championed by Arctic Monkeys, 24-year-old Sheffield producer Tom Bell talks about debut LP Skanky Skanky, the UK's new love for dubstep, and defending Tinchy Stryder from cries of 'sell out'.

Toddla T
Toddla T releases debut album Skanky Skanky on 25 May

Considering he's in the centre of one of the most exciting club culture movements in the UK, Toddla T is disarmingly relaxed.

"Do you mind if I take me shoes off?" he says, kicking off a pair of trainers and swigging from a giant bottle of water.

For those not acquainted, 24-year-old Sheffield beat-maker and producer Tom Bell aka Toddla T, is one of the UK's premier dancehall, electro, house and funky exponents.

Whilst UK guitar music seems to be experiencing a blip in commercial popularity the underground club culture is booming - T's one of the leaders.

Dance boom

"I think people are really up for dancing again - I know that sounds a bit cheesy," he says by way of explanation. "A lot of the kids that come to the gigs are a lot more open than previously.

"Dubstep is so big it's crazy - that's a home grown thing that we invented and that we do best, and it's on our doorstep.

Tinchy Stryder
Chart topper Tinchy Stryder appears on Toddla's new LP

"Its cool to be into everything now - where as it wasn't as little as five minutes ago."

With recent dup mixes by the likes of Skream (re-working La Roux's In For The Kill) and the success of Burial infiltrating the charts experimental British dance is thriving.

Toddla T himself - who has remixed people like Little Boots and Hot Chip - releases his own debut album Skanky Skanky this week [25 May].

Toddla's growth

A self taught beat maker T had his first experience of making music aged 12 when he bought a pair of battered turntables.

Five years later, his break came covering a friend's DJ shift in a club.

"I was 17 and had only had one job in my life, to go and do something that I really wanted to for money, it was incredible," he froths.

"Nowadays it's so easy to make music on a computer. It's like anyone can do it for pretty much for free."

Describing his signature to record label 1965 (home to The View amongst others) as a "flook" his rise has drawn parallels with the likes of The Streets' Mike Skinner.

Skanky Skanky, two years in the making, sees T compile all of his work to date and features a number of guests including Arctic Monkeys' Matt Helders and rapper Tinchy Stryder - someone he's quick to praise.

"If you see how he is around the studio, his management, his money, his merch - he's so on it and so focussed. Not in forced way just in a clever, smart way.

"I think he totally deserves to be doing Number 1 (a track with N-Dubz which recently topped the charts) like he is. Some people might say, 'Oh that record is a pop record' and yeah it is but he's still Tinch on it.

"So no-one can say he's doing anything sell-outish. He's still got it, he's a bad man."

Roots Manuva, in me bedroom spitting next to my dirty boxer shorts. Mad
Tom Bell aka Toddla T

Heroes involved

Skanky Skanky was also a chance for T to invite some of his heroes to contribute, one of which Roots Manuva, became a good friend.

"I was working in a shoe shop in Sheffield and he'd come in and buy his trainers so we kept a friendship," says Toddla. "And then one day he came in and said: "I'm trying to finish my record have you got any beats".

After assisting Manuva on a number of tracks on his most recent album Slime & Reason he returned the favour recording in Toddla's house as his parents watched golf on TV downstairs.

"Roots Manuva, in me bedroom spitting next to my dirty boxer shorts. Mad." he enthuses.

Elsewhere, in an unlikely pairing, Hot Chip's Joe Goddard and poet Benjamin Zephaniah appear on dancehall mash up Rebels.

"I just thought it'd be a wicked sound clash," admits Toddla T. "It was as simple as that. Two totally different people."

If this is the sound of Toddla just learning to walk then we've got a lot more to look forward to.

Toddla T joins BBC Radio 1's In New DJs We Trust team from 18 June.



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