“I was christened Spiky T, by my parents, like Frank Zappa in that respect.”
He’s taking the piss; it was an old nickname that stuck. Little locks growing up like spikes on his head and a T for his name, Trevor. He chats away over the phone in his thick Londoner accent. Spikey T came to live in Sydney for the “music and me missus”. His first taste of Oz was 1995, Womadelaide. “We had a fucking wicked time. I was in love with Australia from then on.” He was here for six weeks, touring as lead vocalist for the Jah Wobble’s Invaders Of The Heart. Before that he worked with the Sindecut; he’s collaborated with Mr. Scruff, Morcheba, Sola Rosa; his DJ, MC and singing skills have taken him around the world, he’s performed with reggae legions such as Dennis Alcapone, Ranking Joe and Horace Andy and now he’s here, performing at a ForeignDub gig – ‘Soul Food’ on the 30th May @ UTS Glasshouse Bar.
Spiky T first worked with reggae sound systems as a surprise selector/operator when he was thirteen. It wasn’t until 1989 that he heard drum and bass – “reggae music with fucked up amen breaks… jungle reggae, then it developed into liquid and wobble”. After experiencing his first jungle sound system his ears were ringing for three days.
He supports Foreigndub and the scene they are trying to build but when asked what he thinks of the drum and bass scene here in Sydney compared to the UK he flatly responds “[it’s] like my grandfathers pants, you can publish that”. He attributes this mostly to lack of support. “Its fallen off in such a big way it’s scary. The scene in Sydney has really died on its arse. It was really growing and emerging and it was really exciting. That was another thing that pulled me over here: seeing, hearing lots of good DJs and producers, but it’s just not supported because people don’t understand it, the culture’s not here for it, it’s SO small, so small”
Spikey T expresses a frustration familiar to many independent music lovers out there: the music that is getting mainstream exposure is so limited.
He generalises the industry’s focus as on “commercial rock or your Presets, – funny hair, skinny jeans crew” and criticises the music industry for having a narrow approach considering “the wealth of music we’ve got out there”. Support is what is needed, from labels and people with influence, which is why Spikey T is so passionate about teaming up with independent crews like ForeignDub, saying “it’s important to give support and encouragement – it’s really lacking here”.
Spikey T also sees an ignorance of the history of Drum and Bass, stressing the importance of this knowledge to truly understand the music – “you got to pay attention to the roots, know where it’s come from”. He laughs as he tells an antidote of a ‘kid’ hailing love for old school hip hop “and I’m like who Steady B and stetsasonic and they’re like – who? Nah like JC man”.
Strong influences of Drum and Bass and jungle are hip hop; and reggae and dub sounds from Jamaica – all with strong links to black culture and black movements. Spikey T voices a bit of dismay at flicking through a Drum and Bass magazines to find so little representation of black people and a lack of understanding of ‘black music’ commenting that “…so obviously the cultures not going to flourish, but the people who do appreciate it, fucking appreciate it”
He admits “I’m an older geezer, I’m 40 years old, I’m not a spring chicken, I’ve been running around the world for like 20 years now” and from his experience offers some advice to the younger generation of Drum and Bass artists – “music, music not noise, I can appreciate the guys that get all technical and dirty, finding new ways to fuck with technology, I love that, but give us some music. People are crying out for it, put some soul in there, you got to get to people’s hearts”.
This year is the 2oth anniversary of Spikey T’s music career and he’s flying back home to celebrate with a European tour set for June to “thank the northern hemisphere for fucking helping to pave the way… to pay respect to my roots”.