Cutting his teeth in the underground electronic scene of ’90s Bristol, DJ and producer Hugh Pescod has become a veritable force in the UK club scene. Originally making Drum and Bass music under the moniker DJ Clipz, Pescod quickly became established within the genre and went on to found the Audio Zoo label. However, after adopting the recording name “Redlight”, Pescod broke away from DnB and initiated a process of ceaseless musical exploration. Switching up his sound from track to track and organically following his creative impulses, he unlocked the secrets to chart success in the early 2010s. Releases like “Out My Head” and “Lost in Your Love” broke the UK Top 20 and the prolific musician has collaborated with the likes of Roses Gabor and Ms Dynamite.
To celebrate his latest full-length release, ACTIVE, we sat down with Pescod to hear more about his beginnings playing raves across the country, why the dance music scene should stop taking itself so seriously, and how UK Drill is 2018’s answer to punk music.
What was the last track you listened to?
MJ Cole’s got a new track out, I heard it yesterday and it’s pretty special. Sounded like 98 MJ. Also a new kid called Arma, who sent me a folder of beats today that are fire. Music comes to me in waves and today my inbox has been good to me.
When did you first start creating your own music? Why?
I first started creating music, when I was an early teenager messing about with friends. Then I got seriously into at 16-ish, started releasing material when I was 19 and had the bug from there really. Expression is the key I guess. The energy you get from making something new is like nothing else, it’s like a drug. I’m always looking to recreate that feeling again.
You were raised on the ’90s electronic scene in Bristol – how has this influenced you musically?
Probably every aspect of my early musical knowledge comes from there. I was lucky to have things popping off all around: there were festivals, raves, warehouse parties and clubs to go to all the time. I’d sneak in and listen to music, catch a vibe, smoke weed and go and make a vibe in the studio with friends.
Your initial entry into the electronic music scene was creating Drum and Bass tunes under the moniker DJ Clipz — what prompted the shift away from DnB towards the different genres you work in as Redlight?
That was 10 years ago now, I feel like I’ve done more music outside of that scene, and for a longer period, than in it to be honest. But yeah, I cut my teeth making DnB and cutting dubplates, driving up and down the country playing raves. That music travels, I saw the whole world from DnB and am very lucky to have had the opportunity to do so. But shit moves on, and inspiration took me other places I guess.
We hear that you once vowed to make each track you released in a different style — why was this? How has this impacted upon your career?
I deffo try and keep shit fresh, I feel like it’s much harder for fans to keep up with though. People like things in boxes so they can say “that’s this and this is that. I like this person because they just play techno and them because they just play this style of music.” But fuck it, creativity is what takes me to different places. I’m probably too ADHD to stay in one zone, that can be confusing for some but all genres just fade in and out of fashion, so someone always likes something I do, which is a win I guess.
You’ve worked with the likes of Ms Dynamite, Roses Gabor, Kojo Funds, and Wu Tang Clan’s Raekwon — what would you say has been the best collaboration of your career thus far and who would you like to collaborate with in future?
I’ve liked all the collabs I’ve done to be honest, it’s been amazing to work with so many talented peeps, all with different styles and approaches to working out the puzzle of piecing together a track. I don’t mind who I collaborate with in the future as long as they are an artist and 100 percent behind getting music finished. Thats what I’m about tbh, just making sure music gets finished to the highest order. Even if the tune’s shit, let’s get it finished.
Your latest single ‘Get Wavey’ makes reference to trance music and rave culture, why is this?
The song says; “T.R.A.N.C.E” because its too easy to just be gazing, getting caught up in nothing on the ‘net. So then its says; “TIME 2 MOVE YOUR BODY” – get active, and move forward into something else. They’re also just cool words that rhyme together haha.
Would you say that club culture provides the kind of escapism we need in the face of political uncertainty?
For me music is always political, we’re living in a time when a lot of people in dance music and the dance music industry act like young tories. So desperate to be the best, determined to look like they’re doing better than they are, with their managers hell-bent on winning, just so they can push the fee up. It’s like watching a Conservative Party conference. Maybe social media has turned everyone into right-wing maniacs. I get it though, it’s hard to promote yourself without looking like a massive egomaniac. For me, music has always been an escape. If you aren’t happy with your life or people try to box you in, or you just don’t feel like you belong, then music can be the biggest middle finger to all that. I need anarchy in my music. A Roland juno synth line isn’t going to give you anarchy. Even though I hardly make it, that’s why I love Drill and UK rap so much – they’re the closest we have to punk music since Sham 69 and The Sex Pistols. It’s raw as fuck, music needs that. Dance music’s the opposite to that at the moment. Maybe that’s why I always try to make different types of music.
We hear that your new album, ACTIVE, dropped on the 2nd of November — would you care to talk more about this release? How does it differ from your debut LP, X Colour?
X Colour was an album with a message that threaded through the whole thing to create one story. ACTIVE is basically just making a tune for joke, having a laugh working with people you respect and like, and creating something new. Getting stuff out and creating, not getting stuck in a mindset of “this has to be the best,” none of that. Just creating something and putting it out.
What have you got lined up over the next year?
I want to take a semi-live tour on the road, finish another album, do an art exhibition and make a short film.