Publication: Clash Print and Online
Photography: Vicky Grout
“There’s always room to better yourself as an artist…”
Even between coughs, sniffles and a raspy throat, Collins Nemi, aka Conducta, is disarmingly charming. “I’m in bed,” he says, parenthesising that a gruelling debut festival run has all but wiped him out. “Just working on a remix for Chase And Status, featuring Kano.” He’s matter-of-fact, if not totally flippant. This is probably because at 23 and already hailed as ‘The Prince of UKG,’ he’s become accustomed to ticking items off of an ever-shrinking list of career ambitions.
Born in Bristol in ’94, Conducta was raised in the halcyon days of UK dance music. Taking in the sounds of R&B and grime, before specialising in garage, his musical education started early and grew into an analytical obsession with discovery, creation and progression. “As a producer there’s always room for exploration,” he explains, earnestly. “There’s always room to better yourself as an artist.”
Lessons in the proud genealogy of Bristolian dance music came from local radio and familial influence at a young age. He soon began experimenting with torrented software and YouTube rips, and by the time he moved to London aged 18, to study an undergraduate at SOAS, he’d had his music played on 1Xtra – which was enough to fix his sights on making it as a producer. To this day he remains a student of the scene that birthed him. “Whatever you try to do in music, you have got to be culture competent,” he says. “You have to be able to look back before you move forward. For me, garage comes from the ’90s Chicago sound. Those foundations have to be recognised and understood so we can develop and not just regurgitate what’s come before.”
When people talk about garage, they invariably talk about the past. Whether it’s a reference to the genre’s origins in the early-’90s, right through to the spawning of UK funky in the mid-’00s, it’s rare to hear someone talking about garage as the defining sound of right now. But UKG isn’t just a nostalgia trip for retired ravers, and Conducta is out to prove that, one set, one single, one remix at a time.