Magnetic Men: Skream, Benga & Artwork

Dubstep's dream team walk us through their hectic year as they get ready to release their second single 'Perfect Stranger' and debut album

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Magnetic Man collectively embody the mantra ‘if you believe, you can achieve’. Comprising of dubstep’s architects Oliver ‘Skream’ Jones, Benga Adejumo and Big Apple founder Arthur ‘Artwork’ Smith, their unwavering belief in a genre they helped create is paying off big time. Their single ‘I Need Air’ featuring relative newcomer Katy B reached the UK top ten and ‘Perfect Stranger’, also featuring Katy, is set to do the same when its released on October 4th. To think it all started out with Friday nights spent in a record shop coupled with Artwork’s foresight to sign up Skream and Benga as teens is nothing short of remarkable. We met up with two thirds of Magnetic Man (Benga, understandably, was ‘under the weather’ having celebrated his birthday the night before) for a full English in Shoreditch to talk about the UK’s attraction to this magnetic trio.

Dazed Digital: What does it feel like having a top 20 single? 

Skream: Top Ten actually!

DD: Top 10, my apologies…
Skream: Yeah, it’s amazing. It's surreal because you think that once it happens you think you’re going to celebrate and just have this huge party but we just sort of got on with it and started thinking about the next one. It’s just the start and it’s such a good feeling for the first single to get there.

DD: What did your parents make of their son having a top 10 single?
Skream: They loved it. They talk about it more than I do! I think it’s a bit mad for them as well. I told them it was going to happen and I think they just thought I was just waffling to avoid, well, I suppose its too late to do real work now…

DD: Let’s talk a little about Katy – she’s been getting a lot of love from pretty much everyone right now for which you guys are probably due some credit. How did working with Katy come about?
Skream: I haven’t known Katy for too long – I met her through my manager but Arthur’s been working with her for a lot longer.
Artwork: Well I’ve been working with her for about three years now? Writing stuff for her, coming to my studio and writing tracks and then we were doing the Magnetic Man project and she was just an obvious choice. We tried her on three or four different things and Perfect Stranger came back to us and we were like ‘THAT’S a bit good!’ She also did this track called Crossover which was written by Sam Frank and she nailed that one as well. She’s just a trooper, a real star. Amazing girl.

DD: Do you feel like each of you bring different components to Magnetic Man?
Skream: Nah. It’s an all-round thing because you’ve got to think we are all solo producers at the same time so everyone’s got their knack. I think its more of a thing of we’re all comfortable enough to, say, if someone isn’t feeling something then they’ll say it without it causing an argument. 
Artwork: We’ve kind of got a weird democracy going on where usually in a band of three people, two people might like something whilst the other doesn’t but it still goes in, in our outfit, if one person doesn’t like it, it doesn’t go in. It has to be all three saying ‘That’s the shit’. We laid that out from early doors and it’s been a good way of working for us.  

DD: Are you at all worried about the genre which you had a large hand in founding becoming over-commercialised? 
Artwork: We regularly get asked this but it’s a good question to ask. Look, it’s good music. It’s good music that a lot of people like and it’s popular, do you know what I mean? You can't stop it because of the internet. Everybody can hear this music now. It’s not just like a club where if you go, you’ll hear that music or whatever. Nowadays, it spreads so fast that so many people like it, its enough to get it into the charts so there’s nothing you can really do about it. We’ll just keep making the same music.
Skream: People are hearing the term ‘dubstep’ and they’re starting to look deeper into it you know, and actually finding artists and actually realising there are so many good artists out there. 

DD: Whats happening with Big Apple now?
Artwork: Not a lot over the next few months! The Big Apple label was an amazing thing. It was more about the shop. It was a strange place. You had every person that’s in the dubstep scene now involved in Big Apple in some way. If you could go back seven or eight years and had a look in that shop on a Friday night – Benga, Skream, Myself, Plastician, Benny Hill, Digital Mystikz; everybody standing in that shop at one time. It was a weird place. As for the label, right now, it's just sitting there. It will come back. 

DD: You’ve previously been referred to by the guys as a mentor, who would you (Skream) say you’ve tried to pass it forward with? 
Skream: Yeah, Kito and a kid called Culture. Put them out on my label as their first releases and Kito’s gone on to sign with Mad Decent and got an EP coming out with them. He’s really talented. I think he’s going to do really well, as an all-round producer.

DD: On the other hand, whats it like for you (Arthur) seeing the guys that were hanging around Big Apple ‘blossom’, so to speak…?

Artwork: It’s amazing. It's been a very gradual thing though. Everyone thinks it's all just blown up and it hasn’t. This has taken seven or eight years from signing them when they were 15 to seeing them now headlining festivals and stuff like that. It has been gradual but every time you see it, when you see Benga go in at number five and there is this ‘proud dad’ moment, its great. 

DD: Finally, if Magnetic Man were a superhero, what would his secret weakness be?
Skream: Another Magnetic Man!
Artwork: Yeah, they’d get stuck together and just fuck each other up! His evil twin!

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