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East London 2012: Elijah Butterz & Skilliam Film

Alongside interviews in the 'Is East London Dead?' issue of Dazed & Confused, we filmed grime MCs and label founders Elijah Butterz, Faze Miyake and JJ (Pitch Controllers) talking about their ties to the area

As a continuation of the 'Is East London Dead?' debate in the May issue of Dazed & Confused, we spoke to the area's longstanding grime MCs, Elijah Butterz and Skilliam about their roots to Leyton/Ilford, their music and the effects of the local changes over the last 15 years. As part of the discussion, we exclusively filmed Elijah Butterz, Faze Miyake (Family Tree), and JJ of Pitch Controllers talking about the local creative community, what the Olympics will do the the area and their fave place to hang out...

ELIJAH

Dazed & Confused: Who are you and what do you do for a living?

Elijah: Elijah, grime DJ, and I run the Butterz record label.

D&C: Where in east London are you based?     
Elijah: Leyton. I was born in Hackney, moved further down the road to Walthamstow, then to Leyton.

D&C: What first attracted you to the area and how long have you been working here?
Elijah: Ha! Nothing attracted me to Leyton. It just happened to be where I went to school. I’ve always been in the borough of Waltham Forest because I’ve never had the balls to move anywhere else. I probably can’t now, I’m 25! Too long in the same place.

D&C: How has east London changed since you've been here? Why do you think that is?
Elijah: It feels to me like there’s a lot more people in London from all over the country, all over the world. Maybe it was always like that, but it feels bigger now, people coming from all corners to get involved.

D&C: What is the most exciting part of your local creative community?
Elijah: Growing up it was pirate radio and that’s what made me do what I do. I wanted to be a DJ on a pirate since I was a kid but didn’t get involved till the pirate era was nearly over. Now I’m on Rinse FM, which is a former pirate that’s now a legal community station.

D&C: Has the area informed your creative work at all and if so, how?
Elijah: A lot of my musical heroes are from east London – Wiley, Dizzee Rascal, D Double E… People might not know they’re from east London but it was really important growing up which part of London you were from. You’d say, ‘He spits like an east man…’ They would sound different to someone from west.

D&C: Is it possible to say ‘Silicon Roundabout’ aloud without laughing?
Elijah: It is. I hope to be working at Silicon Roundabout one day in the future under my real name too.

D&C: What's your favourite East End hangout?
Elijah: It changes, but you’ll definitely see me at Plastic People, on Curtain Road, Shoreditch, a couple of times a month for FWD, and some other nights I go to.

D&C: Does anything annoy you about the area? If so, what?
Elijah: I wouldn’t say annoy, but if I was living somewhere else I’d understand the history more. A lot of people come somewhere and are concerned with the now but not what went before. We’re in Shoreditch and when I was growing up there was nothing here, so if people understood how and why it’s like this now the future will be better, surely.

D&C: What are you going to do during the Olympics – stay or flee? Why?
Elijah: I’ve already got a few bookings so contractually I can’t leave for the first few days, but my area is close to the Olympics so afterwards I don’t think it will be easy to do anything leisurely. I’ll probably go somewhere where there’s even more English people, maybe Ibiza, and let what’s left of my hair down.

D&C: Is east London dead?
Elijah: East London can never die ’cause when amazing people leave 10,000 more come in, and this will keep happening.

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SKILLIAM

Dazed & Confused: Who are you and what do you do for a living?
Skilliam:
Skilliam, part of the Butterz camp, a DJ.

D&C: Where in east London are you based?
Skilliam: Ilford, Essex.

D&C: What first attracted you to the area and how long have you been working here?
Skilliam: I was born there.

D&C: How has east London changed since you've been here? Why do you think that is?
Skilliam: There’s more opportunities for DJs and producers to get together to do some work.

D&C: What is the most exciting part of your local creative community?
Skilliam: The DJing and clubbing side. There’s always something good on.

D&C: Has the area informed your creative work at all and if so, how?
Skilliam: Everyone’s on your doorstep so it’s easy to make things happen – you can just pop into someone’s house and get some new tunes for your label or set.

D&C: Is it possible to say ‘Silicon Roundabout’ aloud without laughing?
Skilliam: Yes. Silicon Roundabout.

D&C: What's your favourite East End hangout?
Skilliam: The Indian restaurant, Tayyabs in Aldgate.

D&C: Does anything annoy you about the area? If so, what?
Skilliam: The amount of chicken shops annoys me because over the years they’ve spread – you could have them two doors apart, then there’s another two. I don’t eat out of those shops anymore.

D&C: What are you going to do during the Olympics – stay or flee? Why?
Skilliam: We’re debating this but I’ll be here for some of it. I just can’t deal with the congestion on the tube.

D&C: Is east London dead?
Skilliam: No, because I live in it.

Dazed Digital invites you to map your east London memories on our timeline, 'A Secret History of East London'. Get involved HERE!

Interviews by Chantelle Fiddy
Video by
Verena Stefanie Grotto
Still photos by Jamie Hawkesworth