Jordan Davies AKA Blazey Bodynod has been behind the decks pioneering the local grime scene for almost two decades. He was one of the very first in the city to fly the flag for grime and garage sounds, both as a DJ and promoter, and it’s easy to trace the influence he’s had on today’s increasingly healthy grime scene.
Despite the vast changes within the scene over the years, Blazey has always had his finger firmly on the pulse. He had a hand in Bristol’s first large-scale, sell-out grime event back in 2014. Now that the music has a solid footing here in Bristol, his eyes are turned inwardly, doing what he can to make sure that Bristol grime talent is getting their fair share of the noise.
Bristol born and bred, Blazey is widely acknowledged for his dedication to the local music scene. From co-founding the now-legendary Subloaded with Pinch, which became one of the most influential club nights in Bristol’s history, to his infamous Bodynod nights – which celebrated 10 years this August – this DJ and promoter is a bonified grime scene heavyweight.
From co-founding the now-legendary Subloaded with Pinch (…) to his infamous Bodynod nights, this DJ and promoter is a bonified grime scene heavyweight
As time moves forward, so does Jordan’s ambitions. These days, Blazey has found his feet in the new role of artist management to a generation of upcoming South West grime stars, including rising Danny Uzi Vert producer Sir Hiss and prolific Bristol MC Jay0117. That’s not to say you won’t still find him on the occasional lineup, including this year’s In:Motion NYE blowout.
Nitelife sat down with the local legend to learn about his new management role away from his decks and get his view on Bristol’s current grime scene.
Blazey first began DJing as a late teen after falling in love with raves, but little did he know the impact this would make on the local music scene. In 2004, he co-founded Subloaded, a ‘pinnacle event that changed Bristol’ and the subject of countless documentaries and articles that trace Bristol’s evolution of sound and it’s influence on the UK music scene as a whole. The concept was to celebrate the chest-ratting sounds grime and dubstep, and outdates London’s world-famous DMZ nights.
His own Bodynod nights followed from 2013, with the unforgettable sell-out Bodynod x Tropical event with JME, Skepta and Plastician at Motion back in 2014. Wherever the hype, Blazey was always in the eye of the storm.
After taking some time out to play dad, Blazey has returned to his passion, but this time working behind the scenes to push a new generation forward. Taking on the role of artist management, Blazey hopes to channel his goal-driven energy into next crop of South West grime artists.
Blazey hopes to channel his goal-driven energy into next crop of South West grime artists
‘Jay and Sir Hiss roped me into it initially’ he says. ‘They both came to me at the same time asking for my help. I’ve always had a vision for Jay and Sir Hiss though, so it’s nice to see them going in the right direction.
‘I want Sir Hiss to be making beats for some of the biggest artists in the UK. He laughs when I talk about it, but I think it’s possible. He’s just released an EP with Manga and his monthly listeners on Spotify went from 3,000 up to 30,000 in two weeks. The momentum’s already there, I’m just here to seek out opportunities for the artist and grab them. I’m not babysitting these artists, I’m just giving them creative ideas on where they could go.’
Recognising how tough it is for younger artists to break through, Blazey has adopted the wise-man role and decided to lend a helping hand to artists who are looking for the support and encouragement they deserve.
‘There’s a certain section of the Bristol underground scene who find it hard to break through. There’s no one really out there offering support and I know if I was a 19-year-old producer I’d feel intimidated by the whole situation. I just feel like there should be more of us out there offering support. It’s good to help each other and help build the local industry. I’m not just offering out support for my crew either, this is an open source thing for anyone to get involved in. There’s are no barriers in music.’
this is an open source thing for anyone to get involved in. There’s are no barriers in music
A year in to his new role and the Bristol grime guru has taken on a mission to not only help artists under his wing, but to change the perception of Bristol’s music scene outside of our creative microcosm.
‘Let me ask you this, how is it that an artist from Birmingham can come to Bristol and put on a sell-out show at O2 Academy, but there hasn’t been a single Bristol artist involved in the local urban music industry to sell out a show at O2 Academy in Birmingham? Everybody is selling us their music, so why aren’t we selling them ours? I want people to look at Bristol and think there’s actually stuff going on. We need to start thinking locally, but start acting globally to make that happen.’
Everybody is selling us their music, so why aren’t we selling them ours?
As we continue to talk, Jordan mentions ‘that’ infamous TV interview with Tricky when the artist controversially called Bristol’s music scene a ‘fairy tale’.
‘I messaged Tricky shortly after that interview came out. I showed him Jay and Sir Hiss’ music and he was blown away. He realised there was something happening in Bristol after all, it’s just not talked about enough. I don’t think it was a bad thing what he originally said in the interview, he was basically saying we could be doing so much better.
‘Whenever the press mention the “Bristol sound”, chances are they will be talking about Massive Attack, Tricky and Portishead. I can’t be telling a 20-year-old grime fan to go and listen to Massive Attack. We need new people to come through. If people ask what the Bristol sound is, I want to hear people say Jay0117 or Sir Hiss. I don’t want people to say it’s Massive Attack anymore, it’s just boring and dated.’
I can’t be telling a 20-year-old grime fan to go and listen to Massive Attack
It’s not the local grime scene that Blazey wants to shout about, going on to talk about some of the huge positives coming out of Bristol’s creative community at the moment, including the growing number of female-led music collectives and the artists crossing boundaries to create something totally original.
‘Big respect to the women’s movement in Bristol, like SisterWorks and Concrete Jungyals. Women are just doing their thing right now. The reason why I think it’s all so sick is because people are taking them seriously – like they should.
‘There is so much exciting stuff going on in Bristol and so many unturned rocks that need to be celebrated. Just the other day, for instance, I met a group who fuse together metal and trap music. How mad is that? There is so much to be commemorated in Bristol’s music scene and we need to be shouting it from the rooftops. Bristol has what it takes, we just need to make Bristol’s urban music scene relevant again.’
Things are certainly stirring for the two main acts currently under Blazey’s wing, Sir Hiss and Jay0117, who are getting slots on massive lineups around the country and whose releases are starting to get the attention they deserve. From his sell-out Danny Uzi Vert / Taj Mahal release on Infernal Sounds last year, to recently playing in Manchester amongst 140bpm royal blood: Mala and Coko, Loefah, Sir Spyro, Commodo, Joker and Bukez Finezt; Sir Hiss has already been earmarked as one of his generation’s best. Jay0117 is fast becoming one of Bristol’s best-known MCs, now into his fifth release on his own CheeseAndBread imprint.
It’s reassuring for musicians and fans alike to have someone like Blazey at the helm of what he hopes will be a golden era for local grime talent. He was here at the beginning to help push it through, and you only have to look at Blazey’s track record to know that he’s got an ear for big things to come.
Photos by Martin Thompson