Swansea had the pleasure of welcoming two legends of their respective genres to blitz the Summer Ball last month, DJ EZ and Lethal Bizzle. What was once a drab car park on Singleton Campus turned into an unforgettable electric night, with, of course, the help of stage developers and 5000 ravers. Whilst neither had the time for a formal interview post-show due to their needs to jet off and reverberate their sound waves into other eagerly awaiting ears, I caught them briefly backstage for a chat.
DJ EZ, or Otis Roberts, is renowned as a legend in the genre of garage and one of the greatest DJ’s walking our planet. If anyone can turn a stressed group of studious beings into a of gun-finger toting rabble of mayhem, it is this man. Originally under the pseudonym Easy O, EZ built his career and gave garage a new prominence on the scene through pirate radio stations during the late 90’s. Since his establishment, EZ has become a household name in garage and has torn down every radio station and set he’s performed at, with Swansea’s Summer Ball main stage now added to the list.
Acclaimed for his unrivalled speed in his fingers during live sets, EZ is capable of sending any crowd into raptures as he has shown time and time again. With the stage presence of an untamed lion, I was again fondly surprised by the charm and normality of a true legend of music backstage. Having been told beforehand of his apparent shyness, after a quick chat I asked what he thought of Swansea. He replied, saying “It’s sick man”, and then even suggested that he would like to return to the best city in Wales – hint hint, Sin City?
Lethal Bizzle. Maxwell Ansah. The Fester Skanker in the flesh. What a man. Coming to prominence as a member of More Fire Crew in 2000, Bizzle had a heavy influence in the creation and growth of Grime. Throughout the 21st century, the genre has continuously exploded; being firstly musically acknowledged in 2003 with 17-year-old Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Boy In Da Corner’ being awarded the Mercury Prize for the best album in the UK and Ireland. With Dizzee known alongside Wiley as a ‘Godfather’ of grime, the Vito Corleone’s of the genre, you could consider Bizzle the Father, the Michael Corleone, of Grime. Whatever you consider Bizzle to be, he deserves legendary status.
Bizzle was around during the inception of the genre with More Fire Crew. Founded with his secondary school mate Ozzie B and Neeko, they released “Oi!” in 2002 which reached number 7 on the UK singles chart, one of the first true Grime anthems, and still one of my favourite bangers of all time (“Oi, who’s that boy Lethal B?”). Bizzle was the raw age of just 17 at the time of the song’s release. Now aged 35, he has released classics such as his first solo single “Pow”, which charted at number 11 despite being banned on many airwaves. Other bangers include “Rari Workout” and, one of my personal favourites, “Fester Skank”. The man brings unbelievable energy to any stage; just hand him a mic and he will blow your head off – and he’s been doing it for years. Backstage, he was incredibly easy to get on with and even spat some of the verses from “Oi!” for me, acapella. Legend.
The Summer Ball rounded off in style what has been a significant year of musical growth in Swansea. From The Biggest Weekend to having Andy C for multiple nights, some of the world’s biggest artists have headed down to South Wales for a boogie this academic year.
Once again, the community-driven spirit and vibes that are so original to Swansea’s music scene was very prevalent at the Summer Ball. Starting with the largest bouncy castle in the world right at the entrance, it was clear that this was going to be a good night. From this you moved to the Junkyard Stage; once a grey, featureless car park and, for one night only, the home to promoters such as Amuzon through Dare Balogun, Rise and Sink who were splashing the tunes all night in a seemingly funky rainforest venue. This was quite the change from the couple of battered Skoda’s the car park had contained just a day beforehand! Once you’d funked enough at the Junkyard, you might move towards the Other Stage, home to Swansea’s biggest up-and-coming local talents. Then came the main event; Kelli-Leigh, Professor Green, DJ EZ and Lethal Bizzle delivering their classic tunes that brought together Swansea University on the Main Stage. Hustling and hurrying backstage were various photographers, stage directors and interviewers that no one else would give recognition to if I didn’t mention them due to so many people being involved to make the Summer Ball possible. Once the acts on the main stage finished, I thought this would be the end of an unforgettable night. Oh, how wrong I was. The night ended with Sin City’s Silent Disco, where 250 students sang together in what can only be described as a beautiful, choir-like performance under the stars. Okay, maybe I was exaggerating some elements…
This was without a doubt the best night I have had in Swansea so far, and watching the music scene progress throughout this year has been a blessing. Roll on next year, where the vibes can only get bigger and better.
by Fin Hardie