UK Funky DJ Bamz’ music is informed by a deep sense of history and a glimpse into the future of bass driven club music. At the core of this is the «riddim», the rhythmical backbone but also a way of thinking about music in general.
What does the word «riddim» evoke? I think of the billowing low end of dub reggae and Jamaican sound system culture, and how, as Jamaicans immigrated to England, that same pulse carried over into bashment, before becoming part of the foundation of UK-born music styles like jungle, drum & bass, UK garage, 2-step, dubstep, grime, and UK funky. It wasn’t just that love of bass that carried over either, it was a whole set of ideas around DJing and MCing (or deejaying as they call it in Jamaica), the interplay between riddims (rhythms) and voicings (vocals), and a sense of history and tradition being passed down through the genres.
The importance of the riddim, the instrumental side of a song, as seen as a primary building block, is a common factor that draws a line from Montego Bay hero King Jammy’s 80s productions to the contemporary works of 22-year-old South London musician Bamz. In an interview with UK video magazine Guap, Tiana Rochelle Oldroyd-Ellis revealed that her earliest musical memory was skanking to the ragga garage sounds of «Booo!» by Sticky and Miss Dynamite, a textbook example of Jamaican musical ideas translating over into a fresh new form.
Historically Informed Rhythms
At age six, she started beatboxing, a first intimate encounter with rhythm. Four years later, she started producing, before taking up DJing during secondary school. By sixteen, she’d performed on stage alongside legendary dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, and left school to pursue a music career, followed by a working relationship with the rapper Nadia Rose. At present, Bamz’ UK funky slanted instrumentals and border crossing DJ sets hang around a sense of rhythm informed by an educated understanding of history, context and culture.
For her, it is very important to continue the lineage of classic Jamaican music to UK dance music. As she told A Nation of Billions, «when it comes to making riddims and stuff – riddim culture is a big thing. The riddim is the car and the lyrics is the passenger so from riddim culture, you can hear those kinds of things incorporated into other genres like, garage, drum & bass. We can’t deny era, after era, decade after decade, Jamaican music – reggae, ska, dancehall, bashment – it’s had a huge influence for years». Thanks to young artists like Bamz, that influence isn’t going away anytime soon.