Youngsta, aka Dan Lockhart, is on his way to Australia for the first time in June. It has been a long time coming for the legendary dubstep DJ and producer to finally get to our shores. Lockhart is one of the most talented and unique DJs in the dubstep scene. His mixing is some of the best in the world and his sound is fiercely underground; a mix of deep, tech laden tunes. He reps it every Monday night on London's Rinse FM via his show Minimal Mondays with MC Toast, who is joining him on this tour.
At just 26, Lockhart has already been DJing for over 12 years. On the line from his home in London he relates how he got started.
"I was never shown by anyone or mentored. I think the first DJ I saw was my sister's boyfriend. I liked what he was doing and how he was doing it. So he showed me a few things and then my cousin DJs so he showed me a few things. Then I got my first decks and stuff.
"Mainly though, it was my sister who educated me. I educated myself but she sort of pushed me in the right direction and was able to show me certain DJs that I might be unaware of. So she was a big part of it and a massive influence in getting into dance music and DJing especially."
Lockhart's sister, Sarah, started the massively influential club night FWD>> in London and she now co-manages Rinse FM with Geeneus. "She's definitely been the biggest inspiration in my life and one of my idols, without a doubt. She is a very shrewd business woman. I definitely look up to her and she's been a big part of my career. I mean, her help in getting a foot in the door was important. There are so many talented artists out there – whatever they do – and sometimes they don't get found. It's always an amazing thing, and a lucky thing, when you can get brought through by someone who is already doing well or got their foot in the door.
"Like when she asked me to be a resident at FWD. For me, being such a young person – I was like 14 or something like that – to do that it was such a great thing. My first ever residency, playing the music that I loved and a cool little club, it was amazing. Playing alongside Hatcha and Zed Bias, and other people who used to play down there back in the day was very exciting and a big break for me, if you like."
Lockhart's has maintained a certain sound to his sets that reminds me of world class DJs like Villalobos. He agrees with the comparison. "I couldn't agree with you more there mate. It is a very niche sound but at the same time people like Villalobos show that just because something is deep and underground it doesn't have to be really commercial to have that cult following. So I just feel it is very like that and he's a fine example. Someone like LTJ Bukem – when you go to see him you know that you're getting a certain sound and that's what you're going to see him for."
Although he is known for his deep dubstep tunes, Lockhart likes to observe the crowd. "I can adapt which is part of being a good DJ but the best, to me, is when I can just totally do what I want and have a full crowd there appreciating the journey, as I like to put it."
It's a privilege that Lockhart enjoys on his Rinse show. "On the show I can do what I want. I feel if people don't want to listen to it they're not paid to listen - just switch the dial. So I can totally have free reign.
"I don't have to look up and think I'm going to step it up with a little J:Kenzo bubbler or a bit more of a jump up thing from whoever'. I can just stay on that deep, deep tribal, hypnotic vibe. It's very similar to what a lot of techno in that way. I hate it when people say it's too deep. I don't think there is such a thing as too deep.
"I've always, sort of, stuck to my guns. I've always played what I like, if you know what I mean. So that's just the way I've gone. I haven't even thought about it – I've just done it. That's the best way I can describe it. I've not really thought about it – I've gone with what I feel and played what I like. So with the stuff that's very popular and commercial at the moment, as you know I don't play that."
The upcoming Australia, New Zealand and Japan tour is something that Lockhart is looking forward to. "This is probably the longest continuous tour that I've done but I have been prepared a lot for this sort of thing from a young age. So I am used to it.
"In saying that, I never get past that anxiousness. Even when I'm a lot older I don't think I'll get rid of that anxiousness of just wanting to get there. I think that's just me though. I'm used to what goes into but mentally I'm always sitting there going 'come on Tuesday, I just want to get on a plane and go!'" he laughs.
Youngsta productions and collaborations have started popping up in the last couple of years. For a guy who has had such an influence on the scene it's nice to hear his own sound. "It's weird but I started DJing so young and you're so cocky and not as scared to mess up at that age. I was more scared about production – asking myself if I am going to be as good as people are expecting and I am expecting.
"I wish I had given it a go a lot sooner because I found that I took to it really well. It's just more being a bit better with a computer than music which I'm naturally good at."
He has more tunes coming out this year. "There's more stuff coming up on Tempa soon. We're just waiting for the masters to come back. I think you could be looking at a Tempa 12 before the end of the year. I'm still trying to think of a title for my solo tune on the A-side but the B-side will be Momentum by Icicle and myself.
"There's also a Ben Verse album, The Maze coming out soon. There are a load of collaborations on there with me and LX One – some really good stuff that I have been playing. I finished another thing with Kryptic Minds today. New Kryptic Minds and SP. We just finished it today so hopefully I'll be able to play it on the tour if we feel it's ready in time."
"So yeah, I'm just trying to work with as many people as I can because it's a great way of learning basically. It's fun as well. Everyone has these different ways of creativity and you've just got to find the way of getting to them and once you have you're sorted."
BY SIMON HAMPSON
Youngsta [UK] plays alongside Toast [UK] and more at Brown Alley on Friday June 8.