It was probably inevitable that Steve Carr, aka Digital, would become a DJ. At the age of four, instead of sitting transfixed by morning television like any other impressionable youngster, he used to play his father's reggae records.
"It was one of the first things I did in the morning," he laughs. "I scratched them to hell and ruined quite a few styluses, so he bought me a crappy deck and gave me some scratched records."
Since ruining his Dad's records, Digital has come a long way in the world of drum & bass, bringing his "old skool beatz" and "dubby b-lines" to audiences across the globe.
Early releases such as the darkcore ridden Down Under on Metalheadz, and haunting Crash on Renegade Hardware, showed that this Ipswich-born and bred reggae fanatic who first DJed at a school disco, was set to become one of the real deals of DnB.
It was his father, having run a sound system called Sir Tropic in Ipswich for 30 years, who inaugurated him to the dancehall culture of speakers and amps at an early age, a scene to which the then 14-year-old Digital seemed to fit in perfectly.
"When I was 14 I joined up with a sound system called Ashanti, as an apprentice operator," he explains. "Those guys gave me the name Digital as I had a bit of a knack at tampering with equipment."
Soon after, he began learning to DJ on a set of old "shite" decks that he got for free, with his first big break coming at the ICA club where he DJed with Danny C and Simon Bassline Smith. Danny C in particular would remain a firm friend throughout his career, a friendship that started in dramatic fashion.
"Around 1990 I met Danny C at a reggae night I was doing with my sound system," he says. "He came over and said I should bring my stuff to a party he was doing. It was a little rave. We got arrested and my sound system got confiscated for a few weeks. Most of it was my dad's at the time so I was under pressure!"
It didn't take long for a friendship spawn out of the 90s raving culture to turn to more important matters. Digital had made the essential realisation that for a DJ to succeed, production had to be the focus. So under the guise of Authorized Riddim, the two produced Split Personality, a precursor to arguably Digital's most played out and commercially successful tune, Space Funk.
He then found himself in the rare but privileged position of being a raver / producer, creating music in the week that was being played out at the gritty weekend raves.
"As I was still raving / partying to the guys playing my tracks it was the best feeling for me, especially because the tracks were going down really well" he says. "Space Funk was played for around six years and it has been remixed by Photek, Doc Scott, Future Bound, Goldie and myself. Not bad for the first solo track I produced."
Space Funk defined the sound of a generation, its junglist vibes elevating Digital to a new level in the eyes of his peers. For any other artist, following the success of a tune that caught the mood of the DnB scene so precisely would prove a huge challenge and potential stumbling block, but for Digital it was the complete opposite. It opened the flood gates for further big tunes, none more so than Phantom Force with Spirit, released on their own label, Phantom Audio:
"Working with Spirit helped take my vibe in a different direction. The way he works was way different to me so together we worked well. Phantom Force went against the vibe at the time so it was especially pleasing that people loved it."
Now Digital uses his Function label to reach into the minds of his listeners with the help from artists such as Outrage and Lutin. He has released three albums of his own, the most recent of which was Red Letter with the aforementioned Outrage, but it was in 2007 with Phoenix Rising that we saw a resurgent Digital come back on to the scene after a two year hiatus:
"Before Phoenix Rising I had been very quiet as an artist so I wanted to bring back some of the good work I did over the years. I asked some friends in the scene for remixes and I did a few original tracks on there too. The aim was to show that I was around again so take notice!"
We certainly did. Not only was the album received with open arms by fans of his original junglist material, but the refreshed, tighter sound of tracks with French artist Lutin showed that Digital was still as prolific as he had ever been.
The next releases on Function are set to be as dub heavy and progressive as the extensive back catalogue the label has already racked up. Remixes of the Red Letter LP from S.P.Y and Tech Itch are set to be available from May 10th, whilst Digital's brand new tunes, K Zero and Eclipse, are out on April 29th.
For future Digital mixes, downloads and information go to www.functiondigital.co.uk from mid May.
Words: James Bass
Download Digital's guest mix
1. Digital - Weather Man (Exit)
2. Digital & Morphy - Shanty (Exit)
3. Digital - Dirty Money (Amit & Outrage Remix) (Function)
4. Digital - Laters Star (Chronic)
5. Spinback + Gwange - The Execution (Serum Remix) (C.I.A.)
6. Digital & Outrage - Lifeline (Function)
7. Keygenlog - Gallileo (Dubplate)
8. Outrage - Patients VIP (Metalheadz / Backlash)
9. Outrage - Armshouse (Tech Itch Remix) (Function)
10. Digital & Outrage - Final Demand (S.P.Y. Remix) (Function)
11. Kiat - Feeder (Metalheadz)
12. Digital, Lutin & Resound - Philly (Dubplate)
13. Digital & Outrage - Work For It (Dubplate)
14. Outrage - Scream (Dubplate)
15. Digital - Calling (Benny Page Remix) (Dubplate)
16. Outrage - New Faces (Dubplate)
17. Digital & Outrage - Magic (Function)
18. Probe & Cabbie - Mr Jah Remix
19. Digital & Outrage - Acid Drops (Dubplate)
20. Scam - Digital (Metalheadz)
21. Digital & Outrage - Pinch (Red Letter LP - Function)
22. Drum Cypha - The Haunted One (Function Dub)
Mix hosted by www.digital-tunes.net