Homegrown: Koast

Growing up in London but adopted by Bristol, Koast’s musical life can be defined by bass culture. First starting out in basement raves as an MC in 2001, Koast has been on mic hosting duties for some of the biggest in the game, from Skepta and Joker to Zed Bias and DJ EZ. As a member of Bristol’s famed The Blast crew and label founder of Durkle Disco, though, Koast showcases his love of UKG-tinged riddims and low-frequency rumbles with the world.

But it’s his talents as a DJ that made him an In:Motion resident for 2018. Over a near 20 year period Koast has built up an arsenal of records spanning hip-hop, grime, golden-era dubstep and DnB that would put any sound system through its paces.

Koast will be joining The Blast DJs across select events across the season, including their now legendary Halloween Carnival of the Dead on 3rd November, but until then read about what Koast has planned for the 2018 season.

What’s your name, what do you do and how do you do it?

I’m Tom aka Koast – 1/5th of The Blast DJs along with TS2W, Jaydrop, K-Stylz & Fireman Sam, and also the very long-standing host of The Blast shows. Outside of that, I also run the record label Durkle Disco, and I’m one of the directors of Bristol radio station SWU.FM

How did you first get into clubbing, and what producers and DJs inspired you in those early years?

I got into clubbing because I was fanatical about the music first & foremost – I hit that age when music can become an obsession at around the same time as UK garage was starting to seriously blow up. Yes, I’m old. There were a lot of pirate radio stations pushing the sound, so of course I was going to start raving as soon as I could. Those early years were all about Tuff Jam, DJ EZ, Jason Kaye, Wesley Jay, Mike Ruffcut Lloyd, DJ Double O, Dom Da Bomb & Spin-E B on Ice FM… the list could be endless.

Can you remember your first clubbing experience, and how did that shape what you do today?

I grew up in London and we were lucky enough to have some decent under 18s events growing up, so my first first clubbing experience would probably have been at a Bigga Fish event…maybe at Kentish Town Forum or The Rocket in Holloway. First proper big rave was either Moondance at Camden Palace or Exposure at Bagleys when I was like 16/17 – and yes, I instantly fell in love.

How did you come into DJing?

DJing was actually the last thing I got into. My first DJ set was only 2 years ago, at In:Motion funnily enough, but I was an MC first & foremost. I’ve been doing that in clubs since 2001 when I was 16. This gradually evolved into taking a step back from lyrics and becoming better known as a host, mainly due to the music I was into at the time, and the people I was around in the dubstep scene – you got as valued for knowing when to shut up and let the tune breathe as you did for your bars.

Alongside the move into hosting I was making music as part of a collective called Central Spillz, which also included Interface (now one half of Jus Now), Superisk, Redders, Shadz (AKA Javeon), Sirplus, Strikez and Skillzee… we were taking elements of hip hop, dubstep, grime & DnB and chucking them all together in the mixer, which was kinda unique at the time. That was where the label Durkle Disco came from, we decided we were better off doing our own thing to release music than either try force it on a dedicated hip hop or dubstep label, as we weren’t really either… and the label is where the DJing came from!

In your opinion, what does Bristol do differently to any other city in the UK?

The thing that made me fall in love with Bristol was the fact that everyone, regardless of whatever scene they were affiliated with, linked up, went out drinking together and worked on music together. People are deadly serious about whatever they’re making but there’s a less tribal mentality to it. Also, it’s got a slightly more relaxed pace of life, somewhere between a big city and the countryside. Big enough to not get bored, small enough that it never feels impersonal.

How has the city moulded your music tastes and why?

Bristol has almost certainly made me more open minded, and you can’t ever forget the importance of sound system culture in shaping the ‘Bristol sound’. However you wish to define that, bass is definitely at the heart of Bristol.

What tracks are you most looking forward to spinning throughout the In:Motion season and why?

More often that not you’ll hear me playing stuff from labels such as Tectonic, Moretime, Superkitchen, RKS and Keysound. Testing any new Durkle material on a big rig is always nice and there’s some bits off of our next release from a Bristolian MC called Slowie which will put any rig through its paces.

Few personal favourites at the moment are the Roska & Gemmy collab ‘Syrup’, pretty much everything on Ghanaian MC Bryte’s album which is just about to drop, the Nuff Pedals EP on Gutterfunk, and the SNØW/Murder He Wrote collab ‘TBC’. Oh and MHD… will always slip in some MHD into a set, even though not speaking French I haven’t got a clue what he’s on about…

What have been some of your standout moments from In:Motion in the past?

Hosting for DJ EZ at a Rinse vs FWD event a few years back in the main room and jumping on the mic for Digital Mystikz at a Subloaded night were obviously incredible. We’ve hosted a few mad Durkle Disco rooms over the years… highlights being Skepta & Jammer hijacking a Joker set in The Tunnel, and Zed Bias taking over the decks in The Cave to play a classic garage set after he’d finished in the main room and decided he wasn’t done yet.

The moment I’m probably never gonna forget (or be allowed to forget) would be falling off the stage hosting for Zed Bias on New Years Eve… not my finest In:Motion moment if we’re being real.

Where was your very first gig?

A tiny little club called HQs in Camden Lock for Bigga Fish in 2001. Remember who I did a set with (DJ Vectra & MC Flirta D) but can’t remember a great deal else to be honest…

What’s been the strangest experience you’ve ever had whilst clubbing?

Someone telling me they’d made their friend a t-shirt with some of my old catchphrases printed on it was flattering but also odd (also, where was mine?!). Being mistaken for many other artists who I look nothing like used to happen a bit too regularly. And I’ve seen my fair share of flesh from that mainstage over the years…

Can you pick five records that define your DJing?

Not really!! I try to play across the board between 125-140bpm, and switch it up depending where & who I’m playing for, whether I’ve got an MC on set, if I’m playing b2b with someone else… so could probably narrow it down to five genres but probably not 5 songs if I’m being honest.