25 Million Views Later, DJ Duo Eton Messy Transcends YouTube

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It’s a common complaint among DJs. In between the producing and the performing, looking after one’s social media—that multi-channel A.D.D.-centric funhouse of updates, hashtags and misinterpreted quotes—begins to feel like a chore. Unless, of course, you’re Adam “DJ Beluga” Englefield or Charlie “Wedcha” Wedd, co-founders of the Eton Messy collective.

Starting out purely as a YouTube channel for obscure, underground or personal-favorite tracks, the Eton Messy channel now is considered one of the web’s unquestioned authorities on all things bass music.

Twenty-five-million views later, the Bristol-based fellows have broken out as performing DJs in their own right and the Eton Messy brand has become a revolving tour, booking some of the bass genre’s emerging talents. Now meet the keynote speakers of Britain’s new garage and urban-flavored house movement, Eton Messy.

DJ Times: How did Eton Messy Start?
Charlie Wedd: Completely unplanned. Adam set up a YouTube channel with the random title in July 2011 and just started uploading songs he liked the sound of, purely to share with friends at house parties. Suddenly, it began picking up a serious following. The two of us had DJed student nights before as a duo, so he brought me on board and we started DJing under the same name. Before long, we had enough fans to start putting on regular nights, and soon I found myself booking emerging DJs to play as guests as well. Suddenly, less than two years later, we’re here!

DJ Times: As DJs, you play a future-garage sound—what inspired that?
Adam Englefield: Future garage popped around off the back of dubstep, and we were lucky in that we got into it just before it began to really pick up, merge with house and become a really club-friendly sound. We got in early, so we’ve managed to come up with it.

DJ Times: Your whole profile as a duo—photos, logos, artwork—feels very stylized and matched to the music. How did it all come together?
Wedd: Because the music has quite a nostalgic, urban-edged feel, we felt that it would work very well with a particular type of similar-themed imagery. The funniest thing is, as with the music on the channel, once we’d put a few of our own favorites up onto our YouTube, aspiring photographers and designers began to send in their artwork, too, which we now credit and use just as we do the music. The whole channel has become very self-sufficient.

DJ Times: You’ve come full circle in a way…
Englefield: We certainly do a lot more DJ sets now. As our parties have got more popular and widespread, we’ve gone with them. So we’ve gone from playing out every few weeks to doing 11 gigs in a row on one occasion, and our skill level has just gone up with that.

DJ Times: What was the turning point for you?
Wedd: When we began doing our own events, like our first-ever “Eton Messy Presents” show in June 2012 in a little 150-capacity bar in Bristol. We had Bondax and Maribou booked and it was out of student season, so it was a real test. It was a sellout! We had people queuing around the block. That felt like the beginning of something amazing.

DJ Times: Talk us through your set-up.
Wedd: We’ll play back-to-back on shorter shows, and two- or three-on-three in longer sets. We went backwards compared to traditional DJs. We started out purely on Traktor with MIDI controllers—now we’re on Traktor Scratch with CDJs. For our style of music, Traktor is ideal—looping samples, especially vocal cuts into the mix, is a big part of what we do.

DJ Times: Advice for DJs?
Wedd: Don’t put stuff out there until you yourself are ready. Do you really want to send your first-ever track to a label? Get some serious opinions; learn from your first attempts. Then, if you really want to do this, wade on in!