In The Studio With… Toddla T’s Watch Me Dance

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By Justin Hampton

Unlike their forebears, young bucks like Tom Bell (aka Toddla T) don’t have to legitimize dance music—they just have to jockey for position in an even more crowded musical landscape.

Most choose to align themselves with a specific genre, but U.K. jock Toddla T has won himself a monthly timeslot in BBC’s “In New DJs We Trust” radio program and earned high-profile gigs at venues like Fabric and events like Bestival for his deeply varied DJ and production style. By mixing up garage, dubstep, dancehall, house and whatever else makes sense, he’s become the U.K.’s answer to Diplo, if you will.

While this approach has cons as well as pros attached to it, Toddla, 26, says he wouldn’t have it any other way. “If you’re a dubstep DJ, then you can fit into a bracket and you can play a dubstep night, or when it’s house, you play house,” he reasons. “But when you’re neither of anything, you can bring your own thing to a night, which is wicked, because obviously that’s what you can get creative.”
Since Toddla T initially came up as a DJ in his hometown of Sheffield, his eclecticism is borne from soaking in lessons from all over, first from local DJ heroes such as early Warp artist Winston Hazel and Pipes and then a teen apprenticeship in hip hop and vinyl. He’s moved on from vinyl to Serato and Pioneer CDJs.

“I don’t care what mixer it is,” he says. “I just use the up and down, the left-right and the EQ. I don’t really mess with the effects. I do all that on the Serato.”

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