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Versatility has always been the name of the game with DJ/production duo Star.One. Their entire career has been built on their ability to switch genres in a heartbeat, while still maintaining the essence of their sound.
Over the years, Star.One have nimbly hopped and skipped from garage to house music to grime and so on, but with the live music scene stripped away from them during lockdown, that ability to adapt quickly has served them well yet again. Locked up with nowhere to go, the duo joined the legions of DJs livestreaming across the world, but one half of the duo, Adam, found a different outlet for his creativity.
Immersing himself in the heady world of TikTok, Phase found there was a huge appetite for quick little videos digging into samples in current chart hits, remixing others, and giving production and mixing tips to his followers. So far, he’s dissected Aitch & Morrisson’s feel-good “House & Garage” single and Headie One’s “Ain’t It Different” with AJ Tracey and Stormzy, and he’s whipped up off-the-cuff garage remixes of Justin Bieber’s “Peaches” and Russ and Tion Wayne’s “Body”.
In between all of that, we caught up with the Star.One bros—who made an exclusive mix for us, bridging the gap between new and old-skool garage—to talk lockdown, TikTok and what post-COVID nightlife might look like.
COMPLEX: First, the inevitable: how has lockdown treated you?
Joe: Ups and downs, but overall it’s been good. We made a lot of music and made a lot of TikToks. I’m not looking or holding back; I’m looking forward to a decent summer of vibes.
How do you feel about lockdown lifting? Are you raring to go or are you still a bit cautious?
Adam: I’m ready, but I feel like we’ve learnt that there’s no point in putting too much emphasis on things that are out of your control. We’d love to be in Ibiza and have a summer full of DJ bookings, and if that happens, then great. If it’s staying in the UK and making the most of the situation here, then that’s cool too.
Has being away from live audiences affected how you approach making music?
Joe: I think it’s hard to make fun music for dancing if you’re very removed from that environment and mood. I think because we’ve only missed one summer then it’s OK, but if the lockdown were to continue and mass clubbing became a distant memory then…
Adam: We were affected by the George Floyd killing and the music we were making naturally became a little darker. When we thought about what direction we wanted to take our music, we still wanted to create that fun, upbeat vibe maybe as a form of escapism.
Do you think clubbing will ever be the same again?
Adam: I really don’t know. Part of me just thinks when the clubs reopen, everyone’s just gonna be doing TikTok dances. That will be jokes to see.
Joe: I thought the clubbing scene in the UK had become a little stale and predictable. Everything felt the same. I hope post-lockdown clubbing changes for the better with more diverse, varied line-ups in more unique locations. Let’s see.
Is there anything you hope won’t return when the clubs open? Annoying requests? Sticky dancefloors?
Adam: [Laughs] It’s all part of the parcel. We were having the conversation the other day about DJs, and it’s becoming more rare for the crowd to trust the DJ to take them on a musical journey. It seems a little more like you are a jukebox for what they want to hear and, obviously, Gen Z want everything instantly so that side of it can be a little annoying. We’re trying to build up the people who want to come and see us, and trust our DJ ability and music selection and have a sick time! That’s the aim.
You’ve worked with some of the UK’s best MCs and singers. Is there anyone on your wishlist you haven’t worked with yet?
Adam: When I look back, we’ve worked with some amazing artists—either on original material or via remixes—like P Money, Craig David, Stormzy, BackRoad Gee, Trillary Banks, Ghetts and Maleek Berry, to name a few, and we’re extremely grateful. Of course, we want to work with more—there are so many talented artists in the UK. Potter Paper, Lost Girl, Jorja Smith, Ella Eyre and Unknown T are some names off the top of my head who would be sick to work with next.
You’ve been playing around with TikTok, experimenting with remixes and so on. Is it a different audience that connects with you there as opposed to other platforms or even your shows?
Adam: Yeah, I love TikTok—it’s my favourite app! It’s definitely a different and new audience. We do a lot of UK garage content and it’s really funny as all the over 35 TikTok crew love it as it’s nostalgic and then there’s some teenagers who are getting introduced to the genre via our content, so it’s a real mix. Even the mix we’ve done for you—old skool vs. new garage—was inspired by a TikTok that went viral. This is just the long form!
Joe: I legit wanna be an influencer—what a sick life!
Are there any plans for a follow-up to Elements?
Joe: It’s something we’ve always spoken about and I think it will happen. We’re focused on singles for the time being, but we’d love to do another mixtape. The scene’s in a great place so it would be great to celebrate that.
What have you got coming up that we should know about?
Joe: The garage remix to “Won’t Hold Back” featuring Jords is gonna blow your mind!
ZED BIAS – NEIGHBOURHOOD
MORRISSON X AITCH – HOUSE & GARAGE
ANTONIO – HYPERFUNK
RUDIMENTAL X PREDITAH – MEAN THAT MUCH
DEM 2 – DESTINY
DISCLOSURE X JESSIE WARE – RUNNING 2021
SHOLA AMA – IMAGINE (CLUB ASYLUM MIX)
MNELIA – SENSELESS (CHAMPION REMIX)
SIA – LITTLE MAN (WOOKIE REFIX)
YOUNG ROMANTIC – MOVE (STAR.ONE REMIX FEAT SWEETIE IRIE)
SMOKEY BUBBLIN B – GEORGE BENSON
INDUSTRY STANDARD – WHAT YOU WANT
J HUS – PLOTTIN
LONYO – SUMMER OF LOVE
JADE – DON’T WALK AWAY (JEFTUZ REMIX)
TINA MOORE – NEVER GONNA LET YOU GO (KELLY G REMIX)
SAMMY VIRJI – NEVER LET U GO
GORILLAZ – CLINT EASTWOOD (ED CASE REMIX FEAT SWEETIE IRIE)
USHER – POP YA COLLER REMIX
SAMMY VIRJI – ALRIGHT
STICKY X MS DYNAMITE – BOOO
TC4 – TOKYO
MR REDZ X SKRIBBLE – EVERYODY COME ON
PA SALIEU – FRONTLINE (STAR.ONE REMIX)
JAMMIN – KINDA FUNKY
MIKEY B – I HAD TO KNOW
AGENT X – DECOY
REMA – DUMEBI (JEFTUZ REMIX)
M DUBS – BUMP N GRIND
STYLO G – OH LAWD (HIGGO REMIX)
CRISSY D X LADY G X B15 PROJECT – GIRLS LIKE US
Y U QT – BELONG 2 ME
STUSH – DOLLAR SIGN
LEWIS TAYLOR – TEMPERATURE
DAVID LEWIS – HANDS ON HER (SUNSHIP MIX)
CONDUCTA X KEEYA KEYS – 4 4 2