Joker (Liam Mclean) surfaced in 2008 after cutting his teeth on Bristol’s pirate radio stations and dubstep nights, the break coming when Tectonic boss Pinch released 'Kapsize' (Earwax, 2007) on vinyl. Joker is associated with the wonky sound and dubbed one of the ‘purple trinity’ along with Gemmy and Guido for his soulful take on grime. He’s since seen releases on Hyperdub and Tectonic, and he founded his own label, Kapsize, in 2008.
Joker was well-known in Bristol for several years before his music saw official release. He started out (underage) DJing for a grime collective called Kold Kold Hearted Kru and went on to spin at the premiere Bristolian dubstep night, Dubloaded. After he began production, his tunes were being played out by big names like Tectonic boss Rob Ellis, AKA Pinch and Croydon based Chris Reed, also known as Plastician. Early Joker tracks like 'R2D2' and 'Retro Racer', found an unlikely mid-point between grime, computer game soundtracks (Retro Racer features a hook from the Nintendo game of the same name), and 1970s jazz fusion. Ellis signed four of Joker's tracks to his Earwax sublabel, resulting in the Kapsize
EP in 2007.
In 2007 too, 'Gully Brook Lane' was being readied for release on Plastician’s Terrorhythm label, but was delayed by almost a year. When it finally appeared in mid-2008, Joker had already set up his own imprint, Kapsize, and put out his inagural release 'Holly Brook Park / 80's' at almost the same time. Joker set up Kapzize under the Multivese Music umbrella run by friend and collaborator, Ginzburg, AKA Ginz, the same umbrella that shelters Tectonic and Earwax.
Kode 9, Hyperdub boss identified Joker as one to watch when he named him as his protégée for Mary Anne Hobbs’ Generation Bass, internationally broadcast in 2008. Kode 9 went on to release via his Hyperdub imprint Joker’s 'Digidesign' in early 2009. Pitchfork’s dubstep writer, Martin Clark, named joker 'Wonky producer of the year 2008' Joker has remixed Roni Size, Simian Mobile Disco and Lil Boots, among others and collaborated with Rustie and TRG.
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