2012 was Roska’s biggest year to date, finding him busy touring and DJing across the globe, playing new music on his weekly show on Rinse FM,
and releasing a formidable new full-length for Rinse, Rinse Presents: Roska 2. Featuring vocals from, among others, Sweetie Irie and Mz Bratt, and collaborations with Swindle and Funtcase, it was a set of tracks based in house but stretching far and wide for inspiration, twisting grime, dubstep and garage to suit his own vision.
Rinse Presents: Roska 2 was a bold victory lap, feeling like the culmination of the last several years’ worth of DJing and musical development. Its broad reach is unsurprising, given the many avenues Roska has explored since he first began to attract attention in 2007, when DJs from the then-burgeoning funky scene began to take notice of his raw and gritty productions. Strongly linked to his own personal history in grime, his syncopated and distinctly UK-rooted tracks – like minimal jacker ‘Feeline’ – swiftly became highlights of sets by tastemaking DJs and took the underground by storm.
Roska started his Rinse FM show in 2009. This proved to be the catalyst his music needed to trigger off the next phase in its development. With a regular audience exposed to his own new tracks as well as those he was supporting, he began to carve out an increasingly unique and playful take on house music, blending cartoonish melodic motifs with sucker punch sub-bass and sultry, swung rhythms. In the time period since, his show has acted as a vital platform both for his own new tracks and that of the artists whose music he is supporting and DJing.
So as what was once called ‘funky’ drained out of the clubs, and its originators started making and playing different sounds, Roska’s music has continued to explore its own world. 2010’s Rinse Presents: Roska showed off the range of his sound, with vocal anthems like the Jamie George-featuring ‘Wonderful Day’ sitting comfortably alongside wild club tracks like ‘Squark’ and ‘Hey Cutie’. He continued with a string of 12"s for labels like Hotflush, Numbers and Tectonic, collaborations with sub-heavy explorers Untold and Pinch, and remixes for names as varied as Four Tet, Mosca, Modeselektor and Katy B. Most recently, Rinse Presents: Roska 2 gathered together all of those ideas into his most ambitious statement to date.
Thoughout that time his reputation as a formidable DJ has continued to rise, bolstered by his ongoing weekly Rinse FM appearances. In 2012 he played at a string of major UK and European festivals, including Lovebox, Global Gathering, Camden Crawl, Outlook, Boomtown Fair and Manchester’s Pangaea Festival, and holds a Roska Presents residency every four months at London’s Fabric. His Roska Kicks & Snares label has grown from an early outlet for his own tracks into a platform to release music by friends and likeminded producers, including Champion, Doc Daneeka and Shox. He was interviewed for a Red Bull Music Academy lecture in 2010 and in the time period since then has played for them and made lecture appearances across Europe.
He’s never far from the darkened club spaces where he made his name, though, regularly playing incendiary sets in packed basements around the UK – and always maintaining the immediacy and physical impact that’s defined his music from the very start.