From starting his YouTube channel two years ago to now working at Radar Radio, the progression has been a gradual one for visual content producer DFR. With a real passion for underground music and pirate radio, DFR made a niche in the market of online platforms with his YouTube channel called SHELL TV, creating a space online focusing on shining a spotlight on up & coming talent within the grime scene. Now working full-time at Radar, his priorities have changed a bit but his ambitions to get better in his craft burns with intent. GM caught up with him to find more about him:
What is it about your work that inspires you?
“For me it felt like when I first started filming grime, the thing that inspired me was at the time; SBTV, GRM Daily, Link Up TV, they weren’t focusing on the revival of radio. I’d see on my SoundCloud and on my Twitter people talking about this new lot of MCs who go to radio and for me, I was like “this is amazing” because when I was growing up, I saw the videos from Dejavu FM with Dizzee [Rascal] and everyone clashing and I always thought there was a big gap after say the Fuck Radio times with Ghetts.
It all kind of died down but now, I’m hearing all these sets and I’d lock into Mode FM and I’d lock into Flex FM. all these places, I’d hear it all but I felt like the platforms weren’t showing it. I didn’t know these people, I couldn’t go online and even see a video about with them in it. I thought “it’s 2015 now, I should be able to see it as well as hear it.” I felt like no-one was putting the visual attention on these guys, they were doing these sets and that was it. I just thought “fuck it, I’ve got a gap here”, that’s when I started my YouTube channel called SHELL TV.
I hit up Mode, hit up Spooky when he was on Deja all those years ago, I felt like I had to go film what was going on because no-one else was. For me, this is why I’m here at Radar, I believe in underground talent so much that I’ll be the first to film you if no-one else will. We do it properly as well, whoever you are with high quality audio, visuals, colours, the whole shebang. That’s what inspires me, seeing the people who don’t get the attention they deserve when they’re putting in the most work.”
Who inspired you when you first started out and who does now?
“When I first started out, I’d have to say Quann & Marco (Wot Do You Call It blog), I’d say their photography and their style, the grittiness of their pictures and the way they were so transparent with their Tumblr blog, you knew what it was straight away. For me, I always wanted to say that Shell TV was the video version of that.
I really rate Risky Roadz for what he’s done in the past, I always look at that and think “I’d love to do a DVD like him” but I was looking at Simon Wheatley also. Him, Tim & Barry, Risky Roadz and Wot Do You Call It are the four entities that I looked at and thought “wow, I want to do something like that.” They captured moments, it’s gritty, raw, just straight how it is and for me, that’s how I want my work to be, capturing moments.
You can make it look good, you don’t have to have all these lights and extra bits of kit for this shit, as long as you have a fairly modern camera that’s not shit and you know how to basic edit, colour-grade, you can make it look good without having all this money behind it. Quann & Marco today inspire me, Marco works for Polydor Records, he’s their new visual creative guy, Quann’s at Universal now so I look at these people and their careers and how they’re progressing, it inspires me and I’m here now, I want to go further.”
Those are big moves.
“They’re sick moves. I always thought for ages, all of us lot were so anti-industry we’d always be underground and now I feel the industry respects us because of these attitudes and now they’ve caught onto it all. Now all these people I looked unto are getting into these big places and I hope one day, I’ll get into similar ones.”
How did SHELL TV come about?
“It came about because I didn’t feel like the artists were getting enough attention. I could hear the sets but I couldn’t see who it was. The first person I shouted was DSL when he was on Mode, he’s a DJ from Sheffield but he was the first person I hit up, I really liked one of his sets on SoundCloud. Me and him clicked straight away, he had a show on Mode with Nico Lindsay, Rocks, Capo Lee, RD, and others he invited me to and I was gassed, I couldn’t wait. DSL told me where Mode was, I felt privileged you know. I had to plan my route like mad because I’m from Woolwich so I had to go all the way to Enfield aka Mordor, it took me like three hours to get there. That was the first thing I ever filmed and that’s how SHELL TV started.
I was in a car with RD and Mr. X on the way back after filming. I’d met all the MCs and thought “this is my goal, I’m gonna film radio sets, this is what I want to do.” I had the name Shell TV in my head and I was speaking to RD and Mr. X and I said to them I wanted to start a channel with this, start a thing with this but what should I call it and I ran through a few names but then I said SHELL TV and they both looked at each other with a grin and then they looked at me and that was it, SHELL TV was born. Then RD said he’d had this idea for ages but he couldn’t pitch to the big platforms so that’s when me and RD decided that we were going to do a freestyle series called Shells. He picked the line-up, I filmed it and that’s how Shells happened.”
Who have been your favourite people to work with?
“Wow…I don’t know…it varies. Okay firstly Snoochie Shy, she’s my favourite person to work with, she’s got her head on but yet she’s quirky, funny, she’s her own person. She’s the only person that I can plan, film and edit with her. She can sit through everything with me and we both bounce back ideas to and forth. It’s rare to find people like that, usually you’ve got to go away and edit by yourself but she respects what I do, I respect what she does and we always meet in the middle with a finished product. That’s why we now do videos for Misguided, it was both of us pitching it, bouncing back ideas, shooting our first video for them and they loved it. Now Shy and I have got a formula, we can move onto other things so Shy is definitely #1.
Then I think it’s Zuu, his energy means you can’t not really enjoy working with him, there’s no-one else like him in the world. I’ve worked with him for over two years now, I did one of his first music videos to now filming the Serious Joints show every month, Zuu and I will always have a good relationship, we always talk about when we were at Mode doing the graveyard shift and now we’re here - it’s actually crazy seeing how far we’ve come.”
Is there anyone you haven’t worked with that you want to link up with?
“I’d like to do a video or a series or a documentary with Merky Ace and Faze Miyake. They’re both personalities that I feel like I want to see more of visually. They’re both such funny breh’s I’d like to see a documentary where their personalities shines through, so fuck it I might as well speak it into existence and put myself forward to do this.
I could always see me and Lordie doing something jokes together one day. I’d love that because I like Lordie and I feel like Grime Report is one of those channels that I’m so glad it gets the views that it does and I love its style, this is how it is, raw grime. I wish there were more Uncle Pains now though.
I feel like Grime Report is almost like our Worldstar in a way, it’s almost on that level and I’d love to work with Lordie on something, I don’t know what though.
Not sure who else I’d wanna work with…I’d love to do an official collaboration with Marco and Quann but who knows.”
Why do you think music and photography/videography go together so well?
“I don’t really know why it goes together so well. I just feel like we’re in an age now where it’s so easy to connect to platforms with social media but then people like me and the Vicky Grouts and the Ashley Verses, you’ve got that direct connection which is cool but it’s up to us to document the moments when they’re not documenting it. We want to capture the moments that they won’t tweet about or Instagram about, you still need people like us to capture the moments in a high-quality way, we’ll always capture them regardless especially with UK music. I feel like the structure for UK music is at a point now where we can almost rival the Americans. I feel like our media is at such that they recognise us professionally now.”
When it comes to your work, what’s your ethos?
“My ethos is to capture energy in a cinematic way. You’ll see my videos and I’ll bounce with the MC and you’ll see the shake but then I put in the widescreen bars and colour it in a filmy way. I hate it when it looks digital, I want it to look old school and filmy but I want to be high-quality so I’ll have film colours but it’s not going to look like film, it’ll look retro in a sense but I’ll keep it modern with the camera that I use, a mix of gritty but cinematic at the same time. I feel like I could film on a VHS camera but then it's in the same thing as Risky Roadz and he had to film it that way because that was what was around then. I’ve got to film using today’s cameras but it’s got to have a style and look to it that is grime, my style is capturing energy cinematically.”
What sort of emotions do you want people to feel when they look at your content?
“I want you to feel like you were there in the set with the artist and you can feel how hot it is in there, you know? I want you to feel the artist spitting bars in your face, so you feel a part of it. I want you to feel a part of the culture, I want you to feel like you’re in the set and you get to know these people. I wanna show off more personalities, from now on, I wanna film before the set and after, I wanna know who’s bussing jokes beforehand and who’s clashing who and talks about some shit afterwards, I wish I did that more on SHELL TV. One of my favourite things on my channel is when I did an interview with Nico and Capo, it was at Dejavu and it was them just being themselves, bussing jokes, and you felt included in it.”
What are your plans for the rest of this year?
“You’ll see me in other places, not just Radar, I want to branch out a bit more now. I’ve got the formula here and now I want to take my ideas elsewhere. I want to build up my freelance career again, you’ll see me working with Shy and with a proper website out soon. I want to present myself as someone who’s multi talented and skilled. I've done grime sets, fashion, short films, serious documentaries - I can do it all. I want to do bigger and better with people that I’ve worked with before also make shit with people that I haven’t worked with before. Shout out my girl Kara, my family, my Radar fam - everyone to be honest. I’m here to stay. Book me!”
All videos used filmed by DFR.