Think UK garage, think Locked On, purveyors of 2-step flair and true 4/4 champions. Once responsible for supplying the DJ record box from their shop, Pure Groove, on Holloway Road, north London, more often with cuts from their label of the same name; Locked On Records and its 300 track-deep catalogue provides a seminal snapshot in time when it comes to real British dance music.
Locked On was born amid the DIY grit of 1996, a pre-digital last, when emerging subculture and scenes bubbled underground, the creators and their resulting works often shrouded in mystery, before a gradual ripple through pop culture and beyond. It was London’s crackling pirate radio transmissions on the FM dial that signalled the sound of a new dawn that would shape the next decade on nightclub dance floors. Moving away from US house and rap imports, people wanted this new garage with a distinctly UK twist; from the speeded-up R&B adlibs and chopped up samples to more sparse dub edits and now evolutionary 2-step drum patterns.
Known and revered for signing tracks based on hype and foresight, Locked On often took rare and hard to find underground cuts from white label to the UK charts. Kicking off proceedings, Todd Edwards supplied the first compilation, Locked On: Inside The Mix, and a year later, in ’97, came the first 12-inch vinyl releases. Cult cuts include Somore ‘I Refuse’, Artful Dodger & Romina Johnson ‘You’re Movin’ Too Fast’, Dem 2 ‘Destiny’, Zed Bias ‘Neighbourhood’, Wideboys ‘Sambuca’ and Monsta Boy ‘Sorry’. Also responsible for taking a punt on The Streets, Original Pirate Material and the subsequent albums continues to influence a generation of producers and lyricists alike. As Locked On now celebrate 25 years at the beating heart of the UK garage sonicsphere, the time has come to rewind a timeless collection of soon-to-be reissued classic cuts.