Richard ‘Sticky’ Forbes built his reputation as one of the United Kingdom’s leading club music producers at the height of the UK Garage scene. His productions not only kept the clubs on lock, but they also launched the careers of a number of the UK talents, including the Mercury Award winning Ms. Dynamite. Sticky has re-emerged on the scene in 2009 with a recent embrace of UK Funky and the “Jumeirah Riddim” is his biggest statement yet.
Sticky’s sound is intended to “forge a blend between credible street sounds and the pop music industry” and his discography bears this out. He has collaborated with Kele Le Roc, Stush, Tubby T and Twista, and been called on to remix pop stars like Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Aaliyah, Sugababes, Hot Chip and Erykah Badu.
I caught up with Sticky to discuss music, his musical roots and where he’s headed in the future.
Tell me about some of your first DJ gigs. What was the atmosphere like when you started?
I started DJing in the late 80s when I was a teenager, and most of the places I would play in were house parties. They were very dark rooms, hardly any lights, and the atmosphere was electric because nobody saw each other!
Tell us about one of the first songs that had a big impact on you, and why.
One of the tracks that had a big impact on me when I was young was Soul2Soul’s “Keep On Moving”. The reason why I love this track is because of the fusion between a reggae singer, hip hop beats, reggae bassline and live strings. Wow!!!! That’s what made me want to start producing.
Explain a bit of the ideology about a term you coined, “dirtypop”.
Dirtypop was an idea I thought of in 2006. I wanted to create a music that didn’t traditionally have a similar sound all the time, some dirty beats that if you heard them by themselves wouldn’t be classed as pop music, but put the right song on top of it, then it would be. “Pop with an edge” continued the idea of having hybrid tunes that actually had a name for itself. “A pigeon hole with all the pigeon holes in it!” Most genres sound the same now and I wanted to attempt to break barriers and expand peoples minds past a particular genre they liked by having elements of other genres in one tune.
Do you think Mixpak fits under this ‘dirtypop’ description?
Yes, I do think it fits because the artist is from one market and the music is from another, but combining them together makes this new perfect match!
A lot of your remix credits are for popular artists: Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Aaliyah…when reworking those songs, what do you try to set out to do? What is it about pop music that you love?
Whatever remix I do, I always try and aim it for the clubs with the basslines but have enough music to play on radio. What I love about pop music is that anything can be pop music. There are no rules with pop, even though alot of people think there are!
Certain tracks like your Tubby T collaboration have really socially and politically charged messages. How’s it feel for you, as someone who produces a song, to have someone else come and give it a meaning in a political way?
I love making songs with positive messages. I think there should be more of them in the urban world personally. Tubby was a great singer, and he saw a lot of things in his life that were a reflection of a broken society. I know I’m not any politician but I feel as a father I should try and put out enough positive energy for people to be inspired to follow.
You’re working on this new Mixpak single with Natalie Storm, how do you feel about your collaboration?
I feel honoured to be chosen to produce a beat for her.
Your music is getting exposure on BBC program “Skins” … have you watched the show? British alt-drama galore.
Haven’t really got alot of time to watch TV. I’ve seen it once (when my tune was on there lol!). It’s a big look though!
Suggest a book, film, and album to us.
Book: The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.
Album: Sticky Presents Volume 1.
What does everybody need to just shut the eff up about?
There’s a bit of a war between some folks about the division between music that’s produced, sold and listened to solely in digital format, and the traditional vinyl release. How do you like to listen to music? Do you have any worries about DJs entering an almost solely digital age?
I like hearing music on vinyl. In my opinion, it sounds a lot better. I do have worries with the new DJs because simply most of the music created in the 90s was based on a turntable having 2 speeds 33 and 45 rpm. Now it’s one.
What’s your worst vice?
Where’s music going to be going in the next five years? Any predictions?
I think music is going to be exciting and imaginative.
Thanks to Sticky for the interview.