SBTRKT Is Back to Redefine UK Electronic Music (Again) With ‘The Rat Road’

Garage, jungle, and house music are more mainstream globally than ever before, thanks to artists like PinkPantheress, Shygirl, and Mura Masa. But it was British producer-songwriter-DJ SBTRKT who helped seed the UK electronic music explosion in the early 2010s as a prolific remixer and, with the release of 2011’s self-titled debut, artist. He went on to work with artists like Sampha and Little Dragon, released a popular Drake remix, and became known for his live performances. After he released his last LP, 2016’s SAVE YOURSELF, the plan was to release music “more frequently,” he says now. Unfortunately, it took seven years for the musician, born Aaron Jerome, to return. But his new album, The Rat Roadis his best since the first one.

Jerome spent the last five years expanding past dance floor escapism and catharsis. The Rat Road is lush and warm, but also tense and anxious. And while his early post-dubstep music was widely covered by the music blogs that were then plentiful, he has always kept his personal profile low, making him feel at once known and unknown—a perfect avatar for today’s uncertain times.

“The music industry itself has become something where you look at your peers around you and there’s no comparison or goals that you could share and say, ‘What works for you works for me,’” Jerome says. “I think there’s a level of unknowns and everyone is fighting for the scraps of how it could piece together.”

GQ She spoke with SBTRKT about his new album, how one of his tracks ended up in Drake and 21 Savage’s “Jimmy Cooks” video, and whether an artist can be anonymous in 2023.

Aaron Jerome performs as SBTRKT at Enmore Theater on January 8, 2015 in Sydney, Australia.Courtesy of Mark Metcalfe via Getty Images

As someone who really fell in love with music during the blog era, you’ve always been an important artist to me.

My career is owed to the blog era, that’s for sure. One of my big things about now is that we don’t have that culture anymore of supporting the underdogs, per se. It’s all about the bigger stats. That time was so important for me, the post-vinyl club era stuff, but then pre-complete DSP social control. There was a magic point where people’s personal opinions mattered [laughs].

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Andrew Naughtie

News reporter and author at @websalespromo