Fresh Kicks 167: Yosh
Yosh records an hour of thumping UKG, breaks and acid for the Fresh Kicks mix series, and chats to Oli Warwick about his life in the rave and finding his true sound
The first thing to understand about Mark Ramsey, aka Yosh, is that he’s a raver. A true raver. Even in the mid-’90s, when he was DJing on seminal pirate station Upfront FM, he considered himself a raver first and foremost. Stories about iconic parties spill out in conversation, as Ramsey details his musical education. Sure enough, when DJ Mag calls up one of the leading lights in modern-day UKG and breakbeat, he’s feeling the burn from a Sunday session at Printworks. “I went down to show support for a mate who was playing,” he explains. “It was really good. It’s a massive club though — I prefer smaller spots.”
Given he was engaging with the first strains of UK hardcore and jungle as a schoolkid, his unwavering enthusiasm for the dance is commendable. But you can tell Ramsey is a die-hard devotee when you listen to his Yosh productions. A dizzying rush of releases over the past 12 months all fizz with the best elements of rave culture, from diced-up breaks and warping low-end to crafty two-step hooks. Of course, he’s far from the only person mining this corner of electronic music, but there’s a blend of finesse and authenticity which shines through in his deft tracks — and it all kicked off with a chance demo sent in the direction of omnipresent Leeds DJ Burnski.
“I made three house-y kind of tracks,” Ramsey explains, “and one breakbeat tune. [Burnski] picked up on that breaks tune. I remember meeting him and he said, ‘Mate, I think you’re onto something. You’ve got your own sound’. That was all I needed.”
That demo came after years spent exploring other genres, from tech-house and minimal to electro and broken beat. Ramsey’s journey through music is long and winding, but the success of that one chance wildcard represented a lifetime’s obsession coming to fruition. It mirrors a DJing breakthrough he had years before under the guidance of UKG originator Funky Smith, who mentored Ramsey in taking control of the decks and adding flair and technique to his game. “Funky Smith taught me to realise you control the decks, and not the other way around,” he says.
Tutelage from UKG heavyweights and coveted pirate radio slots came after years fighting to express his love for the music — taping every underground show on Kiss FM, blowing his McDonald’s pay cheque on every jungle and garage record he could cop at Bluebird Records in Bromley, making pause-button mixtapes, and battling with belt-drives before he could get his hands on industry-standard turntables.
After the lifestyle years of jungle and garage though, Ramsey drifted for a time, dipping into the broken beat scene and hearing Hatcha prophesying the dubstep revolution, before being seduced by tech-house and minimal, which led to a six-year stint in Ibiza. “I moved to Ibiza in 2010,” Ramsey explains, “but the sound I was making wasn’t really doing much out there. When I DJed on Ibiza Global Radio, the guy running the station said, ‘Why are you playing this mad music? It sounds terrible!’ I was at a point where I just wasn’t feeling it anymore, because it was formulaic.”
For all the fun he had on the White Isle, since his critical breakbeat breakthrough, Ibiza feels like a distant memory. Releases have flown out since then — four for Burnski’s Vivid, plus spots on Dr Banana, Holding Hands, Timeisnow and more. Part of the reason for this productivity is a lockdown breakthrough, which found Ramsey making up to five new tracks every week — a sure sign he had found his true sound.
“Jungle and garage consumed my life,” Ramsey says, “so my music is a nod to where I was back then, sprinkled with everything I’ve learned over the years. An element of tech-house, an element of deep tech, an element of the Romanian sound. The music you’ve grown up with always comes through in your productions.”
Listen to Yosh's Fresh Kicks mix below.
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