Artist Focus: Wookie

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Influenced by his reggae producer dad, UKG pioneer Jason Chue (aka Wookie) started out in the studio at the tender age of 13, and hasn’t looked back since.

Chue’s professional career started in 1991 when he joined forces with UK reggae/R&B artist Wayne Marshall to work on Marshall’s debut album, Ninety Degrees and Rising, released in 1994. From the album came the very racy ‘Ooh Aah (G-Spot)’, which topped the UK charts at number 29. Not long after, however, the two fell out over publishing rights and Chue started working with British soul/R&B collective Soul II Soul.

When Chue joined Soul II Soul, they were already working on their final album. Taken under the wing of friend and close mentor Jazzie B, he went on to produce a number of R&B and Hip Hop tracks for the group in their Camden studio. Meanwhile, Chue’s passion for Dance music, particularly Drum & Bass grew. While he wasn’t making electronic tracks as such, he was going raving with DJs such as DJ Hype and soon realised that he needed a transition. Driven by the urge to create a different sound and something homegrown, he decided to combine the worlds of Drum & Bass, R&B and Hip Hop to create a new sound. This resulted in ‘Time’ and ‘Success’, which both harnessed a similar tempo to garage but weren’t bonafide garage tracks per say.

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At the start of 1999, Chue put out his first UKG record out with DJ/Producer Johnny J, a bootleg of Whitney Houston’s ‘It’s not right but it’s OK’. Under the name X-Men, the two continued to release bootlegs, including a version of Brandy’s ‘Angel’ until Chue left to focus on solo work.

Soon after, Chue adopted the title Wookie (a play on his family name Chue and the character Chewie from Star Wars, a lengendary Wookiee warrior) while also using another alias, Exemen (from X-Men). Chue’s first track as Wookie was UKG hit ‘Down on Me/Scrappy’ released in 1999, which was closely followed by the massive ‘Battle’ a year later. The fresh and innovative ‘Battle’, which Chue describes as a ‘Gospel song’, was a top ten hit and soon became known as one of the biggest garage tracks of all time.

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Cited as a major influencer for many modern producers including Disclosure, Rudimental, Skream and Benga, Wookie’s captivating and distinct sound has helped inspire a whole new breed of UK bass producers. Recent remixes for Jessie J, Bobby Womack and Usher have helped cement his reputation as one of the finest producers of our generation, as well as new releases such as ‘The Hype’ featuring Eliza Doolittle and the soulful ‘Higher’ with Zak Abel.

This August Wookie will be headlining the Backto95 stage at 51st State Festival. Ahead of his set, we asked the 51st State team to run us down their 5 favourite Wookie tracks:

Wookie - ‘Battle’

Jill Scott - ‘Golden’ (Wookie remix)

Sia - ‘Little Man’ (Exemen remix)

Wookie - ‘Scrappy’

Wookie - ‘Higher’ feat. Zak Abel