Artist Profile: Addison Groove

by | Jan 17, 2024 | Artist Profile, Blog

Over the past decade, Tony Williams, known by his stage name Addison Groove, has woven an artistic narrative that epitomizes creative transformation. Born into Bristol’s rich music culture, known for its pioneering role in trip-hop and thriving underground music scene, Williams initially carved out a niche within dubstep under the Headhunter moniker. His journey with the genre was marked by a series of compelling singles and the notable album Nomad, released on the influential Tempa label in 2008. On Friday, January 19, Aim+Wall invite the UK bass maestro to Control Club alongside fellow Brit, Itoa.

Addison Groove emerged as the jukin’ alter-ego of Headhunter. Juke, often associated with frenetic footwork dancing, is known for its rapid tempos, typically around 160 beats per minute, and its use of minimal, repetitive vocal samples and heavy bass. This new avatar departed from his earlier dubstep-centric creations, instead showcasing a thrilling blend of stripped-down drum machine beats, acid basslines, and hip-hop/booty-leaning vocals. This transition transformed the Juke groove by reconceptualizing the rhythm at a dubstep-compatible 136 bpm. It was an innovative approach that contrasted the resonant boom of the 808 with high-pitched toms and rapid-fire samples, creating a sound that was exhilaratingly fresh and compelling. 

In 2010, Addison Groove immediately made an impact with his debut release, Footcrab / Dumbsh*t, on Loefah’s Swamp 81 label. This Ep played a pivotal role in bridging the gap between the Chicago Juke/Footwork sound and U.K. Bass Music of the early 2010s. His collaboration with Juke/Footwork maestro DJ Rashad further solidified this style fusion. Their work was featured on the latter’s Double Cup (Hyperdub, 2011), cemented Addison Groove’s role in expanding the horizons of the country’s Bass scene while paying consistent homage to the rich legacy of the windy city.

In 2012, the release of Transistor Rhythm marked a pivotal moment in William’s career as Addison Groove. This album, released on Modeselektor’s now defunct 50Weapons, was a veritable manifesto of his new sonic identity. It was a critical success, described as everything-but-the-kitchen-sink rave music seen through the fisheye lens of prime Dance Mania. The album was also widely celebrated for its inventive use of rhythm and texture and firmly established Addison Groove as a production force to be reckoned with.

In 2014, he released Addison Groove Presents James Grieve, also on the 50Weapons imprint. This album continued the narrative of his first, delving deeper into the fusion of genres and experimenting with sound in ways that challenged listeners. This album fits nicely into the latter part of Addison Groove’s career, which has featured collaborations with noteworthy figures like Sam Binga and Reprezent’s Drum & Bass legend DJ Die, as well as his 2020 Fred Neutron LP. Over these years, his ventures have included releases of a steady but unsaturated output on labels like Tectonic, Gutterfunk, 3024, and Dance Trax.

Beyond his studio work, Addison Groove is celebrated for his electrifying live performances, often with a live 808. His sets are known for their ability to captivate audiences, transforming dance floors with a blend of high-energy beats and hypnotic rhythms. Gracing venues like Fabric and Berghain, he has also been a regular feature at international festivals like Glastonbury and on platforms like BBC Radio 1, Boiler Room, Dazed, Vice, and The Red Bull Music Academy. As a distinctly 21st-century media presence, Addison Groove is also active on Twitch, having curated a handful of livestream festivals, like Barrelfest. The 2020 edition was named DJ Mag’s Best Virtual Festival.

As Addison Groove, Tony Williams has crafted a narrative that speaks to the heart of what it means to be a transformative artist in the ever-shifting world of electronic music. His journey from dubstep-focused beginnings to integrating a wider array of electronic styles speaks to a legacy of boundary-pushing, genre-blending, and relentless pursuit of the new and unexplored. 

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