Outside Clwb Ifor Bach on a sweltering summer's afternoon, a veteran raver in a 'concrete junglist' t-shirt calls over to the slight figure of Lincoln Barrett—the drum and bass producer and DJ otherwise known as High Contrast.
"You playing at that on the weekend?" he asks the DJ, pointing at a poster for a big forthcoming event at a local warehouse. Barrett—who is in the process of being somewhat reluctantly photographed—politely informs him otherwise and engages in a bit of scene small talk.
These sorts of encounters are the norm for Barrett when he's out and about in the city. It's where he started his journey from drum and bass specialist in his local record shop to chart-gatecrashing crossover star. He still lives in Penarth, the hilly seaside town just around the corner from the Welsh capital, and has so far resisted the urge to decamp to London or Los Angeles like many of his peers.
I got signed just as I graduated (in 2002)," he explains. "I just never had a moment to stop and consider moving away. I never really felt the need. I'm more used to a slower pace of life. I never really clicked with London. I guess I always found it a bit oppressive. I'm a bit of deep thinker and I like space and time."
We've met up with Barrett in order for him to run through some of his local haunts which have influenced him along the way – from cinemas and clubs to lighthouses and record shops. "Wales isn't particularly well known for drum and bass," says Barrett. "So it fits my character, being a bit of an outsider. It's worked for me so far, and it's part of who I am."
Clwb Ifor Bach (Cardiff nightlife institution also known as 'the Welsh Club' due to its long-association with the native language)
I went from being someone who had to sneak in with a fake ID to headlining shows and there being riot van outside because so many people were trying to get into one of my album launch parties.
One time Marky played, and was late—not of his own fault—and I was on before him. I ended up having to play for three hours back when we were just playing on vinyl. It was absolutely rammed and I managed to hold the crowd. I try and look back to that time, when everything was new – that sense of wonder and possibility in going out. You speak to so many people who are so jaded. I stay in that frame of mind where it's all still exciting.
Chapter (An arts space, cinema, gallery and bar in the suburb of Canton)
It's a community place, and it doesn't feel too snobby going there. It's very open. They show older films as well, and you hardly ever get to see those in a shopping centre cinema.
I saw a film called The Girl Can't Help It. It was the first rock and roll movie, from 1956. My dad took me to see it. In one of the scenes Julie London sings "Cry Me a River" which I sampled for my track "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang". It became a signature tune for me and it's all because of seeing that movie.
Buffalo (Club and bar)
Kelly's Records (Second-hand record shop on the second floor of Cardiff Market)
It's a shame that Catapult closed. It was a huge part of the Cardiff scene. You'd go in there and you'd meet garage guys, then there'd be the trance guys down from the valleys coming in, as well as the local drum and bass heads. You'd make connections and play at other people's nights.
At that point, I hated house music, or anything that wasn't drum and bass, really, but working there opened my mind. Hearing US house and deep house, that fed into my sound, trying to make records which had that soulful feel. If I hadn't expanded my mind and listened to house I wouldn't have done what I've done.
Milgi (A restaurant specialising in vegetarian food on City Road)
Paget Rooms, Penarth (Grand old venue in Lincoln's hometown)
Nash Point (Local spot where Lincoln goes to get centred after touring or from the studio)
High Contrast debuts his new live show at Together Halloween at Brixton Academy on Friday October 28th. He headlines Hospitality Cardiff at the Tramshed on Saturday November 5th.