Known alternately as DVA and Scratcha DVA, Leon Smart is a primary figure in the U.K. bass music scene, with numerous releases on highly respected labels like Hyperdub and Keysound in addition to his own DVA Music label. Adept in styles ranging from brash grime bangers to sunny, uplifting U.K. funky tracks, his productions are always fresh and inventive. In addition to his music, he is also a highly regarded DJ, and a longtime host on London dance radio station Rinse FM.
Smart originally got into music through the drum'n'bass scene, but was producing U.K. garage tracks as Scratcher in the early 2000s. Along with co-producer Kobie, he formed grime duo Diverse Artz, and the duo's white label 12" "Kurb Krawl" was the first release on DVA Music in 2003. Smart was also part of grime crew Aftershock, and he began hosting Grimey Breakfast on Rinse FM around 2005. After producing tracks for grime MCs such as Wiley, Durrty Goodz, and Chipmunk, in addition to compiling The Voice of Grime, Vol. 1 in 2006, DVA began releasing solo records near the end of the decade. Following garage records "I'm Leaving" and The Jelly Roll EP on DVA Music and grime single "Bullet A' Go Fly" on Keysound, DVA debuted on Kode9's Hyperdub label in 2010 with "Natty." He also collaborated with Hyperdub labelmate Cooly G on Dis Boy, released on DVA Music.
Subsequent releases on Hyperdub went in more of a broken beat/future soul direction, featuring vocalists such as Fatima and Viktor Duplaix. Following singles "Just Vybe" and "Madness," vocal-heavy full-length Pretty Ugly arrived in March of 2012. This was followed by the more club-focused Fly Juice EP later in the year, as well as 2013's Mad Hatter, which sported a remix by Chicago footwork pioneer DJ Rashad. Both EPs were compiled onto a CD with bonus remixes. Having given up the Grimey Breakfast radio show in early 2012, DVA began hosting a monthly Hyperdub program on Rinse FM, with guest appearances from many of the label's artists. He released limited 10" EPs Allyallrecords (2015) and Take It All (2016) on the label, followed by NOTU_URONLINEU, a more experimental album as DVA [Hi:Emotions]. ~ Paul Simpson