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5 minutes with....Samurai Breaks

samurai breaks

Sam Langley aka Samurai Breaks has been blurring the lines between Drum & Bass, Jungle & Half-Time for the past few years with a steady stream of underground releases piquing the interests of the global underground music community.

Since taking an extended trip around Europe and ending up in Prague, Sam has been honing his skills with his efforts culminating in one of the highest honours a new producer can get - A play of his track ‘Silverback’ on Noisia’s staple radio show - Noisia Radio.

Now with a forthcoming release ‘My Sound / Run” on the respected ‘Halogen Music’ imprint Samurai Breaks looks set to break into the big league.

We sat down for 5 minutes with....Samurai Breaks.

Hey Sam, thanks for joining us today!

First up; The influences question. Who would you say your main influences are?

Ooh jeez, well i just listen to loads of music…My sound is a combination of Footwork / Grime / DnB / Jungle / Dub / Soca and weird beat shit!!!! My main thing I need in music is interesting weird drums.

You’re quite adept at producing various flavours of Jungle & DnB but which style would you say your most comfortable with, and which is your favourite to produce?

I dot between all different styles of uptempo music to learn new techniques, grooves and to keep me interested, I even wrote a 135 club music EP recently because I had writers block at 170 but if I had to narrow it down my favourite style to produce is wonky weird beat halftime DnB, I've got lots of that style in the works but just need to find a label to support it.

Obviously, a play on Noisia Radio is about as high as an honour gets in the world of Drum & Bass, but what other highlights can you describe?

Yeh shit man!! That Noisia play was madness, couldn't quite believe it at first!!

Generally, the hype has been building up nicely. I have supported some of my favourite artists (Sam Binga and Om Unit) which is nice. I’ve also started to get support on my tracks from some of the higher up heads which is nice, getting to hear my homies Jenkins Juke play my sound at a recent gig in Prague was a HUGE step for me..It was the first time listening to someone else play my track from the dance floor side of the situation! That was epic!!!

Launching my label with Vyking has been a nice step, working with so many talented artists to create beautiful music and hopefully much more in the future! I’ve got some really amazing gigs lined up as well, can't quite believe some of the shit that's happening!!! Croatia/Germany & Portugal are all lined up for 2017 as well as some Prague and UK dates already!! It’s mental.

Talk to us about your production process. Any special plug-ins you can tell us about that have been keeping you entertained?

Urrrrrm well, I go at it very differently everytime because I try to break any habits as they form….. At the moment i am really focusing on trying to make unique and new music so I have been using a lot of foley recordings in my tracks to add a more natural un-quantized feel to the tunes but I'm always reaching for the old school drum sounds and breaks recordings as well. I'm still trying to pioneer and find my final sound.

In terms of plugins i recommend Camel Phat and Audio Assault plug-ins are also BANG!!! I fully recommend getting the plugin alliance plug-ins as well….They are absolutely amazing!!! The vitaliser really sorts out the width on your tracks and the limiter they have is a diamond!! I love it, use it every day!!!

You’re now based in Prague with stints back in the UK, how does the music scene differ from Leeds to Europe from your experience?

Prague has a truly unreal scene dominated by DnB, Trap and Techno!! I have really enjoyed playing in some of Prague's top clubs (Cross Club + Chapeau Rouge) people seem really open to weird crazy music if you are in the right place. There's always loads of international artists being flown in to play, I love it, seen some UK artists I always wanted to see playing out here.

Tell us about your forthcoming release on Halogen, how did that come about?

I’ve always admired the label and what they were doing and got talking with Julien about 6 months ago, he really liked one track from the dub's I sent him and it went from there.. That track he originally wanted is actually ‘Silverback' that Noisia played. He ended up not signing it and later I wrote ‘Run' and he really liked it and asked for a b-side, took me a few tries to hit the sweet spot but I did with my sound. I am so happy to be involved in the label because it's really fucking awesome and high-quality vibes! They are very well respected for their sound.

What else is in the pipeline over the coming months?

I’ve got a Jungle vinyl release I am putting the final touches on atm, a halftime ep on groundmass, a collab Jungle EP with Pixel on Footslane, my debut EP on my label ‘Tsunami Bass Weight' and some compilation tracks as well… But mostly just grinding in the studio tryna make some super duper sick noises.

Finally - Tell us what to expect this Friday?

Interesting drums & rampant bass lines.

Many thanks to Samurai Breaks for the interview, you can catch him at The Old Red Bus Station for License To Jungle on the 11th November!

 

  • Written by Alex Wilson
  • Category: Interviews
  • Hits: 478

The Stonehenge Free Festival | The Fight For Alternative Culture

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With the summer solstice approaching, Champion Up North’s Rich Jevons talks to poet, novelist, musician and philosopher Penny Rimbaud.

Penny co-founded the Stonehenge Free Festival with the late Wally Hope who was ‘murdered’ by the State in 1975, and here comments on this and the tragic events of the Battle of the Beanfield in 1985, a police attack on travellers on their way to commemorate the summer solstice at Stonehenge.

Could you tell us about Wally Hope and the Stonehenge Free Festival?

I got to know Wally in 1971 because [Dial House] is an open house which attracted quite a lot of the local kids, and he was friends of them so he followed them into the house. We got to know each other, and he went away to Cyprus for the winter and came back with the idea of squatting Stonehenge to hold a free festival (which seemed like a crazy idea at the time).

Initially, I was not particularly supportive; I thought it was a hairbrained idea. But eventually I bought into it and said ‘How can we help?’ Some of his thinking was not particularly practical, so I think I was able to help in a practical way, organising printing, who to send stuff to, etc. Largely my side of it was logistical.

Loads of invites went out to all sorts of people, from Prince Philip to the Dalai Lama – they didn’t turn up! A hundred or so hippies turned up and that was the first festival; it was a low key event.

It took place on the Solstice?

Yes, it was on the Solstice, at the Stones—a little way back from them on Ministry of Defence land, which was probably their mistake.

Was there any notion that you could have been prosecuted for trespass?

Strictly, no. If they had been closer to the Stones they might not have had the trouble they got for being on MoD land. Porton Down is there (the big chemical warfare depot) and they probably weren’t too keen of having a load of hippies sitting around close to them.

It was really quite innocent, and I don’t think anyone expected anyone to do anything about it because the Stones weren’t what they’ve become now. They were just there and people stopped off and had a look at them

A case was brought against them to get them off [the site]. It was big news because it was in high summer when there is no real news, so the story of Wally and the Wallys became regular news, particularly in London.

So they were evicted?

Yes, there was a long hearing in the High Court about it but after they’d been asked to bugger off they all just went back and organised their next move as winter was coming in.

My only actual physical involvement then was doing a bread run from here [Dial House]; baking up bread and running up food and taking it down every two or three days. So all I can describe is a few dozen hippies sitting around waiting for the bread to turn up. The bands who turned up couldn’t do anything because there wasn’t a PA. It was a very nice event, a bit of fun really.

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Could you tell us a bit about the subsequent festivals?

Wally was arrested before the second one on a trumped-up possession charge. There were all sorts of questions about how and why he came to be arrested. He’d been making a huge amount of noise in London about the second festival; he’d been handing out leaflets and making quite a scene of himself.

He got quite a bad relationship with the authorities after the trials because he just made a mock of it really. He was travelling to Devon to rest before the festival when he was arrested. From then on—it’s a fairly often told story—but for one reason or another he was incarcerated in a mental institution and diagnosed as being schizophrenic and it eventually led to his death.

He came to stay with you didn’t he?

He was released—apparently now healed and cured from his schizophrenia—the day the last hippy left the second festival which rather indicates something. It took him about two days to get back here [Dial House] and he was absolutely ruined. We found out he had chronic dyskenesia—basically, brain damage caused by the drugs he’d been treated with to ‘cure’ his schizophrenia.

He could barely walk; he couldn’t sit outside for long because if he sat in the sun he would just explode as a side-effect of the [prescribed] drugs. His brain was scrambled, he was in severe depression, although it was more of a numbness. He’d been made into a cabbage basically. He could still articulate, and we spent about a month or so trying to get him back to some sort of health.

Then the government, for some bizarre reason, offered a site in Watchfield to run a festival on. I think they were trying to contain the festival movement. Wally insisted on going. We really tried our best to stop him but, short of putting him in manacles, we wouldn’t have managed. Three days later he was dead.

He went to the festival and then was in the care of a local doctor, a surrogate father, and it was there that he died in very suspicious circumstances. This set me off on two years investigating it and I proved in the book Homage to Catatonia that he’d been needled to death. At the first inquest there was a needle mark noted on his back thigh which quickly disappeared in subsequent reports. There was no way he would ever have used a needle so that led me off into all sorts of directions.

This led to me having death threats. I felt that they hadn’t managed to shut him up with the psychotropic drugs he was being given in the mental hospital, so they did the job well and proper and did him in. I was becoming very dark and completely obsessed with this story and getting too many veiled threats from too many different directions.

So I one day just went out and burnt the whole lot except stuff that was other people’s. I’d got a whole study full of documents, all the police papers, everything in files. Shibboleth was written from the remains of what I had left, stuff I hadn’t got round to sending back, and memory.

Can you tell us about the subsequent festivals?

I attended the next one in 1976 with Wally’s ashes. I took them down and they were eventually scattered on the Stones [and Penny told me by email that he still lights a candle for Wally on the summer solstice].

Crass went down there intending to play in 1980 but it turned into a bloodbath. The Hell’s Angels decided they didn’t like the look of the punks so it just turned into a stupid night of violence. We just spent all night trying to save people and get them off the site. It was just bloody really unpleasant.

Were the Hell’s Angels self-appointed security?

Yes, as they were at Altamont. They’ve toned down now but in those days if they decided they were going to be security, they were security.

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The last Stonehenge Free Festival was in 1984, and 1985 has become known as the Battle of the Beanfield. Do you have any connection with that at all? I ask because a lot of people you supported in the squats in London then joined the Peace Convoy.

At that stage we were very much in touch with what was happening. The Beanfield was part of Thatcher’s exclusion zone [four miles around the Stones] and basically they [the Peace Convoy] were set up. Thatcher had done her job on the miners and the next step was the alternative society. That was her big fuck off to the travelling people, the whole punk movement and everything.

In fact a lot of people all gathered after that [the Battle of the Beanfield] down in Oxfordshire and we went down to play but there was no PA. Some of those people I’m still in touch with. It was a real breaking point; after that, a lot of the Convoy headed off to Spain and places.

There are all sorts of reports about the Battle but it does seem to have been pre-planned.

There is absolutely no question of that. Also, at the time, Thatcher had upped the detention centre levels. The State was really concerned that things could go really haywire in terms of revolutionary spirit. Huge centres were prepared for that possibility in putting out of action any real opposition. The first opposition were the unions and working class; the second opposition was people outside of both: anarchist liberation freedom-seeking alternative societies.

There was a prosecution against the police with the Convoy suing the Wiltshire police for wrongful arrest, assault and criminal damage.

It was unbelievable violence the likes of which we hadn’t seen in this country for a very long time. If you had to put it in the context of the city riots, they were half-carnival, half-riot. We were beginning to show our colours in terms of resisting. The State was fighting back and they fight back with horrific violence, as they did in Orgreave [during the miners’ strike]—that was a set up too.


Penny is currently writing 365 aphorisms on his Twitter @pennyrimbaud1, recording with The Bloody Beetroots, and performing with L’Academie des Vanités. See the Southern label site for details of Penny Rimbaud/Crass recordings.

Read Penny’s essay, The Last of the Hippies – A Hysterical Romance.

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Penny also put CUN in touch with Dean Phillips of the Wally Hope Appreciation Society. Dean is custodian of Wally Hope’s ashes and describes the English Heritage management of the site as being in a state of paranoia, over the possibility of a return to the idyllic days of the first festival. When he told them of Penny Rimbaud’s intention to perform a spoken word piece with cello through a PA, they replied ‘An amplified cello constitutes a festival’, and refused permission.

He describes being herded into the area with a checkpoint where all bags and pockets are searched, a mile and a half floodlit walk to be confronted by further security and police including sniffer dogs, until eventually reaching the stones to be greeted by burger bars and portaloos – hardly conducive to any kind of religious celebration, be it Druidic, pagan or whatever faith.

So for Dean this is a political protest and Wally Hope a ‘victim of ignorance’ as it says on the box of ashes that he will take again this year for another visit to what he calls ‘the most sacred part of the country’. The conundrum is such that Dean could not tell us which of this year’s folk and traditional music artists would be performing on the horse-drawn stage (without PA, of course!) in fear they may be ‘pulled’ even at this point in time.

Dean and other Wallys will commemorate this year’s summer solstice as the 40th anniversary of the first Stonehenge Free Festival, the 30th anniversary of the last Stonehenge Free Festival and the 39th anniversary of the death of Wally Hope on this field in Wiltshire, to stand up for human rights and to oppose state interference, in all its institutionalised forms, into our essential right to celebrate the Solstice.


Details of this year’s ‘Managed Open Access’ to Stonehenge on 20-21 June can be found here.

Sunrise for the summer solstice in the UK is 4.52am on 21 June 2014.

 

Feeding the poor of Leeds with Leftovers

food leeds

On a rainy afternoon at the Base I interviewed a guy called Oliver Sears: born in Leeds 20 years ago, he decided to study at the Open University in order to independently manage his learning; nothing striking so far, but what we will discover is that this young student and entrepreneur has created something amazing in Leeds and beyond.

Oliver is trying to feed the poor and the homeless in Leeds through re-distribution of food waste, a project he calls ‘Leftovers’. I asked him to tell a bit more about what exactly is he’s doing and how does it work…

What is Leftovers?

Leftovers is a small charity in Leeds, fighting food waste essentially... We reduce, re-use and recycle food waste in an entrepreneurial way.

What's the story behind it? Why did you decide to set it up?

I think it must have been November last year, I became a lot more conscious of the waste I was seeing in stores, particularly when, one day, I was in the Waitrose in Leeds City Centre around about 7.30 pm, before the close, and the staff were going round reducing the food… you wouldn't believe the amount that was left, and all that food by 8 pm would be in the bin. I had asked them before what was going to happen to all the food that didn’t get sold and they answered that it would go straight in the bin, and then it was quite a stark shock and I started thinking, how do you make it so that you can get hold of that food? I mean, the supermarkets are going to throw it away but it's still good, particularly for home cooking or if you freeze it... And so I started thinking how you could address that problem, but it wasn't until the end of January that I was actually able to set up Leftovers.

What did you do first to set up the project?

In setting it up I wanted a bit of an image and a thematic behind Leftovers, so I figured 'would it rather be just a community project that works in Leeds, the kind of fades in the background of the city or would it look more like a brand to make food waste a more approachable issue to tackle?'. As I went for the second option, I started to build up a bit of social medias... I wanted it to be something active and engaging. With a system of improved information like that you can really reduce food waste... Then came all the legal stuff behind it, the legal contract that would allow me to approach a business.

Was it difficult to deal with all the legal issues?

Yeah, I had to get myself a catering award so that I felt comfortable enough as a person going in, taking this food waste... I wasn't by any means an expert to handle food safely, so I did a bit of research. Also, you have to have liability for everything that you take and hold responsibility for it, so working with the Council and the FSA was a big booster on that front.

Is there something you do differently from other charities?

The first thing that came to my mind was to keep the whole thing very dynamic, all-encompassing and a little bit more fun than usual charities... And what that means is that at Leftovers we are present on social media, for example who wants to give us food can drop us a tweet, rather than having us say 'unfortunately we are not doing a schedule pick-up in the area'. Basically, I wanted to make it easier and more possible.

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But do you ever find any difficulties in retrieving the food?

The first big difficulty was having to build a contract and a liability to allow me to actually put hands on that food as 'Leftovers' and taking the responsibility away from the businesses that were helping us, obviously making sure that I was could use everything safely and legally. Also you need to know what kind of foods you can realistically pick up and recycle. In the practicality, the difficulty is transporting the food from one place to another... you have to find packaging and containers and things like that.

How do you usually transport food?

Transport is mainly done on foot or by bike, and that allows us to keep it sustainable.

So it seems that you are fighting waste in other ways than just picking up food waste..?

Of course...there's many ways in which you can address the issue of waste, not only with food but also environmentally. If you start transporting food waste by car, you'll then actually be creating a lot of unnecessary waste. What I want to do is not only to reduce food waste but also the impact on the environment… You need to be conscious of things like that throughout the whole operation. We also tried to reduce paper waste by taking the business forth in a non-paper policy; this means that I don't print anything, I don't have business cards and I will never have. Keeping Leftovers digital has been extremely helpful so far in reducing my costs. Paper work might be useful for a couple of days, but you cannot make reference to that in a long-term view... If you keep it digital, it's always there for people to make reference and it's very adaptable, it can be changed everyday.

What kind of medias are you using?

Facebook and Twitter in the first place, to make the business more engaging; Instagram, which has a huge impact and a huge reach as well... people can understand what Leftovers is about not only by reading or hearing about it but they can actually see the stuff we're doing and I want to make sure that those pictures are available for the public to see the amount of food that would be in the bin. In addition to that, we also have a network on Tumblr and Wordpress, which will hopefully be developed into a website. There's another decision there, which is to use social media that are free: by using this kind of medias we've avoided the costs of web posting.

Can you describe a typical week at Leftovers?

We simply pick up food waste daily and re-distribute it to charities or to composts and gardens. Every evening at 5 pm the volunteers or myself go to Leeds City Centre to independencies or lunch corporates. We gather all the food at a reasonable time during the evening, always being conscious of the safety and legality of it and we then transport it to St George's crypt, the main location where we send the food. We often take the food to hostels as well. This is a day-to-day activity that has an impact on the whole week actually. In the next month or so we'll be getting into compost as well... coffee grounds are perfect to be used as fertilizer; we are going to create another branch of Leftovers, called 'Leftovers cultivates'. We are already working with Kirkstall gardens as well as Meanwood Valley Urban Farm.

st georges

You said 'we'... Who's helping you with Leftovers?

There's a social enterprise running at University of Leeds called 'Enactus' that allowed me to launch Leftovers as a platform through the partnership of various corporates, for example Unilever. With food waste pick-ups, two or three people from their volunteers group used come along with me in the past, but for the majority of times it's just me, also because I have the liability and license to do that.

What has been the most rewarding experience for you during your time at Leftovers?

I remember picking up a huge quantity of tomatoes and cooking tomato soup at St George's crypt one night and serving that to homeless people. I thought about the fact that we were able to nourish many people with food that would have otherwise gone in the bin, and that was a fantastic feeling. Not only you can reduce food, but you can also have impact on those people's lives in such a way.

Who is donating the food to you in Leeds?

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The Opposite café in front of the Parkinson Building, the Victoria Quarter, as well as Leeds Trinity Kitchen, not to mention Laynes and Mrs Atha's. They have all been very forward-thinking and helpful with us.

What's your opinion on the ‘Pay As You Feel ’ Café set up by Adam Smith, also in Leeds?

I've had the fantastic opportunity to meet Adam a while ago, through some Leeds Met's students... He has a huge experience as a chef and a width of knowledge that allows him to run such a great operation. What we are looking to do in the future is maybe to replicate that through street-food stores in the City Centre. Our ultimate goal is to be able to take these leftovers and maybe just not only re-distribute them but also re-constitute them, to give them a little bit of afterlife as well.


Hoping that Leftovers fully succeeds in each of its objectives, I wish Oliver all the best for his charity; it’s quite unusual that someone so young decides to set up his own business not to make money but just for the sake of redistributing the food in a fairer and equal way.

However, as Oliver said, such a project wouldn’t be possible without some external contribution, and there's a comforting reassuarnce knowing that there’s so many people willing to give a hand, not only in Leeds but also throughout England.

And you? Nobody will ask you to devote your evenings to the feeding of the poor, but keeping an eye on your personal food waste could help more than you think.


Leftovers is entirely digital and by clicking the links you can access their Facebook,Twitter,Tumblr and Instagram.