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Bradford Threadfest at Fuse Art Space: The Highlights

thread festival

Held on May 25, Bradford Threadfest at Fuse Art Space was an immense afternoon and evening of cutting edge new music and established acts. Rich Jevons managed to chat to Champion Up North’s three top picks from the day: Dean McPhee, Female Band and Philip Jeck.

First up is Dean McPhee, a solo guitarist based in West Yorkshire, who comes from a rock and experimental music background but uses tremolo, reverb and delay to create dreamy and psychedelic harmonics.

He explains: “I grew up with blues music like John Lee Hooker, Bukka White and Howlin’ Wolf and rock like Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath which is what really got me into the guitar.

“I try to do my own thing really but some of my musical influences include Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Lee Scratch Perry, Ali Farka Toure and NEU! I tend to be influenced by the feel of things or the ideas behind them more so it doesn't make any difference to me how the music is made and whether it is played on instruments or not.”

McPhee has released two CDs, Brown Bear (2010) and Son of the Black Peace (2011) with record label BLAST First (petite). At Fuse his set featured the song Fatima’s Hand from the forthcoming album of the same name.

Why ‘Fatima’?

It’s the concept of the evil eye. I just find it really interesting, the idea of how other people’s envy or praise is seen as being able to harm a person, and how a symbol like the evil eye could be used as a form of psychic protection. The tune’s in 5:4 so I couldn’t help but think of the five fingers of a hand. Also, there’s a vaguely Middle Eastern feel to it.

You were playing deep bass notes and then picking on top of this.

It’s been something I’ve been doing for a long time. I’ve been playing the guitar since I was six but I’ve been working this way since I was 18. I decided I’d solo and play bass at the same time so it was a thing that I had to try and develop.

You were using an EBow too?

Yes, it uses magnets to make the strings vibrate continuously almost like a violin bow but without touching the strings.

Was the last track improvised?

Brown Bear is one of my oldest tracks, and I improvised around that because I’m so familiar with it.

McPhee plays at the Sin Eater Festival, Shropshire on 20 June 2014.

Dean McPhee on Soundcloud.

 


Nottingham based, Russian-born Anastasia Vtorova’s project Female Band produces a haunting and hypnotic sound that is part ambient electronic, part industrial noise (though you don’t need your ear plugs for this one).

I thought it reminded me of the way Throbbing Gristle’s Genesis P-Orridge used bass with reverb.

I’ve been told to listen to TG but stuff I listen to is more like Massive Attack and Portishead. A lot of people do compare me to Sonic Youth too. Everything’s been done before, it’s about how you do it.

There’s the subsonics from the bass but also the treble from touching the strings, isn’t there?

I basically do experimental stuff with my bass, the bass is everything for me. There are certain things I do on computer and I put it back and sample it and then play on top of the samples. There are found sounds too. But the bass is definitely driven in every song for me.

Could you tell us a bit about your kit?

It’s very simple, a Jazz bass guitar, which is a fake Fender, which has specific really beautiful sounds, and basically have a reverb pedal, a delay pedal and a 100W Marshall amp.

It’s about experimenting with sound, tweaking something. You can play one thing and then it can sound like something completely different and give you inspiration.

And the voice is used very much as an instrument.

Yes, that’s true, it’s kind of to get me beats because obviously I don’t have a drummer. So voice gives me a drone-y background so I can work on top of that. So definitely, I like using my voice in different aspects.

Where were the found sounds from? The Exorcist?

I don’t want to give away all my secrets but it’s actually a well-known sample that you can download for free. It’s French teenage girls talking and I’ve added effects on top. I have reversed the sound so you kind of like start thinking about horror films you’ve seen before. It’s a subconscious thing without any intention to do so.

Anastasia is performing as Machine Woman at The Kirkgate Centre, Shipley on 17 August 2014 supporting Vatican Shadow under the auspices once more of Golden Cabinet

Machine Woman’s cassette Pink Silk is released on Tesla Tapes.

Female Band on Soundcloud.


thread fest

Finally, the key highlight of the day was Philip Jeck, whose performance saw him building up layers of atmospheric sound using old record decks fed through a digital mixer.

Born in Cambridge, 1953, Jeck was schooled in Yorkshire and from the age of thirteen attended a reform institution run by Quakers. “As a kid I always loved music and actually at school there was a good music teacher so I learned guitar and keyboard. But I could never create anything that was so interesting. I started collecting vinyl at that time.”

He then went to Dartington College of Arts in Devon and spent one day a week working in the theatre department. “Later on in London I worked with theatre companies as a performer but my way into music was through DJ-ing. I went to New York in 1979 where I saw some fantastic DJs so I started off by copying people like Walter Gibbons and Larry Levan. I brought a lot of 12 inch stuff back from the States – that’s how it started.

“But then I started to move away from just playing disco and began playing all sorts of records. An early influence was when Christian Marclay came over to London where he did the sound for a physical theatre company. That was a bit of an epiphany, it was a real kickstart for me.

“I was also lucky enough to work with the choreographer Laurie Booth. We travelled all over Europe and even went to the States and I was starting out working with record players so I learnt on the road and got paid well.

“Originally I was using Technics but I I bought an old record player because it had 78 rpm and an output for my mixer. But in the end it was the 16 rpm that interested me which was a medium made for spoken word, super low-fi. There was something wonderful about playing something that slow, especially when you play it through a big sound system with sub-bass.

“The fidelity was much lower, it added colour to the sound. And when you play each record on a different record player there were different tonal and pitch qualities.” What in particular interests you in using the old low-tech record players and vinyl?

“I like the colour that they bring to it, it’s not just me doing something. At home I have a have a really superb turntable and that’s great the old ones actually bring something else to it. Also, when I first started using them, they would normally have been thrown away.”

So it’s almost recycling then?

Yes, it was stuff that was going to the landfills. But they’ve still got life in them, there’s still things that can be done with them. Also, I could pick them up for next to nothing. Now they’ve become a little bit more valuable but at that time car boot sales were full of them.

Do you enjoy the actual process of collecting?

No, I hate it, I’m not a natural collector. I do still occasionally look through charity or junk shops though most charity shops have got wise… They actually over-value.

The simple techniques you use with the stickers on the vinyl to create loops, where did you come across that?

That was Christian Marclay. In terms of people working in turntables there was John Cage working with Merce Cunningham way back in the early 60s but Marclay was I think the first one to use lots of different records and quick cuts. So for me it was him and Martin Tetrau, a French Canadian living in Montreal.

Where did you come across them?

Somebody played me Christian Barclay and I went to see him when he was playing with a theatre company at the Riverside and I met Martin later on. I actually got to work with both of them and there is a release with the three of us playing in Belgium and they’ve become friends of mine. Also there’s Otomo Yoshihide who was doing some really interesting things with turntables.

What’s the crossover between the analogue and digital world for you?

Vinyl is the material I use but in a way I am happy to make whatever format. I have lots of CDs at home, I collect CDs. But CD is really struggling now because people download so much and there is a niche market for vinyl as well.

Philip Jeck’s Vinyl Requiem celebrates its 21st anniversary with a performance at the Arnolfini, Bristol in September. He is published and licensed by Touch.

Threadfest at Fuse Art space was organised with Golden Cabinet as part of Bradford Threadfest.

Bradford Threadfest Director Andy Abbott explains the ethos of the festival as a whole, which is now in its third year: “It came about wanting to showcase some of the lesser known music in Bradford, not necessarily Bradford bands, but things that the organisations and venues are doing.

“Then as it’s grown over the three years it feels like it’s getting more of an identity to do with a certain sort of music. But I still think it’s more diverse and wide-reaching than a lot of city festivals and we tried to bring that visual art strand to that too.” (see our feature on Dark Matter Institute).

All in all, this is definitely an event we’ll be keeping our eye open for next year! For now, check out Fuse Art Space's next event on Sunday 8th June, a three-act show featuring Belfi/Grubbs/Pilia, Tara Jane ONeil and Andy Abbott as Elizabeth.

 

Hip-Hop Un-rapped #3: Edward Scissortongue

Scissortongue

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To attempt to describe the dark facets that make up the ‘Theremin EP’ is to detract from the messages and profound intangibility that the EP holds. Similar to his first solo project ‘Better.Luck.Next.Life’, the ‘Theremin EP’ resists the normative and hackneyed phrases that music journalists come to rely on. As a music journalist by trade himself, Edward Scissortongue knows how to produce music that stumps my ability to produce a coherent and concise review that helps the reader assess whether they will in fact listen to the EP. It was therefore my pleasure to let the man with the Scissortongue talk for himself about how he views the album; as Ed weaved in and out of London traffic on his bike, on the way to shoot a video for ‘Theremin’, we discussed the EP, his musical history, and some of his influences.

Scissortongue

CUN: How did you get involved with High Focus and their artist roster?

Ed Scissortongue: Well I first met Fliptrix (founder of the label) on a party bus on my way to Croatia for the first Outlook Festival. We sat on a riverbank in Strasbourg and that’s where I first got to chatting with him about the ins and outs of what I was doing and what he was doing. We were just two rappers and none of High Focus was even on the horizon at the time. We were just kicking it and getting drunk in Croatia. Since then it’s just built up into a big family type thing. We’re all friends, we’re all making good music and that was it, it just went from there. It was a very organic process I would say.

CUN: Your last album ‘Better.Luck.Next.Life’ was on a very different tip to a lot of the UK hip-hop currently being produced, would you say the ‘Theremin EP’ is in a similar vein?

Ed Scissortongue: Yeah I would say so. First thing to say is Fliptrix was still building High Focus at the time [of ‘Better.Luck.Next.Life] and he told me that if the album was as out there as I said it was, there was a possibility of it not being put out, because it may not fit the mould. But I played it to him and he lost his mind. Since then I’ve just thought, if he goes for it, and the scene goes for it, and I’m getting good feedback, I don’t see any need to close my parameters at all. I been going to town ever since!

CUN: So both releases have been fascinatingly morbid. Can you ever envisage yourself producing music, which is more upbeat, dealing with less existential topics?

Ed Scissortongue: 100 percent, I’m working on something now that is exactly that. It’s still sonically very beautiful and very thoughtful and layered in meaning and will still take the listener on a journey. However it’s not an active attempt to write something which doesn’t try and follow the same traits as ‘Better.Luck.Next.Life’ or the ‘Theremin EP’. Those two releases defined me as an artist, which is no bad thing at all, but I never sat down and decided I was going to write horror rap. That’s just where I enjoy being creative when it comes to writing rap. I just enjoy writing the darker side to things. But I like to think I’m fairly future thinking, and I will definitely be treading different terrain with my future projects.

CUN: Although the ‘Theremin EP’ is an EP, as opposed to a full album, did you still feel the cliché pressure that comes from the second album release, especially after ‘Better.Luck.Next.Life’ was so acclaimed?

Ed Scissortongue: No not really. I mean when push comes to shove, I could have never released anything ever again and just sat happy with that one record. I just came straight off the bat with writing ‘Better.Luck.Next.Life’, and once I did all that I could do with that creative process, I just started writing again. I started gathering music from producers that I liked the sound off, and just started dabbling with a few ideas. This resulted in a back-catalogue of music, which was then whittled down and turned into the ‘Theremin EP’. I could have put out a release that was 20 tracks long, but instead I put something out that was 7 tracks long. This meant that it’s very condensed, very concise, no bullshit, and no filler. It’s like the juice that has been extracted from a big field of fruit.

CUN: Is your sound influenced by American hip-hop, or do you feel that you have created a uniquely British sound?

Ed Scissortongue: Yeah I would say my sound is pretty uniquely British, because I am absolutely fully British, I’m about as British as it gets. There’s something worth celebrating in there somewhere, I guess. But I take huge inspiration from everywhere, so I would like to think that I am more forward thinking than just sounding solely British. But in terms of the sonic, as in how I actually sound, it’s fucking British.

CUN: I know that you like to take your time during the writing process. Do you find you start to focus on the minutiae and lose sight of the overall project, or is it your attention to the little things that makes your music so thought provoking?

Ed Scissortongue: Definitely. Anything that you’re staggering over for 2 years, whether it’s a game of Championship Manager or a fucking painting, your mind state and the ins and outs, and your highs and lows are going to have an effect on the project. So as long as you kinda keep focus for the majority of the time, you’re allowed to occasionally lose focus and lose hope, because that becomes a part of the whole thing. Honestly if you were just blanket happy with what you’re doing, and you are extremely driven and you believe in yourself from top to tail, that’s probably to the detriment of the final product. It’s in those moments where you’re not feeling it so much, and not thinking completely positively about what you’re doing, that you start whittling out the bits that could be improved.

I’m proud and happy to be that guy that gets vexed when something is 0.004 decibels too loud or something. I simply refuse to put something out that I’m not happy with and unless its totally shit in the first place, you will find that spot where you will go “there it is, cool we are done with that track, lets move onto the next one”. I’m a perfectionist.

CUN: The Westminster Reference Library seems like a pretty leftfield choice for your EP launch party , any particular reason why you chose this venue?

Ed Scissortongue: I’m blessed that I get to play out my music in all sorts of great places, whether it’s at a big fuck off rave, or whether it’s a far more considered, sit down and have a cuppa tea, spoken word venue. I feel like my music will kinda fit anywhere. I can just tweak it to cater to the situation. Either I can jump up and down and lose my mind or I can go way within myself. But yeah, I went to an event there in the past and it was great.

Particularly with this project, it is something I want the listener to sit down, stick it on and listen to it from the very beginning to the very end and then maybe do that again. It’s not something I envisage someone saying, “whack on track 4”, or shuffling it on their fucking iPod, that’s criminal to me. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end. It’s concise, it’s considered, and in my dream like scenario, in a live setting you would have a lot of enthusiastic and attentive people paying attention to what I’m doing, and that’s why a library is the perfect setting.

CUN: Most artists have a pretty eclectic taste in music, but outside of hip-hop, are there any particular genres you’re particularly fond of?

Ed Scissortongue: Yeah I mean I’m a music journalist by trade, so I’m immersed in music whether it’s the newest pop songs or something far more abstract, so I’m literally like knee deep in everything. But I was a big metal fan, so everyone from Metallica, to the Deftones and Slip Knot, but I’m also a big post-rock fan, listening to stuff like Godspeed You Black Emperors. But then again, to embark on a discussion on that is to dedicate your evening to it. I think the main point is that there is nothing that doesn’t turn me on. The classic thing that people flag as something that they don’t like is country and western music. If you really do go just past the surface there is a thriving, amazing heartbroken scene, which is full of gems. But in answer to your question, I’m into everything!

CUN: After this EP drops, what’s next?

Ed Scissortongue: Immediately after the launch party on May the 3rd, myself and Jam Baxter have got to put the final touches to a combined project we have been working on which is produced by GhostTown. That project is called ‘Laminated Cakes’ and is inspired by that tune ‘Pipe Smoke’, much like the ‘Theremin EP’ was inspired by the tune ‘Theremin’. You know, you build one block and then you build on top of it. It’s very different from my previous work, it’s very trappy and in your face, double timey, angry…It’s hard to coin, but we decided on “future pop” and it should blow the scene in half.

I’m really excited about it, so that’s the next stepping-stone. We have a bit to do, like shoot some videos and stuff, but that should be out in the height of summer I hope. Then after that I’m just working on the final few tracks with Lamplighter on my second solo album, and we got 9 tracks for that already, but there’s maybe 4 more songs that I’m chipping away at, so maybe that will be early 2015 if I’m realistic.

get tickets to the launch party here: Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/EDWARDSCISSORTONGUE

https://twitter.com/ED_SCISSOR

http://shop.high-focus.com/artist/edward-scissortongue

 

Up Close and Personal: Father Funk

Father Funk loves old school funk vibes, and reworks them for the 21st century, with his aim being to recreate the atmosphere of the originals with modern day production techniques, to give them a dancefloor edge. Father Funk, real name Will, is a highly musical fellow, studying music production at Leeds College of Music, and churning out tunes under 3 different aliases - Father Funk for ghetto funk and good vibes wobble music, Stylus when making hip hop, and Ethereal for his Drum & Bass productions. His early musical experiences explain his current assortment of styles; he spent his early teens in a samba band and his ska band Late Night Fiasco, playing everything from trombone to cowbell, and then moved into electronic music when he started producing Drum & Bass at 15. This shows his commitment to music in all its forms and highlights how much of a key part music is of his very existence. Releasing on Rocstar, Ghetto Funk and Scour Records, Father Funk is making a big name for himself in the ghetto funk scene.

Tearing up the festival season last year, Will appeared at Kendal Calling, Sunrise, Beatherder and Solfest, and this year he'll be seen in many more fields up and down the country, smashing the decks with his raw energy and dance floor bangers. Already Father Funk has supported some of the biggest names in Breaks such as A.Skillz, Deekline and Plump DJs, and the only ways is up from here.

His most recent release is ‘Ghetto Funk Presents : Father Funk’, which is a 4 track, vinyl only EP, full of womping bass, cheeky breaks, chunky beats and more funk than Lionel Richie's afro. Tracks like ‘Emperor Groove’ are sure to get people’s feet tapping, with its swanky Latin riff, some cheekily sampled “show me what you working withs”, a gnarly breakbeat and swagged out womps and wobbles. This EP of dance floor ammo is sure to get your high school disco, summertime festival, underground club or Bar Mitzvah pumping, popping, locking and dropping like its way back in ’86. As a result, we had to catch up with him ahead of its release for a chat, to find out about his past, his present, and his tips for the kids.

CUN: What converted you from Drum n Bass to Ghetto Funk?

Father Funk: Well I still listen to a fair bit of Drum & Bass, so I’m not quite fully converted, but Ghetto Funk is just a much more fun vibe, a bit more anything goes and a lot of fun to produce, as it allows me to incorporate a lot of my musical influences.

CUN: Where was your first gig?

Father Funk: My first DJ set was my one and only Drum & Bass set at a club called “Hidden Fun Klub” near my hometown of Windermere, which closed shortly after I played due to noise complaints. The first Father Funk set was at Bootleggers in Kendal, something was wrong with the turntables, so I ended up having to transfer all my music onto a memory stick and play my set on someone’s Traktor controller (Traktor being a program I had never used before that point). Nevertheless I had a wicked time and quickly developed a taste for rocking dance floors with the funk!

CUN: As a proud owner of some serious facial hair, do you find ladies getting weak at the knees?

Father Funk: Haha it’s all about the burns bro.

CUN: Surely you mean thigh ticklers

Father Funk: Hahaha...

CUN: What’s the biggest Funk Refix of 2014 so far?

Father Funk: I can’t get enough of “Dirty” by Jayl Funk at the moment, wicked tune!

CUN: What’s your favourite flavour of jam?

Father Funk: Strawberry!

CUN: Any tips for the next generation of bootlegging, booty popping beat makers?

Father Funk: Have fun! The main thing is to enjoy what you’re doing, and it’ll come across in the music. And if you enjoy the music you’re sampling, it won’t take you long to track down some sample gold and turn it into a dance floor banger!


Make sure to check out some of Father Funk’s upcoming gigs, to hear for yourself what all the fuss is about, and keep your ears peeled for some funk therapy coming soon!

21st March - Unity Sessions @ The Attic - Carlisle

27th March - Big Swing Face @ Brudenell Social Club - Leeds

28th March - Bosh 2nd Birthday with Stickybuds @ The Mill - Bradford

29th march - Ghetto Funk EP release - Lancaster

11th April - Trainer Trouble @ New Bradford Playhouse - Bradford

3rd May - Moodswings @ Beaverworks - Leeds

24-25th May - Ghetto Funk Nightclub @ Shindig Weekender - near Bath

12-15th June - Eden Festival - Galloway

1st-3rd August - Kendal Calling Festival - Cumbria

http://soundcloud.com/officialstylus/

http://soundcloud.com/officialethereal

https://soundcloud.com/father-funk 


 

Up Close and Personal: Commodo

comodo

 

Insofar as there is a dubstep scene right now, Commodo is the man who’s at the top of it. Only names such as Kahn, V.I.V.E.K, and Mala (when he actually releases things) are able to incite anywhere near as much excitement as a Commodo release, and for good reason.

Providing hungry fans with releases often enough so that there’s always something to anticipate or rinse the hell out of, but not so often that there’s any lack of quality control, Commodo’s loping beats and perfect intertwining of percussion and bass hits somehow manages to give listeners what they want, each and every time.

Following the release of F_ck Mountain / Good Grief on Hotline Recordings, the time seemed ripe for a quick chat with the man himself, about sampling, vinyl, and all that other music-related junk.


Hey man, who are you and what do you do?

I'm a 24 year old white male, and I make music under the name Commodo.

Presumably that came from the Komodo dragon?

Nah, that’s spelled ‘Komodo’ as far as I know.

Where did the name come from then?

I had made a bunch of tunes when I was about 17, and wanted to put them online, which meant having to think of a name. I ended up writing out my first name and rearranging the letters—swapping a couple—until it looked right. I think it also means 'comfortable' in some romance languages.

Would you say that rearrangement is a big part of the way you work generally? I know you include a fair number of obscure samples in your music. . .

Sampling is more than half of my work I would say, not always necessarily in the classic hip-hop sense of taking a big chunk of a song, but a few of my tunes are made from entirely sampled material yeah.

DJ Shadow style. . . fancy giving us any hints as to which tunes?

Not exactly Shadow style. I know he has a penchant for leaving the samples raw and untouched, which is cool, but I usually prefer to do a lot of processing and hide them a bit more. And tune hints: no.

Haha fair enough, so what's your favourite method for sourcing samples? Are you a crate digger or. . .

Sampling from vinyl is by far my favourite way of doing it yeah, but it usually happens from me buying obscure stuff in second hand shops and charity shops. I rarely know what it is I’m buying.

. . . until you put it on the platter?

Yeah, then I literally play the whole thing while recording it. I have sat through some seriously awful albums. . .

You recently released Fuck Mountain / Good Grief as vinyl only as well. Where would you say you stand on the ‘CDJ vs. Vinyl’—‘Analogue vs. Digital’ debate?

Well, like a lot of people say, it doesn't really feel like a bona fide release without it being on vinyl, and I support labels like Hotline's choice to release music only on wax. But when it comes to DJing, I made the switch to digital pretty much before I even started. I favour the reliability of CDs over the enjoyment of playing records.

Realistically though, does vinyl have a future when most DJs are switching over to CDJs for similar reasons?

It felt like there was a big switch a few years ago but physical record sales seem better to me than they were at that time, though buying vinyl is becoming increasingly expensive too. There’s still money in this shit as long as you release good music.

Speaking of releasing good music, do you have any plans for an album any time soon?

I don't actually, maybe something a little longer than normal, but not an “album”. I am really enjoying just putting out singles right now if I'm honest.

Have you got any releases lined up for the coming months? Maybe some more collabs with Lurka?

I have a few releases planned, no solid dates yet though. I do wanna do some more stuff with Lurka —he's super easy to work with. He's exploring different tempos right now, which is definitely cool with me.

What is about releasing singles that appeals to you?

I like the simplicity of singles; it just feels like the best format for the music I make.

So you think your music is simple?

Yeah I'd like to think my music is fairly simple. For a while, when dubstep was at its peak, I was in a kind of awkward place: not hard enough for a lot of people, and not 'out there' enough for others. But now stuff isn't as closed off as it was, and a beat is a beat most of the time. 'Beat' is a word I find myself using a lot. I'm just trying to make beats, which I think shouldn't be too complicated.

Do you think dubstep has become more pretentious?

There was a large amount of people that were making one particular style not so long ago that people began referring to as 'dungeon'. That shit was just brostep 2.0 to me, and some of said producers have moved onto other things (thank god). But there definitely seems to be a snootiness about it for sure; I think I even just showed that myself.

Is there a clear dubstep scene right now?

There are a few different groups of people who are friends, but no real scene, which is good I think. You can see nights now with more varied line ups, because dubstep isn't as clear-cut as it was.

Which nights are you thinking of specifically?

Now that you ask I can’t actually think, but I know that I play some nights with a more traditional dubstep line-up, and others with all sorts.

And you prefer the more varied ones?

Not always, but yeah it’s definitely nice to be playing different stuff to other people.

How do you feel about grime's recent resurgence? Have you ever been tempted to try some of that out yourself?

Grime was the first music I ever made, so I'm kind of into it. But, like with any trend, people are bound to jump on it and it will become boring quickly. I’ve never been tempted to make retrospective 'classic' grime style stuff, but it has had an influence on some of the stuff I've made for sure.

How conscious is it, and how much of an effort is it, to steer clear of trends and focus on your distinct musical personality?

I think it’s important not to think too much, quite often I won’t be trying to do something in particular, but sometimes I'll have something in my head already and do my best to make it happen. But it's never really related to wanting to follow a trend.

How possible is it to fully remove yourself from wider currents, to produce music in your own unique bubble?

It'd be kinda tricky. I do try not to pay too much attention to what others are doing. The number of other producers I regularly talk to is pretty small, and we know what each other are doing, but outside of that I'm not really paying so much attention to what’s going on.

Do you still get dubplates from that small group of producers?

Yeah, we share our music with one another.

But again, digitally rather than via vinyl?

Well yeah, I don’t cut dubplates. I get sent vinyl from labels very occasionally.

I think that pretty much wraps it up, but first, tell us 3 things on your bucketlist.

Christ, I’m not sure if I have one. It’s probably very dull if I do.

Ok, top 3 dream collaborations then—we need some soundbites over here, goddammit!.

Ok I can do that. Dream collabs: DOOM, Roy Ayers, and. . . actually, I’m a huge fan of Jessie Ware.

All fair shouts. Any final pearls of wisdom?

I’m really not all that wise, so this is a struggle for me.

So talented, so humble.

Hahaha.

 

  • Written by Adam Chester
  • Category: Interviews
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Hip-Hop Un-rapped #2: Matter

matter

Matter has been at the forefront of the Leeds hip-hop scene for years and many will know him from his amazing battle rap performances for Don’t Flop. However, he’s certainly not a one trick pony and as one of the front men for Verbal Contact, numerous collaborations with the phenomenal Defenders of Style, and an astonishing 15-track solo album it’s clear that his quick wit, undeniable flow and hard-hitting humorous lyricism show no boundaries. As an absolute cornerstone to hip-hop in Leeds, we thought we had to get his take on some of his influences, thoughts about music, and what’s up his sleeve for 2014.

How did your love and passion for hip-hop first manifest itself?

Probably I’d have to say through The Wu Tang Clan. I reckon a lot of people would come up with that exact same answer but when I first heard that raw energy and fucking crazy passion along with the whole big family syndicate thing they had going on, it was inspiring. You just listen to it and it makes you want to dance around your bedroom and smash your head into a wall. I’d never really heard anything like it before and then I just started uncovering things that had happened before, and then all the new shit that came out, but the Wu Tang Clan was where it all started.

At what point in your career did Verbal Contact first form?

I can’t think of an exact year, it’s probably something like 2007 and that was basically ‘cos we formed this Leeds supergroup called Northern Hostility. Northern Hostility was Defenders of Style, myself, Alphabetics and then a few other guys like Dialect, who’s doing proper well at the moment, and a load of guys from Tha Office as well. From that, me and Prys from Defenders of Style just made a couple of tracks with Sonar Cousin who did a lot of the beats for Northern Hostility. We didn’t really have any plans in mind; we just thought they were sick. We just thought, you know what we might as well come out with a little EP, just a side project and then we liked how it was going, so made an album and it pretty much happened from there.

What do you think are the defining features of the style of hip-hop that is produced in Yorkshire?

That’s a good question; I think pride of where we come from because there’s not one particular sound that’s coming out of Yorkshire. You have got a few people that are taking heavily from the influence of early 90s hip-hop, and then you have got a few people that are moving more with the type of stuff that is coming out now, like the trap influenced stuff. I like to mix it up between the both of them, but I’d say if there is one defining characteristic that tied it all together, it’s just not taking yourself too seriously, that’s one, and just fierce local pride. I’d say those are the two things that run through all the music, even the stylistic differences aside, those are the two that properly run through it. Not taking yourself too seriously and being proud of where you’re from.

From Ray Charles to People Under the Stairs to Verbal Contact, too many artists to name have created music with everyone’s favourite herb in mind. Why do you think it is so often the theme of songs?

Hip-hop and weed just go together. I know there has been a lot of tracks about weed, I mean Cypress Hill based a whole career around it, but it’s just a part of my life. I could just not do tracks because other people have rapped about, it or I could just talk about the things that are a big part of my life, and that’s one of them. Also it's something that people can relate to. Me and weed have had a long running relationship so there’s no point trying to not do things because other people have done it, for example what if you said to a boy band, you doing another track about love? It’s just a part of the culture and I fucking love weed I’m not going to lie, I’m not going to skip the topic.

Have you got any advice for anyone wanting to start getting into the hip-hop scene?

Just fucking try it, just do something different, do something that is true to yourself. If you are going to do a certain style, put your own spin on it, make it your own so as soon someone hears one of your tracks or remixes, they know it’s you. You obviously have to take influence from the greats throughout history, but don’t just rip them. Just make sure that whatever you’re doing is true to you. UK artists have tried to break the US by emulating their style and it’s not worked, but then there’s people like Dizzee Rascal who sounds British as fuck and they have smashed it. Americans don’t want to hear somebody that is just biting their style, they want to hear something they have not heard before that sounds like where your from or who you are. Just find some way of expressing yourself that is unique to you.

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How do you think the Internet has affected your musical style and production style?

The Internet has just changed every single aspect of the music game. It’s obviously affected me, it’s just allowed me to listen to so many more artists and so many more new types of music that are coming out at the moment. You’re just open to a massive range of music. All the music of the world is at your fingertips and I’m hearing a lot more stuff that is inspiring me and making me think about the way I produce music. It makes me want to do things a little bit differently, and add my own twist to things. People no longer have long attention spans, everyone just gets bored after about 5 seconds and their minds wander off. That’s one of the bad things but it’s changed the music game more than anyone could ever have imagined, in both good and bad ways

So you seem to have your fingers in many different pies, what projects are you planning for this year?

2014 is the year myself and some friends from the Leeds music scene put together The Guilty Party collective, which we will use to release music, put on club nights and put out videos, all with the aim of promoting artists from Leeds that otherwise may not get the coverage they deserve. This will probably make me take a back seat with the rapping and I’m fine with that. I’ll put out the occasional track or battle but most of my attention will be put into The Guilty Party Collective.

To listen to Matter’s various projects and performances visit

http://verbalcontact.bandcamp.com

http://mistermatter.bandcamp.com/album/the-stitch-up