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Craig Scott’s Lobotomy (2)

MU CraigScottLobotomy

There’s a strong vein of experimentalism in Leeds; that subterranean buzz and rumble that keeps the whole city ticking over. An ever present atomic clock counting down the days until jazz, electronica and all its cohorts break through the pavement and overwhelm the continually unsuspecting public. I can imagine their agonised faces now.

We find such potential force in Craig Scott. A ball of yarn would indeed be handy as I step into the maze that is his newest album ‘War Is A Racket’ . The comfort of my own home is not sufficient for the onslaught of this record, and I half expect to be transported to some form of tea party or to a Las Vegas hotel bar amongst a choir of reptiles. The best expression I can muster is a frown: “What the hell is going on?” It’s a beautifully constructed world of surrealism, fraught with twists and turns, and while the Indiegogo biopic video does nothing to calm my nerves, it does further focus the listener on the goals of the composer. To delve a bit deeper, I asked Craig a few questions about his quest so far.

Champion Up North: I’ve seen Shatner’s Bassoon at least twice in my time. I found the experience mind bending. To the uninitiated, how would your album fare in comparison, both compositionally and in terms of orchestration? What should we expect?

Craig: The album features quite a lot of Ollie Dover (saxophones/bass clarinet), Johnny Richards (piano/synth) & Mick Bardon (double bass) from Shatner's Bassoon. As the album is a studio album and everything is composed after recording, the process is very different - the range of instruments is wider and there's much more focus on post-recording manipulations/processing. Hopefully the experience is equally as mind bending, but possibly easier to have sex to.

CUN: Many don’t accept experimental music into their taste. Would you agree that it takes some degree of effort to enjoy, and to that end, a greater knowledge of music? Or would you say it’s something that just clicks for people? How did you find your way into it?

Craig: I'm not sure about it taking effort to appreciate - it all just depends on your previous experience with music, and the way it molds your perception of new music. I grew up on a lot of Zappa and Henry Cow, and I’ve never owned a Beatles record, so I suppose I might have a slightly skewed perception on what is considered 'the norm'. There should be something there for most people to hang onto.

CUN: The whole marketing campaign has a bizarre bent to it, especially the physical brains. Do you intend on doing something similar with future releases?

Craig: I haven't really thought that far ahead yet (although it did cross my mind to release every album as a different coloured brain - as a sort of strange homage to all the Henry Cow records being pictures of different coloured socks). I needed a way to promote the album, seeing as for now it is just a recorded project, but there is no live band to promote it. I thought some sort of physical release was necessary, as I’ve self released things as digital downloads many times before, and it’s hard for it not just to blend into the sea of other mp3s on the Internet.

It seems even the major labels can only sell music as a by-product of the creation idols and cults, so I decided to cut to the chase and create my own church. It seems to function in more or less the same fashion. And like any good cult, as part of the crowd funding for the record you can buy your way up to the top.

There is also an option (Pledge Level) entitled 'The Philanthropist Guilt Relief Aid Bundle' designed to give a sound night’s sleep to people who carry the burden of having been born into money, or act as a public diversion from other risqué activities they may be involved in. And of course there is the obligatory music crowd funding ‘come round to my house and eat dinner with me’ incentive entitled 'The Perverse Stalker Bundle'. At the end of the day the music is what matters and the rest is all propaganda (bullshit), and only serves to lead people to the record.

CUN: So far, everything has an air of Trout Mask Replica to it; sounding like you’ve locked away and starved a whole bunch of people (no sadism implied). Did the album fall out of your head or was it a more difficult process to get everything as you wanted it?

Craig: I’ve only starved myself. The ideas fell out of the head but realising them effectively was not so much difficult, but time very consuming.

CUN: From what I’ve heard so far, I think of Autechre and Beefheart being in the same room swapping notes. How much has older experimentalism influenced the album versus the ‘new wave’ of contemporary artists?

Craig: I'm a massive Beefheart fan but I’ve never got into Autechre - I always found it too clean and square. Because all the audio is taken from live recordings of acoustic and electronic instruments, manipulated with various crudely home-made sound altering paraphernalia, and reconstructed and treated/processed in a similar fashion to the material on a Aphex Twin or Autechre record, but without sequencers (all of the audio files are placed by hand/mouse in the grid), the result is something that resembles something both human (natural) and mechanical (unnatural). It’s the blurred line between the two that interests me - similar to the 'uncanny valley' concept - the reason why the latest Japanese sex robots are so terrifying.

CUN: Three years is a long time. Have you found, looking back, that your earlier recordings and sessions for the album are much different to the more recent? Can you look at this work as a retrospective and chart your growth and diversification?

Craig: Yes, it is a long time...

Open ended then...

There’s a full on commitment to his craft evident in what Craig tells me. Part of me wonders if a casting off of a Ziggy Stardust character would be the next move, while another part wonders if he intends to explore similar things even further. Either way, ‘War Is A Racket’ will stand as a pillar of integrity against an endless tide of self-regurgitating culture machines. I recall reading Matt Groening saying he hated Trout Mask Replica the first time he heard it but then, three or four listens later, he got it. Perhaps that is what it will take for some people with this record. I don’t think it’s meant to be comfortable. I don’t think it’ll be an easy ride, but whatever sense you get at the end of listening will certainly include a sense of achievement. This record will be a benchmark for 2014’s experimental releases, and offers great hope to those wishing to embark on a similar journey. It can be done as long as you start doing it. So go home, crack out Beefheart, recover, buy this album, take the week off, and start viewing the world through some pretty weird lenses.

If you are so inclined, and you should be, please donate to Craig’s efforts here: http://igg.me/p/652304


Up Close & Personal: SubLIMINAL gets inside your head

If you’re looking to go out and hear some hip-hop in Leeds, your options are limited. Of course there’s Gin & Juice, and Moschino Hoe, but they’re fairly easy for the hip-hop purists to turn their noses up at. If you were being harsh, you could argue that their playlist is pretty much the same as Halo’s, but slimmed down to only the hip-hop and R&B songs.

If you’re looking for genuine boom bap hip-hop and its preceding genres (Funk, Soul, . . .), forget about it. As far as I know, subLIMINAL is the only night in Leeds to focus on the roots alongside real underground hip-hop, as well as being the only night in its class to focus on live acts rather than resident DJs.

We had a chat with them about hip-hop (obviously), the Leeds scene, and their plans for world domination.

Who’s involved with subLIMINAL? How did it start?

We (Jack Bradbury and Harry Wright) are the founders. There is also a core group of musicians who play the event regularly, known as ‘The subLIMINAL Collective’, and that currently exceeds 60 members.

We started after realising that we knew a lot of musicians who enjoyed playing live Hip Hop, Neo-Soul and Electronica, however there were very few opportunities to play those styles to an audience – we sent a proposal to Norman Bar, Leeds and we’ve been going ever since.

How long have you been going? Can you describe the night for us?

We have been putting on our bimonthly live Hip-Hop/Neo-Soul/Electronic event at Norman Bar for almost 18 months. The night is essentially a jam night, however instead of hearing the usual rock and roll and blues that you might associate with those sorts of events, it will instead involve everything from J Dilla to Machinedrum.

You’re just starting a monthly residency with HiFi. How did that come about?

We’ve been a fan of HiFi for a few years now and after trialling a large-scale subLIMINAL event in 2013, we decided to contact the club to try and do something similar on a scheduled basis – so now every last Monday of the month subLIMINAL will be taking over The HIFI Club!

Why did you decide to have the Task Force album launch to kick things off at Hi-Fi?

What better way to kick off our new residency than a performance from UK Hip Hop legends Task Force?!

Will you be focusing exclusively on HiFi?

We will also be continuing running events at Norman Bar in Leeds every other Tuesday.

Are you focusing mainly on UK hip-hop, or are you happy to book artists from further afield?

Our main focus has generally been promoting the works of UK based Hip-Hop, as we like the organic atmosphere that comes with local, home-grown acts. We don’t however have a strict rule against booking international artists – for example last year we brought in Koncept & J-57 from the Brown Bag AllStars, who originate from New York – and that went down fantastically well. And we did have a lot of local talent on show that same night, so there was still a local element to the event. We’re definitely looking at doing something similar again.

What can you offer to the Leeds music scene that others can’t?

We feel we provide a fresh outlook to the Hip Hop scene, and we pride ourselves on bringing Hip-Hop in as live a form as possible. We don’t know of anywhere else creating such emphasis on the jazz and soul roots of Hip-Hop, which we feel creates a much greater ambience, and makes for a much more entertaining night.

How do you currently see the Leeds hip-hop scene? Is it healthy or in need of help?

We don’t view the current climate for Hip Hop in Leeds as unhealthy, as there has always been great demand for it in West Yorkshire. What spurred us to create the subLIMINAL concept though, was the fact that the scene needed a new direction. We want to be at the heart of taking Hip-Hop in Leeds to a new level, with the hope that the rest of the UK will follow suit.

What’s been your favourite or proudest moment?

It’s hard to mark one particular moment in our journey so far, however perhaps on what was our third ever event, where the venue (Norman Bar at the time) was completely packed out with the most incredible atmosphere. This is when we really knew we were on to something special and knew we could make things work.

What does the future hold for you? I noticed you were recently hiring for several roles, what are your long-term goals for the night?

We have a lot in pipeline. First up is obviously establishing our new residency at the Hi-Fi club, while still keeping the interest at our fortnightly at Norman’s. We want to develop the brand as much as possible this year, hence the recruitment process. As excited as we are, we can’t reveal too much about the future just yet, however we will be looking to branch out soon and set up more subLIMINAL events further afield.

We can tell you to look out for the launch of our sister project ‘The subLIMINAL Lab Works’ in the close future, which will be an online video series – showcasing live performances chosen specifically to fit the subLIMINAL bill.


Harry Wright (left) and Jack Bradbury (right).

Upcoming events for SubLIMINAL:

Tuesday 18th March - Norman Bar
FREE ENTRY //// View this event on Facebook

Monday 31st March - The Hifi Club
£4adv/£5otd //// View this event on Facebook

Like SubLIMINAL on Facebook for news and event updates.


  • Written by Adam Chester
  • Category: Interviews
  • Hits: 2143

Hip Hop Un-rapped #1: BVA


Whether he’s soaring with The Four Owls or doing huge collabs with Vinnie Paz  and the hip-hop god KRS-ONE in his other project (Brothers of the Stone), BVA has certainly carved out a name for himself. However, since BVA MC EP  dropped in 2011, everyone has been waiting for his next solo project. On the 17th of February the wait is over, and judging by ‘This Love is Love,’ the first track released off the forthcoming album Be Very Aware, we are in for a treat. I caught up with the Beeva and asked him a few questions about the album and his thoughts and feelings on hip-hop.

For a long time people were saying that ‘hip-hop is dead’, but we know that isn’t the case in the UK. What do you think it is that makes UK hip-hop special?

I think UK hip-hop is special because it never dies! And, for the most part, it doesn't have much of a commercial influence over it; people just doing what they wanna do ‘coz they wanna do it. No one really gets into it with the dream of blowing up overnight or nothing, and with so many different accents and cultures in the UK, there’s a real variety of sounds and styles. It's a real good time for UK music in general!

Tell me a bit how you get your bars from your head to the page to the final master.

I mean bars can come from anywhere, any time. I've written a lot of bars on buses, coaches, and trains ‘coz if you've got beats playing then there's no distractions and I can zone out nicely. But it always starts with a beat that I'm feeling. Then, whatever the mood or colour of the beat, I'll start writing something that fits with that - sometimes happy, sometimes dark. Or I’ll just start with an idea for a track, then I've got to find a beat that matches the mood or style of the idea.I bought a mic maybe 3 or 4 years ago. Since then, me and Leaf will just lay down anything we write as we write it sort of thing, with a ruff mix on it, then we either re-record it in a studio or just get it mastered. Massive shout to Naïve though (the third Amigo). He probably recorded hundreds of songs for me and Leaf, and mixed and mastered them, going back to the first track we ever recorded!

You have been a part of Brothers of the Stone The Three Amigos  and obviously The Four Owls . Is it nice to do a solo project now? Have you found the writing process different?

Yeah, it feels good. I dropped a little solo EP in Feb 2011 - 'BVA MC EP' - which is around the time I started writing the album I'd say, or definitely when I started taking it seriously, and I've been working on that in the background while making Brothers of the Stone and Nature’s Greatest Mystery. The writing process is obviously similar. It’s sick making tracks with the Owls and with The Three Amigos/Brothers of the Stone - that's me and Leaf making tracks with Naïve (now Ill Informed ) – and that's how this all started and always continues! But sometimes you’re just saying something that needs a whole track, or it isn't a subject that would suit having someone else on it, so it’s definitely a more personal selection of tracks I'd say.


Is there a concept that runs through the album? What can we expect?

Not so much a concept, but more a journey going from being aware to not being very aware at all, back to being aware again before it finishes (tying it in with the name Be Very Aware), and I’ve also got a narrative of a happy-turned-angry-turned-killer beaver (the animal) running through it, keeping the tradition going from my EP.

Your first single ‘This Love is Love; from the new album has already received a great reception with over 5000 views in 24 hours. What do you think are the main components that make up a great hip-hop track?

I mean when I heard that beat I was like “I'm having this shit” but I'm fucking blown away by the response for the video standardly!As for a great hip-hop track... in my opinion, haha: heavy beat, deep (or at least well thought out) lyrics that flow well, and style/the funk, which you have to find not learn!

The age-old question: what are your influences? That could be difficult to pin down, so I’ll narrow it down to ‘what are your influences outside of hip hop’?

Life and everything that comes attached - the good and the bad. I mean, life is always influencing everyone, but most of the time I let life influence my music and just see what comes out and thankfully, it’s usually positive. But sometimes life's shit or takes a shit on you, for sure. Then I could just sit there writing the same depressing shit for weeks ‘coz the influence and inspiration is there, but people just don’t wanna hear that, and it ain’t good for the mind either. You have to forget about that shit and not let it influence your music - get creative or positive even if your life ain’t reflecting it at that point. But, I'm still learning.

What’s on your agenda for 2014?

Besides my album, and making new shit with the people you mentioned before, and doing shows, . . . RLD Records! (Real Life Drama). Me and Leaf always released our Three Amigos material under this name, and it’s the name of my solo EP, but now we're using it to bring through some new rappers and keep the cycle going! We've got two full LP's fully produced by Leaf-dog ready to go, from Smellington Piff and Jack Jetson , and we’ve got some material from Cracker Jon, with other artists coming soon. We're just ironing out the creases at the moment, but we should be hitting the world with promo, videos, and products real soon. We brought out the ‘Smellington Piff EP’ last summer, and Jack Jetson featured on the Brothers of the Stone track rldrecords.co.uk  and an RLD Records Youtube Channel for videos, updates, clothing, and downloads. UK all day!

Thanks again to BVA for answering our questions. Pre-order his EP now;


Limited edition vinyl



  • Category: Interviews
  • Hits: 1617

Up Close and Personal: An Interview with MisDigest


Bloggers are an underappreciated part of any music scene, though they are a key part of a scene’s structure, especially as physical structures like record stores decrease in importance. Most bloggers are united by the fact that they’re keen music fans, and there’s arguably something more organic about blogging compared with other aspects of the music business, blogs being somewhat removed from the moneymaking drama that comes with running a club night or actually being a musician. MisDigest is a significant blog for Leeds, regularly putting out content and exclusive mixes via their website and Facebook page. We caught up with the blog’s founder Misbah to chat about MisDigest, and some of his other projects.


Esgar 48 Minute Mix For MisDigest by Misdigest. on Mixcloud


Why did you start MisDigest?

I started MisDigest in December 2011, when I was still in first year here at uni. It stemmed from the fact that I was in halls at the time and I was having a period of extreme musical discovery. Thanks mostly to the vast array of club nights here in Leeds, I was spending most of my time looking up new artists and styles of music that previously I hadn’t really explored. There were a couple of artists which, for me, were just pushing the boundaries and drawing me in, especially within dubstep - names like Joker come to mind - but I’d say the moment which really tipped it was a trip to SubDub.

It was the first time I’d properly seen Digital Mystikz and, to be honest, if there was any doubt in my mind up until that point, I pretty much put it out of my head and committed myself to learning as much as I could. A week later, my grandfather (who had been in hospital) died, and I started the blog with a post in memoriam to his life. Maggot Brain by Funkadelic was the first song I posted.

Could you tell us about the different branches of the blog?

The main blog section has been run mostly through Facebook over the past year or so, as we struggled to get a website up and running. The main focus has always been to use our platform as a way to give exposure, not only to the many talented musicians here in Leeds, but also to anyone who otherwise would have remained unheard and unseen.

The first expansion of this was the club night. We aimed to use the night as a way to showcase the artists we love to listen to, who may not command the same fee as some of their peers but are just as (if not better) equipped to make a dance erupt. In total, since the first event, we have put on seven more (not including booking artists for Summer Saturnalia festival, which was unfortunately cancelled!). I’d say more than anything, this is what we have spent our time working on over the past year.

We have also focused on building up relationships with the promoters and musicians that make the Leeds scene revolve. Now, coming into our third year, and with a website up and running, the focus has shifted away from events per se. We aim to expand the blog on all fronts. We are looking to begin releasing music, we want to produce a weekly podcast, and, now that we have a team of writers, we are looking at far more consistent content. What we are trying to build with these different branches is a sense of community, so that as we grow, we do so with all the people we work with. We currently manage the press for Groove Chronicles, and over the course of the year we hope to start pushing our own roster of artists, supporting them and their music.

What niche has running a blog allowed you to carve out in the Leeds music scene? Why run a blog over a clubnight, for example?

Running a blog is a pretty interesting one for me, because we’ve never really tried to stick to one particular style of music. There used to be a few of us that ran it, which meant that we were all coming from different musical backgrounds, so what we put out in terms of artists for club nights and people we got mixes from varied in that respect.

It’s pretty difficult to say exactly what niche we’ve carved out here in Leeds, but I feel like what we are trying to do is bring the community aspect back into music. Obviously people work together here in Leeds, but sometimes I feel like the battle lines are drawn out and people can be very against crossing over and really collaborating. It’s nice running a blog instead of simply a club night because we are able to give some context to all the people who are playing and producing in and around Leeds, as the truth is most people simply don’t have the time [to discover that context by themselves].

Why have you chosen the artists you have for your mix series? Big assumptions here, but how do you deal with the delays in delivering the mixes?

mis digest

The Mix series is very open, so we have always just tried to get mixes from people and artists we are working with and respect. You could say it’s slightly selfish, but we just want to get involved and see what people come up with. As we are still small, we will send off a whole load of proposals and get maybe a couple of answers back. The problem with the mix series – and this kind of echoes over the rest of MisDigest – is time management, both on our part and for the artists we deal with. Sometimes we’ll get a mix but they won’t send back any interview answers for ages, or sometimes they just take ages to record it. It’s a common misconception that all producers have working turntables/CDJs, so it’s about working around these delays. We are always looking for new people to speak with and interview, so it’s more a matter of volume I guess. But hey, we’ve had some killers so far and we have way more coming!  

You ran the MisDigest first birthday event back in October, why did you choose Tumble Audio, Fullfat, and Swing Ting crews for the night?

For the birthday, we knew that we wanted Murlo. We had tried to book him for the ill-fated Summer Saturnalia festival, but when that fell through, we looked towards the next event we’d do. In terms of his production and the originality which he brings to his music, it was a pretty simple choice for us. After that it was a question of getting artists which complemented his style. This is where we got the idea of having three crews representing on the night. The Swing Ting crew from Manchester do a lot of work with him, and their events in Manchester have got the vibe down to a T, so we were really excited to have them do a big back-to-back, as this is something which doesn’t really happen as much here in Leeds.

The Fullfat guys have been doing events here for the last three years or so and we really love what they are all about, so we were really excited to work with them. Lyka co-runs Tumble Audio who are based in Nottingham and he is also one of our residents. Their parties in Nottingham go off pretty much every time, and we dig the sounds they are pushing as a label, so we loved the idea of getting them up to make it a ménage à trois!

MisDigest 1st Birthday from MisDigest on Vimeo

Do you have any other MisDigest nights lined up? 

We’ve got couple of things in mind for the coming months, including a house party, and we might have a little something on the cards for early March, but as it stands we are keeping it under wraps. All I can say at the moment though is...


You recently started Lo-Fi as well. What’s its concept?


Lo-Fi is a joint project between MisDigest and Worse, a French producer who has now moved to Leeds. The concept is all about getting one artist who we love to come down and play an extended set, allowing them to play tunes that an hour-long set would traditionally limit. We want to try and show a different aspect of dance music in each night.

Why have you decided to start off each night with a Q&A with the artist?

The 90’s came and went, and they arguably shape everything about the music we hear, not only in clubs but also in the mainstream. It would be silly to say that this period went without any documentation, but unless you were there or know someone who was, it’s a bit of a black hole. We do the Q&A with the artists beforehand in order to gain an insight into their opinions about the music they are involved with, about their roots, and to try and get a bit of context, which is something I feel has gone out of clubbing; people just go out and don’t even really care what they are listening to. We want to build up an archive of information about the clubbing and dance music of our time!

Tell us about your recent 12 Months compilation for the blog?

The 12 Months Compilation was a really fun project. I lived in Leeds over last summer and was chilling quite a lot with producers from around the Leeds area. Just sitting with them, hearing their music, made me want to get it out, so that was pretty much it. The concept came from the fact that I wanted the focus not to be on the styles within house, dubstep, etc., but more on the pieces themselves as a cohesive reflection of the sounds of Leeds, January to December. The response it got was really overwhelming and work has now started on Part 2, which is going to be a worldwide compilation, so we can get a good comparison with music makers operating under the radar on an even larger scale. We’ve also got 2 EPs from guys here in Leeds so far. So expect to see them around and about!

Has it ever been difficult to balance different aspects of what you do? Is it just you running the whole show?

I’m now into my 2nd year of my second degree, so that’s a bit of an idea of where I’m at. The last two years, it has been difficult to balance Uni with all the aspects of MisDigest and beyond. Luckily, since very early on, I’ve always tried to work with people around me with similar musical interests and with a thirst to actually make a difference. Last year, there was a strong core group of four of us working on MisDigest. Although it may seem slightly stunted, the progress we made last year was huge - the jump from being a small blog mostly shared between friends, to a still small (but not so small) blog, has been something to deal with, but I guess that just part of life isn’t it? You just have to keep on working hard.

What's been your favourite or most proud moment in running MisDigest?

It’s close… either at the very end of the very first MisDigest night with Compa. As he came towards the end of his set, the crowd started chanting, and considering the stress that went into planning it, I couldn’t help but be really chuffed. Or it might be the Circles party we organised last year in the Leeds Cage (an MMA boxing Gym) along with the other promoters we were working with. No one believed that it was going to work, or that anyone would come, but in the end we sold the entire thing out! Definitely the most successful thing I’ve ever had a hand in organising. Shout-out to Quinston from The Gravel Pit on that one; a key part of the puzzle!

What advice would you give to aspiring bloggers? 

Work, work, and then when you feel like there is just too much, work some more. And then have some fun. Stick with it, even when it seems like the world is conspiring against you, because the little bits of recognition are what it’s all about. If you can change one person’s opinion then you are OK.

Any other new projects coming up? 

Misbah: The MisDigestion Podcast will continue this year after a Christmas hiatus, along with more music and interesting content!

CUN: Any last words?

Misbah: Shout out to Leah, Joe & Charlie for all the work they put in over 2013 and continue to do so, and out to all the artists, promoters, and all the other people behind the scenes we have worked with since we have started, because they are the guys who really make everything go round!




  • Written by Adam Chester
  • Category: Interviews
  • Hits: 1504

Defenders of Style

joe snow

Defenders of Style embody this movement and instead of clichéd lyrics focused around gangster lifestyles, money, and objectifying women, they provide gritty and insightful tales from their own experiences - not those deemed profitable by the large consumer orientated market.

How did your relationship with hip-hop start?

Joe Snow: One of my cousins got me KRS One’s Self Titled and that definitely put me on the hip-hop path, and then a bit further down the line I started getting into the British side of hip-hop.

Prys: Yeah, like The Sagas Of… by Klashnekoff came out, and I heard that track ‘Night Breed’ by Klashnekoff, Jehst and Kyza, and that was one of the first times I had heard Jehst. I was just blown away by it; that was the moment I realised that you didn’t have to be American to sound decent rapping.

Outside of hip-hop are there any other genres close to your heart?

P: We take inspiration from every genre of music. Like, I’ll go round and Danz is sampling Arabic folk or some weird music. Hes just got a really open mind to everything; the only thing we don’t like is mainstream bullshit to be fair.

So tell me how Defenders of Style met and started producing music together.

P: We all met at a Boyzone concert!

J: Nah, when we were teenagers we just knocked about the same places and were forming crews through graffiti. Then a few of us were starting ciphers; some were more serious than others, and that just became the main basis for what Defenders of Style became.

P: Yeah, we would just go round each others’ houses and, just, set up the decks, spit flows, and record ourselves - just always trying to make it the best we could. We would record it onto cassette tapes and someone one day got hold of one of the tapes and said “you know, you’re pretty sick; you should make an album’. When we started kicking about with Matter we really started to take things seriously. He was connecting all the crews in the area that had talent – well, most had talent – and he gave us a kick up the arse to start performing.

How do you think the hip-hop scene in Leeds compares to elsewhere in the country?

J: I reckon it’s a lot more helpful - everyone wants to help each other and share each others’ tunes with promoters. Down south you have your crew and that’s that, whereas up here we collaborate with everyone in the scene.

P: Yeah, instead of competing with everyone you’re working with them, and it means you get more exposure. People like Dialect, Matter, and Lunar C are killing it and when they get exposure, because the scene is so inclusive it means we do as well.

Do you feel like coming from Leeds has influenced your style of rapping?

J: The one thing that often defines where you’re from is your accent. We can string a sentence together that if an American tried to say it, it wouldn’t sound right!

P: Yeah, obviously your environment influences what you rap about so our lyrics tell the story of where we have grown up and the experiences we’ve gained from living here.

Do you think that Defenders of Style have a particular sound?

J: Jack Danz has got a really specific style of production, and although individually we have got really different and varied flows, when you hear them all together you know that it’s Defenders of Style.

P: We are all quite contrasting, but at the same time it goes well together and that’s how you get the DS sound.

I know you guys have gone into schools and tried teaching kids some of the basics of hip-hop. How do you guys think UK hip-hop will change over the next few years with this new generation?

J: I think it’s quite scary at the moment because kids don’t have the same reference points as us. I got into hip-hop by listening to amazing artists like KRS, but they just don’t have that. They look at things like Don’t Flop and want to emulate who they see battling. And although that is hip-hop, a lot of the MC’s don’t even produce tracks, so you’re emulating someone who doesn’t even make tunes – that can’t be healthy for the scene.

P: I’m just waiting for the underground rap scene to become the mainstream in like ten years. I’ll just be hanging up the mic and it will all just blow up and everyone will buy all my music. But seriously though, if you think about it, ten years ago there wasn’t much rap in the charts but now 80% of mainstream music has a rapper on the track in some way.

J: Yeah, but there are people like Action Bronson and Joey Bada$$ that have blown up over the past year and they have just kept that raw boom-bap sound and haven’t fucked with it at all, and they’re touring all over and are minted. So I mean it could go either way.

So finally, tell me what’s on the horizon for Defenders of Style?

J: We have a lot. We've got a new project with Tha Office dropping on Christmas Day, and then we should have a new album out next year. We’re also in talks with a few agents, so we should be playing a lot more live shows around the UK and Europe.


To hear all of Defenders of Style’s music check out Bandcamp , or for upcoming gigs visit Facebook .


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