The West London producer chats about his introduction to hiphop, releases so far, equipment, styles, artists and forthcoming material.
Where in the UK are you from and what's the local hip-hop scene saying?
Right now I'm a West London local. Obviously you're never short of things to do or go check out if you can afford it in London. I've lived in several cities though. Derby, Manchester and Norwich, but life is busy so I rarely manage to check what's going on in any of those places, just what friends tell me.
What were the first hip-hop artists and records that got you hooked on the genre and culture?
The first Hip Hop record I physically bought was Lakim Shabazz, "Pure Righteousness", before that I'd been getting into BDP's Criminal Minded, and Public Enemy, and essentially through those records I just got totally absorbed by it, and have been ever since.
How long have you been making hip-hop and what are your key releases to date?
I started making music originally in 1991 ish. I was just using a Roland W30 sampling keyboard, and Cubase on a battered Mac. It did the job though, and from then I just caught the bug. But I only started being serious with music over the last 7 years, and I've had my mpc for the past 4.
My key releases would be everything that I've been lucky enough to have a part in, but from a strictly personal point of view my own releases, "Ghost Stories" and "Let Em Know", just cause I put a lot of hard work into it and it's been a struggle at times to get stuff done.
Are you particularly fond of any of the track's you've made so far or do you love them all equally?
Well in some ways I have my personal favourites, but that might just be because at the time I made them I was feeling a certain way, so it holds a memory or something like that for me. But they're all favourites really. It's a good feeling to know something you made is available for people to listen to and hopefully they can vibe off what I made and they can feel the same way I did when I made it. The music I've done for the album, I'm particularly happy with. It's a lot of things rolled from the last couple of years turned into an album for me musically and personally.
What was the first piece of equipment you used to produce and what stuff are you using these days?
I started on this Roland W30. It's a sampling sequencer, and to be honest I never even used the sequencing function. I had an old copy of Cubase and I just found that was easier to work with. This was back when there was no audio. It was all midi sequencing.
These days I use an Mpc 2000xl to construct the tracks, then I import the audio into Nuendo to mix on my PC. I also have a small 16 channel mixing desk, a compressor, my decks, and I have a whole bunch of software synths that I sample from too. It took me a long time to work out what the best set up was for me, and what I use now suits me better than anything else I've tried so far.
How do you rate all the software packages in comparison to hardware?
I think it's all down to personal taste, and that people need to work it out for themselves. When I was using just my computer I thought it was enough, then I switched to the mpc and didn't really use the PC, and now I use it all. I get out of each piece of equipment what I need from it. The only thing I would say is that the natural sound from the mpc is quite a nice warm sound, and I like that. I'm still learning about different techniques on the mpc and different things you can do, so I still have a lot to learn.
Is it possible for you to drop a general description of the type of production you tend to create?
No, the stuff that has been released is probably 5% of the actual music I've made. So people have yet to hear what else I have going on musically. It depends on many different things how the music sounds, my moods or whatever. How can I compare "Aliens Are Coming" on Kashmere's Technical Illness LP for Lowlife with "Exactly" remix from "Let Em Know" EP. The only thing I would say is that I think a lot of my music is quite layered and I try to make it musical, but even then I've got stuff which is the exact opposite of what I've just said! I don't like to be pigeon-holed.
What's the most overused production technique or style at the moment? Asian samples, hand claps or high pitched soul?
Personally the high pitched thing does get to me, but if that's someone's thing let them do it. Who am I to tell them they can't do what they want to do?
Which artists have been the most enjoyable to work with and who would you like to provide a beat for that you haven't already?
I'm lucky that I already work with some of my favourite emcee's. I enjoy working with Kashmere, Verb T, Asaviour cause they always come up with the goods, and we always have a laugh at the same time. I recently did a track with Abstract Rude from Project Blowed, Haiku D Tat and that was a good experience. He was very professional and vibed off the music. There's a couple of people I'd still like to work with though. UK and US artists. Aceyalone, Mikah 9, Nas, Ghostface, MF Doom, Jehst, Klashnekoff, Kyza, Mobb Deep, so there's a few. I'm sure there's a lot more. I just can't think right now.
Which UK producers do you rate most highly at the moment and what's been the hottest release of the last couple of years?
There's a lot of UK producer's about at the moment that I rate. Evil Ed, LG, Beat Butcha, Chemo, DJ IQ. Some of the Hip Hop music coming out of the UK at the moment is amazing in my opinion. I think we have some people who really know how to make music and songs. We've come a long way over the past 10 years, and it's comparable to a lot of the U.S stuff now. The only thing we're lacking in is being able to get into the better studio's so the quality of the mixing and recording is as good as it can be. Hottest release of the last couple of years, well I'd say Kashmere's EP's were both ridiculous, Bone Idols feat Ty and Afletik was my tune of last summer if not the year.
What projects are you currently working on and what can you tell us about them?
I'm currently finishing my album, which is called "Seldom Seen, But Often Heard", that'll be released first half of 2006. It features people I've previously worked with like Kashmere, Verb T, Asaviour. I've done track's with Lowkey, Abstract Rude, Mudmowth, and a few other's I'm confirming. There'll also be some instrumental tracks on there. I've recently had my "Let Em Know" EP released, still available on Breakin Bread Records, that features Kashmere, Verb T & Asaviour, Yungun & Conspicuous.
I did a track for the recently released Combined Mentalz EP "Tha Fundamentalz" on Receptor Records. I've also finished tracks for Asaviour's LP. I produced a track called "Borrowed Ladder" which is the name of his LP. I've done something for Kashmere's LP, and me and Verb T have been working on some music. We have a thing or two that we wanna do. I've also been working with Mudmowth and some stuff for his LP, and I did a track for Conspicuous's LP as well, which is called "Backgammon" so just keeping myself busy. I'm always open to working with any artist that I feel what they're doing.
What label is this stuff gonna come out on and have you ever thought about trying to get signed on a less indy scale?
The up and coming music will be coming out on Breakin Bread Records. I have a good working relationship with them, and they take care of their business so it's all good. They've supported me and shown me faith so that's important for me, and they listen to what I have to say as well. Of course I'd like to take my music to as many people as possible, and I wouldn't turn down the right opportunity to sign for a major. I've been around music for a long time now so I've seen a lot of different things happen. I'm going to take my time though and continue to try to make the right moves and keep building, my aim is to live off the music so when the best opportunity comes to make that happen I'll be putting everything into it.
What's your take on the 2step and grime genre's that some UK hiphop artists and producers are now leaning towards a little?
Well it's up to them. For me as long as the quality is good that's all that matters. I like a bit of Grime. I've been dabbling in making slightly left beats for a while now as I've always been into experimenting. If people are just jumping ship from Hip Hop into Grime/2 step just cause it's popular right now then they're obviously not really into the music anyway. You get them people that follow what the media claims is hot. At the end of the day the media have to make these things up to sell more of what they're doing, so you just have to accept it and get on with your own agenda
Do you ever perform live in any capacity and what can gig goers expect from a show?
Yeah I've played out a lot over the last couple of years, mainly doing live show's with Kashmere & Verb T. We pulled our resources together and tried to bring together a little of all of us to the audience. You can expect that we'll do our best to make sure you enjoy the live show's we do. We always prepare for the show's, and try to make it as professional as possible. We'll be going back out on road later this year when we've all finished the various projects we're working on, and we have the odd show here and there to check. I've been out dj'ing recently more as well. I stopped dj'ing cause I wanted to concentrate on making music more, cause that's what I love doing, but I'm happy dj'ing and have been playing all over the last year or so. Lithuania, France, Holland and am looking to get out more on the lead up to the album.
Have any shout out's or plugs you'd like to drop to end this on?
"Let Em Know" EP now available to buy on Breakin Bread Records, "Ghost Stories" ltd vinyl still available on Breakin Bread Records. "Seldom Seen But Often Heard" debut Ghost LP Spring 2006
Watch out for a Ghost Exclusive Mix CD coming after the summer, watch out for my LP in 2006, we're really trying to push the music out there. 'd like to shout out everyone who either bought or has any of my music, and all the people who support what I'm doing, and have done over the years. My family, Disorda, Breakin Bread, Receptor Records Crew, all of the artists I'm working with cause we all working towards the same goals, All the dj's that have supported my releases.