One half of Def Jux's Party Fun Action Committee, and Ninja Tunes artist Blockhead talks on the equipment he uses, what he's released, working with Aesop Rock and touring.
First up, could you introduce yourself to those that aren't familiar?
My name is Tony Simon AKA Blockhead. I'm a hip hop producer signed to Ninja Tune Records…I'm a Libra and I like short walks in the park.
Where are you living and what's the hip-hopscene like around that way?
I was born and raised in downtown Manhattan NYC. I still live here and plan on never leaving. The hip hop scene here is pretty much all over the place…There are waaaaaay to many mc's out here.
How long have you been a producer and how did you come up with the name Blockhead?
I've been making beats on my own since around 94…before that I rapped and and did some back seat driver beat making. By that I mean I gave samples and sat and watched while other people pressed the buttons. I got my name Blockhead from my mcing days. I have a square-ish head. It's as simple as that.
What was the first equipment set up you made beats on, and what do you find yourself using most often nowadays?
I use the same thing I started with. An ASR 10 by Ensoniq. I'm not a gear head really and I prefer to work within the limitations of my equipment.
Could you give us a run through of the releases which you have produced so far?
Hmm…well, I did a Break Beat album on Mush called "Bockheads Broke Beats", a few singles on Ninja Tune that came from my full length "Music By Cavelight". I also did a comedy record with my boy Jer on Def Jux called "Party Fun Action Committee". Aside from that, I've done a good amount of joints with various mc's but it'd be hard to list them all…but trust me, they're out there.
Is there one particular record or project which stands out as having been the most enjoyable to create?
Well, making the comedy record was the most fun because it's more indicative of my personality and it's a comedy record. That shit is funny. But, from an artistic standpoint, I'd have to say "Music By Cavelight" was the most satisfying.
What was the experience of working with the underground heavyweight Aesop Rock like?
It's always cool. We're old friends and we really got into this together. It's not even like work.
Are you all for the more experimental or brave forms of production which a lot of Def Jux releases tend to go with?
Sure…I mean, obviously, I like some shit more than other shit but overall, I think Jux is doing really good stuff. Things most labels are not.
Which vocalists do you most aspire to provide some beats for?
Um…MF Doom would be dope. Ghostface, Kool G Rap, Willie D, T.I., Twista…Young Bleed…
Have you got any projects coming up that you can drop us some exclusive news about?
My new album is basically done. It will be called "Downtown Science". I'm hoping for a fall release. Also, I did some tracks on Cage's new album and Aesop's new EP…
Who do you consider to be the best producer in hip-hop at the moment?
I really can't say. There are so many different type of producers out there. Timberland and The Neptunes are dope but at the same time, so is Rjd2 and El-p…This guy maker from Chicago is dope too…there are tons…
What guys did you look up to and aspire to be likewhen you were first starting out?
Showbiz, Primo, Marley Marl, Diamond D…Prince Paul..All my heroes are from the late 80's and early 90's….
Have you ever come across the music scene in England, and the 2step and grime forms of music which have taken off in the last couple of years?
I've heard it but not enough to really form an opinion on it.
Do you do any form of live show or DJ set and can you drop us some dates for us to check you out in Europe?
I do a laptop show. I use Abelton live. It's ok…I'm not crazy about performing because I'm an in studio kinda guy and my live show is basically me on stage fiddling with my computer but with visuals…I don't know when I'll be in England again. Most likely in August/September.
What would you hold up as being the finest instrumental orientated hiphop product of all time?
Eh…Who knows?...I listen to hip hop with lyrics to be honest. I just happen to make instrumental music. It's all very coincidental.
DJ Shadow or Cut Chemist? Shadow.
Kanye West or Dr Dre? Dre
East or West? East
Day or night? Night
Chicken wing or breast? Buffulo wings…
Have you got any shout out's or plugs you want to drop?
Any dope artists where you're at who we should try hearing?
Too many to mention…
Being called Tony like myself, do you get people bugging you and asking if your full name is Anthony a lot?
Yup…actually my first name is James, so it's even more annoying explaining to people to call me Tony…