'Body Armour' offers an array of impressive production and lyrical efforts which haven't been heard at album length for some time.
Missing in action vocalist Lexis drops some heavily personal content as well as some super sick verses of the more battle orientated tip, culminating in a release that will sit well with listeners of various tastes.
From the high energy 'Boogaloobuggedout' single featuring Jehst to the very deep 'Carol Patricia Kilner', the album is of a consistently very high quality and a must to go pick up this month
First up, please could you tell the people who Eighteen18 are?
Lexis Salinger, vocals. Adee, beats and production. Snare aka DJ Excel, turntables and beats. Jaded, co-production and mixing.
Where in the UK are you from and where are you based these days?
Lexis and Adee grew up in Doncaster. Snare's from South Wales and Jaded's from Harrogate. Lexis lives in the hills. The rest live in London.
What are some of the biggest influences on your creativity?
Women, hiphop, mental illness, drugs, life, tramps and arrisocrats.
What records have you put out over the years that heads might wanna catch up on?
Eighteen18: 'Boogaloobuggedout' featuring Jehst (Northbridge). Jehst: 'Premonitions' EP. 'Life Immitating Art' featuring Lexis (YNR). Creative Control: 'Left Country' LP. 'Perfect Abuse' featuring Lexis (Creative Control). Various artists: 'The Abstract Error'. 'Ham And 2 Clouds' (Vapours) produced by Adee.
Various artists: 'Fortified Stereophonic'. 'Exit On Enter' (Vipoour) produced by Adee. Jamiroquai: 'Dynamite' (Sony), turntables by Snare. Daddy: 'Better Than You' (Fat! Records) produced by Adee and Jaded. Michelis Constant: 'Verbal Vomit' (Temple Remote) produced by Adee. Fools Eye View: 'Doldrums' EP (YNR) Lexis and Adee featuring Jehst.
How long have you been working on the Body Armour album and how much hard work was it to get done?
3 years. 2 years to write, 1 year to mix. I don't think me and Lexis even thought we were making an album when we started. Just arsing about, making some tracks and then all of a sudden we realised we'd done about 6 tracks without even thinking, so thought we may as well do a few more and make an album.
The writing was the easy bit. Lexis stayed on my sofa for about 6 months at a time and we just did it. The releasing/mastering/mixing was the hard part… as you need cash to do that. Something we all have very little of.
Could you give us a few insights into what sort of things you talk about on the album?
Anything that's anything to do with Lexis' life, sex, girls, his mum, hiphop, streams of consciousness, growing up and living in Doncaster, one of the most deprived towns in the UK.
What's it like putting out quite personal and emotional material which lots of the public will hear?
No idea… We still don't know if lots of people will hear it. I don't think a lot of people even notice how personal it is on first listen. But I think the fact that making it has made Lexis disappear is an indication of exactly how hard it is to put yourself on public display in this way.
We never thought about anyone hearing this stuff when we were writing it. If we had, then it probably wouldn't exist. That wasn't really the point of doing it. The reason for releasing it is really that I felt that it was unfinished if it wasn't released and a few people seemed to want to hear it.
To what extent do you feel creativity, and rhyming/poetry in particular, acts as a self help mechanism?
You'll have to find Lex' to answer that one.
What equipment did you use for the production and how'd you describe the LP's sound?
Everything was roughly written on a crappy PC with a cheap Sound Blaster sound card using Acid, Reason and Sonar and lots of plugins, absynth and a powercore FX card. All was then transferred to Nuendo and fattened up at Jaded's studio using a focusrite compressor and a korg triton, 10 cans of Red Stripe and a very large bag of green.
Was there a general process you used with each track such as doing the lyrics and then the music or vise versa?
I'd do loads of beats really quick and rough. Once there was something Lexis liked he'd go and write to it. Then we'd go to Jaded's studio and record the vocals, bring them back to mine, and I'd write the rest of the track around the vocals, getting people to play on it if necessary and put some cuts on it. Then we'd take it back to Jaded's place for him to add any final touches and do the mix.
Did you ever contemplate getting signed, rather than putting the album out on your own Northbridge label?
Yeah, but we've put stuff out with other labels before and it's never been very easy or creatively satisfying. Also, we're aware that the album's quite different to anything else around so weren't sure who would put it out anyway. We could have spent years trying to find the right label. At least this way it gets a small release and if it catches on I'm sure a label will find us.
Are there any other artists on the label or plans for other releases in the near future?
No, although we're all always looking to work on new projects so I'm sure something will be out soon. I just did a remix for Colossus, a hiphop group based in San Fran' so hopefully that'll be out soon.
Why did you decide to put your album out as a CD only release rather than vinyl as well?
Cash. CD is a lot cheaper than vinyl. If we sell a few we might press up some vinyl too though.
Who handled the dope cover art of the album and what does it represent?
My ex missis did the cover. She was a right pain in the ass but she's a great designer so I asked her to do something. We wanted something that was quite recognizable. I always like albums with a thing/object on the cover so you can say 'yeah the one with the manakins on it'. Don't think it represents anything literal… it's just nice and odd and hints at lots of things… just kinda goes with the music.
What other artists/producers or releases from the UK hiphop scene do you hold in particularly high regard?
Jehst obviously. We've known him for a long time and he definitely stands out above the crowd. I like a lot of new people coming out too. There's a lot of energy in the UK scene at the minute. Kano, Sway, Cappo and the P. Brothers all banging.
Do you think there'll be any more collaborations with Jehst or any other rappers?
Maybe… Who knows?
Outside of hiphop, what forms of art and examples of these are you interested in?
I listen to most genre's of music. Ragga, Punk, Country… You name it. As well as art and films. Different moods have different needs… 'Meet The Folkers' one day, Mathew Barney the next. I think it's good to take in as much varied stuff as you can.
Do you suspect you'll be touring the new material at some point?
How can people keep informed of what you're up to?
Check the website www.eighteen18.co.uk
Have you got any shout out's or messages you'd like to round this up on?
Yeah If you read this Lexis… get in touch you nob.