This dude's produced tons of crowd favourites and it sounds like he'll keep doing that for a long time to come. He spared us some time to chat about new projects, equipment and lots more.
How did you come up with the alias? Adams Family fan?
Kind of! I figured Thing from The Adams Family was the hand that could do everything, but then there's also Thing from Fantastic 4 as well, which is handy if you need to batter someone in a battle situation!
How long have you been producing on a professional level and how much work went into the transition from wannabe producer to heavyweight UK beat maker?
I honestly still feel I've got a long way to go but I've been making beats since maybe '95. My friend Phil showed me how to use all the equipment but I couldn't quite get the sound I wanted, and I was in a very lucky position to ask people where I was going wrong. I asked a ton of questions eveytime I was in the studio with anyone, and I learnt from that!
What were the first pieces of equipment you used to create beats on and what hardware do you tend to use these days?
Well first I got an Akai S900 and an Atari 500ST with a moody copy of Cubase which used to crash all the time, so I learnt to make beats really fast to beat the crash! I'm still pretty basic. I've got an Akai mpc2000 XL, still got the s900, got a midi keyboard and a Planet Phatt sound module, which I use for basses and some percussion. It's pretty good! And then I use a Roland vs1880 to record vocals on, and got a mic set up and compressors, but no computer. I like to do all that side in the studio.
What's the typical process you go through to create a beat. What parts do you tend to lay down first etc?
I usually start with music but once I've put drums down, that might all change. I've been known to change music for beats 4 or 5 times in a night!
Out of the many vocalists you've worked with over the years, who've you enjoyed collaborating with the most?
Well, I've not really had a bad experience with anyone on tracks but working with Yungun and Tommy Evans is proper collaboration. They're involved in the arrangements, mix… Every tiny part of it!
What other rappers would you like to provide the musical foundation for?
I would love to do some tracks for Kyza, Micall Parknsun, Task Force, Klashnekoff, Verb T and Mystro for starters, but I need to get on it and make new beats!
Does a particular beat stand out as one you're most proud of?
I'm really happy with 'Sound Of The Drum' off the new album. I think it sums me up as a DJ, record collector and producer. You'll understand in September!
How many beats do you tend to make a week and how many are collecting dust in your vault?
It depends on how much I'm off DJing at the weekends, but sometimes I might make 3 or 4 a night, and that could be 3 or 4 nights a week! There's probably about 30 zip discs of beats at mine full, sitting around…
How completed is the forthcoming Yungun album and how long have you guys been working on it?
The 'Grown Man Business' album is 95% done. I've got one more track to mix and then I can get it mastered. We've been on it for a year or so. It started off as a couple of tracks for a new single, then became an EP and then a full album!
What can you say about some of the tracks on there and when do you think it'll come out?
We got a track with Jehst on there, one with Lowkey and Stylah and another with Doc Brown and Devise. Other than that, it's all me and YG! It should be dropping early september, with a single 'Forget Me Not' in July, which we just shot a video for.
A lot of people considered 'The Essance' to be really accessible to people outside of UK hiphop. Will the LP be of a similar vain?
I really hope so!
How do you and Yungun get a track done? Will he share some lyrics for you to make a suitable beat to or the other way round?
I usually send him a bunch of beats and he picks what he's into. If he's not into them… I send more! Then he'll send me a demo of the tune and I'll work out the arrangements and the cuts if we need them. Saves a lot of time in the studio.
With the 'Games' remix it was different as the lyrics were already done but he came up with putting the slow breakdown at the end of the verses. I'd put that on the beat CD as the intro! But we like to get together on it as much as possible. One of the tracks off the album was done all in one go. I played the beat down the phone, he jumped on the train, wrote it, I arranged while he was writing and I recorded it at my place!
Aside from the Yungun material, what projects are you involved in and what can you tell us about them?
Before I did the album with Yungun, I did a whole album called 'The Odyssey' with Tommy Evans. It's totally finished and ready to go. Just waiting to see when it can come out now. Me and YG are working on a mixtape for just after or before the album drops, which is gonna be an extension of the white labels we've done, but that's all I can say on that one! Hopefully gonna do some more tracks with Life at some point, and with Inja as well.
Who do you look up to as your producer role model, and what UK hiphop producers do you particularly admire the work of?
I'm a big big Premier fan, Pete Rock, Large Pro', Alchemist, Buckwild, Lord Finesse, Just Blaze, Kanye West, 9th Wonder, Nottz, Bink… Too many! Nappa from Phi Life is probably my main influence over here. We like pretty much the same stuff, go digging together. That guy can make a beat out of anything! And ofcourse Harry Love. I have to make beats after he calls and plays me stuff! Jehst, Lewis Parker, LG, Evil Ed, Mark B, Creators. And Mentat is hurting me everytime he puts something out right now!
What were your favourite releases of 2005 and where do you see the UK scene moving in '06?
Little Brother 'Minstrel Show'. That whole album is amazing from start to finish… My mind is blank! I think it's gonna move up even more this year. Everyone is working hard to make their music the best it can be to my ears. The quality is getting better and better, but not enough is getting put out on vinyl anymore. It's all on mp3 and CD which isn't great for maybe 70% of regular working DJs, because not everyone has a CDJ or Serato Scratch!
Are you a hiphop traditionalist or would you consider making some more left field beats, perhaps grime orientated?
I do try and make a variety of stuff. Have tried some grime and even broken, but they don't sound right to me yet. I need to learn more about it and I need to get more kit!
Outside of hiphop, who are your biggest influences?
I listen to a lot of soul, rare groove and a bit of everything. My friend John is the king A-1 record collector and put me onto a whole next level of stuff like that I never knew existed, and on the other extreme I really really rate Dillinja. Love that guy's stuff!
Are there any other genre's you'd like to work in some way down the line?
I'd love to be involved in scoring a flim or something like that. Seriously!