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SBH Podcast 005 – The Bug

SBH Podcast 005 – The Bug

In celebration of his appearance with Small But Hard at The Berghain next week, we are very happy to be able to bring you an exclusive interview with an artist very close to our hearts, Kevin Martin.

Kevin’s legacy began with the devastating Techno Animal, with Justin Broadrick. Solo project, The Bug, allowed him to develop his unique vision. 2008′s London Zoo was a landmark album, a timeless classic that somehow also manages to capture London’s gritty underbelly. The follow-up, Angels & Devils, is out imminently on Ninja Tune.

Kevin talks about leaving London behind, his personal musical journey, and the post-punk roots of his musical aesthetic.

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INTERVIEW


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I recently decided to move to Berlin, for various reasons really. London had become unbearably expensive. I’d always had a sort of mixed love and hate relationship with London anyway. There’s just a point at which you have to ask yourself, is this torture really improving your life? Y’know, is it really improving your music? Do you need that inspiration of living in the shit and living in a shit-hole?

I’d ended up living in Poplar which is E14 I think, and just a miserable place. I mean, I can see why it’s the home of the British BNP. There’s just a horribly depressing oppressive atmosphere living in a place like that.

If you make music that has no commercial disposition, then you have to be aware of the fact that you are unlikely to make enough money to live in a prime location. So therefore you have to choose where it is possible to exist that’s artistically interesting and physically possible.

Berlin mostly signals potential to me. There’s massive potential in this city.

To be booked into the Berghain for the upcoming show with Small but Hard is exciting, cause you wanna stretch a system like that, and you wanna let people know there’s alternatives to just a 4/4 beat.

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I guess part of me…a tiny part of me is anxious, because all my music’s been written in London. It’s like, ‘Shit! I’ve never made a move like this!’, and that’s interesting in itself. Who knows how it’s gonna affect my music.

Personally, I have fire in my belly. I’m still fighting the same battle with the world and my own brain that I have been ever since I started making music in the first place, so I don’t think I need the shit that happens in London to inspire fire in my music. That’s in me, and that’s what I look for because I feel it should be reflective of me as an individual.

The music I like most is very original, made by individuals, who have found an independent sound, and more often than not have a DIY ethic.

Personally, not having London around, not being surrounded by London is going to be a new form of inspiration. I don’t see that it’s gonna detract from my continual craftsmanship or progression.

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When I was a kid, really critical influences were people like Public Image Limited, Joy Division, Throbbing Gristle, Crass, 23 Skidoo, Cabaret Voltaire. Mostly artists I guess that are talked of in terms of post-punk music, because they all seemed very intent to do their own thing, and most of those artists it seemed like a fusion of disparate influences. It wasn’t just as singular as recreating the stereotypical punk sound at that time. But punk had obviously opened things up like having your own label, thinking about graphic design more, doing your own design, doing your own production, and that was inspiring for me as a kid.

When you have a very fortunate hybrid, strong aesthetic and a very formative time, that really helped me and I guess I still look for that from a lot of artists, and actually a lot of the artists I’ve ended up approaching for my new album, I feel have a very strong individual aesthetic, whether that be Death Grips, whether it be Gonjasufi, whether it be Grouper, Inga from Hype Williams…I feel these people have very strong individual identities, and I’m relying upon a trend, or an area of music to carry them along. If anything, I think they’re all misfits, and I’ve always felt like a misfit really.

It goes back to my interest in art, film, literature, in outsiders, and asking questions. If anything, the important thing about post-punk music for me, was that it asked questions of everything, and it basically had a whole lot of ‘fuck you’ attitude at the same time. And that was appealing, and it still is appealing. I still look for that.

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It was a guy, a really important guy for me, who lived in Weymouth, where I grew up, called Nigel Armstrong. He had had this band, which I really loved, cause it was like, for me, ‘WOW! These people are doing their own thing, and they’re releasing their own tapes, and they’re putting on their own shows!’, and this all seemed amazing, because I thought shows were just for big people, y’know, a big people thing. His music was very influenced by PIL as well, I think, in hindsight. And he became a very good friend.

It was all based around a record shop in Weymouth called Handsome Dicks, which was a meeting place for misfits, punks, anyone just looking for music which was non-mainstream would go to that shop in that area, and you would just a load of interesting people, and again, it was at an age where that was important.

And it was through Nigel that…I can’t remember if it was he or I who suggested it, but we started working together. I can’t even remember the name of the group we had at the time. It was awful! I really, y’know really, my part in it was awful! I had a saxophone going through effects pedals, and I was doing some bad vocals, and I had an SH101, which I couldn’t play, but it was all necessary. Y’know, it was a necessary first foundation.

In the same way that I can’t claim that all the things that were important influences were the first music I’d bought…I think the first music I’d bought was a Damned album, and I can’t listen to The Damned, and I wouldn’t say anything about them now, but it’s important you start somewhere, and that you realise that there’s a possible alternative to the sort of middle mass mainstream attempt to pacify everyone and to drain you all of creativity, so for me, what was important was just to start exploring, and making music for me has just been my way of interpreting the world outside that window, and it continues to be. So I think, that early band was a necessary evil that I had!

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I mean for me the first band that I formed was called God. That was just after I moved to London. In fact Nigel was still in the band at that time – he’d moved to London with me and a couple of friends. That for me is the first thing that counted in terms of me actually having a vision of what I wanted to do. And I think that’s important in any project. I know with Techno Animal, for instance, with Justin Broadrick, it took us a long time to really know what it was that we were trying to do. At first it was just blind exploration, and experimentation, which is cool. We all have to find our path.

With the Bug, from point one, I was pretty defined about what it was I wanted, and define what I was trying to do cause I didn’t want to get lost in being experimental for the sake of being experimental. I wanted to tackle song structures, which for a long time had been my enemy. I think I was the one in Techno Animal who opposed all structures, and made Justin’s life hell saying ‘Nonononono! No choruses! No hooks! Anything that’s open-ended’. So yeah, God was the first band. That was my apprenticeship, I suppose, really.

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God’s music was like a war declared on the audience. That’s what I wanted. God’s music was therapy for me, primarily. It was basically…I wanted it to be a mixture of free jazz, and now what people would call noise rock. Everything electrified. Everything to basically amplify the disgust I had for the world, and my past, and my future.

It was antagonistic. Like an exorcism really. The frequency range was huge, and it was maximal, really, in terms of the onslaught. And I loved it whilst I was doing it, it was necessary. And the people in the band, they were some great individuals to work with. But when I finally had the idea to start the Bug, it was really with the opposite in mind. I knew that for something to sound good on a sound system it had to be minimal, because I had become obsessed with reggae sound systems, since I had first moved to London.

I think I had only been living in London for about six months, when I saw a sound clash between Iration Steppas and the Disciples. That had such a huge impact on me. I never knew that music could be presented in this manner. Two sound systems opposite each other in a small room, with no stage, no light show, going back and forth, battling each other. Each mix getting more fucked up and intense and psychedelic.

When London Zoo came out, the first two years after that, it seemed like there was audience that had been created through dubstep, that could well appreciate our shit; where ‘Skeng’ and ‘Poison Dart’ were being spoken of as anthems. Yet when I took my style and my live approach to dubstep clubs, more often than not, it was a battle too. People weren’t used to what I wanted to do, which was to reflect what I had heard on the yard tapes from Jamaica, which was complete chaos, and sound as warfare.

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In God I’d put the band together, and in the end it had two bass players and a double bass player. Bass propulsion was heavy in it. I still wanted that feeling for my music as The Bug, and for the sound system. So for me, it was ‘How can I get a heavyweight dancehall sound that isn’t reliant upon cheese, and will just shock people? How can I make singles that will end every party, with fire?’

That was when I came up with the idea of the Razor X 7s, and tried to find my feet with the first Bug album, which was Pressure.

With each subsequent album from Pressure, to the collection of singles that was Killing Sound compilation, both on Reflex, and then to London Zoo on Ninja, and now to the new album, which will be Angels & Devils on Ninja, it’s exactly as you said, I feel it’s a craft, that I’ve been constantly trying to improve.

I think to make the perfect song is, for me, is an impossible task, so I just have to hope I can keep bettering myself with each attempt. That’s the beauty of it, and that’s the beauty of music. It’s an ongoing challenge and it’s….how do you say it….it’s like infinite in terms of possibility. It’s how you shape this shit, and how close you can get it to the dreams in your head, or to the creation of a concept or aesthetic in your mind.

It’s almost impossible to directly reflect that, in the same way as a film that reflects a book. Most people say that the film’s never as good as the book. Maybe the reality is never as good as the idea you have in your brain when you’re trying to come up with an idea for music. It’s just a challenge that I love. It’s like, ‘How close can I get to this?’.

With the new album, what I’m trying to do is stretch the parameters, amplify the angels and devils, and just like make it more hateful on one side and more beautiful on the other side, and that’s the challenge.

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I mean, fundamentally, I’m a fan! I’m a music fan. I go hunting for music. I NEED new music. I need new inspiration. I want people to write amazing tracks. I wanna be like, ‘FUCK! I’m jealous of that track, I wish I’d made that track’, y’know. So I’m always on the lookout. I’m an addict for new, exciting music. Always trying to find pioneers and mavericks in every genre.

For me, there’s no rhyme or reason as to who I would approach, but I just generally approach people that I’ve been blown away by. Like, when I heard Gonjasufi’s voice for the first time on the Flying Lotus album, I was just like ‘Who the fuck is this?! This is amazing!’ And Death Grips, y’know, when I heard Guillotine for the first time, for sure it seemed familiar cause of what we;d tried with Techno Animal. They seemed to have inherited what we were trying to do…I mean, I’m sure they didn’t know us….but they were pushing it even further still, y’know. And when I do discover people that I wanna work with, I work absolutely with them in mind.

Also, what’s been pretty crucial on this album has been the people that I’ve worked with haven’t just been like ‘rent-a-rapper’, not just rent-a-singer; it’s all people that it turns out have been really into Bug music.

When I found out my agent for King Midas Sound, Qu Junktions, represented Grouper I sent an email. I asked them for an email address, and sent a totally speculative email thinking she wouldn’t have a clue who I am, but just to introduce myself and say ‘Hey, this is what I do, I’d love to work with you’. She gets back and says that her mother and her were listening to ‘Skeng’ in the car the week before I’d sent them the email! Or approaching Death Grips and having them get back to me with the lyrics to ‘Skeng’ as a reply to the email.

You know, it’s weird, that somehow you’re approaching people, on spec, hoping that they might dig your shit, and you don’t have to buy them off to appear on the tracks, but then incredible that they come back with a really positive reaction and they even know who you are, let alone are enthusiastic. In a way it’s like a shot in the dark, but also it’s almost like there’s some weird telepathic thing. It’s like they’re on the same path as you are. Somehow they’ve got into your shit. Somehow they’ve realised what you do has some resonance to them, and therefore you end up working together.

I’m not a mystical person! It’s just bizarre. And maybe to an extent it DOES make sense. It’s not totally coincidence. These people that I’ve approached are probably pretty similar to me in terms of craving music that inspires them, and needing music to survive. Needing music to understand the world. Needing to need music.

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TRACKLISTING


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1_THE BUG Dirty

2_KMS – Funny Love

3_The Bug – Poison Dart

4_23 Skidoo – The Gospel Comes to New Guinea

5_The Birthday Party – Dead Joe

6_Public Image Limited – Death Disco

7_God – Bloodstream

8_Techno Animal _ Hypertension 3

9_Starship Africa – Creation Rebel

10_Killing Joke – Turn to Red

11_The Bug v The Rootsman – Killer Queen

12_The Bug – Skeng

Posted on April 2nd, 2014
SBH Podcast 004 - Walter Gross

My name is Walter Gross. I am from Maryland; a little town outside Baltimore called Glen Burnie, a kinda stoner, white-trash sorta town. They call the kids there Glenburnouts. And now I live in Los Angeles, which is pretty much the same thing. And now I’m in Berlin, with Small But Hard.

As far as musical education, and my start: I started actually digging records and scratching, and then I…well, then I was really big into film, so this collages, sample-based music appealed to me, and uh, freedom of turntablism and sampling. There’s no rules, which I thought the music and the film went sorta hand in hand; it’s more of a conceptual thing. But then I realised that I’m not very good at scratching! It’s kind of a difficult thing. And then it got really commercialised, and sort of lost its appeal, so I went into producing using strictly the MPC. I like the limitations of it, I like the transparency of it. The limitations of it are kind of what keeps me grounded to it; it’s like my main axe. And now I’m more venturing into more ambient and field recording, and always accumulating toys, and microphones, and all that shit.

Coming from a sample-based, hip hop background, I started experimenting more with field recordings, and then I became exposed to the freaky dirty noise scene in Baltimore. It kind of split my wig. Something blossomed inside my brain, I think, seeing people so free on stage, and the music itself so free, was this tangible inspiration that just left an indelible impression on me.

Yeah, I recorded Rotorcraft out there in my tiny little studio apartment. Making films, it sorta gave me this experience of capturing my actual life and turning it into art at a new level, and so, living in LA, facing downtown, there’s just helicopters flying down over my apartment all the time, that slicer,

All the time. And I live by a highway, so it’s just this constant drone, and helicopters, while I’m making music. So I make ambient music, and I make beats, and it would just…the sounds would filter through my ear, and I think, into the hardware. So it was just like an actual audio mirror of my environment, hence the Rotorcraft, and sorta this dystopian and futuristic belief-state society, but still super-psychedelic and hilarious. And I listened to the album while there’s helicopters flying over, and it’s sounds really good. If you listen to it with helicopters, it’s nice.

Does this translate to the live context? Absolutely. The live show is a way for me to…I try not to think about it too much cause it kind of makes me anxious, but it’s a way to throw yourself out there and break yourself down before an audience, and dial in. I always know…there’s moments sometimes when I’m screaming and all the blood rushes to my head and I almost pass out when I’m playing. Y’know, it’s kinda great in a way, but I’ve feel like, I dunno, there’s something liberating about just destroying your ego and just letting yourself go in front of people, in the hope that they might experience that with you in a way, that synergy.

Who’s your friend? Oh, I dunno. Beats me! He’s my guard, I think. He’s my angel. Um…pets? No, I don’t have any pets. I have pictures of puppies. That reminds me that I don’t have any pets.

Pain in the process…yeah, I think any good art is painstaking as hell. I mean, anything that’s, like, really cathartic is…there’s many comparisons: it’s like passing a kidney stone, or doing a giant shit or something. It’s draining, but it’s, there’s a dutifulness that’s important to it. I think what’s my main inspiration, and what sorta shifted my paradigm is Tarkowsky. He always said that if within Russian art, if you’re not going for absolutely the most high, then there’s really no point. It’s just sort of rubbish. So that changed my attitude, and made me take things a little more seriously. Hence, the art therapy and the kind of catharsis of it all, and also this sort of twisted humour to it, that’s sort of my self-indulgent way of finding a joke in life. It ain’t good if it ain’t painful.

Posted on April 2nd, 2014
SBH Podcast 003 - Dylan Carlson

Tracklist

1. Allan MacDonald – Hiotorotro

2. Dillinja – Angel Fell

3. Allan MacDonald – Lament for Red Hector

4. King Midas Sound – Surround Me

5. Richard & Linda Thompson – Night Comes

6. Tyler, The Creator – Yonkers

7. Alasdair Roberts & Friends – The Daemon Lover

8. Amy Winehouse – Me And Mr. Jones


Guitarist, folklorist, and occultist, drone doom pioneer Dylan Carlson has spent the last 25 years propagating sublime minimalist drone rock with his band Earth. From the early days of epic distorted walls of sound, Carlson’s legacy more or less spawned a whole genre, his name connecting the dots between much of the modern stoner rock drone doom scene. Still eminently active, Earth’s second wave incorporates elements of American blues and country traditions within Carlson’s favoured epic format. Those old connections remain, the band’s releases abounding through Greg Anderson’s Southern Lord records, home of all things heavy.

A fascination with the cunning-folk traditions of the British Isles has provided inspiration for his latest solo project DRCarlsonAlbion. Modern interpretations of the UK traditional folk music are presented with a book describing Carlson’s exploratory visit to various fairy-faith sites in England, Scotland, and Wales. This eclectic podcast reflects this journey, and the breadth of musics that make up Carlson’s unique sound.

“The stuff I picked is what I’ve been listening to a lot lately. The last Earth record (Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light: Parts I &II), and my solo projects have been heavily inspired by English folk music and English folklore. Under the DRCarlsonAlbion header, I sort of brought that all together.

I’ve always hated that idea of folklore as…well, it’s obviously preserving the past, but that idea that folk has to be kept like a museum piece, like it can’t grow. There’s that weird kind of collector, antiquarian mentality about it where it’s like you’re trying to preserve something.

The same thing happened with the blues, where the original bluesmen were recording, and were trying to have hits, but then white people got involved, and it was all about authenticity. They’d go out and grab some guy out in the woods, and say ‘This is the originator’, because he was sitting on his back porch playing a song. It would turn out that he would be playing songs that he heard playing off the radio. They’d wrongfully attribute it to him because he was the old guy out in the woods, as opposed to the guy who went to the city and tried to make money with it. It isn’t some static thing that doesn’t move or grow or expand.

The last project I did, the DR Carlson & the Hackney Lass was really an attempt to do some sort of modern folk. We took stuff from old folk and tried to update it to modern times. That’s generally what the playlist reflects to me: there’s some really old traditional stuff, like the Scottish stuff on there, and then some modern interpretations, but also some new electronic music. To me, folk music is popular music, and popular music is folk music; it’s not high culture, it’s all music created by people to be listened to.

The Scottish music I chose is interesting. There’s the ‘low’ Scottish music, which is the stuff people dance to, and then there was the high music, which were all funeral musics and songs, usually about some hero who had died. It’s a lot slower, and a lot more repetitive than the dance music or the party music. I found that very interesting for that reason. I’ve always wondered where that came from. For some reason I’ve always gravitated to slower, more repetitive music. That’swhy I’ve always loved the dub thing too. A lot of the times they’re using the same rhythm tracks over and over, but changing stuff on top of it.

For a long time I was sort of anti-technology curmudgeon, but recently I’ve decided that technology exists, it’s more about what’s done with it that determines the outcome. The technology itself is not necessarily bad or evil, it’s how it’s employed, so I’ve been becoming more conversant with digital technology and electronic recording. I mean, I miss analogue, I like analogue better. Sound is a smooth waveform. With digital, not matter how fine a sampling rate you get, you’re eventually missing spots. You’ve got a curve that’s the soundwave, and you’re sampling it here, here, here, but not matter how high the sample rate, and they always argue, ‘Oh well the human ear can’t tell the difference between…but whatever, I think the human ear can, and does.

There’s some older electronic music that I put on the mix. When it first came out I was interested in some of the jungle and the drum ‘n’ bass stuff. I would listen to that, but I’d never really integrated it into anything I did. When I did the Last Touch release for DR Carson Albion I did some remixes for digital download, where we put some electronic stuff on the tracks. Now I’m starting to think about doing a project maybe involving electronics, and also how to integrate it into what I’m already doing.

When I get into music, I try to wait, rather than rush into it. I’ve always felt like you can be influenced by music, but it doesn’t mean you need to sound like those influences. There are other ways that it influences you. I take on influences and then I try to let them integrate and affect what I do, rather than trying to replicate my influences. I think if you get really hyped on some kind of music, and then learn that kind of music, then want to just play that kind of music, you end up sounding like the genres that you’re into, whereas if you give it some time to absorb, and integrate it with your own playing, the influence will still come out, but it will come out more with your own angle, or vibe. Obviously I have been very influenced by American music, country music and blues and so on, but I don’t do country records, or blues records.”

Carlson approached his latest project, “Falling with a Thousand Stars and Other Wonders from the House of Albion” in a fascinating way, inviting fans to sponsor the project through Kickstarter. As well as an album of songs, it includes a filmed documentary of Carlson’s trip to the UK to visit sites of various megalithic and human/fairy encounters, an exploration of ritual and folkloric magical practices, elaborately packaged and designed by Small But Hard founder Simon Fowler in collaboration with specialist advice from Shepherd’s Bookbinders’ Matthew Phillips and Joe Dixon. The release will contain a book to accompany the music, with the aim of illustrating the lyrical content of the songs, as well as an historical essay about the subject and some more informational content about the trip itself.

“I’ve always been a big book person. That’s how it started. Being exposed to all the materials you can use to make really nice books, the kind that you don’t see any more. That was the genesis of that side of it, wanting to do a ‘proper’ old- style book as part of it. I think that’s the only way nowadays to really do this, because so many people download, so many people just do digital format that you have to make something special, you have to make something people are going to want to keep. That’s what’s become really tricky about doing music is making it…it’s not just about making good music now, you also have to be thinking about what object you can make that people are going to want and going to want to pay for rather than just rip it off.

The trip to do the environmental recording for the kickstarter project was in May of last year (2012). Most of the sites were in a book on sites of fairy encounters, except for the one in Scotland. That site was from the trial records. It was where this cunning woman, Bessie Dunlop, had met her familiar. In the tradition, a dead human is somehow translated into the fairy realm. When they meet another human, they then take them to meet the fairies. He [her familiar] was a Scotsman who had been killed at the Battle of Pinkie in 1547. She was accused of witchcraft and then later executed. I had read about her encounter in a book, and then read the trial records.

I’m going to take the environmental recordings and go through them and then use them as a background for the music, for the atmosphere they protract. The first solo thing I did was a cassette. I had done some recordings around Waterloo station, because Lambeth used to be, in the Tudor era, where all the wizards, and alchemists, and fortunetellers and so on lived. Waterloo station was the site of one of my own experiences, so I went and did some recording around that area. I isolated some kinda weird stuff on that recording and then used it with the music on the cassette.”

Carlson clearly approaches everything is with a similar intensity and rigour, combined with a clarity and patience in digestion. He lives and breathes this deep and dense presence, his whole being a mirror for the work he produces. Even talking to him, his tone is precise and slow, the conversation punctuated by long pauses and drawn-out laughter. We return to Earth.

“The last two albums was definitely more a band thing, because a lot of it was improvised in the studio; we worked them out playing them live and then in the studio we’d use that as a basis and then play and see what happened.

Right now Earth’s been stripped back. It’s just me and Adrienne. The new stuff I think is more…song oriented in a strange way. It’s a little more concise. The last album was sort of lay-back-and-let-it-flow-over-you sort of album, whereas the newer stuff is a little more dramatic, grabs your attention. It’s more of a hard rock record in a way.

This one has involved a lot more of me writing stuff beforehand. I’ve always written the same way I guess…I’ll find something while I’m practising, a pattern I like, and begin to work on it, add variations, and then repeat it, and sort of add variations. I’ve been writing a lot of stuff lately, and it’s been coming out quite rapidly, whereas usually stuff comes out a lot slower and I have time to think about it. I feel like I’ve always kind of written the same way, but it’s hard to say with this album, I guess because it’s so so new, I haven’t really had a chance to examine what is going on with it all yet.”

Find out more about Earth here:
http://www.thronesanddominions.com

Find out more about DR Carlson Albion here:
http://drcarlsonalbion.wordpress.com/

Further reading about Bessie Dunlop and her friends here:
http://www.mysteriousbritain.co.uk/scotland/ayrshire/occult/bessie-dunlop-the-witch-of-dalry.html

For more information on the House of Albion project, watch the video here:
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/160700771/dylancarlson-wonders-from-the-house-of-albion-lp-c

Further information on Simon Fowler here:
http://www.cataract-operation.com/information/

Further information on Shepherds Bookbinders here:
http://store.falkiners.com/store/go/about-us/


Posted on April 2nd, 2014
SBH Podcast 002 - Spectre

Our new podcast series is here!  We’ve been talking to artists that have inspired us in our Small but Hard journey, inviting them to do a special Small but Hard mix that you can download for free!  We will be posting a new edition each month, along with an interview with each artist about the mix they have made and the things that inspire them.  We hope you enjoy it!

In this first edition of the Small But Hard podcast series we spoke to the legendary Skiz Fernando, perhaps best known as producer Spectre of the renowned Wordsound label.  Skiz is a prolific artist: he has released nine studio albums as Spectre, and leant his talents to innumerable other projects as part of the Wordsound imprint.  Wordsound defined the Brooklyn hiphop scene throughout the 90s, and remains relevant today as a source of inspiration and reference for all of us here at Small but Hard.

Skiz headed up the label from the outset, providing a voice for the scene he was involved in, and defining an era in underground hip hop.  His vision resulted in a devastating roster, that not only provides a rundown of the critical artists working in New York during that period, but was also home to many artists that are still shaping the scene today:  Scorn, The Bug, Antipop Consortium to name but a few.  This vision, this ability to really see the value and uniqueness in what is happening around him is demonstrated time and again by Skiz.  He works not only as a musician, but also as a writer, journalist, film maker, and documentarian, weaving his magic through careful study of the things he encounters.

His mix is, in his words, a small, but hard, exclusive offering of unreleased Spectre material from the last 3 months of his beat-making.  For him, making beats is his form of relaxation, it’s the way he makes sense of the world and digests what has happened around him:

“My process of making music is very organic, I would say.  I have no preconceived notions…when I turn the power on in the studio, whatever is happening, whatever I’ve been through in that day, or wherever I’ve been, whatever I’ve seen, whatever I’ve eaten, it all somehow makes it into the stew.  Music is just a form of expression, just like writing, just like film making, just like cooking, so to me, all of those things are the same.  If anything, my modes of expression have increased over the years.  I just used to write and do music, and now, I do a whole lot of other stuff. I see that in most other creative people too; they’re not only creative in one subject, but they have many modes of expression.”

“I don’t follow any trends, I don’t follow any hype stuff, I just make music that’s not being made by anyone else.  That’s why I make music to begin with, cause I make stuff that I wanna hear! I love bass music, and for me, dub is the original.  The dub that originated in Jamaica, that’s the original bass music, and it’s very mellow music.  It’s not like, it doesn’t have to be hard or loud or anything like that, it’s just more of a vibe, y’know.  That’s basically what I’m on.

That’s the stuff that I listen to when I’m just chilling out.  It’s all old music. Jamaican dub, older jazz, and different types of music from around the world. Right now I’m listening to a lot of Ethiopian music because I’m doing a film on Ethiopian music, I’ve been going there a lot.

Before that I was living in Brazil, and that had a lot of influence on me. Nothing about the music specifically, but the polyrhythms of Brazil had a huge impact on my work of the last 5 years.  I lived out there for like, a year, and I just soaked up that atmosphere, y’know, so, actually, that’s my inspiration, travelling.  Not just listening to other music, but travelling, and experiencing other people, other cultures.  It all comes through my filter and then comes out on tape…”

So where does Wordsound feature in all of this?  The latest Spectre release, The True and Living, is Wordsound LP #57.  I wondered if he was still drawing inspiration from the Wordsound crew, from the other musicians around him.

“Wordsound was never really a label, it was just a group of people who happened to be in the same place at the same time.  All of us were making music, and we inspired each other.  It was a certain time and a place.  It was Brooklyn in the early 90s, and a specific neighbourhood.  I knew all these people; all the artists were my friends.  That can only last for a finite amount of time, because people move out, people leave; it’s just the normal flow of things.  Especially in a city like New York, money is a huge factor as far as living, if you are an artist.  I’m thankful because back then, in the early 90s, I could make next to nothing, but I could still live, in Brooklyn, and do my art and do my music.  I didn’t have to worry about paying a lot of rent and all that stuff.  So, Wordsound existed in a certain time and place, and obviously now we’re many years removed from that.

Wordsound as a label is still releasing records though. I’m putting out another album in March called Firn/Energys, which is from my nephew, John Fernando.  He was kind of like a protégé of mine.  He was an amazing beat maker, and he died last year.  So I’m putting out some of his beats on vinyl, as a tribute to him.  The label is still going around, but obviously it is not the same as it was, as far as the whole collective nature of it is concerned.  As far as I know, all the other people are still doing their thing, I mean, Sensational is definitely doing his thing!  Everyone’s scattered around the world now, and that’s kind of cool cause when I travel to different parts of the world I can stay with different friends who used to be part of this movement that we had and it’s like no time has passed at all.”

It is clear that Skiz’s sphere influence is not in danger of diminishing any time soon.  New Spectre material, the publication of several books, a new Wordsound documentary are just the latest outputs from his camp.

“I feel like I have not really reached the point that I want to be at, creatively speaking.  I feel like every record I do is much better than the last one.  Now I just released album number 9, and I look back at my first album and I think ‘Oh my God!  I can’t believe I put that out!’

In my eyes, the normal flow of this is that an artist comes out, he gets big, he gets popular, he gets famous, and the quality of his work goes DOWN.  You can map almost anyone up to that point of a paradigm.  There’s a lot of people like myself who get better with age, like a fine wine!

My first influences were people like Adrian Sherwood and On-U Sound, Bill Laswell, and these people are still making music!  They’re in the generation above me and they’re still doing their thing, y’know!  That always makes me feel good.  I always like to give credit where credit is due.  We are just one part of this evolution, but I’m proud to say that Wordsound did add on to it, and there are certain labels that you can point to in this progression that, maybe they didn’t get a lot of credit, but they were doing their thing at their time, and what’s going on today might not have existed if it weren’t for what was going on then.”

You can read more about Spectre online here:
http://skizfernando.tumblr.com/

You can find out more about Wordsound here:
http://www.wordsound.com/

Watch the Wordsound documentary, The Greatest Thing You Never Heard, here:
http://vimeo.com/49172467

Spectre’s latest album The True & Living is available to buy now at:
http://www.wordsound.com/


Posted on April 2nd, 2014
SBH Podcast 001 - Dj Die Soon

Intro

Walter Gross – Untitled (Unreleased)

Dead Fader – Bosched (Unreleased)

Dead Fader – In Living Stereo (Small But Hard)

K-The-I??? – 400 On The BPM (Mush)

Techno Animal – We Can Build You (Matador)

Sensational Meets Kouhei – 666 Of My Fat (Wordsound)

Kakawaka – Lebendpotpurri (Small But Hard)

Dj Urine – Spiral Garden (Small But Hard)

Dj Scotch Bonnet – Next Fresh (Unreleased)

Techno Animal – Sub Species (Matador)

Scorn – Worried (Hymen)

Company Flow – Definitive (Rawkus)

Roly Porter – Hessra (Subtext)

Dj Scotch Bonnet vs Dj Die Soon – Onimama (Unreleased)

Posted on April 2nd, 2014