Posts tagged ‘Berlin’
Oh hell, this blog has been left for a while… but dont sweat and check our new online home at Some Such Records, Berlin-based music label and artist collective.
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This is a tour diary entry, I suppose: it’s an interview I did with Trek Life who repped L.A. on this year’s Diamond District European tour. It was one of the last gigs of the tour and we had a chat before a wicked performance in Berlin, still pretty cold outside at the time (Feb.)
I decided to blog the whole thing as Trek Life said and meant it: basically, alongside some impressions of the tour with Oddisee, XO, yU and DJ Quartermaine, the main focus is on what it takes to be an MC.
As you can tell when reading this, Trek Life is very outspoken and passionate about this – I’m sure that comes across (podcast to follow soon).
“What up y’all, this is Trek Life, LA. Innsbruck is the funniest thing that’s happened on this tour. Period, point blank. All due respect to getting drunk and apologizing for this not happening to me, but I don’t I’ve ever invited anybody to go to the club and eat pussy. That’s what one of the promoters did – sometimes that’s what happens!
“This will be the fourth year that I’ve been to Europe, but I guess the first year that people knew I was out here. From the first moment everybody clicked up it was just like a crew and we ran the streets in every place we went to. You develop a family relationship and you’re like ‘Now I kind of know this person because I’ve travelled with him and hang out with him every day. I’ve lived with him.’
“We all get along and that’s the thing: I’ve been on tours where people didn’t get along but it happened with ease with us.
“What does a lyricist do on tour? I’ve definitely written out here kind of project-specific. My writing experience has changed over the last year, I’ve been writing a lot more personal. There’s a dark side to this tour that’s going on back home so I’ve been trying to curb it and not necessarily write about it so much, so I think the larger portion of this experience for me has been, being able to freestyle again on stage.
“What does it take to be a good MC? Do it with your fucking talent. It’s not as though all the bells and whistles aren’t part of it. You definitely need to have positive press, good press photos. You definitely need to be able to speak well in interviews and able to take good pictures and wear really, really nice tennis shoes and shit. But the most important thing: learn how to fucking rap, you’re not going to get your licence if you can’t drive. But if you do get your licence you’re gonna kill somebody.
“You’re going to have to learn to be the best rapper you can be. I’m sorry to be so blunt, but I’m the teacher that will give you an ‘F’. You need to be able to do your craft. There are a lot of sucka DJs out there, there are a lot of producers that don’t even know how to IQ their own snares, their own kicks. Kev Brown had to tell people ‘Stop taking my drums’.
“You need to know your craft. It’s cool that you take pictures and I like the photography and shit you have on your websites, shit is cute. But don’t call up promoters and converse with them as if you’re Jay-Z. You’re nobody at this point.
“You need to learn the terminology from top to bottom and be good at what you do before you jump out there and get turned around by this industry and then try to blame everybody else. ‘Oh, it must be the tide that’s changing’, ‘It must be the fact that people don’t listen to music anymore’. Fuck that, it’s the fact that you don’t know what the fuck you’re doing. You need to get out there and learn your craft first. Period. Disclaimer: my peers don’t necessarily have to take the brunt of this message, I’m just saying it straight up.
“A lot of times when people talk directly, they get pegged as upset or angry or whatever. I’m definitely not mad, I want to make sure that people understand that. I’m talking generally, the reason why I’m so aggressive about this point is because I don’t care if everyone is a millionaire off of this shit. To me, that would be the greatest thing to ever happen: if everyone who puts up a twitter page could be successful, that would be the best thing in the world to me.
“If we could all share this shit, that would be perfectly fine. It’s just that you can’t swindle your way into this. You’re completely setting yourself up for failure, if you’re trying to sucker your way into things.
“The straight-away way is the way that will feed your children for generations off of your music. Learn to play the guitar like Jonny Guitar Watson learned to play the guitar, learn to rap like Rakim, Big Daddy Kane or Ice Cube did it. Try to be the best at your actual craft, it doesn’t make any sense to try and wear the nicest clothes if you can’t rap. It’s not that I’m hating on anybody. If you find a side door, then more power to you. I would just like to see you all to be better and I would like you all to want me to be better and check me as well. Period.”
Here’s a Spine TV clip that was shot before the Diamond District show in Berlin over the weekend. It was one of the last legs of the European tour this year and from what they told me, it’s been a hell of a trip through France, Italy, Germany and Austria, with support from DJ Quartermaine and Trek Life from L.A.
Beat Bungalow also sat down with the extended Low Budget crew for a chat that night, full interview & podcast will follow soon.
It’s worth the wait, trust.
Here we go: something wicked this way comes…Beat Bungalow got together with Ollie Teeba for a chat before a recent gig in Berlin. Ollie spoke about his love of soundtracks, all things old school and legendary sound engineer ‘No Sleep Nigel‘…
Q: Some of your music sounds quite cinematic, ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’, springs to mind. Are you inspired by people like Quincy Jones or Lalo Schifrin?
A: You’ve pretty much nailed it on the head right there, with a few of other names I would throw in. A bit of John Barry, Roy Budd and Morricone. All of those guys have had a massive influence on us because they were the ones that really mixed the orchestral sound with funk. I remember when I was about 11 or 12, watching ‘Enter The Dragon’ and ‘Dirty Harry’. In ‘Dirty Harry’ just from that first scene where he shoots the woman on the rooftop and there’s that heavy drum with that amazing sound, buzzing organ, I was like ‘Whoooaaaa, what’s that?’.
Q: Your new record label K7 is based in Berlin: what about the city itself, what do you think of it compared to London?
A: Berlin is definitely a cool place to be in. The east part seems to be particularly interesting. There’s really good graffiti everywhere, whole shop fronts and big pieces and you just don’t see that in London. If you did have it, in no time it would be covered in tags. You get some cool shops out here and some really nice records shops. People in Berlin definitely know their stuff, they know their music, they know their style and it’s a good place to be. There aren’t many places I visited other than London where I could see myself living. Berlin is definitely one of them.
Q: You’ve worked with the same engineer in the studio quite a lot: ‘No Sleep Nigel’ has been doing a lot of your albums.
A: We started working with him on our second album ‘Blow Your Headphones’, and a rapper we had done some work with had recommended him. Basically we did a mix and he said that the mix was no good and he said we’d need to speak to ‘No Sleep Nigel’. And I was like ‘ I’ve heard of him, he’s the guy who’s mentioned on all the 80s hip hop records’. He die a lot of MC Mello’s early stuff… also Blade. It just had that big booming sound and we thought he was the right man for us. He’s just a really cool guy that we’ve become really good friends with. He’s quite a lot older than most hip hoppers, he’s in his 50s and just knows so much about so many different types of music. Although sometimes, you don’t want to get him talking because once you get him started, the mix gets done several hours later (laughs).
He’s a wealth of information, and man, he’s forgotten more about sound than I will ever know. He’s a scientist and understands how it works on a complete scientific level, which I suppose any good sound engineer should do. We wind him up and let him go and a little while later you’ve got an album that sounds fantastic.
He also mixed our new album Session 2 – we’ll keep working him until he dies…
Q: Does he still get no sleep?
A: Well, he’s more ‘Some Sleep Nigel’ now, because he’s older now and he needs his rest.
Q: How many rooms have you managed to fill with records at your home?
A: I have one room that’s entirely filled with records and otherwise it’s just got a bed in it. Nothing else. But there’s even some spill into my living room that’s why I’m moving and I need a bigger place. Too many records, too many sneakers and too many leather goose jackets. All this stuff is something I got into when I was 13 or 14 and it’s all part of the old school, original hip hop experience, which is something I hold very dear to my heart and it’s still the coolest thing. No matter what new stuff people are doing with hip hop. I look at it, I listen to it but it’s just not as cool as the old school, dude.
‘Suff’ means booze in German, but during the interview this up-and-coming beat maker took a break from sipping liquor on the rocks. Beat Bungalow caught up with him after the release party for his PilsDaddy LP at a Berlin vinyl hot spot. He waxes lyrically about the musical undergound, his work with Oddisee and his brothers huge record collection.
Winner of the Phat Kat remix competition, some have even compared the Suff sound to that of the late Jay Dee.
And if you listen closely there might just be a few of those slow-clapping, electroid elements in there. Chopped up vocals, dirty drums and all of that but with its own distinct overproof feel, just like his favourite drinks. His mixtapes are also worth checking out.
For real, Suff Daddy is far from tee-total, so catch him at an Alcoholics Anonymous session near you…until then: read this.
Photos: Robert Winter
You’re originally from Düsseldorf (home of Kraftwerk), but have been living in Berlin for a couple of years now. What do you think of the Berlin music scene, and what’s going in hip hop there right now?
Most of the time I make my own music at home, but in Berlin I think the best stuff is coming out of Prenzlauer Berg. There’s a few peeps who used to call themselves ‘Funkviertel’ and who live in that district. Part of that crew are Drum Kit, V.Raeter, V-Mann and also Morlockk Dilemma. I don’t have a lot of time for the Berlin scene otherwise – all the commercial stuff that’s coming from here sucks and I don’t listen to it. Otherwise, there’s a lot of hype about techno and electro. I’m not into techno, even though I’ve got to admit that I used to like house music quite a bit a few years ago and there’s still a few decent tracks coming out.
But most of the time I’m at home making beats, chilling with my girlfriend or I’m in the beer garden with my mates. fLako is another guy from Berlin who I’ve got a lot of respect for and he makes some sick music. There’s also Audio 88 and Robot Koch is another producer and he’s got an electro vibe going on. Generally speaking, only the underground stuff is good around here.
Let’s talk about your ‘Digital Invaders’ project for a bit: that’s a few years ago now isn’t it? How did that come about?
I’ve been making beats for 10 years and for the first seven, I didn’t show them to anyone. I was keeping the music on my hard drive and didn’t play it to anyone, just my friends. Then one day I got talking to Powell from Paris. At the time he was recording tracks with Bless 1 from Chicago. We kept sending each other beats and then he asked if I was down for putting together a compilation with him. None of us had any connections then but we had ‘…’ from the US on there, a couple of French artists and one of my best friends from Berlin, Hazeem. We just wanted to work together and put something out there. I only knew Powell through the web and we’d never met face-to-face even though we’ve known each other for four years now. So this year in August, we were going to meet for the first time at a Beat BBQ in Cologne, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. Digital Invaders isn’t going anymore because everyone is doing their own thing, but it was good fun.
And what about your PilsDaddy joints with Pillskills out of East Berlin?
I met Davey Dave in September 2008 at my EP launch party and he asked if I would send him some beats for a collaboration. I really like their lyrics because they don’t take things too seriously you know, they’re unpretentious and it’s just music with a funny twist.
Your brother’s vinyl collection had a big influence on you and your music. What kind of records did he have in that mysterious collection?
He started digging and collecting in the late 1980s until around ’97. He had all the classics, such as DITC and Large Pro. He had the first Main Source single, which was just called ‘Atoms’, a lot of French Hip Hop, stuff from England, Pharcyde…I could go on forever, but mainly golden era hip hop. In that respect, I’ve always tried to become like my brother what hip hop is concerned. He’s no longer doing this and has a different lifestyle with a steady job and so on. But it kind of stuck with me and without his record collection, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today.
Did any particular sound or style of production stick with you?
Large Pro’s record ‘The LP’, which was never officially released but it’s been put out again recently. Tracks like ‘I just Wanna Chill’, Souls of Mischief and lots of others.
Your sound is a lot different compared to the other stuff that’s big in Germany right now. How do you feel being a 30-year-old producer, have you considered making music full-time? What’s your plan for the future?
I’ve still got this dream that I can do music full-time and do nothing else, even if that doesn’t sound that realistic. I’m not doing this because of the money, but because it’s what I like doing and because it’s my own little dream. I just want to sit at home and produce – until I’m old and have to go into an old folks’ home. I’m continue doing what I’m doing, even though it doesn’t pay. I’m happy with my Label, Melting Pot Music, and my plan is just to keep releasing records, ideally ten every year. Most of the stuff that’s available at the moment I did a year ago and I’m getting tired of listening, but it’s all good.
Just recently, my second remix 7’’ came out on Goodbye Records with a version of Psycho/ Look of Love by J-88. Olski from MPM ihas been releasing an instrumental LP, which is called Hi Hat Club. My next EP is due before the end of this year. I’m also working on something with fLako and Retrogott from ‘Huss & Hodn’. Another project I’m working on is with Hubert Daviz from Cologne, which is going to be called SuffDavies. Another project with ‘Sichtbeton’ that’ll be called SuffBeton. Another connection I made is with Miles Bonny from Kansas City who is a trumpet player and singer. Also, MegaSuff with Flomega. He’s a good guy and always very busy, but that should be done soon. Otherwise, I’ll still be putting in my hours as a DJ here in Berlin and maybe work on a little live project. That’s what my plan is til 2010.
What was it like working with Kev Brown and Oddisee, how did that work out?
I didn’t know much about Oddisee before we linked up, but one of my friends said to me that he was on tour and coming to Berlin. So I just wrote to him and asked if he was up for getting together and record something. He said cool and we met up for one day. He was a cool dude and the whole recording session lasted for about two hours. He rapped his verse and the hook and then Kev Brown came in on the track as well. That was before I got in touch with MPM.
By the way, mad props to Fleur Earth Experiment – I’m really digging the scene in Cologne right now. There’s some interesting and original music coming from there. Shouts to Hulk Hodn, Twit One, Uno und Testiculo, who did the first volume for Hi Hat Club. All the other commercial stuff is just bullshit as far as I’m concerned and I just like the underground stuff. For me it’s like this: the people who don’t earn a lot of money with making music often make the best music. I don’t want to hate on anybody, but most of the mainstream stuff is bullshit.
Lets talk about the Liks, The Alkoholiks. They were quite a big influence on your sound right?
That’s true, they’ve had a big influence and I think all of their records are tight, except the last one, ‘Firewater’, which I didn’t rate too much. My favourite one is ’21 and Over’. All they’ve done is rhyme about beer, bitches and weed, so it’s pretty limited in terms of what they rap about. But I just really like it and I just think they’re great. It’s the same with me, I don’t want to claim that I’m making really sober and serious music.
Have you got any plans to work with live instrumentation?
A lot of people have asked me that and it’s probably going to happen sooner or later. I just bought a Moog and I’m messing around on that at the moment. But I don’t play any instruments or know how to read music. I just experiment and record the stuff that sounds good to me. One of my predictions, 2010 at Sonar Festival in Barcelona, maybe we can do a live thing there…that would be tight.