Interview: Nick Mitchell
While Glasgow may not be immediately synonymous with hip-hop, the city has produced a recent spate of beatmakers with their own sideways take on the template, including rising luminaries like Rustie and Hudson Mohawke.
Fans of a good genre name have called the Glaswegian predilection for slippery southern US-style beats and scattershot electronica 'aquacrunk'. Whether or not you buy the sales pitch, this is more than a musical outlier, as the global success of the LuckyMe collective has shown.
And now the group we profiled last year has gained a new member in S-Type, a Glasgow-based son of Edinburgh who has been gaining props through his remix work and a well received EP on the Phuturelabs label.
Ahead of his set at the Bongo Club tonight, we caught up with S-Type (real name Bobby Perman), to find out what goes into his music and how he fits into the native beat scene.
Sweet Vixen by S-Type
Can you describe your first forays into music-making?
"When I was about ten or eleven, before I knew anything about music software, I made weird wee beats on a four-track tape recorder. I would record a drum beat, pitch it up or down and add guitar, bass, percussion and weird vocals. The tapes are at my folks' house, I need to dig them out for a wee nostalgic cringe one day. My older brothers both made beats so I got Cubase when I was about 14 and started sampling anything from my parents' vinyl collection to weird shit like found sound and TV shows. The first beat I made, sampled sound effects from my brother's Dr Who videos."
What music were you listening to growing up and which producers have influenced your sound?
"My folks played everything - Soul, Motown, jazz, blues, folk, classical … so I was always into all types of music. I was obsessed with Blur and Radiohead in my early teens. It was my older brothers that introduced me to hip-hop and electronic music, which got me into DJing and making beats. When I was making more sample based hip-hop, producers like DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Dilla, Alchemist, Just Blaze and Hi-Tek were all heavy influences on my sound.
"I'm very good friends with Jaisu [another producer from Edinburgh]. We used to hang out all the time, make music and vibe off each other. I'm still heavily influenced by hip-hop production but moving to Glasgow has definitely changed my approach to making music. Going to clubs, listening to different genres and being around so many talented producers and DJs, has influenced me to switch my style up. I still make hip-hop, but nowadays I use more synths and try to make shit for people to wild out to in a club."
How do you approach your production work? Can you lay down the basics of what's involved?
"I don't have any kind of set formula or structure when I start a new beat. I could begin with some drums, then add a melody or a chord sequence and go from there. I could chop up some samples and use that as a template to layer synths over. Sometimes I'll start with a rap acapella, build a beat around it, then delete the vocals - just using them as a guide for the track to take shape. I approach every beat in a different way, it'd be boring if I did the same thing every time."
When someone asks you for a remix, what happens? How do you put your own stamp on it?
"The artist or label will send me either stems [individual parts of a track], or just an acapella. My remixes always have a totally different vibe from the original. If it's a vocal track, I try to make it sound like it is an original song, not a remix. I really try and gel the beat around the acapella, by making sure the rhythms work and the general tone of the music fits the vocals. As for my own stamp? I don't really know, I just play about with synths and see what I come up with. My music is very melodic and layered with lots of texture, I guess that's apparent in my remixes."
FOUND - Anti Climb Paint (S-Type remix) [instrumental] by S-Type
How did you get involved with Phuturelabs and LuckyMe?
"I've known the Phuturelabs guys since I moved to Glasgow. They do a show for Radio Magnetic (ran by my eldest brother, Dougal and where I work as an editor) and we all DJ and drink in our local bar, IVY. When they started the label, they asked if I was interested in putting out an EP. I released the Medusa EP at the end of 2010. It really opened a lot of doors for me and got my name circulating, so I owe a lot to them.
"I've known the LuckyMe crew for a long time. I'm from Edinburgh so everyone involved in hip-hop knows each other, pretty much. Me and Dom Sum (who runs the label, alongside Martyn Flynn) had some mutual friends and we hung out quite a bit, rapping and talking shit. I knew Ross (Hudson Mohawke), back when he was DJ Itchy. We used to chat online and send each other beats, before we actually met in person.
"Dom asked me to join LuckyMe all the time, and I'd be like 'yeah of course!'. I'd see him a couple weeks later - he'd ask me again and I'd give the same reply. This went on for a while and nothing ever happened. This was before they started putting out proper records. Last year, I sent Dom a track over Twitter called 'YouDaBest' and people went crazy for it. Lots of big DJs have been championing it since. Earlier in the year Dom and Martyn hit me up asking if I'd be up for doing an EP for them. 'YouDaBest' will be on there."
What do you make of the electronic and hip hop scenes in Scotland?
"The electronic scene in Glasgow is massive and it seems to be growing in Edinburgh now as well. When I first started going out to clubs in Edinburgh, I was mostly going to the same old hip hop and drum'n'bass nights so it was refreshing to come through to Glasgow and hear new shit.
"Hip-hop in Scotland is okay, there's good and bad artists, like any scene. I'm friends with some great rappers (Depths and Gasp especially), who put in work and deserve to shine more, but there's a lot of egotistical bullshit here too. So many artists here have their wee groups of 'yes men', who will tell them anything they do is amazing.
"SoundCloud and YouTube are great tools obviously, but they also encourage wee guys to spam everyone's Facebook walls with their first ever demos. There's hardly any quality control here. Another thing that annoys me is there's no dedicated progressive hip-hop club nights whatsoever, it's all dated stuff from the 90s. I'm sick of hearing the same stuff that I rinsed ten years ago in clubs today, it's boring. It's weird because loads of kids love new hip hop, but there doesn't seem to be any promoters who are willing to give it a shot. I play out that kinda stuff but most of the clubs that I get booked for are electronic nights."
Terry Nutkins by S-Type
How are things progressing with the next release?
"I'm working on my EP just now. It's coming along well and will be out next year. I don't want to say too much about it, as I don't want to jinx it but I'm very excited. Until then I've got a lot of remixes coming out. Now that I'm getting more established, it's important I don't fade away and keep folks talking about me."
If you could work with any artist, who would you choose?
"I have no idea right now, so I'm gonna say Royce Da 5'9. He's my favourite rapper ever. I actually sent Royce a batch of beats through Twitter recently, Rook from Justice L.E.A.G.U.E. put us in touch. I never heard back from him, but I'll keep trying! Terrace Martin is another incredible producer and musician, that I'd love to work with… Frank Ocean is an amazing song writer, or maybe Kanye West. I'm not sure, that's such a difficult question."
Which other Scottish musicians and producers do you look up to?
"Jaisu, all the LuckyMe and Numbers affiliates, FOUND (my brother, Tommy's band), Scatabrainz, HaHaHa, NoFace, Taz Buckfaster… there's far too many to even remember right now."
• S-Type is playing Trouble's Wonky night at the Bongo Club in Edinburgh tonight (12 Aug), 11pm - 5am, along with MC Profisee, who we featured back in April.
• Download S-Type's Medusa EP for free from Phuturelabs
S-Type on: Facebook | SoundCloud | Twitter | Bandcamp
Posted by Nick Mitchell