Asaviour has been around for a while now, as you should’ve clocked via releases on YNR and Low Life. The West Yorkshire rhymer has been tight with Jehst from mornin’ and recently dropped his first mixtape with DJ IQ, ‘Play 2 Win’, crammed with the freestyles, exclusives, album promos and cream-of-UK guests that mark it out as full-fat-Hip-Hop. His debut album, ‘Borrowed Ladder’ is released on Low Life in March and so UKHH were ready’n’waiting to pounce on the guy after he and Jehst had properly rocked the house at Manchester’s C’mon Feet, delving for your pleasure into the world of Asaviour: where he came from, where he’s at and a little sight on what’s on his horizon. We get mysterious on the album title and contentious in the ‘either or’ quiz, check it out.
UKHH: You’ve lived and pushed yourself as an artist in Huddersfield/Leeds, Manchester and now London. Can you tell us about your different experiences of the people, the places, and the industry?
Asaviour: It’s more of a North/South thing, it’s not specific to Leeds or Manchester. It’s a lot more hungry [up North] because there’s less there and it’s a lot warmer, people are ready like to embrace you and let you in, crews form a little easier I think up North, Manchester, Leeds. When I was living in Huddersfield there was only really me, Jehst, my boy Tony here, he’s a hip hop head full stop. We had our little tight knit crew – a few mans were into more American shit but…we had our crew. Down London, you’ve definitely got people on it, but I think there’s a certain amount of prangness with the competitiveness, people are like ‘nah I got my boys, I can do this with these, I don’t need to work with them, I’m better than him…’ Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got good links in London and there’s some bonafide people, but North is my home – I’m from Huddersfield originally but because I’ve spent my years in Manchester linking different people and just getting up to whatever it’s my second home, definitely.
UKHH: You sound a bit nostalgic!
Asaviour: Yeah, slightly. But at the same time [down London] there is still a movement, there are still good sets of people who I work with – the Sit Tight link, the YNR link, the Low Life link, there’s a lot of people still ready to connect and work on different shit man. There’s pros and cons to both, London’s hectic, it’s very fast, no one really gives a fuck, know what I mean? Manchester.. it’s all close, but then sometimes it can be too close.
UKHH: What was the first tune that blew your mind open to Hip Hop?
Asaviour: The first tune that blew my mind? Looking Out The Front Door. When I first heard that man, because that beat was just crazy and he was talking about some shit as well and for me that was just like ‘ok, maybe I’ll try and write a little rhyme, it might be no good but – let me try a little suttin’!
“…There’s pro’s and con’s to both, London’s hectic, it’s very fast, no one really gives a fuck, know what I mean? Manchester…it’s all close, but then sometimes it’s too close…”
UKHH: When was that? How old were you when you first started writing rhymes?
Asaviour: When I first started writing rhymes? What even when I had the American accent? Because I did have an American accent when I first started writing rhymes… Maybe about…fourteen, fifteen? That was the age when I was like ‘yeah let me try and write, I can do this!’.
UKHH: So you’d been doing it about three or four years before you hooked up with Jehst?
Asaviour: That was in college. I was rolling with my boy Tony and I saw Jehst when he didn’t even know me.
Jehst: Even though you were an international superstar at the time.
Asaviour: Of course, of course, I was mayor of Huddersfield but – I came in and saw Jehst performing-
Jehst: But I had no respect for authority, I didn’t know who the mayor was.
Asaviour: Yeah he was jus’ a rowdy yoot’, a rowdy yoot’ on the mic! He was with Passive Resistance and shit and I didn’t know him at the time and I saw him spit and was like – ok, ok, and then in college, I was like ‘ah I remember that face, wassup man!’ Obvious love of Hip Hop and weed and shit – we hook up. Yeah, college times, that was the jump off…connected.
UKHH: At what stage did you realise you were pretty good and had the potential to make success of your MC skills?
Asaviour: Er; I dunno….I suppose it just feels like a natural progression. Just been doing all the appearances, then made songs, then a little EP, then the album. It just feels kinda natural, it’s normal. Don’t get me wrong, I’m dead happy to have an album out, I’m kinda excited but it just still feels…cool, like I’m just doin’ what I’m doin. But when did I first take it seriously? I dunno, I kinda have waves…I reckon seventeen, I was kinda foolishly thinking I could do it, and then…twenty one, I was at that crossroads kinda age, when it was more like: ‘What’s goin’ on? Fuck it, let me try this…if I can make a living off something that I love, rather than…’ Yeah, twenty one was a serious try at it.
“…It just feels like natural progression. Just been doing all the appearances, then made songs, then a little EP, then the album…”
UKHH: What did that involve?
Asaviour: At first it was even just paying to get into a jam and spit on an open mic or something, but then it was getting equipment, Jehst was the leader on the equipment at the time and I was like, ‘yo what do we need to make beats?’ and he had the Atari, and Cubase and…didn’t have a 950 at first, had some kind of Roland sampler, I got myself a little sampler and got my shit on, and started there, trying to work on beats, trying to work on rhymes, just to – slowly get there. I didn’t think I’d be spot on straightaway but I’m into the graft so…yeah.
UKHH: So have you done much production on your album?
Asaviour: A bit man, I’m still kinda…extra critical on my shit because it’s my shit.
UKHH: It’s never finished then?
Asaviour: Yeah! But I’ve got a few beats on there, there’s a track called ‘Gameface’, um… produced a little shit together with DJ IQ…I’ll leave it til when you hear the album, I can’t give away too much!
UKHH: What are the best bits on it?
Asaviour: The best bits? I don’t know man, I’m happy with…I’ve done a track called ‘This Planet’, and I’m not really political but I’ve talked about some shit, for once I’ve thought – yeah. So I’ve gone for a bit more of a serious subject but still, I’m not a serious serious brother, so the way I tackled that, just…a bit of humour, I can never be too serious, do that shit all out! So for a track that I’m most happy with for what I’ve said, I’d probably say ‘This Planet’.
UKHH: What do you think will make the album stand out?
Asaviour: I’m reppin’ the North, I’m bein’ me I suppose, I dunno! My character, there’s a bit of charisma there I think, just a little suttin’ different…I’m trying to make my own lane.
“…What’s goin’ on? Fuck it, let me try this……if I can make a livin’ off something I love…”
UKHH: So what about the title, ‘The Borrowed Ladder’, what’s that all about?
Asaviour: I don’t know if I can – can I give that away? Nah, I’d like people to just read into it, see what they make of it and if they do their research enough they’ll probably work it out, but it’s in films and books, yeah, do a little bit of research on ‘The Borrowed Ladder’, type it in on Google, and you might work out what I’m on about…don’t want to give it away straight away! The clues are out there, the truth is out there!
UKHH: Are you looking for just UK sales with the album or are you looking to get more of a European, or worldwide, market with it?
Asaviour: To be honest I’m on everywhere I mean, I like making the music but I’m not gonna say it’s just for me, I would love as many people…
UKHH: Have you played out in Europe?
Asaviour: A little bit, I went out with Jehst, we did this Semtex Redbull festival in Prague and then I’ve been to Lithuania and Spain. So not massive but getting out to Europe, seeing different vibes ‘n’ cultures n shit, it’s cool.
UKHH: Yeah? What were the hip hop fans in those countries saying?
Asaviour: Some of ‘em were fanatical! In Spain they’ve got just a fanatical following and it’s like…a rock gig or some shit, hard beats, the crowds just – mosh pit, it’s crazy, wicked vibe out there, serious, different energy. Lithuania was just…screaming! We went out on a big stage and there was just this screaming, like…ok!
UKHH: Alongside your MC skills, what other tricks have you got up your sleeve?
Asaviour: I’m a hustler; I’m a hustler baby…like – the Play 2 Win mixtape, I’ve gotta put that advert in, sorry but that’s how it goes. The Play 2 Win mixtape, mixed by DJ IQ, out now, all good stores, it’s got all the people on it, Konny Kon, Jehst, myself, all exclusive shit, stuff from The Borrowed Ladder album…that’s my shameless plug anyway.
“…A bit of humour, I can never be too serious to do that shit all out…”
UKHH: Where do you see yourself in five years time? Have you got a plan?
Asaviour: I haven’t got a plan…I’m cultivating the Gameface. That’s the next shit. The Gameface, I put it on, it’s a state of mind I’m trying to get into. And – I am preparing a little strategy, at the moment I want to work more with Northern artists.
UKHH: Connections you’ve got from when you moved through Manchester?
Asaviour: Yeah, definitely, Broke’n’£nglish – Strategy, Konny Kon, Krispy, the killers. All them peeps, I’ve gotta reconnect and make some links and work on some shit, definitely. Hopefully the album will give me more exposure. I do wanna bring it home, I keep saying it but… So yeah, that is a focus in the coming year, to do that shit and then back into the lab for the next album I think, I ain’t gonna let it settle for too long, I’ve gotta come with the next shit.
UKHH: You’ve got plans for the next album already?
Asaviour: Yeah, kinda…I wanna bring more instruments into it – it’s not gonna be like a straight band – like, I’m rapping with a band now, but I wanna extend it. I wanna make it a bit bigger and bring some different influences so production wise that’s the way I wanna go, bring more instruments in.
UKHH: You gonna bring live instruments into your shows as well?
Asaviour: I mean – you gotta pay them fuckin’ musicians haven’t you and them lot are after some serious paper, and I gotta pay the rent, so…yeah, I’m waiting for the McAlpine Stadium show, the Huddersfield sell out tour for that. For the town halls, I’ll bring the instruments. Buy my shit. I make the dough I’ll get the band, I’ll get the orchestra, whatever you want, serious. For real man I swear.
“…‘The Borrowed Ladder’…The clues are out there, the truth is out there…”
UKHH: Right. We’ll finish off with a quick ‘either or’ quiz: Number One. Goldie Looking Chain or MC Pitman?
Asaviour: Goldie Looking Chain, cos I’ve got money out of them lot. We gigged with ‘em and they paid us proper, so I can’t front!
UKHH: So you’re feelin’ that mad welsh thing then?
Asaviour: It’s crazy, they are on some shit, nah seriously, we went touring with them for a little bit and you walk in and there’s just…whatever…nearly two thousand and sometimes the big five thousand, and all in their leisurewear, totally bought into it, but it’s more they’ve come to see Goldie Looking Chain rather than even hear ‘em, it’s kinda weird, just to get pissed and that but meeting them, they’re all good man, cool brothers, proper, it was a funny little tour.
UKHH: Now one of my personal favourites: Biggie or Tupac?
Asaviour: Biggie, man! Don’t get me wrong, [Tupac] had the occasional one, but – Biggie’s the king. Innit [to others in room] Biggie or Tupac?
Jehst: Biggie or Tupac? Oh don’t fuck…that’s a stupid question. Biggie, man!
Asaviour: I think this whole room will say Biggie, innit? Biggie or Tupac?
Strategy: I’ll be totally honest – ‘Me Against the World’, the age that I was at when he released that album –
Asaviour: Yeah but on the strength of the whole shit –
Jehst: He is the better rapper but –
[thus begins a heated debate. However, everyone is talking at once so it’s very hard to make out what anyone says, plus it’s his interview so the final word goes to…]
Asaviour: I think the answer is there – the people speak. [Interruptions of dissent] It’s there! I’m rail-roading it! Biggie!
“…I’m cultivating the Gameface. That’s the next shit…”
UKHH: Jack Straw or John Prescott?
Asaviour: Prescott! Cos he don’t Ramp, he’ll just bang you out! I know he’s 2 Jags and he’s a fat bastard and all the rest, but…I don’t care, ‘up the workers’ know what I mean? Prescott.
UKHH: One multi-platinum album, or three gold?
Asaviour: Three Gold! But at the end of day, I don’t care about the records, I‘m all about the music…nah three gold, I’ll be straight with you. It’s about longevity, innit? It’s not about flash in the pan shit. Three gold, longevity.
UKHH: A final word? Say something to UKHH.
Asaviour: Yeah big up UKHH, big up all the readers. This is a message to everyone who’s reading this article. Put your gameface on. It’s 2006, it’s some crazy times right now, you need to wear your gameface at all times….yeah, Nuke Proof Suit as well – if you can afford that shit!
“…Buy my shit. I make the dough, I’ll get the band, I’ll get the orchestra, whatever you want, serious. For real man I swear…”
– Kate Novo & Tony Camara