I don’t think enough people really understand the work required by producers to get shit done, i don’t mean those beat makers who loop a beat for 2 minutes. I’m talking about a person who not only makes beats but turns those beats into something more. They have the ability to make sick beats but then add subtle touches like bridges, chorus’s and many layers of sounds and noises to make the beat into something bustling with life. It’s safe to say Beat Butcha is a man on his grind.. I can say knowing him personally he’s put in enough work to deserve to get some dues, and some money for all those long nights, pissing off the missus making beats.
Not just any old grind, he’s worked with the cream of the UK Hip Hop, Jehst, Kyza, Klashnekoff, M9 alongside one of Grime’s dominant forces, Ghetts. Now taking his trade to the states and providing beats for some of the best underground rappers like Lil Eto alongside U.S luminaries like Mobb Deep, Xhibit, M.O.P and a lot more, it was time to have a quick catch up.
I’ve known Butcha for quite a few years, and you know what this is the most i heard him talk serious about music in all that time, if you know him you’ll understand what i mean. That’s not to say he isn’t serious about music cause he is mad serious about that, but he’s a joker a lot of the time. I house shared with Butcha for a couple of those years, our neighbour’s complained about his noise once after a drunken night of beatmaking late (ish) on some of his typical head bangin’ shit. That earned us a letter from the douche bags next door threatening to have the council kick us out. I slammed the door in the ladies face after she kept talking over my apologies. So my advice is dont ever live above or next door to Butcha, unless you like loud beats!
Anyway UKHH decided we needed to have a chat to our buddy who we’re proud to say worked hard and branched out from the UKHH scene…I started with some simple production questions who the up and coming beatmakers might appreciate, then we moved towards some more serious stuff.. It’s a long read but well worth it so get a cuppa tea p;oppin’ and get stuck in. Butcha was also kind enough to hook us up with a freebie for you all to download… Download at the bottom of the interview
UKHH: Did anybody else in your family get involved with music?
Nobody in my family was actively involved in music but having said that on my mum’s side, my grandad was able to play the piano without being able to read music.
UKHH: What are your earliest memories of hip-hop?
Boy, I don’t know, I remember listening to the radio in my mums car driving to school when I was about 6 and hearing ‘Push it’ by Salt N Peppa haha.Honestly I can’t pin point what got me into Hip Hop, but my best friend when i was about 7 or 8, his older brother was a head and I heard tunes every time I went to visit him and dug what I heard but I was young so I didn’t understand shit lol.
UKHH: When did you move to London?
Around 1566 during the great canibal invasion, we came via the sewers.
UKHH: How did you get involved in the production side of things?
I was always into music and somehow some way, I got into DJ’ing and when my mum bought us our first pc I decided to start fuckin’ about with cool edit and badda boom badda bing here we are.
UKHH: What was the first equipment that you got really comfortable working on?
The first equipment was cool edit & an mpc 2000 and I still use cool edit/audition now lol.
UKHH: What is it about a sound that you’re looking for?
I’m naturally drawn to ampted up dark music, I really don’t know why.
UKHH: What catches your eye about a record if you’re sampling?
This has changed over the years but nowadays it depends on how I feel but generally I just look for nice textures, stuff that I wouldn’t be able to replay easily. Warm chords, swirling strings, big bold drum breaks, wah wah psychy soulfull stuff.
UKHH: Do you usually do drums first?
I don’t have a set way of beginning a track, it really depends what mood I’m in. Usually my non sampled horror beats start with drums (like the beats I did on Tony Yayo’s ‘el chapo’), but I don’t always use the same formula, things get boring quick with formulas.
UKHH: Do you use actual drum loops or just hits?
Both, depends on what I’m doing, there’s no rules blood, I just do whatever feels right.
UKHH: What are some of your favorite drum breaks?
AAh man! I’m crap with names of songs, so allow me!
UKHH: Do you layer drum hits?
Everything I do is layered, every sound has a purpose even tho u might not hear it by itself, often sounds chopped from breaks need a little bit of subtle layering to accentuate the sound I’ve chopped. For instance, a kick might be a large sound heavy but lack a punch and generally in those cases I’ll layer the kick with another punchier kick. Often my sessions get very large which can be a headache if someone else mixes it but I find that’s the best way to get the sound I want.
UKHH: Will you run kicks and snares through a compressor?
Sometimes, in general I try to use as little effects & compression as possible on the drums, because I find it becomes a nightmare if the joint get’s mixed by someone else. I like to sample my drum breaks to loud so that they clip a tiny bit which gets them bumping.
UKHH: Do you play any instruments?
I do indeed, I’m self taught so I’m not the illest musician but I play the guitar and keys, I’m always learning. Every track I do nowadays has a played element to it if the joint isn’t totally sample free.
UKHH: Did you ever work with a live band?
Nah, my bredrin Frank Dukes works closely with the Menahan Street Band and I went to one of their sessions few months back, their settup is crazy, i think they would probably be the only band I would wanna work with, they have that 70s sound & use all the old gear. Tommy is a genius, and some of the drum breaks I’ve heard Homer put down are up there with some of the illest famous breaks.
If I came into alot of money I would probably buy a bunch of the old gear/instruments, like a farifisa, a wurlitzer, a clavi, upright piano for my stu, really that’s the lane I’m trying to get into, I’d rather play the instruments myself haha, sounds weird I know.
UKHH: Are you still out there digging?
Not really, I dig here and there online but I’m not really sampling as much anymore as I was before….I dig more for inspiration nowadays, since I’m going more down the instrument lane….
UKHH: Tell me about something you do in production which you think is a Beat Butcha method, like something you always do to a sound or drums?
Well, tbh I don’t really know, but I never usually quantize my drums and I tend to sway towards emotional music, I tend to like hard drums, usually chopped from breaks, and stylewise I try to come from an old meets new sort of stance. I just make what I want to make, what I want to hear and hope people like it lol.
And I suppose how I use my equipment is what makes my music sound the way it does, and the majority of that comes down to me being shite with computers, so learning new software is a headache for me. I still use cool edit pro/audition for sequencing and pretty much just all hardware plugged into that, synths, mpc 2500 and a guitar. I find if I have to think about how I’m gonna use a program to do something it kills my motivation to make the track in the first place, I prefer to tap it out.
More recently tho, I’ve been spending alot of time in the states and my working methods aren’t practical as far as being able to create on the road, but luckily enough Native Instruments hooked me up with the Maschine recently, so that has helped me with that problem.
UKHH: You must have a huge stash of beats that never came out.
There’s tons of stuff that never came out but I gotta be honest I wouldn’t be happy with the majority of it coming out now still.
Here and there some old stuff does still tend to come out, such as ‘England’ by Jehst, which was recorded in 2006, but it’s a great tune so I was happy for him to still put that out. But in general I get a bit pissed off with people asking to put out old shit of mine, coz my old sound aint what im trying to promote, not to say that the older stuff wasn’t cool but I’m tryna showcase what I’m on now!!!
I’m just tryna move forward, my new ish is way more musical than the old ish, which had no structure, now there’s transitions, bridges, builds, alot of the beats are put together in a more creative way than what I used to do things. I used to be in sample/drum/bass/change up mindstate, nowadays I try to imagine the finished track and structure the beat in a way that’s ready for an artist to build a song to.
I’m also trying to be more selective with what comes out, while I might make 10 loops/ideas a week, about 2 of them end up getting worked into a fully structured track. And every beat that gets finished has to go somewhere strategic and make moves or money or both preferably, I feel like if I’m not in control of where my music goes and what happens with it then I don’t want to be a part of it.
UKHH: What do you think gives you the knack for putting beats together?
I dunno if I have a knack for beats, but I’m a fan of music and I know what I want to hear, that’s what I make lol.
UKHH: Just before we move on to your recent work in the states we just did an interview with Telemachus aka Chemo, what have you done with him? How did you guys hook up?
I’ve known Chemo since 2000, we connected via the net lol & we linked around the time I was working on ‘Queen Like No Other’ with Paragon, we been good mates ever since. We like to take the piss and act like idiots so we make pisstake tracks, we have a band, but I won’t disclose anymore information on that, until it’s time to drop.
UKHH: ok so tell us about your recent work in the states?
Wellllllll….. I’m pretty much focussing on working out there at the moment, alot of people won’t realize this but in fact I’ve been focussing on that for the last 3 years. A lot of work has gone down behind the scenes, (again people wont have seen) which has lead to me doing a bunch of stuff with Sean Price, producing 70% of an ep with Tony Yayo, called ‘El Chapo’. I’m on Xzibit’s forthcoming album, I was on the Mobb Deep EP which was dropped at the end of 2011, other than that I have a gang of ish out wit other american artists such Danny Brown, Canibus & Keith Murray, Tech 9ne, Sha Stimuli & Hell Rell.
Still working with a few bruddas out here tho (Klashnekoff/Rewd Adams/Jehst), but I’m on my career hustle so just trying to be smart/picky (whatever way u wanna look at it).
UKHH: Have you run into any problems working with artists out there, in a way that’s different to problems you might get with working with a UK artist?
Plenty of problems on both sides of the pond but I’d rather not go into any of that. All I can say is that, being on the come up can be tuff, alot of people regardless of nationality will play power games. I learnt most of what I know from these experiences, so I think it’s just a right of passage, I’ll leave it at that.
UKHH: How important is it to have an understanding about the business side of the industry in order to make moves?
It’s very important to understand how you fit in on the business side in order to understand what you are entitled to and what steps you need to take to make moves (and not get totally shat on). There is however no handbook. I think on a very basic level, a lot of artists need to shake that ‘put me on’ mindstate.
As an up and coming artist/producer, people gotta realize that you can’t just be ill at making beats and not actively get out there and do work, someone is not going to come along and discover you. The other thing I’m going to say which will be unpopular but I’m afraid is the truth, is up and coming producers can’t expect to get their foot in the door and get paid straight away, you’re worth the sum of your achievements unfortunately, you’re building a brand.
The creative side is the easy bit, getting out there and making the most of the music you make is the difficult bit. I’d love for the business to be easier and less of a ball ache but I know it will get easier as the brand get’s stronger.
UKHH: Let’s just update a bit from your work over in the states, you’ve since worked with prodigy from Mobb Deep on a couple of tunes right? One dropped on the EP last year and had a video, what else have you got going on?
Yes indeed, Prodigy has 2 of my productions on the forthcoming ‘HNIC 3’ album, I had quite a proud end of year, as far as music seeing the light of day.
I had a tune on Lloyd Banks’ ‘Cold Corner 2’ tape which was very well recieved and got me quite a bit of forthcoming work. I got 2 more on his forthcoming ‘V6’ tape too.
Other than that I was on the project Currensy’s group Jets dropped and I was on Fred da Godson & Willie The Kid’s mixtapes. Plenty more is coming though, I’m always working and always trying to work on bigger and better things lol. Also be on the lookout for a new track with Jehst ‘Australian’ which is on the ‘Project: Moon Cicle’ compilation dropping late march.
UKHH: I know you’re a big Mobb fan how did that feel working with Prodigy?
It felt great, I had already worked with Havoc, while P was locked up but that was over the internet.
The day I first went to Infamous studios, will be a memory I never forget, it was very, very dope. It was like a long lost cousin had re-united with family, because I had worked with some of the affliates already and former management was entourage of Mobb & G-Unit, so everyone was familiar with me and super friendly. Gotto shout my bredrin Nez out for the lift and shit! It was ill man, since that day I bin in the lab with P quite alot, even when it werent recording to my shit, I like the energy he has, it’s inspiring.
Whats funny is I’d left my passport in a cab after a drinking session with my mate Jamieson few days before that (in Manhattan), so I was proper depressed earlier that day, and I bumped into my bredrin who I hadn’t seen for 2 years (last time I saw him was at P Diddy’s suspiciously named Daddy’s House studios). He basically told me that P had been working out to this track I did for Tony Yayo called ‘Perception’, said that he wanted to meet me and asked me if I wanted to roll with him. It was inevitable that we were going to meet since I’m cool with his people (including Yayo/Banks/Unpacino/Havoc etc.) but I’m super greatful it happened under those circumstances! hahaha
How was Tim Westwood??? You were up in the studio with him when Xhibit was in London again right, haha!
Timmmy is the big daawwwwg! He’s hilarious!
You’ve also done the producer drum packs recently, how did that happen and how is that going?
Well I’m not going to take complete credit for the idea, a producer from alaska called Alkota started selling drum kits on his website and he asked me if I’d be interested in doing one. So I thought yeah why not, I basically thought fukkit let me make a drumkit with some hard sounds (that I use) that u dont ever get in other hip hop kits.
I’m glad I put it together though, it’s getting alot of love, I think probably because it’s great value for money it’s $25/£15 for 400 sounds, good kits can set up back quite a bit more, usually kits for that price are 100 crappy sounds lolol.
And that shall wrap it up… Big shout out to Butcha for engaging with me on all this, we wish him all the best in his music quest. As you can tell getting serious about being a producer and getting paid for it does not usually happen overnight, work hard people… Grab Yourself the Butcha download from our Soundcloud site and check the links below