Interview With Harry Love and Mystro for the Rockett Time radio show on University Radio Bath (URB)
The interview was recorded in two parts, before and after Mystro and Harry Love took the stage in Babylon, Bath for the ‘My Type Of Party’ club night. The show was presented by Shoestring in association with Undercover magazine. This monthly jam is currently the only live hip hop in Bath after the recent disbanding of the fortnightly Stonegruve Social that had served the city so well for the last few years. We grabbed a few words with the crew backstage at the venue before and after they’d ripped another live show…
RT: You’re both known well through your hosting of the monthly Kung Fu shows, has this stage helped you promote your profile in the scene?
HL: Of course, having a regular spot where we show what we do and we also help other people come on and show what they do. It’s helped everyone on a bigger scale. That was the idea for setting it up in the first place really. That was our whole idea for linking everyone together with a regular platform that everyone knew was reliable and consistent with the three main residents holding down the corners all night. Its helped us to get where we’re going to and it helped other people.
M: Definitely its helped us to give a platform for the younger talent coming out from the UK. For me I was glad to get on board as most people knew me from the open mic circuit and it was good to take control and say ‘this is how the kids should come on’ and all that. Also we get so many people wanting to come and perform there as its got so much credibility, so its good to be part of that as well.
RT: What has been your favourite Kung Fu party over the last few years?
HL: I’ve always gotta say my birthday parties man. The first big birthday party I did was when we moved from the smaller venue to the bigger venue of the Underworld. That was one of my favourites cos everyone was there, that was the whole idea of it. Get everyone that we were involved with, were mates with, worked with and shit like that. It was a really good event, the whole venue was packed out, there was a road block and everyone came through, did their thing. That, for me is what it’s all about, and why I do everything and put in such hard work, to see things like that happen every now and again. Obviously its fun most times we do it. There are different memories, there’s so many that have happened now that it all blends. I get three that blend into one. I can’t really remember specific things, but I remember that ‘I had this feeling at this one and that feeling…do you remember this brere who came in the club and did that.’ There’s all sorts of funny things that go on, and it’s a wicked experience cos I’m there with people that I like working with and that I’m close to, so it’s a good time. I’d say all of them to make it easy!!
M: My favourite, oh man, there’s so many man to be honest. The one where Pace and MI5 performed. Chester P for Mayor. That was free so we had about 700 in there and 700 outside. Obviously the Harry Love birthday Parties, like he was saying, the beach parties that I’ve had.
“…Most people knew me from the open mic circuit and it was good to take control and say ‘this is how the kids should come on’ and all that…”
HL: The first one we did the launch of Music Mystro.
M: Yeah, the first one I performed at and that was off the hook. Who was it that I got to perform at the other one? Oh yeah, that was Pace and MI5. Theres so many that it’s hard to say, ‘that’s my favourite one, but you do have moments that you’re like oh that was crazy’.
HL: A lot of the classic moments are open mic things where someone like Skinny, or Ramson, or Chester, or Kope or anyone has come and blessed the open mic on a regular thing. There are certain times when it just sparks cos we all know each other so well now. It’s like one of those things with everyone playing in perfect timing. That’s my favourite thing about Kung Fu, the spontaneous things that just click right and make it clear why were doing what were doing. There’s no one event, other than I can obviously my birthday parties. I was playing at my last one standing there all starry eyed like a little kid!
RT: Right, we’re back with Mystro after the show.
M: Damn right we’re back right after the show.
RT: How did you think the show went?
M: The show was alright. I cannot complain about the show at all. Everybody loved it and we got to do some of our new stuff as well, which was good, and we got a good response.
RT: How did you first get into the UK Hip Hop scene?
M: I first knew about the hip hop scene from London Posse and Gunshot. Mainly from those two, cos those were the crews that I was bumping at the time. Obviously the Syndicate were from the area, and you had Demon Boyz and quite a few people. That was early, when I was only about 11 or 13. That was how I found out that there were people in the UK doing stuff. At the same time I never took it that serious, that they were like stars or anything. It was like ah, there are people here rapping as well. It was about ‘95 when I heard about people like MCD and Blak Twang.
“…When you count how many artists have been signed and dropped in the last few years on the UK side of things, it’s a joke really…”
I heard tapes flying around and was like ‘shit, there’s people still do it.’ I heard all the Cookie Crews and the Dark Mans, but I wasn’t really into it as it just sounded like someone trying to sound American. I love Money Love and all that stuff. At the same time I never thought that it was anything serious, cos I thought that was what you had to do to get there. Till I started hearing Twang and MCD, then I started realising that there’s people out here doing the same thing but doing it in their own style. Id say around 97,98 was when I started thinking, alright I’m gonna get into thing properly now, and started working on my style, that’s when I really got into it.
RT: So was it those boys that influenced your style today?
M: In a way, yeah. I was heavy into the American stuff at the time. I don’t really get buried under that influence, I still know that if I’m gonna do this, I have to be me and not like anyone else.
RT: Who are you particularly feeling at the moment? Is there anyone coming up for the future?
M: Definitely, most of the people out at the moment that I’m feeling. People to look out for are Young Blood, he’s from East London. MI5, obviously Jargon, Valiant and Diligence…Lowkey, Poisonous Poets, Yungun, Verb T….there’s a lot of people man, DJs as well, Smitty, Bruce Wayne, he’s a nice DJ. There’s a lot of people coming out. I’d say look out for a lot, cos right now there’s so many people doing it, but there’s only a few that are putting their heart into it. There the ones to look out for, the ones you can feel.
RT: You manage to guest on quite a lot of other peoples stuff, who do you most like to work with?
M: I just like to work with people who are worth me working with. I’m not really into this thing of doing tracks with everybody in the scene. It’s like if you go to a jam and you keep see the same people performing, it makes no difference. I just try to work within my family, and just with people that I find it’s worth working with. We can get together and build a big tune, rather than just another one that will be forgotten next year.
RT: So is there anyone that you’ve got your eye on to work with?
M: At the moment I’m gonna work with Ramson Badbones, I definitely wanna get him out. From the background- Shoestring!! Shoestring, if they’ve got beats. With producers, I’ll work with anyone who’s got beats that I can work with. I’m always looking for beats, so if I hear it and I like it then we can do something. At the moment I’m keeping myself focussed on what I’ve got to do. I’ve just dropped the mixtape ‘Tip Of Da Mysberg Volume 1’, and we’re gonna move on to the volume 2, we’ve got the Natural Born Spittaz stuff coming, and also the Top Of The Food Chain, and MI5, so there’s a lot going on already.
“…There are certain times when it just sparks cos we all know each other so well now…”
RT: Since you dropped Music Mystro in 2004, you’ve been working on the mixtape, is there anything else that you’ve been developing over this time?
M: Yeah, I’m doing a DVD. I don’t know what to call it yet, but we’ve gathered so much footage over all these shows that we might as well. I’m also working on an album with C- Swing. He’s more or less finished it, and its all his production, a mixture of hip hop and R and B, different singers and that. I performed one of the tracks tonight, so that should be coming out soon….Just my own stuff really, working on the Volume 2 of the mixtape, keeping it moving, but I’m definitely recording, so look out for a few singles here and there. I got something with Mentat that I recorded a while ago, so I think maybe that could be next.
RT: The UK Hip Hop scene seems ready to break through. Will commercial success ruin or enhance the quality of tracks going out?
M: I think that nothing will really change. There’s going to music that comes out that people aren’t going to like, then stuff that they are gonna like. I don’t think its really gonna water it down too much. Already, with Channel U, you’re starting to see videos on there that people who know what is good, wouldn’t really get into. Everyone’s cracking up about the video, rather than saying it’s heavy. It’s more entertaining in a way of how stupid it is. That’s the problem, but I think we’re always gonna have that, as the industry tries to set the trend. Sometimes it’s the wrong people trying to set the trend. When you count how many artists have been signed and dropped in the last few years on the UK side of things, it’s a joke really. That’s why we stay where we are. Why am I getting signed to have people who don’t really know about the music that I’m dealing with trying to tell me what to do with it?
RT: How do you find the crowds outside of London?
M: The crowds outside of London are wicked. I tell you one thing, they’re not spoilt, so they really appreciate what comes out. Like in London I get a lot of love, but when I see some people performing, it’s not appreciated as it should be. Compared to when you go somewhere else and its like ‘oh man, thanks a lot for coming out, listen, have a good time, do you want a drink?’, all that kind of stuff. In London, you do get that, but the attitude all in all is ‘we’ve seen it’. Too much comes in to London. Other places, like rural areas where not much happens, obviously they’re going to appreciate it a lot more as they don’t get it so much.
RT: So where’s your favourite place to play, other than Bath?
M: Other than Bath? I don’t know man, I’ve had some good times. I’ve been to Germany, and had thousands in the crowd screaming, I’ve been to Australia and had a nice time. It’s a hard one, can we move onto the next question?
RT: You’re doing so may shows, so do you have to mix it up to make it more exciting?
M: Sometimes it’s like that. But with my show, it’s pretty hard on, and there’s a lot going on for at least 20 minutes. People have said to me ‘even though I’ve seen that track live before, the next time I saw it, it was like a new track.’ That’s what keeps me going, you can play about with what you’re doing. As long as people are hearing it and understanding it the way they’re supposed to. That’s what I love about music and performing, you can improvise and not necessarily change the lyrics, but the maybe the style of how you rap it, or change up the chorus a little bit. Nah, it’s never that bad that you get bored of it, but sometimes you do switch up. Like today we decided to do some of the tracks, because we wanted to get real feedback. From the crowd straight off and hear it loud. See if I can rap it live. We had some mess ups and stuff, like Awkward Thief. Yeah, with that I messed that up worse than the tracks that I don’t really know that well. It does put you off when people right next to you are trying to rap along as well. They were going a bit fast, y’know.
RT: Any shouts, or plugs to make before I let you go?
M: I wanna give a shout to Harry Love for looking after me. Shout to Big Will. Shout out to the Shoestring massive- My type Of Party for real. I wanna give a shout out to MI5. Look out for Verb T, Yungun, Extended Players, Medication Records. Look out for the Tip Of Da Mysberg Volume 1 CD, its out right about now. It’s got some bits and bobs that I’ve done over the last couple of years. There’s some exclusive stuff that isn’t out yet on there as well. I wanna shout out to all the people that give us a lot of love.
Rockett Time is a radio show on Bath Student Radio (URB) and is purely UK Hip Hop. Broadcast on Mondays 9-11pm, it can be heard on 1449AM in Bath and www.1449urb.com. For more details see show pages onwww.1449urb.com. Wac20@bath.ac.uk to email Rockett.