Skitz Interview

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Skitz aka the Daddy of 1Xtra is back with a volume that conveys even more passion and production assault than before. Littered with more textures and sequences of sound than the previous, Homegrown Vol.2 looks set to surpass its predecessor. This volume provides a showcase of musical surprise; with the meshing of genres and sonic synthesis from hip hop, drum ‘n’ bass and grime.

Homegrown Vol. 2 will be available from the 18th July 2005. It is an album where the Skitz trademark takes centre stage once again…

To begin with can we have a quick catch up on your career so far? Which of you releases do you think marked the turning point – many would say Countryman but it could stretch back to the first track with Roots Manuva?

SkitzThings started really working for me after I dropped where my mind is at with Roots. I was lucky enough to have him on my first release and because he really blew up it helped get my name out there as well. Countryman worked because it was a bit of an epic and showcased so much of the talent from these shores. I have always been busy up and down the country doing shows with enough people so that helps keep the vibes rolling. The compilations I’ve done also kept the name out there and of course getting the 1xtra show. Dunno what you really mean by turning point but if you mean surviving from the music than I am just about…but that’s not record sales. I sold 15,000 albums on Ronin and got paid a pittance. The company went bankrupt and I never got any mechanicals….for me it’s always about the shows I do that pay the rent.

‘Skitz’ the name originates from ‘Schizophrenic’ would you say this unpredictability is what led you away from being a graffiti artist to a producer – it was a somewhat dramatic change…

For me that’s not a dramatic change…when I first got into Hip Hop people would be breakers, DJs, graffiti artists, rappers the lot. Over time you settled to the one you felt comfortable with, for me that was playing music and making it. The name Skitz was a school thing that stuck…it was my tag and because people knew me as that I kept it when I started DJing. A few people have seen the mad side but not many.

You stand out along with a select few as a producer. In many respects you seem to be an artist in the making rather than just a producer. Where does this obvious deviation from the stereotypical producer role come from and why take this more conceptual route? Could lyrics possibly be on the agenda…?

To me I’m just a man that loves the music I’m dealing with….sometimes I get jaded with the bullshit and the fads but its the innovation and people within the scene that are pushing it forward that keep me inspired. I’ve never been someone to follow fashion and play the tunes that people expect you to play…I like to play tunes that no-one knows and get a response. Sometimes they don’t work but fuck it you have to be comfortable with what you like and do what you feel is right. I’m a straight up producer but I’m also a hard working fan of the music and do what I can to promote and elevate it. As for lyrics, that isn’t going to happen … I know good mcs and trust me I’m not one (although maybe after a few JDs). Saying that I just recorded a monologue for Low Bap in Greece about what Hip Hop means to me, but that was because Foxmoor asked me to do it and I figured it wasn’t going to see the light of day in the UK plus its me just talking not rapping. That isn’t ever going to happen; I’ve got so many good MCs around me.

“…for me it’s always about the shows I do that pay the rent…”

Do you think hip hop creditability is based on having to deal with struggles and notoriety?

I think that having a difficult life gives the media something to work with which makes you more credible to the wider audience. Everyone’s got their struggles; everyone’s got their dramas…the lows make you appreciate the highs…. if you haven’t experienced pain, how do you know joy….I think notoriety helps within the game…. but its not vital and could easily be a downfall rather than an asset. What is credibility anyway…it’s all bullshit. You’ve just got be contented with yourself…

How would you describe your style on 1Xtra and do you think since its birth it has helped the scene grow? How did you end up hooking up with Rodney?

SkitzIt was a lucky break that got us the 1xtra job…a friend of mine had a pilot and wanted us to come in to be interviewed about British rap…they liked what we were saying and asked us to do a pilot for our own show because they still had room for a hip hop show. They liked us and it fell into place. Our style is just us…we play what we want (apart from the chart which is compiled from record sales from certain shops) we have a laugh and we try to get our vibe across to the audience. Rodney and I had hooked up before on Dedication and certain other tunes, were doing shows round the country and it was a natural partnership for the radio as well. 1xtra has definitely helped the scene grow in as far as people outside of London and even outside the country have had an alternative to Westwood who was at the time the sole representative for British Hip Hop. Obviously Excalibah, Semtex, Ras Kwame, us and all the other DJs at 1xtra have many different styles and between us I think we cover the whole spectrum and the different aspects of the UK and worldwide scene.

Rodney P has been around for a long time- an obvious inspiration to your musical work. What are your other musical influences / inspiration? Your beats certainly have reggae influences…

I’m influenced by everything, yeah its a cliché but its true. From American Hip Hop to the whole UK music scene to world music. Inspired by things that have surrounded me growing up to my son, the city, the country, producers that I’m feeling like 9th wonder, Clipz, Die, Nutty P, Stone, The Sea, Kanye, Christopher Birch, Jammys, too many to mention. Everyday is an inspiration whether you’re skint and fucked off with the world or feeling good it all goes into the music.

How does Radio work compare to playing out live?

Yeah man I like it because I get to play tunes that wouldn’t necessarily work when you’re playing out. Some of the more obscure off key tracks, some down tempo things, and the less big and bashy bass heavy tunes that I tend to play out.

…I’ve never been someone to follow fashion and play the tunes that people expect you to play…”

What’s your record of the moment, something to get the crowd hyped up?

Frank’n’Dank ft Lindo P – Blaow.

You seem to be playing at all the major festivals this summer. You’re renowned for mixing different vibes, the hedonistic sets and the yellow afro…! Are we to expect much the same this year or can we look forward to a few surprises?

SkitzI always drop a bit of reggae in my sets….yeah they’ll be a few surprises this year. Watch for the Lost Vagueness tent at Glastonbury… Phi Life, Taskforce, Me and Rodney…all in suits. The yellow afros gonna be replaced by something this year at the Wall of Sound party.. dunno what yet. The reggae sound box is coming out at all the homegrown events….

As well as the festivals you have the Po Na Na tour to coincide with the Homegrown launch, how did that come about?

Just a hook up with one promoter and it fell into place, Silent Soundz and a lickle drinks sponsor and that was it.

So Homegrown volume II what can we expect from the sounds and artists involved? The sounds certainly seem varied and you’ve jumped on the grime bandwagon with Kano’s appearance…

ha ha…. you make me laugh…grime bandwagon.. I just appreciate good MCs and I don’t care what their history is or where they’re from. A good MC is a good MC…whether they’re from reggae, drum’n’bass or garage. Its amalgamation of sounds and innovative hybrids that push the scene forward or do you want Primo drums for the rest of your life?

Your working with a new the Silent Soundz on Homegrown, tell us a little bit about them and their vision and your partnership came about? Do you think that the spring on new labels emerging in hip hop is diluting the industry (greater need for quality control) and killing the business of hip hop itself?

The thing about Silent Soundz is that first and foremost they’re Hip Hop kids. They love the music, they want to help and promote the scene, they’re young and enthusiastic and have got the business side of things sorted. They haven’t got cloth in their ears and are open to new sounds and ideas. I like the tunes they like, so that was a good start plus they keep coming up with good business ideas…

New labels can only be good for the industry as long as the quality remains high.

…Everyday is an inspiration whether you’re skint and fucked off with the world or feeling good it all goes into the music…”

What are the main differences between Homegrown 1 and 2?

2 is more UK based… I think 1 relied on a couple of bigger American tunes as well as more well known UK ones. 2 is more underground, there’s more exclusives and I think it flows better. I also feel there are no weak tracks on 2.

How would you sum up this volume in three words?

SkitzHefty.
Satisfying.
Big ‘n’ heavy

What are you expecting from this volume? The last reached number 76 in the national charts. So is it a mission into acceptance in the mainstream or the showcasing of some established and new talent…?

I don’t expect anything…

I don’t give a fuck about the charts or the industry… I do like showing that we’ve got so much talent on our own doorstep. I would like people to say that they’re feeling it, to hear some of the tunes out, for people to bump it in their cars, for people to appreciate it for what it is, or use them as frisbees to slice up the odd politician or two.

‘STICKSMAN’ your album is in the pipeline; give us a sentence to get the hype ball rolling….

Its gonna be a big, dirty, filthy, stinking, nasty, bass soaked, organic affair, a rootical slice of country bumpkin papa Skitz tinged with many voices you will love to hear, some you’ll know, some you won’t, some expected, some not but you’ll enjoy it, trust me.

Final big ups?

The most beatifullest thing in the world…(that’s in bed next to me)….Tasha.
And the other most beautiful thing in the world my son Solomon.

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