Manchester Special Teil II: Interview mit DRS
Tina: Your LP is called I Don’t Usually Like MCs But… How often have you heard this? And what does the sentence mostly end like?
DRS (Soul:R / Estate Recordings, UK): The sentence ends mostly like „but you’re pretty good“ or „but you know when to show up“. That are probably the ones that stick in mind. I’ve been MCing for fifteen years so I’ve heard it millions of times. I think it’s a bitter compliment to say that though, like: „You shit on my floor but it’s pretty.“
But do you actually feel complimented or just annoyed by it?
Now it’s a joke, because that’s something that must have been said to a few MCs that I know, too. That’s why I called the album like that.
What makes a good MC for you?
Somebody who knows when to show up. Somebody who’s not so vain that they love the sound of their own voice: You’re there to add something to the music.
Was releasing an album something you planned and always wanted to do or did you just feel like the time was right to do it?
I think making an album is something every musician has on his/her mind. I made a mixtape which was called Grown Man Bizznizz. It was kind of an album but it was like a Hip Hop thing. For Drum’n’Bass I had never done anything apart from featuring other people’s tracks so I thought before I hand up my golden slippers (lacht) – I thought I better leave at least one point of reference rather than just a few songs, at least something that’s a body of work.
So making an album of another style isn’t something unthinkable for you…
No, definitely not. We have a label called Estate Recordings and we never limit ourselves to any style of music. We’re known for this music. We do everything and people will hear that over the next twelve months.
Are you planning to release another album, maybe a Hip Hop album on Estate?
Maybe a Broke’n’English album or an EP or something. I don’t think we can class that as Hip Hop no more cause I think we have a sound between genres like Drum’n’Bass, Grime, Hip Hop, Ska, Rock… I mean everything, it’s just Estate music. We haven’t given it a name yet, because we can’t. So at the moment it’s just Estate music.
And would you call that a typical Manchester sound as well?
Nah, it’s not a typical Manchester sound, it’s a hybrid thing that we sort of stumbled across. Yeah, that’s probably the best way to put it. We just stumbled across a sound without knowing we already had one. Everyone was looking for a sound when we already had one. So you can’t really put a name on it.
The production of your album, how did it pass off?
How did you choose which producers you wanted to have involved? Did you write lyrics after they had sent you tracks or was it the other way round?
All the producers on the album – I only just met Lenzman – but pretty much everyone else I’ve got the honour to call them friends, so it wasn’t really like a hard thing to do and because I’ve worked with them already I already had beats that they had given me that I didn’t use. Most of the people on that album are like a family, so it’s pretty easy. The hardest part was getting the whole thing finished. Sort of mix downs, cause there are so many features and they are also busy people. And for writing: I pretty much always get the tune and be inspired by it to write the words for that exact tune.
Have you been involved in the production side of things as well?
Yeah, yeah, I suppose I was. I mean me and Dub Phizix sat through all of it. I do produce and so it’s not an alien thing for me to do.
It’s just that I wanted to get people’s attention first so it‘s like all the people who’ve never been on a project together – I wanted that spectacle. But at the same time people go for a spectacle of loads of producers without having a substance. So that was always in the back of my mind that I’ve waited fifteen or so years to do this so why rush, you know? I haven’t rushed before so don’t rush it now.
And how long did it take to get the album ready?
I reckon recording and everything took about less than twelve months but the whole process took two and a half years. Just because of what I was saying – the business of other people and myself. Sitting down for a few months and looking and thinking „That’s not right, that’s not right“. It’s just like a painting. Obviously, I do art so it’s like a painting and if one bit is wrong the whole thing’s fucked. So then you have to start again.
What I like about your LP is that there is an overall aesthetic, an overall sound though it was a bunch of different producers writing the tunes. Certainly, it’s you uniting them, but do you think there is something else that makes this LP an album and not a compilation?
There is a kind of theme. The theme running through it is me, the things I like and the things I don’t like about stuff and obviously just honesty. I think the honesty is what ties it all together, cause in none of the tracks I’m bragging or whatever. It’s just I wanted it to be a narration of the stuff that means something to me and of people who I love. In one track I was talking about this and then talking about that – it’s fragmented. It’s just honesty I think that pulls the whole thing together.
How different does it feel to perform your own album from „just“ supporting a DJ?
It’s amazing, it’s like all of a sudden people are talking to me. Usually they are talking to the person I’m with. So that takes some getting used to.
And some people love limelight but I’m the opposite, so having to force myself out into limelight. And you know, in Broke’n’English I can hide behind Strategy and when it’s Estate it’s all of us and I can just hide behind someone. But when it’s actually your name on the thing it’s a bit harder, but at the same time I always think to myself there is millions of people out there who would love to be here.
It’s like today, I was complaining: We were having a bit of a tension cause we couldn’t get no weed and like obviously when anyone knows us – well me and this guy [Skittles] they know we need that – so after twelve hours it was like „Argh!“ but then I just rolled a spliff in the club and there was the sound check and I was like „Aaah…“ and then I remembered I might have been travelling for twelve hours but somebody’s brought me here to like do what I love to do so you know it’s a beautiful thing.
Alright, and may I write that down?
Yeah, of course you can. That’s what I’m saying – we’re very honest. (lacht)
The year’s almost over: What’s been highlights of 2012 for you in terms of gigs, partys or festivals?
What are your favourite releases and musical surprises of this year?
Highlights of the year have been Skittles has his album coming out, Chimpo’s first single with Fox called Harder. Obviously bringing my album out; Marka – the whole Dub Phizix hype.
The highlight of my year has been at Sun and Bass. I had this realization, I just looked around and all the people I love was just there and I was just like: „Look at this!“ You know what I mean? You can’t put into words what that is like.
I was winning Best MC that was pretty sick. But, Drum&Bass Arena, you should have put me in the album category and I was happy to loose in that to whoever cause that wouldn’t have meant more than being nominated for the Best MC.
What are your plans and wishes for the next one?
My plans are to travel around the world with these guys [Skittles and Chimpo], spreading Estate music around the world with Dub Phizix and everybody.
We have like a next generation of producers and MCs and I wanna see them out this year. As long as we can do this and everyone can live: Yeah that’s it!
And that there’s weed when we arrive! (lacht)
Thank you very much for the interview and taking the time.
Thanks for the interest, thanks to all the German people who supported my album, Skittles’ album, Chimpo’s single, all Chimpo releases, anything to do with us thank you and keep checking for us cause there’s gonna be a lot more coming this year. Bless.