Can you introduce yourself and what is your name Ed209 about? Is it an old nickname or is there something behind it?
- Ladies and Gentlemen, weighing in at 14 stone, hailing from East Anglia now living in Leicester, its ED209! The name comes from listening to Silver Bullet which triggered a general love of film samples in music and the start of my collection of film soundtracks, combined with the style of early graffiti writer names that adopted the street number of where they lived - unfortunately I found out the other day that there's a drum and bass producer with the same name, and it's also the name of a learning development training module! ODB never had these problems I can tell you.
Can you tell us a bit about where you are from, who your crew are and who they are associated with?
- Leicester - I settled here about 95/96 after living in Coventry for three years and I was mainly drawn by graphics course I wanted to do, and the unprecedented amount of second hand record shops ( on that basis, if I'd been to Manchester at the time then I reckon I would have moved there ) - we used to come up shopping from Cov and go to Sneakers, BPM and wellgosh - it always felt like a sound place - Hip Hop has worked hard to get a hold in Leicester, and failed - the last three years have been pretty dark gig and venue wise, with the exception of Castle Rock for the young cats, but the winds of change are always ready. I've only relatively recently got to know MCs like Eyez and A-Bomb and the Speech Ferapy Crew as I'd always hung with Ivory and Paul S from Notts, who introduced me to people like Cappo, Mr45, Outdaville and Joe Buhdha - as well as treating me to classic hip hop moments like ending up in a hotel room with Brand Nubian & Supernatural and some magic parsley - as the 'School of Hard Knocks' once said 'the ride home ( to Leicester ) was a mental one'!
Apart from you who else is repping Leicester? Who are the artists in your locale you really rate?
- Once again, and I'm on no-ones bozak I can tell you, its all about Dirty Nottz for me at the moment. In Leicester you have heads like Apoch doing his thing and getting noticed, but like me, he looks to Nottingham, as well as Leicester, for MCs to work with - Nottz MCs are hard working and have sound foundations of production and promotion and a definite 'scene' vibe that people support. That can still happen in Leicester but it needs more action and less moaning.
Can you break down some of what has been happening Hip Hop wise in Leicester and the surrounding areas over the last few years? What I mean is who were the local heads who have been performing, putting on shows and setting up pirate radio stations?
- I can't say I'm 100% engrained in a Leicester Hip Hop life, 'cause I'm not - I'm 32 this year, I have a full time job, a beautiful wife and baby and other commitments - to be honest I can't say I even understand what 'hip hop' is any more - you play Ultra to people who got into it with Wu and whoever and they think MCs like Ced or Keith are funny, like some novelty record shit - to me the era of Ultramagnetic is the rawest most amazing hip hop - so as far as what's been happening with 'hip hop' - I don't know and I don't have that much time for it - the music I want to make has a lot more to do with 'then' than 'now' - hers one of my (in)famous (in)appropriate metaphors for you - I guess its like a cake, but the ingredients have changed, and the way you bake it has changed, so it tastes different - I just like how it used to taste!
Back in the day, what were the first bits of Hip Hop you heard and how did you get to hear it? What was it that you liked?
- Got into it at high school with my boys Mr Jago, Damian, John and Tim - John Peel tapes / Electro - Hip Hop Street Sounds albums - the first album I brought was Flash and the Furious 5 - Step Off - learning all the words was mandatory! But the Street Sounds Compilations were really the business - we seriously CAINED those records - Captain Rock, World Class Wreckin' Crew, Fat Boys - all that! - different people would buy different things but everyone would share what you had - remember, home taping is killing music! 'Rockit' by Herbie Hancock with D.ST's scratchin on was a classic - a little later, like the last couple of years of high school it was Beastie Boys, Run DMC and Public Enemy - three groups / three albums that you just had to have - those were the days though - Nelly would have been laughed off the plant back then, even Hammer looks credible next to people like that.
Can you remember the things that were going off Hip Hop wise in your area at that time?
- Norwich used to get a lot of good acts 'cause we had the UEA and then later the Waterfront - I remember seeing people like De La Soul, BDP, Gangstarr, UK stuff like Caveman, Hijack, Blade, London Posse etc - the BDP one was bad as I had screen printed a load of Stop the Violence t's in college and we all had them on and got to the front - Kenny Parker and Kris come out and Kenny was like 'yo Kris - check those guys out' and Kris came over and said 'your shirts are BAD!' and chucked us a BDP shirt - I was buzzin' - DefTex were starting to get noticed doing their thing - they opened for De La which was a wicked gig - Norwich had a great scene itself and there used to be regular jams at the Waterfront - there was this guy called Dave - MC Squared, who used to work in a trainer shop in town - he was bad - and his DJ, Testa - they used to do gigs at the Waterfront - we got to know them through my man Damien (Stan) - when I passed my driving test and started to get around to Ipswich and Norwich and stuff - I remember driving down to Basildon or somewhere to see Hijack and the F9s - that was amazing - much better than when they played at the Waterfront a couple of years after - when it all went a bit 'Icy T' and they did tracks that we had heard on a bootleg tape of the Horns of Jehrico years ago - good memories and good place to grow up. Anyone who reads this and remembers these things, two words…Chambers Trousers! Man, Chambers were the absolute bomb! One shop in Norwich had them near Andys Records - they were b-boy trousers!
Who influenced you and made you think that you could be a producer? Why did you choose this element as it is so much more expensive and producers often get less shine than the MCs?
- Obviously people like Diamond D, Bomb Squad, Premier, Large Pro, Paul C for the Ultra programming, but in terms if physically saying 'look, there's no mystery, if you know about your music, you have a collection of breaks, you need an MPC and you can do it' that's down to one man - DJ Ivory, and through him, Paul S. To be honest, the idea of making music seemed totally removed from listening to it - as I was interested in design all my money would go on new Apple stuff and design programs - I'd seen music programs on the Mac but the last thing I wanted to do after a day working on the computer was spend the night on the computer. After Ivory let me loose on his MPC it was game over! My wife Julia brought me a MPC for my 29th birthday - I jumped up and down on the bed like a trout going upstream! As regards the 'shine', I'm in it for different reasons.
When did you start making beats then?
- On the morning of my birthday!, so 2000, and that was the day it all went off - I looped up the Gary Numan drum break and sampled all the sounds from the start of 'Let The Music Play' by Shannon - that was my first 'tingle' from my own creation, the OC 'Times Up' accapella went on top and that was it, hook line and sinker - I'd done a few things before using basic apps on the Mac and messing around with rebirth and such, but like I said, it was more time on the Mac and more applications I had to learn - NO THANKS!
I guess nowadays people can start producing professional quality music straight away with a home PC and downloaded software. Could putting all this technology before producers perhaps stifle their creativity because they don't have to use ingenuity to get round problems or can they push the boundaries further than anyone before? Maybe people don't spend enough time mastering the basics?
- There was the same argument in the design industry, with loads of people being able to start doing professional quality graphics with a Mac and Photoshop - I don't see it as a problem - it gets more people involved and interested in making music, so some of those people will shine - some people will just always be naturally talented and not need to be 'trained' to be amazing - as I said earlier, hip hop now is a different 'cake' to the one that I got hooked on - different people bring different ingredients to the pot - fashions will come and go so its really important for me to do stuff that is what I want to do, not a style that is aimed at a certain market at a certain time.
Like so many people I bet you started with pause tapes, but when you moved beyond that what equipment did you first use? Did you have to battle with miniscule sample times and incompatible kit?
- Pause tapes were a long time ago! But they were fun! Each tape recorder you used had its own 'personality'! You could do some things on some and some things on others - I wish I still had some of that stuff. As I went straight to the MPC I don't have years of history in 'making' music, so I never battled the kit. I have a pretty diverse taste so I have loads of different music and that was a massive bonus when it came to start to make stuff - If I'd only ever brought hip hop there wouldn't be a lot I could have done with it through the sampler, other than 'lessons' type cut ups.
OK, so do you have your own studio? If yes what sort of equipment have you got and if not where do you go to make beats?
- We moved house recently and I was able to convert a shed outside to be my studio - The 'Blotto Grotto' according to Cappo - my wife was mightly pleased about that, 'cause the bass was on the verge of being my death! I can go and get some peace out there now! I don't have loads of kit, I don't really need loads - MPC 200OXL, Technics, G4 Laptop running Peak just to record stuff, loads of records and a nice sofa! The final mix all happens up in Nottingham at Mark 'The Gambler' Gamble's studio, with a little help from Studio Cat - if 'Studio' doesn't bless the mix, it's a no go. Everything sounds dope once the Gambler hits the boards - if you want your tracks to sound dope - do see the Gambler!
How has your style developed over the years? Can you put that down to anything in particular?
- My 'style' (whatever it is) comes from the music I've heard, the people I've hung with and the films I've seen - early UK rap was what really got me sorted in terms of the style I love - Hardnoise, Gunshot, Demon Boyz, Blade, Overlord X, Katch 22, London Posse - all that stuff was the foundation for my music collection.
How would you best describe your production style now? I would say that you edge towards breaks and loops, chopping them up and sequencing, rather than playing instruments in a more musical way…
- Yeah, I'm more 45 King than Neptunes! - My parents tried to get me into piano & guitar and stuff, but that always seemed pretty 'poncey' to me - what struck me with the MPC is that I could work in the 'structure' I wanted - I just had to feed it with the right 'food' - listen to any early Ultramagnetic - breaks and loops but done with so much 'edge' and rawness - its like rubbing your nails down a blackboard and looping it - it should sound awful, but its beautiful!
Can you talk about how you go about making a beat? Do you know all the samples you want to use in advance, or would you loop something up, then search for the next sample before moving on? Can you let off some of your production techniques?
- Well that's TOP SECRET I'm afraid - I'd have to Kill you MAAAN!!! rf- I have no set way other than the way its happening - there's so much of the 'chaos' effect about it - you start with one thing, which makes you think of something, but that doesn't work so you listen to the whole record - and there's another bit that sounds mental! - so you use that, which make you think of a vocal sample, which sounds right but has extra stuff in it, but makes the drums wrong - so find some more drums etc etc. The hardest thing is the starting point - and it can be anything - but going through the records you already have is a long winded process - it was to be something you have just brought - charity trash! - it's the 'hit' of a beautiful little loop in a 20p album that then triggers everything else and the process starts - Knowing your records is what counts, knowing where they are and whats on them - my only MPC tip is to record everything as fast as possible and then slow it down on the MPC - it makes it all sound fuzzy and warm - but everyone knows that one!
How would you say having your own studio helps in the recording process?
- Define 'studio'! - a sound proofed tech'ed-out shed or an egg box shelled bedroom - they are both studios - you need a place that you can be immersed in the feeling of what you are doing - a place of your own! And preferably a place that you can play it LOUD.
What bit of kit do you always seem to be thinking, if only I had one of those…
- Time travel machine, vinyl cutter, drum kit, self-bathing child!
To get some perspective how many hours per day could you be in the studio? Is it like a job - all day, or do you dip in and out?
- Well, like I said I work full time + looking after our 2 year old daughter so it's a case of whenever and for as long as possible - I used to do a lot of mornings as I'm an early riser, but our little girl can reduce the studio to havoc in seconds! And she's up from 6!
Thursday nights is my dedicated time when Eyez & Bomb are round, or I go up and see the Nottz Bombers.
Do you think that producers are often a bit hermit like, maybe a touch nerdy too? Is that fair?
- Maybe, but not the ones I know, they're all nutters! - but by the nature of what they do they are seldom seen - people like the Neptunes want to be in the limelight and I think they have definitely got people interested in who and what producers do.
What do you do to get the best out of other artists you may be working with?
- Magic parsley and Henessey have positive mental effects in bringing out the best in most MCs.
Do you like to make beats first and then get rappers to spit on them, or do you prefer creating a beat for a rhyme an MC has already written and why?
- I get a beat CD together of say, twice as many beats as I want to use on the final 12, get it to the MCs in advance and see which ones they like, then if there's something they really like, shape it a bit to suit them - but always give them a beat that they want to rap on, not just one I want to do! With Eyez and Bomb it's a bit easier to evolve stuff as it goes as I see them more often.
Do you get involved in the 'Train spotting' and 'one upmanship' of the trendy beat diggers? Seems you are not afraid to use a break that has been thoroughly rinsed already, but flip it in a different way?
- I love breaks, there's no doubt about that, but I don't get hung up on having to always have the original - I don't have a problem about buying compilation albums and getting rare stuff from them - there's nothing better than buying a load of crap from some charity shops where you have a few things what because of the look of the cover, or the year, or the drummer you have a really good feeling on - and then being right is amazing - breaks are the Fifth Element. As for using well know breaks - take Thought at work by The Roots, or Made you look by Nas - my favourite records of late, but both well known breaks flipped in different ways.
Are you signed to Voodoo Rhythm Devil then, or is it your own label? What is the deal there?
- Its my own label - I wanted the first release to look as professional as possible and I wanted to do more 12's and Eyez was talking about doing his own stuff so that might come out on VRD as well.
What does the name of the label mean?
- It's a line from that breakbeat classic Johnny the Fox by Thin Lizzy - I'd always thought it would be a bad crew name, so I was happy to find a use for it - people say it sounds like a disease!
How do you feel you are positioned within the marketplace and is that through your wishes or with different circumstances, would you do it differently?
- I'm doing what I want to do - there's no aim behind it to fit into one area of the market place - I'm just doing my thing and hoping that people like it. It takes a long time for things to happen, especially regarding promotion and getting people interested in you - and its starting to happen - some people have just written me off as a P Brothers rip off, but I've known Ivory for years and we share a love for hip hop and the elements that make it - I'm not the sort to say 'Oh they sound like this, so I have to come totally different' - I want to do the music I love - The P Brothers have the same philosophy and came out with their own style that was different to what was happening, but kept pushing, put in some serious work and have created an interest in a new audience for the type of sound that got us hooked back then.
Has getting your music out been a struggle as it has been for so many other recording artists? Do you have any advice for aspiring artists about the pitfalls of the music industry?
- Its been difficult to get people to give you a chance - to actually LISTEN to the record - it sounds crazy but with the amount of stuff that lands on reviewers doormats, if you aren't known, or the first thing the reviewer hears doesn't INSTANTLY do it for them, or you don't get it to the right person, someone who may like the sort of hip hop you are doing, and getting promo's out months in advance of the release 'cause of magazine deadlines etc. - gradually things happen, but its very easy to get lost in the 'conspiracy' theory, where you see everyone against you ( been there! ) - you just need to concentrate on the opinions of people who you respect, and bollocks the rest ( you know who you are )
Is it a problem being from an area where there seems to be so little competition from other aspiring acts? What are the bad points and what are the good things about being so far from London where most of the UK's music business is?
- There's not much of the London sound that I can relate to so I don't feel like I'm missing out - I've had amazing support from Disorda and Skeg at Boombox and Bill at Cargo though - especially for someone totally new to the scene.