Can you introduce yourselves there is three of you isn't there - Damon, Alex & Glenn, is that right? Do you have Hip Hop names and what are they about? The Funky Fresh Few is pretty much explanatory…
Yes there is 3 of us I go under the names (DSC) or (Mr Few), Glenn we call him (Bert) and Alex we call him (Time).
Earlier on, there was another member - Jason and the Imperial Arts Crew. Was that more of a graf thing? What came of them?
Well at first we started to get to no each other around 1987 there was no one called Jason, but we had a Johnny (Take) and a guy called James, they were who I started making music with.
Can you tell us a bit about where you are from - Blackpool, who your crew are and who they are associated with?
Well you must have seen a little of Blackpool on TV it is like that but when the winter sets in its cold dark and a fairly grim northern
Apart from you who else is repping Blackpool, there may not be that many, but there must be some? Who are the artists in your locale you really rate?
Well quite frequently we hooked up with some top guys called the SK cru they are on are LP a track called live wire their names are Mr Dick and Derogatory aka (Stoopid Ill) two young guys who are doing some really good stuff they are going to be big for sure we really rate them there is also a couple other really fresh northern guys with them called (j madden) and (Andy).
Can you break down some of what has been happening Hip Hop wise in Blackpool 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?
Well to are knowledge there has not been any pirate radio stations and no real good underground sound nights its fairly still here for any events I guess they all stay home chill with their team and love Hip Hop. But we might be starting a night in the future its been a bit busy the last year and a half.
Back in the day, what were the first bits of Hip Hop you herd and how did you get to hear it? What was it that you liked?
I just remember a few tracks that freaked me out at first like tour de France by Kraftwerk and Al-Nafiysh by Hashim amazing. Bert: there are to many records to remember but the electro thing got me going things like Captain Rock and Egyptian Lover.
Can you remember the things that were going off Hip Hop wise in your area at that time?
(Bert) I was living in the South of England at that time so I was going to places like Romford skate park on my BMX and to hang out at Covent Garden where the whole b boy thing and graf was going on and now I am 32 and still into the music with the same passion as I had then but to old to get on a BMX and rip it. (DSC) we was kind of the seen really early on I hung with some body popper and break dancers called high voltage I was about 13,14 then got to no time when I was around 16 shit I feel old now we was a little cru and it has just kind of fizzled away but we still represent that love of Hip Hop still standing.
You have said that you have been in this game for about eight years, which is a long time. What were you doing back then, and who were you mostly listening to?
I just followed the whole Hip Hop stuff from the early eighties and nineties to tha two, squizavizzle? no other music has really done it for me than the beat of a dope Hip Hop track.
Who influenced you and made you think that you could be producers? Why did you choose this element as it is so much more expensive and producers often get less shine than the MCs?
(Bert) for me there was no real one person that I could name but just music in it's self influenced me to get into making it. as being a producer I just love sit with room with the boxes that make the sounds that we create and lets not forget the dusty crates of records that gives us the inspiration to make a tune. I think that if I could rap or string a few lines together I would have a go but you have to the rappers props as that is such an art form and they should shine.
Is there a hierarchy within the group? Does one person seem to take on the role of organiser? What are the qualities each member brings to the table?
To be honest we can be a bit lazy so its just getting focused no one is really mother goose we get together try and make some noise and see what comes
out. (Bert) good at giving tracks some weight I kind of bang around with bits of old tracks and time one sits in a corner smoking writing and listening to records he is big into his breaks.
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?
I think you answered that yourself you got to keep on working on one thing and eventually you will do something thats kind of interesting I guess persistence pays off.
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?
Yes all that, pause mixing, a tape loop, Amiga sample pack, 4 tracks, an Atari, s950, MPC 60.
What sort of tracks would you have been making with that gear?
Love ballads and military brass band stuff.
Over the years have you had many different set ups or did you quickly settle on what you liked? Was it a money issue?
Oh for sure it would be great to just go get the latest this that and the other but that costs and would probably stop your creativity once you got something nice just stick at it.
And now I suppose you either went down the PC / Mac route, or went for a desk and individual units. Not necessarily what you have, but which is your preference and why?
What we have found our self doing now is to go back to the basics with just using a MPC 2000 as the whole pc and Mac thing gives you no end of problems with regards to crashing and not wanting to play when it should, with these sort of problems it tends to mess around the flow.
OK, so you work here in Glenn's studio. Have you given it a name and what sort of equipment have you finalised on. Give us an equipment list:
How has your style developed over the years? Can you put that down to anything in particular?
Our style has always being the same but we tend to do all the production our selves now so I don't no if you could say that our style has developed.
How would you best describe your production style now? Do you edge towards breaks and loops, chopping them up and sequencing, or more playing sounds in a more musical way, perhaps you would say that you don't specialise and try to cover everything?
We always take samples from old records whether it be loops or breaks, but we would consider using real musicians.
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?
We would take a beat then cut it up then start to create our own drum pat. then move on to finding the other loops that would then start to make our song and so on until we get what we want from the tune.
How would you say having your own studio helps in the recording process?
It helps a great deal as we are free to do what we want to do when we want to do it.
What bit of kit do you always seem to be thinking, if only I had one of those…
Nothing right now.
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?
We're in and out of the studio as & when we can.
Do you think that producers are often a bit hermit like, maybe a touch nerdy too? Is that fair?
It depends on the personality.
What do you do to get the best out of other artists you may be working with? Can you bring them to your place to record?
How does it work with MCs that may be based far away or maybe that you don't get to meet? Can you explain the process of getting the beats to the MC and them getting the vocals back to you? Would it be all technical - over the net, or would you be sending DATs back and forth?
For MC's that live abroad we send DAT tapes via our record label and hope that the final product is up to scratch.
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?
We create the beats first.
Do you get involved in the 'Train spotting' and 'one upmanship' of the trendy beat diggers?
Are you signed to Grand Central then, how did the hook up with Mark Rae come about?
We signed a three album deal with Grand Central, and as for Mark, I met him through going to Fat City Records in Afflecks Palace circa 1993. We've been making music for a long time and gave him some demo tapes we had, and that's how it all started.
So, you have had a label hook up, how come you have put out so little?
Quality over quantity.
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?
We have been quite fortunate to be involved with Mark and Grand Central from the beginning. If you're an aspiring artist and believe in what you do, just don't give up. The pitfalls will usually involve financial matters.
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?
Is it a problem being from an area where there is apparently 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?
Music is universal, it ain't where you're from; it's where you're at!
So can you talk us through your recording career so far? Before the Funky Fresh Few there was Glenn and Jason on Deroy Records as
Jason is a friend of ours who goes under the title 'Beatphreak' who introduced me to Glenn just over three years ago, the rest is history... OSC is Glenn's recording name, we call him Bert!
What was the first release you produced as the Funky Fresh Few, was it the Slow For Focus EP? How did it come about and how was it received? That was 1996 right?
It came about through the demos we sent Mark back in 1994. it did okay; and I thought.......?? I like a few of the tracks ....
What else have you released then? Which records would you be particularly proud of and feel are representative of your work?
So now your debut album 'Stealing' is out now, can talk us through it, both in terms of putting it together and the style and meaning of each track? How did you choose the MCs?
We left the American connections in Q&Cs capable hands and the UK guys we were fortunate enough to already know. to be honest some of the tracks are really old and done on an Atari so when the raps from the us came back we had to dig out the old disks with the samples on and try to re structure them with the new gear a pain in the ass and very annoying listening to the same music go round and round and round and round and round and round you know. Never really planned the tracks or meanings you do your thing with how your felling on your tune and the MCs do theirs.
A track, which initially grabbed my attention, was the collaboration with Craig G 'However You Want It', how did that hook up come about?
The hook up came about through Cue ball & Curt Cazal, via D&D Studios New York.
Which MC do you feel comes off best?
Bert: Cue Ball & Curt Cazal, Wig. DSC: I like them all, but Buzz-off our home grown talent, they've got some good rhymes.
Did any of the artists you have collaborated with take a different approach, and who did you most enjoy working with and why?
Well we recorded wig and sage in the kitchen draped loads of sheets round the walls mic in the corner it was great sage session was great he had a nightmare getting up to Blackpool and when he finally arrived we had just one night to record him so we set up and it flowed like fluid few he dropped 4 tracks of rhymes we got 2 sat here ready to do stuff with he's still in San-Francisco.
What sort of set up do you use when playing out? Is it mostly a DJ thing, or would you be looking to hook up the MPC or PC and try to re-create tracks on the fly?
Well till now it has really been a DJ set but we are thinking about getting a live set, but it is quite difficult when you have a lot of different rappers from all over the place getting them together we just need a few more rap tracks out with our own
crus, are launch party was good though Mr dick and derogatory were wicked.
What is your opinion on the recent war with Iraq? Do you feel the reasons for going to war were sufficiently proven?
Ooooh I think this is all very heavy stuff and you only hear what they want you to
Does this make you at all political? I ask everyone about politics, because I think it is important that we have knowledge of what is going on. Do you have anything to say on that? Any issues you think people need to open their eyes too? Blackpool has to have issues…
DSC: For sure but negative as it may seem I think as long as we are kept bickering at each, fed what they want us to eat they will be able to run there great empires up above, we are to busy doing bad things to one another to notice and as for standing up and being counted can you fit it somewhere in between shopping, Eastenders / Coronation Street, and of course pop idol????????? there's some fucked up shit out there and in this day and age we the world should be able to share the pie a lot more equally.
If you could change something about society, what would it be and why?
Vanity as it costs far too much to look like a twat!!!. oh yea TV lets get back to putting on the radio. but on a more real note stop all these war we seem to getting involved in Mr Bush.
Our homegrown music rarely breaks the charts and many people purely check for US material. What are the reasons for this and how can the situation be remedied?
DSC: its strange but I think there is like a 10 year gap with us and US in Hip Hop like an echo or delay but now we are at a good time and I guess its down to hard work and little more faith from the labels I was so exited by tracks from Demon
Boyz, London Posse, Hijack, Guttersnypes, Mello but most kind of disappear but there is light at the end of the tunnel Rodney P and Blade, Braintax they still represent sounding better and better. Bert: I really don't no why that is as I feel the there is to many heads out there making very good music that should be in the charts. We as artists in the UK Hip Hop thing have just keep going at it and hope that one day the bullshit stops.
Outside your crew who are the UK artists you listen to and admire? What is it about them you like?
As above Skitz, Mark B you got to give props to all the crus doing their thing, UK, US, Europe, Australia, Japan there ain't enough hours in the day to hear everything or money in the pocket I don't check the net for tunes I got to have that stuff on record.
Who or what are you other influences? What do you do when you are not doing Hip Hop stuff?
Looking after the females in our lives and of course the mundane route of having to get up for work.
Where can people hear your stuff?
Well the albums out on vinyl and CD and some 12s to or dodgy Dave might burn you one of on a shitty CD for 3 bob, yuk!
Where can people pick up your stuff?
Any independent record shop and even HMV yes the high street store.
How do you view the Internet? Do you think it is a useful promotional tool and a good way of getting out there and breaking the strangle hold the major labels have on the marketplace, or are there too many idiots too willing to spout a load of rubbish with no control over them?
Both but it is a fantastic media and holds a great deal of info for all your needs.
You don't have your own website do you? Do any of you have plans to do one?
We would like to, and own the domain name but as usual its hard to organize everything sooner than later we hope.
How do you feel, as an artist, about distribution systems like Kazaa that are out of your control and for which you don't get any money? Do you think that seeing as the free music genie is out of the bag it could create problems in the future for you as artists to get paid for your work?
Well we don't earn a living out of music that's for sure.
OK. To wind this up, what is going to be keeping you busy over the next few months?
As the nights creep in we are hopefully going to get some new material pumping release some heavy new tracks go to number one sell a billion records and not have to sell out meantime.
What are your longer-term plans and objectives?
Well to make a living out of it would be nice but just to make some tunes and hope someone enjoys them is a great compliment.
What artists do you like and would most like to work with, not necessarily Hip Hop artists?
This question could last forever so if you're a b-boy/girl with a few years behind you probably the same people you like, just to many influences to mention.
Is there anything else you would like to mention?
All we can say is if you bought something thanks, and we will be back in business soon, and it's going to get better. oh and this is the longest interview we had it took ages, not the greatest typer but quite enjoyable.
Finally is there anyone else you would like to mention?
Can't think of anyone oh maybe Marvin Gaye for the fantastic words WHATS GOING ON.