He's a producer, a DJ, a remixer and the man at legendary London night Livin Proof and he's worked with everyone from Kate Nash to Sway and The Gorillaz. He also makes really ace videos like the one below. We had a chat with The Last Skeptik about murking bears, grunting like Rick Ross and his new, excellent and mostly instrumental album, Thanks For Trying.
Firstly please explain your name (why so skeptical Skeptik?!) and the name of your new album, Thanks For Trying. WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
I have answered this a million times, but never with the question in all caps, so this time, it feels special. I've always been skeptical - politically and otherwise, since I was a kid. I think the world is best absorbed with a massive pinch of salt. At the time, I got the Wu-Tang style name that I have now, I felt like I was the last one of my peers that still questioned why things were the way they were in our country, and the bullsh*t that is shovelled by our government. The album title Thanks For Trying comes from a different angle of my madness. It makes a sly, self deprecating reference to putting out music and the sometimes unrewarding nature of it. It comes from a place I reached where I just don't give a f*ck anymore, and this is the album that I wanted to make, irrelevant of whether anyone except me likes it.
There is a serious lack of anyone being confident enough to put out a record that is weird, and doesn't immediately just try to r jump on a bandwagon. I wanted to make something that will sound just as at home in 2070 as it does now.
It's a mostly instrumental album. Brave. With Hip Hop currently distracted by all things Molly and date-rape and Trap Muzik and stuff of that nature, where does an album like Thanks For Trying fit in?
I think right now is the perfect time for a record that is completely different to everything else. I love trap. I listen to more Rick Ross and Meek Mill than is actually healthy - especially hosting Livin Proof, I'm around all the madness and have to understand how to make crowds go nuts. But I think there is a serious lack of anyone being confident enough to put out a record that is weird, and doesn't immediately just try to be trap or jump on a bandwagon. I wanted to make something that will sound just as at home in 2070 as it does now. I wanted to build a story without words. Build a narrative with just music, without having to rely on a rapper to do so. The music can speak for itself, and the whole mad journey of Thanks For Trying does that.
What sorts of things - movies, books, other producers, weird noises etc - inspired the record?
Every film by Wes Anderson. All the weird sounds and musical nuances in those films created by Jon Brion and Mark Mothersburgh. I studied really emotional soundtracks by a lot of different directors. Those big old violin melodies that eek out emotion from people, and tell a story just by suggesting it via the intensity of the music. Thats what I wanted. Something a whole bunch of people could listen to and cry at. Listening to the album end to end, walking on road, and crying. This is what I want. Travelling to some mad places around the world inspired me greatly too. From spending time in Syria and Lebanon especially, I really felt like the instrumental music I was making kind of spoke to people more than records with rappers.
Travelling to some mad places around the world inspired me greatly. I really felt like the instrumental music I was making kind of spoke to people more than records with rappers.
How long did it take to record and what state of mind where you in as you made it?
About 4 years. A really, really long state of mind of confusion, tension and more emotion than a teenage girl. I think I became Seinfeld during the duration of it.
The video (watch above) is lolz. Who came up with the concept and do you plan to do any more for the rest of the album?
My boy Jeff Metal came up with the idea for the 'Pick Your Battles' video, and directed it. Real life animals died during the filming of it. 9 trained bears played the lead role, and all died during a deleted scene with shotguns, strangely. I've got about 10 more videos to release. All equally as non-sensical as the last. Because the album is so cinematic sounding, it seemed only right to make the visual side of things take precedent. I'm determined to make a video for every song on the album. Like it ain't even sh*t.
Real life animals died during the filming of it. 9 trained bears played the lead role, and all died during a deleted scene with shotguns, strangely.
You've worked with loads of people before now - Sway, Jehst who appears on this album etc. Who have you most enjoyed collaborating with? Who would you like to work with next?
Collaborating with the musicians on Thanks For Trying has been a lot of fun. There's a lot of rappers I'd like to work with, that I respect highly, but right now I see singers and bands like Alt.J, Daughter and James Blake and want to do some mad sh*t with people like that.
Complete the sentence. Thanks For Trying is best enjoyed with...
cigarettes, whiskey and a cheeseboard. and exotic plants. and a life size cardboard cut-out collection of the cast of Hang Time.
What's the toughest thing about being in Hip Hop in 2013?
Trying not to be Hip-Hop in 2013. I want to get that yodelling money.
I want to get that yodelling money.
Not grunting like Rick Ross all the time. I've forgotten how to conduct normal conversation without grunting. Maybe thats a wider life problem.
Where can people get the album when it drops?
Hopefully i'll get to those cd racks by the counter in motorway service stations. If not, you can get it from iTunes on May 6, and also Amazon, HMV and all the usual spots as accessed by Google. You can also watch all the music videos as they are released here.