Manchester’s Chimpo has become somewhat of an enigma in bass music over recent years. Whether on the microphone, in the DJ booth or behind the controls of Logic, his styles hard to pin down, blending a massive range of influences into a truly unique and original slant. With official remixes for both Wu Tang and Zed Bias under his belt, and a close nit crew of some of Manchesters illest producers and lyricists around him, he’s in strong company yet always holds his own.
His recent Frontline EP just dropped on Marcus Intalex’s Soul:R label and sees him further his eclectic brand of sonics. From the soulful, deep atmospherics and perfectly relatable vocal hook of All Over through the dark, industrial sounds of Buzzin‘, where d&b kingpins Dub Phizix and Skeptical join him on the boards, to the futuristic take on dub of Frontline where Fox takes vocal duties, it’s a release that showcase’s his talent across the spectrum and has already been destroying dance floors countrywide. To finish things off, true bass music royalty Calibre delivers a futurist jungle remix of Frontline which lives up to the incredibly high expectations we’ve come to expect of anything the Irish legend has anything to do with. We caught up with Chimpo to find out a bit more about how the Frontline EP came together.
Hi Chimpo, give us an idea of yourself outside of music firstly, what else takes up your time?
Chicken, cartoons and getting shedded.
Desert island disks style, what three records couldn’t you live without?
Sizzla – Da Real Thing
Devin the Dude – Waiting to Inhale
D’Angelo – Voodoo
What are some guilty pleasure tunes you can’t help but love?
Don’t feel guilty about listening to them but other people might think I should:
T Pain – Buy U A Drank
Cassie – Me n U
Britney Spears – Toxic
What was your route into music production? Did you just get hold of a DAW and start experimenting, or was there anyone that showed you the ropes or something in particular that really encouraged you to start?
I just taught myself really. I went from tape decks and a Casio to Acid to Making Waves to Reason to Cubase and now Logic. I’ve always just pissed about until stuff sounds good though.
I read you were part of a hip hop crew in your early days, was that as a producer or lyricist? Tell us a bit more about that crew…
We were called Northern Monkeys. It was me, my mate Gudz and JSD who’s now in Virus syndicate. I would produce and DJ and them 2 did the rapping. We had a tune called ‘Bad Habits’ about pissing on the toilet seat n stuff. Broke N English heard it and liked it so they sort of took us under their wing.
Your new Frontline EP is being released on Marcus Intalex’s Soul:R label, an imprint from your hometown of Manchester. The Manchester scene seems to be very good about hooking up it’s own, do you all chill with each other outside music? How did you come to form links with Intalex?
Yeh we’re all pretty much best mates. When we’re not doing music together we’re pissing about acting like nob eds and getting up to mischief. I’ve known Marcus for years. I used to be in Eastern Bloc records all the time as a kid listening to records and not buying them, he probably thought I was a right pain. When I started going raving though at like 16 I’d see him all the time and he’s always been dead safe with me. I’ve always gone to his Soul:ution nights. It’s one of my favourite raves. Big up Marcus.
Your sounds very varied and draws influence from a wide range of styles, how would you describe the vibe of the Frontline EP?
Dunno, it’s a mixed bag innit. ‘Frontline‘ is like a dubby, dancehall-influenced vibe, Calibres remix is more old-skool jungle style, ‘Buzzin‘ is just a classic Dub Phizix and Skeptical type of vibe and ‘All Over‘ is a soul vibe, more like the Hip Hop approach to production.
True to form, it ranges from the relaxing to the up beat, the melodic to the gritty, is this variety something you purposely tried to create in the release, or did it just form naturally?
Yeh it formed naturally I guess. I always make stuff with totally different vibes because I get bored really easily. That’s why I never really committed to one specific genre I reckon. I’ll probably be making country and western next year.
Calibre takes remix duties on the title track, did you have much of a say in what he did with it, or just trust his judgement? Was the result what you were expecting?
Yehhh it’s flippin Calibre innit! I didn’t give him any direction. Everything he makes is sick so I knew whatever he did it would be amazing. I love what he did with the tune. He took it in a well different direction.
As well as your own tunes you’ve remixed for some incredible artists, putting your slant on Zed Bias’ Neighbourhood and and Wu Tang’s Cinema for example. How does it feel to be working with music legends such as that? Is it ever overwhelming in terms of pressure?
Yeh the Wu Tang one was pretty easy in a way because I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the track. ‘Neighbourhood‘ remix was the second one I did. The first I did it a bit more off-key and experimental. Zed like it but he said he wanted some classic Chimpo rowdy shit so I just went back and rowdied it up.
What are studio comforts you just can’t live with out? And what goes down when you’ve had a bad day or are feeling uninspired?
I’ve made most of my best stuff when I just woke up and gone straight onto the computer rags. No shower no brushing the teeth. If I shower I lose my powers sometimes. If I’ve had a bad day I might make something wicked because I can let off my frustrations into the music. Make something rowdy or whatever. Producing with a hangover is never a good shout though.
You released a 12” alongside Fox under the psyeudonym of The Eyes back in 2012. Is anything more coming of that project?
Yeh we’ve got a whole album done. It’s mental. Hopefully it will see light of day in the not too distant future.
What else is in the works?
More stuff with Dub Phizix, stuff with Trigga and Fox. I’m hopefully doing some stuff with Flow Dan and some other MC’s. I’ve got releases forthcoming on Critical, Ghost House and hopefully Exit. I wanna do a solo album at some point but probably next year I reckon.
What releases are you really looking forward to from other artists?
My mates DRS and Hotwire have a project going called Think Tonk. It’s been a top secret assignment but D said I could break the news. It’s proper sick. It’s a mix of DnB, Dancehall and Trap. I think thats gonna kill it.
Dope! What younger cats from Manchester should we have our eye on?
Metrodome is a young producer who is sick. T Man and Fabz are my top mates and them two are sick. Also Sparks, Ape Cult, Dubble O, Ellis Meade; there’s loads. I’ve probably forgot half of them but yeh them guys are all wicked.
Cheers for dropping through! Any final nuggets?
Who’s the president of percussion? Maraca Bama. I made that up myself. It’s sick innit.