Since I came to Bournemouth for uni almost two years ago, it’s fair to say the Hip Hop scene’s been pretty quiet, with the occasional gig that always ended up half capacity. However, over the last few months a night called Bed Stuy, which has been running every wednesday for a while, has started to really step up it’s bookings and recently absolutely road blocked Kukui with a lineup featuring Jehst, Parky and Brotherman. Through that I learnt of DJ Roast Beatz who recently moved down here and discovered he’s got quite the list of Hip Hop credentials, from Radio shows, to nights, to albums. I got at him for a little interview about all things Hip Hop, and he was kind enough to link us a mix as well!
Easy, hope you’re good mate. First up, explain a bit about your story in Hip Hop. What got you into it all and how long have you been cutting and producing?
Hip-hop has been the soundtrack to my life definitely. Before hip-hop there was Jacko, Iron maiden The Cure and David Bowie. Then I found De La Soul, Tribe and Jungle Brothers. I was really young and used to nick my brothers tapes it used to piss him off something rotten. As a kid I was also a skateboard fanatic. So when I was watching videos like virtual Reality and Goldfish they had tracks from the Goats, Extra Prolific, Hieroglyphics and the sound just suited me as a person and kid growing up.
I always had headphones on in school. All my friends were in the year above so when they left the last year in school was a bit of a solo mission apart from a few heads. So on my lunch breaks I used to just listen to music and get baked when my mates where playing footie. Needless to say my attendance dropped in my final year. The joints on repeat in my headphones were: Only built for Cuban Linx, The Goats, Funk master Flex, Gza liquid swords and so on…
As a teen, hip-hop helped me through shitty times, with family and girls normal crap. The two albums in particular were Del La Soul is Dead and Bizarre Ride To The Pharcyde. Any way dj’ing, my boys Sneakee and Clockwork ended up buying Technics and teaching me how to scratch so from then on it all started!
I’ve been DJ’ing now on and off for thirteen years. I did a bit of travelling so didn’t have decks for a while but they were always in my thoughts! As far as production, I’ve been messing with that for about five years. I think any scratch DJ/turntablist will make beats; it’s a natural extension to what they’re already doing. Manipulating samples but on an MPC/Logic etc.
I used to work in TV as a sound editor so that’s where I learnt about sound and pro tools etc. I try to mix and master all my own stuff. I think it’s essential to have a firm grounding in that kind of thing when making music. The mix down etc is almost as important as the making of the beat.
Which three albums couldn’t you live without?
That’s a really tough one. Due to the amount I’m Dj’ing right now I listen to about two albums a day. It’s important to keep it fresh when you’re always DJ’ing out. I’ll do 3 albums classic ones I love purely for helping me though rough times or helping me reminisce on fresh times and 3 current ones I’m all over at the minute.
De La Soul is Dead
Bizarre ride to the Pharcyde
Skinnyman Council Estate of Mind
Nottz You need this music
Action Bronson Bon Apetit Bitches
Phoenix da Icefire DJ Roast Beatz Terminal Velocity
If all your records were burning in a house fire, but you just about had time to grab one scratch record, which would it be?
Ha, ha I’d let them burn, all my scratch records are fucked! Umm I mostly use MP3’s for scratching now. I’m lucky enough to have all the Dirtsyle breaks etc on good mp3’s so I do all my cuts on my Serato plates unless I’ve got the acapella. If I was to grab any record from my collection….Prob one of the classic UK dub plates, I’ve got a dope mud fam one over the smash something break, or one of the Task force dub plates. To be fair I’ve forgotten what I have. I know there’s some vintage shit though. Half of my vinyl is in storage and the rest is going the same way soon. I was pretty irresponsible as a dj when playing out as I always used to drink too much and not take care of my records. A fair few of them have seen better days! (I say shaking my head!)
Am I right in thinking you’re hooked up by LRG? How did that come about?
As I touched on earlier I was heavily in to skating, and still am. When I was living in London as well as music I was really trying to push my skating career and one of my favourite labels was LRG. I got a few pics in a big skate mag wearing LRG and knocked out a decent section in a London scene DVD and pretty much just hounded them til they had no choice but send me free shit! Since then I’ve had a few nasty injuries and had to learn that I don’t bounce any more. It got to a stage where I had to make a decision after a bad wrist injury. Do I skate and put music at risk or accept I’ve had a good innings and pipe down a little. So I have cut down on skating a bit. I’m sure when summer comes I’ll be on it a bit more but currently I work full time as an IT technician and DJ sometimes three nights a week til three am so I’m pretty much battered come the evening times. Plus I have a lot of scratch duties for different artists. To top it all off I’ve got mini Roast on the way this summer so that will be taking up a whole heap of poppa roasts schedule but I’m sure we’ll be up at Kings park shredding with the boy.
When I first moved to Bournemouth I was skating a lot and met some great dudes up at Kings Park. They were all really welcoming. A lot of them come to my gigs and feel what I’m about so that’s really cool. I’ve actually since put a Bournemouth local on LRG as I’m now acting as a team manager for the label in regards to skating. So the label still continues to back me with music and skateboarding. When I did Redman and Method man, Immortal technique, Gza etc I made sure I was branded up so there still getting a good deal. I have banners up at nights and do a lot of promo for them in that aspect. They are great people at the label and I really thank them for their continuing support, big ups!
What do you think of the Uk Hip Hop scene right now, and which other mcs and beatmakers are you feeling?
I think the UK scene has a lot of other countries quaking in their boots! I’m not talking tinie tempah or chip munk. I’m talking Triple darkness, Rewd Adams, Iron Braydz, Dubbledge, Beat Butcha, Chemo, Jehst, Task force, Mystro, Jon Phonics and Jam Baxter to name a few.
These shores are literally brimming over with talent. So many producers are being snapped up by yank Mc’s, it’s really inspiring. I was really shocked by the turn out when we put Jehst and Stig on @ Bed Stuy. If we can get those crowds consistently for live acts then were on to a good thing for us the artists, finally getting paid and supported for all the hard work and for the consumer, getting to see fresh live shows.
Right, more artists who are doing their thing in the UK right now are: Phoenix da Icefire, Triple Darkness, 9 Planets, Ramson Badbonez, Ldn Zoo, Fliptrix, Stig and Syntax, Endemic, Chemo, Beat Butcha, Rtykal, Kelakovski, Mr Thing, Jazz T and the dudes I mentioned above, the list really is long and I’m a bit faded from Dj’ing last night. 2011 will see some amazing releases from my peoples, Phoenix, Cyrus Malachi, my man Stigs doing his dubstep remixes, Cheebo and Spifire are dropping an Lp and of course Roast Beatz and Phoenix Terminal Velocity.
If you could collab with any one mc or producer, dead or alive, who would it be?
UK wise I’d like to work with Jehst and Mystro. This is currently in discussion so watch this space. I am in talks with a lot of MC’s for my next album. I’d love to work with Chester P. Producer wise I think it’d be hard working with another producer, as I’m pretty sporadic with beats. One day I’ll make a double time grimey thing, then a soulful joint. I’ll be doing some collab work with Cheebo soon. It’s just hard to not concentrate on your own grind! I’d love to collab with Guilty Simpson, Raekwon, Big L is one of my all time favs! One of my guilty pleasures is The Game. He spits a sick verse on Ghosts new album and he’s done some fire lately. Sean P would a good one too and I’m really in to Action Bronson right now. I’m sure if u gave me a pen and a pad and half a day I’d fill it with collabs but for now we’ll leave it there.
You’re involved in a Bournemouth based Hip Hop night, Bed Stuy, which seems to be going from strength to strength recently. What’s coming up on that side of things, and where do you see that going in the future?
Bed Stuy’s blossomed in a big way. When I first moved to Bournemouth a year and a half ago, I reached out to a few heads who pretty much gave me air in regards to playing out or giving me any shine with my release so I thought fuck em and tried to sort shit myself. I was pretty exhausted with producing/studio mixing after my album and wanted to concentrate on being a dj again. Some one randomly put me in touch with Triss he liked all my mixes/album etc and invited me down to play. The night was really quiet during the summer and then when Uni came back it went ape shit. Fresher’s ball was an eye opener and still to this day Dj’ing in Bournemouth is a bizarre place with regards to requests, people trying to get behind the decks and being lippy etc. Since then I’ve taken on a (more than just a dj role) with the night in regards to contacts I’ve made through the years we’ve done the Stig night, Jehst we have Spec Boogie in March, my EP launch with Phoenix in April, in May Dr Syntax and Ldn Zoo. It’s a pretty good line up by any ones standards. The night has a nice vibe and we’ve got fresh Dj’s taboot so make sure you come check it!
In the future were going to look to do bigger shows get some US artists and take it to a few more towns concentrating on Freshers week. We don’t know yet. Triss is hollering at his dissertation and I’m Dj’ing/working like a dog and waiting on mini me to hop out of miss roast so we’ll have to see on that one.
As a Dj who’s trade of scratching largely relies on the vinyl medium, what do you think of the music industry’s transition away from it? As a d&b Dj I’ve definitely noticed a massive decrease in the quality and condition of vinyl decks in clubs, has this become a problem for you?
It’s mad when I turn up to play at a club they look at me funny cos I’m not using cdj’s! I think Cd’s are on the way out to in all honesty. I haven’t found too much trouble with it as I’ve been on Serato for a few years now. It worked for me as I was Dj’ing for Triple Darkness and they wanted a scratch Dj cutting their samples on stage. With CDJs you just cant get the same feel so it was an obvious progression. I haven’t really looked back. I do long sets sometimes up to five hours. I’d have 2 bring about four crates to do that so my back and car suspension owe Serato one! I still go digging for vinyl just not as much hip-hop more funk and soundtracks.
I also think when playing in nightclubs as long as your using good quality wavs or mp3’s it’s ok. I’ve had a few twats give me grief on social network sites for using mp3’s and Serato but there’s always going to be haters and bitching. I just look at who’s being booked for good gigs, making money, progressing with skills and releases out of us and it speaks for itself, so middle finger to the haters!
You used to hold down a slot on the legendary Itch Fm, how did that come about and was it a massive blow when it shut down? How did you find it playing on pirate radio?
I owe all my contacts and most of my buzz to itch fm. They gave me a great platform and helped me meet so many dope friends in the London hip-hop scene. People like: Teef, Gone, Charlie Sloth, Snuff, Nemesis and Arrogance, DJ Form, NewBorn, Tuff Kut, Shucks, Mr Covo, Breakin Bread, the list goes on!
Itch was a tight nit family. We always linked up once a month for meetings and every one got on really well. People always think there’s attitude in hip-hop but there was none with us lot.
As for playing on Pirate radio it was fresh. You get sent new tracks all the time, guest list and dj opportunities. In the studio getting as many missed calls as you could with tracks, getting texts from randoms saying how dope your show was. It was a great experience that I’ll never forget. Not one person who was on Itch has stopped their grind and as far as I know they are still doing fresh things within the culture.
Go check Sensei.fm you’ll find a lot of us there!
You released your debut album, ‘Cuttin it Fine’ in 2010, with a pretty accomplished list of mcs such as Cyrus Malachi, Stig & Syntax and Genesis Elijah. How did you find the album process and the dynamics of working with these mcs you may not have met? Did you literally just send them beats?
The album was a really good learning curve for me. A lot of the beats were really old so it didn’t really showcase what I’m about now, or last year. I still love it though hence my tattoo. It taught me a lot from how to mix properly, or not properly, to never set time scales when relying on other people. Looking back I’d do it differently but that’s the learning curve, I wouldn’t change it. I try not to take it all to seriously, I’m under no illusions I’ll get rich from production, there are a lot of really talented producers on the bread line. I really enjoy making music if I can shift a few units and buy some sneaks or take wifey out for dinner then all gravy. My jobb and Dj’ing earn me enough cake to not sweat album sales. Plus all music will be free eventually.
Working with Cyrus was natural as I was his Dj so we were doing gigs a lot and I’d play him beats etc.
Stig and Syntax are good buddies who are scholars for putting up with my pissed antics!
Genesis I sent him the beat with Phoenix and he was kind enough to bless me. Most of the heads on there are friends or people I’d see out on the circuit.
I have to shout them all for blessing cutting it fine and making it a fresh album. It will be a free download with my next release so it will be interesting to see the comparisons between the two projects.
I know you’ve got an album with Pheonix da Icefire set to drop soon, anything else in the pipelines?
I’ve got so much shit happening right now it’s hard to concentrate on any one thing. First is Terminal Velocity. It’s a nine track ep with me, my Mc and good friend Phoenix. I’ve been his dj and buddy for a minute so this EP has been a long time coming. It features Iron Braydz, Cyrus Malachi, Scripture, J da Exodus and Aks. It’s a pretty raw EP the beats are moody and fat. I’m a lot more proud of these beats; they’re more experimental for sure. I was listening to a lot of horror soundtracks when making it so it shows my darker side. This’ll be out in May with instrumentals and my album as a download for £3.
I’m also doing cuts for Phoenix for his album. One is a Ruste Juxx feature which is an aggro up tempo banger. Another is a Klashnekoff and Keith Murray feature which is a bit calmer. The whole album is produced by chemo so you know it bangs hard!
Then me and another old buddy Triggs Vega are in talk’s about cooking up some fire. I’m doing some remix’s for the delusionists, a series of mashups and nu funk tracks for free download and finally putting the feelers out for my album.
On top of that I’m playing at Bed Stuy every other Wednesday, doing a night called ‘Drop a Gem on Em’ Mondays at Sherbert Lounge and running my own bi monthly night’ Doing our own Thang’ at the Winchester. Expect to hear new, old, under ground, over ground, hip hop, nu funk, funk, soul and what ever else I’m feeling that day!
Can you walk us through the guest mix you’ve recorded, any particular stand out tracks for you?
This mix is a good example of my progression as a dj. It’s Hip Hop, funk and Nu funk. I did it as a promo, and then it ended up being a Bed Stuy mix to promote the night. Any one who says I’m not hip-hop can suck my left gonad. I’ve learnt that playing 85bpm tracks too a sea of stoned hoodies is not the direction I want my DJ career to go so stepped it up a little.
All the tracks are fresh in there own right. Orelha Negra Blessed for the bass line; they’re a Portuguese hip-hop band make sure you check their album. Treat em right Chubb Rock, simply as I’ve rocked so many parties with it. Second to none Stay true to yourself as it takes me back to Eric Kostons H street section when I was 9! And of course CB4 sweat from my balls. It’s in the title! Enjoy!
Cheers Roast! Any shouts or last words?
Yes! Thanks for hollering at me for an interview, I hope it’s a good read! Shouts to my beautiful girl who’s carrying mini roast. Words cannot explain how much better my life is now she’s in the picture! Shouts to my homie Phoenix. Look out for Terminal Velocity! Peace to Cheebo, Triss Specifik, Krishna, Daniel, Mark and any one else helping me in my one man mssion to take over hip hop and funk in Bournemouth!
Look out for the mash-ups and mixes coming soon on Sound cloud and bandcamp, click the links below and keep supporting me and I’ll keep doing it, feel me? That is all. One love!
Poppa Roast Beatz.
Check the mix below, or click through to Soundcloud to download!
DJ Roast Broken Culture Guest Mix by BrokenCulture
Check Roast on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/DJ-Roast-Beatz/154191207945349