Viper takes a look at the best UK producers you’ve potentially never heard of. From the young bucks putting out their first EPs, to seasoned vets, we take a dig in the crate of the creme de la creme of Britain’s beat making scene…
As a founder of legendary hip hop nights Livin’ Proof, Budgie is a fixture on the London party scene as well as an accomplished DJ and producer. 2014 looks set to be the year he moves from local to global, with his upcoming gospel collaboration with world-famous producer, Alchemist, as well as releases on Theo Parish’s Wildflower.
Tell us about your talk box? Which other producers have used one?
Talk box is my instrument of choice. It’s a device that blends any keyboard or guitar sound with your voice. Its most popular use in hip hop is the hook on ‘California Love’ but it’s on a bunch of songs. It sounds like a novelty but it’s hard to master and if your technique is wack, people will see through it. Roger Troutman definitely elevated the levels of talk boxing in the eighties by taking what Stevie Wonder and Peter Frampton started in the seventies and really perfecting the craft.
How did you get into gospel? Where did you get the idea to do a gospel series?
I got into gospel after hearing the intro to Snoop’s ‘R&G: Rhythm & Gangsta’ album in 2004, which samples a famous gospel artist called Andre Crouch. After that I was on the hunt for any Andre Crouch record I could find, I didn’t find many and didn’t start properly digging gospel again until I was in Detroit and Chicago in 2010. I got 30 incredible gospel records on that trip and they ended up becoming ‘The Gospel According To Budgie’.
Did Kanye jack your sample?
Well, I did another record buying trip in summer 2012, ended up putting out my second gospel mix at the end of the year and by January 2013, unbeknownst to me, one of the songs on my mix was presented to Kanye West as a possible sample to use on ‘Yeezus’. Fast forward to May 2013 and I receive a cryptic message from someone in Kanye’s camp asking for info on the gospel record. Naturally I asked why they needed the information and the response was equally as cryptic, I figured I don’t actually own the copyrights for these records, I may as well share the information. A few weeks later I started getting calls and tweets congratulating me on the sample I discovered being on the opening track from ‘Yeezus’! Ironically I found the record, The Holy Name of Mary Choral Family – ‘He’ll Give Us What We Really Need’, on the South Side of Chicago!
A veteran of the UK scene, Sumgii is as well known for his dupstep beats as his hip hop production. He’s worked with Foreign Beggars and his groups Problemchild and LDN Zoo, not to mention being an honorary member of London rap group, Piff Gang.
You dabble in many genres, how would you describe your sound?
I would say I make a lot more 140-160 bpm stuff these days, like trappy hip hop but I do make 86bpm hip hop beats too. My style doesn’t really have a genre at the moment, it’s a hybrid of everything in my opinion.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have a group called Problemchild with Dabbla, Illaman and Dubbledge, we’re in the middle of finishing our debut album. I also produce for my other group, LDN Zoo, we’re planning an album for next year. I have involvement in all things Piff Gang and we have plenty of amazing tracks finished and in the works. Currently I’m also working on beats for Tempa T, Dream Mclean, Anne Marie Lataille, Jman and plenty more. I’m busy!!!
You’re influenced by UK garage and drum & bass, which artists influenced you?
I’d say my biggest influence is probably Groove Chronicles because they knew how to mix that jazz, smoking vibe with serious sub-bass energy, that’s how I like my music to be. I’d also say Roni Size because of the same reasons.
The name JD. Reid won’t be unknown for long – this young producer is about to set the UK scene alight. Currently engineering at Rinse FM alongside providing beats for Piff Gang and Denzel Himself, this North London star will be releasing his second EP this year on TerraRhythm.
How did you get into production?
My mum worked at record labels and my dad played percussion so music has always been a big focus growing up. My cousin taught me how to DJ and then showed me that he’d started making beats on Cubase. I got a copy from him and started trying to find my way around it. I started taking music technology lessons at school and once I got hold of Logic really started getting in to it properly.
Which US artists do you want to work with?
There are a lot of them but right now Dom Kennedy, Da$h, Earl Sweatshirt, Kelela and Yung Simmie.
Do you think where you grow up influences your sound?
Growing up in London has definitely been a big influence on my sound. I grew up with grime and a lot of UK music. I make hip hop beats but I still want them to feel and sound like they’re from London. The music in London keeps getting better and the artists and producers are working hard to push the sound. More people are paying attention to it – inside and outside of the UK. I think 2014 is already looking like it’s gonna be a good year for the London scene.
This is an extract from the Spring Issue of Viper Magazine. Read more from the magazine here. Buy physical and digital copies here.
Photos by Ed Dabney + Mehdi Lacoste