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Interview with Oxide & Neutrino (2001)

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Mishmash
London – Hyperdub HQ

Originally published in 2001

Our secret agent Mishmash sends back this transcript of a conversation about intertribal warfare and their latest chart hit, with the most successful but certainly the least sonically interesting of the mighty So Solid Crew.

Have you got high hopes for the new track, No Good 4 Me?

O : We’re just doing our thing innit. Obviously, we hope it does well.

It’s based around a pretty well-known sample. Do you know if Liam (Howlett, Prodigy) has heard it?

O : Well, he knows about it but I don’t know if he’s actually heard it.

Got any idea what his reaction might be to it?

O : Er, I don’t know.

N : I don’t know. There’s been some criticism out there in that we’ve tried to do a Prodigy cover and that’s a load of crap. It ain’t a Prodigy cover, all we done is used a sample, the ‘No Good For Me’ sample. That ‘der, der, der, der, der’ bit.

O : It’s like what they did.

N : Yeah, it’s just like what they did, back in the day. They used to sample stuff and put it in their music and we’re just doing what they did.

O : It ain’t original to them, neither.

OK, let’s talk about this criticism that’s been coming from other quarters, from more established DJs and producers. We touched on it earlier a bit, do you think it is just an age thing or is there something more there?

N : The music these people have been playing all their lives up till now has been like a soulful garage R and B kind of thing. Then we’ve come along with a different kind of thing, a breakbeat, a dark bass line, mad stuff that’s completely different. They’ve been controlling everything and from nowhere like, these youngsters come in and kind of took over, had a number one with a completely different type of garage. If I’d been working my bollocks off in this business for a long, long time and someone came and took my music and re-shaped it and had a number one with it, I’d be pissed off. I’d be slagging them off because at the end of the day, I’d be jealous… Jealousy, who knows?

This track, ‘Up Middle Finger’, it’s pretty obvious what it’s about . is this you setting out your stall then?

O : All this criticism, it’s all word of mouth, you know, we don’t really know who it’s coming from. People just make up stories for the sake of it, so the track hasn’t got any names in it . it’s just to whoever said anything bad, ever. There’s a bit about the struggles we had with getting ‘Casualty’ out and that.

N : I went to see some woman, she represented some crew, she kept telling me how my crew, So Solid, were never going nowhere, that we.d never make it, you know, this and that. I had to laugh, ha ha ha, hee hee hee, because later she’s ringing the So Solid office and she wants to book us now, so.

Where was that crowd response bit in the tune recorded?

O + N : That was up in Irvine, Scotland.

How many people?

O : 100,000 people, madness. Madness.

N : Scotland, man, last place you’d expect the record to do well and everyone knew the words up there as well!

Because you still kind of think of garage as a London thing, really, do you think you’re doing better outside London with this harder sound?

N : I got family up there, and they’re telling me that the garage up there is alright but it’s still dance-dominated. Up North, I think it will always be dance-dominated . we played garage up there and sometimes it’s like, yeah that’s alright, and sometimes it’s a bit half and half.

Why do you think that is?

N : You know what I think? Up North, there’s more drug users up North, they go for it, they’re the ravers. If you’re taking drugs, you got to listen to hard music to keep up . they need the full .Put your hands in the air! Doosh, doosh, doosh!. stuff.

So, do you see yourselves as part of the garage scene?

O : I’ve always seen myself as that but now I don’t know.

N : It depends on how you define the garage scene. We’re there to some extent but when it comes to ‘garage’ garage, then we don’t get represented unless they want to say who’s charted and this and that.

O : It’s like we’re trying to break through to the underground . If they won’t let us do that, then we’ll go mainstream innit? Everyone in that garage scene, they want to bust through to the maximum of their potential. I’d be the same. I know why people cuss us.

N : They’re the ones saying. Fuck the charts, stay underground,. but they ain’t got shit. They’re stuck, they say stuff like ‘Stay underground,’ but in their hearts they know they ain’t going nowhere.

O : They saying we’re not ‘pure’ whatever that means, now that means shit, they may as well say we.re not garage. These people should stick to their own thing and pay less attention to us.

N : That soulful stuff, I don.t see it going nowhere, I don’t see no number ones. People ain’t doing what we’re doing, most of that soulful stuff is just coming in at 40 or so if it’s charting at all. When that stuff starts selling a quarter million, when they get number ones, then they can start cussing, yeah?

O : And if that happens, that’s good, because it’s all the garage scene and that. It’s good for international exposure.

Do you not think a lot of it might just be the media stirring shit up?

O + N : Yeah, definitely.

Garage Wars? (title of a Guardian supplement piece)

O + N : Yeah, there’s that. .

One thing people have been saying though, is that they’re concerned that the introduction of a more aggressive, darker sound into garage could lead to even more trouble in the clubs.

N : That’s already happening, that. Any club you go to that plays garage, there’s always fighting, there’s always shooting, that happens at any club though. It’s just an excuse blaming it on the music. We could hold a night and play soulful garage and I guarantee you that there would be trouble there. It’s all to do with people, not the music. People with enemies, who want to rob people, whatever.

You were talking about your website before this interview, is there an argument going on there?

O : Yeah, it’s like if anyone says anything bad about us, about 4 or 5 people come straight back at them and are like .Get off the website!. or whatever. It’s mainly our fans, though. the odd comment will attract stuff like that, but mainly it’s all good, you know.

Where do you see yourselves going? You’ve got an album out in March?

O : We’re doing our own thing. These are just the tracks I wanted to make.

N : We’re not just one hit wonders, we’re not just two singles. I got lyrics, he’s got the tunes in his head. The album, everything on it is original and we will show you what we can do. We want to be big in this country, we want to be big worldwide. The thing is, I don’t know if I want to represent garage though, the way they are carrying on, it reminds me of school or something. I think at some point, we might have to sit down and say. Do we really want to represent garage?.

Is that a decision you’ve come to or one that you feel you’ve been forced to make?

N : Basically, I don.t want to represent something that I’m not being backed by. I don’t see why we should.

Are you aware that the ‘UK Garage Committee’ has been meeting to discuss these sorts of issues?

N : That says to me that they’re scared and they’re trying to do something about it. Shit, man, it’s all gone bad! We better have a meeting!. That’s how I see it. If it was a proper committee, we would have been invited. I heard about it after from an MC and a big chat on the radio, people phoning in and stuff. There’s a lot of negative vibes about that we’re meeting at the moment. There should have been everyone there, you know? Now a lot of people are pissed off by that.

So you think you should have been invited?

N : We had a number one innit! We should have been invited! That’s all the way from Scotland to the South, man, we represented garage and we should have been invited and if they got a problem they should tell us about it, that’s what I’m saying.

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Copyright © Hyperdub 2001 – Reprinted with permission.

Category: Hyperdub

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