A little Hobbit who we all admire

Fatcatsbiggafish is privileged to present an interview with young (17) up-and-coming Scottish hip hop producer Matt, aka BilL Breaks.

FCBF: Tell us a bit about yourself, and how you got into hip hop and hip hop production?

BB: Hey, well my name is Matt to people who are not privy to my secretive stereo-propagating alter-ego – BilL Breaks. I am a producer/beatmaker from Glasgow, Scotland, leaning towards the ol’ hip-hop but dabble in Drum n’ Bass, Dubstep, and general noise. I got into hip-hop after listening to my brothers ‘generic rap compilation’ CDs and old Tim Westwood tapes, went through the whole 50 pence/guns and money phase, grew up, got introduced to Gangstarr, etc and started working on beats, diggin for breaks and being educated by my mentor, a guy called c0mplex then started finding out more about the local scene and started focusing on that. And here I am today.

FCBF: How much material have you been able to put out? What difference do you think digital technology and the internet has meant to someone like you just getting started in production?

BB: Physically, Fade to Static is the first real thing I have put out, but I have made beats for a lot of people especially in the Scottish scene which have been put out. Technology and the internet made a huge difference for me when I was just starting out in production. Without it I wouldn’t have had access to any of the information I did through forums, blogs, etc. People can lose sight of the whole point of making music though with the wealth of technical information available, being submerged in technicalities and techniques isn’t always good for the music, I can see myself doing that sometimes but do I try to focus on the music.

FCBF: What’s your production approach? I remember reading at one point that you’re really sample based, what about synths etc.? What do you think about the big turn towards electro/dance music type beats there’s been in hip hop in general, and in the UK grime scene in particular?

BB: Typically I’ll chop a sample, layer some drops and see what fits, filter some bassline action or play out a synth effort, it just depends on what’s sounding good to me. I used to be very sample orientated, and I still am generally but I have been incorporating my hardware synths more and more which is a lot of fun, as well as purely synth based tracks. As long as there is vinyl crackle somewhere among the montage of waveforms then I’m happy. I don’t think much of the turn towards electro/dance beats, to be perfectly honest. I get the feeling that a lot of it is made to just make money or follow some gimmick or trend, I don’t go in for that malarky. I don’t know much about the UK grime scene, they do their thing and I do mine, we don’t cross paths much so I don’t have much authority on the matter.

FCBF: What type of equipment have you got available to you? Do you get access to a studio or do you just work from home? What would you like to work with?

BB: I use my Akai s2000 to chop up samples and filter them, record them into the computer, put everything into kontakt and do the bad thing in fl studio. I’ve got turntables, mixer, yada too, Roland SH-09 and Juno 106 synths and piles of weird, crap, funky and awesome records. There’s lots of other little things but there’s no point getting to technical with soundcards, etc. So basically it’s just my bedroom I work from, no studio action for me. I prefer having my bed right next to my set-up anyways. I keep going through phases of wanting an MPC but I’m not sure how well I would get on with that. I did have the MPD16, the midi controller version of the MPC but I managed to spill a glass of milk over it and my first priority was the records sitting underneath it. Hopefully I can buy a new one soon though. I like to think that it’s not what you use, it’s how you use it… but it’s not just as fun without hitting some pads.

FCBF: You’ve got the Fade to Static EP available at the moment, how have things been going with that? Why did you choose the title?

BB: At first I thought I wasn’t selling any but I seem to have ran out of copies now, most are being sold at gigs and there is some available in Mixed Up Records in Glasgow. If all the copies are sold then I’m thinking about getting more copies done too. I suppose people are offered a thousand different CDs or downloads on the internet and nothing of any worth gets seen for what it is. Being under-18 never helps either, a lot of CDs get sold at gigs and nights but… they’re pretty hard to get into without a hassle. The title comes from a strange feeling I get when a record fades out but the static remains constant. Call me strange but here’s something quite moving about that for me and I hoped to achieve that with the CD, I failed but I took it somewhere else which is what the whole creative process is about – Having an idea and seeing where it takes you.

FCBF: Explain to us why you start the record with Leonard Nimoy singing about hobbits?

BB: Well the lyrics give a pretty close description of me, I am only 3 feet tall, I live in a little hobbit hole and I seem to know a lot of people. I don’t suppose you expected to hear it either? That means I won (haha). The cuts on that are pretty bad, listening back.

FCBF: Fade to Static is pretty much new beats to classic (and homegrown Scottish) raps, have you worked with any MCs and is there anyone you’d like to produce for in the future?

BB: I’ve worked with a few Scottish emcees – Nity Gritz (I produced his LP – Love Sick as well as countless other tracks), a few of the guys from The bEINGDoonhamer, Skribbo, Loki, etc… I’ve worked with a few other emcees in and outside of Scotland but I lose track of older projects. As for emcees I would like to work with? Anybody who is on the same wavelength as me . . . that is a tough thing to find when you don’t know your own wavelength. I’m enjoying doing instrumental things just now actually, I can get a bit weird without upsetting any emcees haha.

FCBF: How in touch are you with the rest of the hip hop scene in Scotland? What do you think of the state of Scottish hip hop? What could advance it do you think?

BB: The state of Scottish hip-hop? The state of Scottish hip-hop is something I hear about way to much and see nothing of. I genuinely don’t think I know enough to comment, not being able to go to many gigs means I don’t have a good opportunity to see the scene ‘in action’ so to speak. I’m just glad I don’t emcee though.

FCBF: What’s next from you and what are you working on just now? How far do you aim to take the work you’re doing? Is it just for fun, or is there a long term career plan?

BB: Imminently, Fade to Static: White Noise Gradients – more Scottish remixes, more instrumentals and more generally pretentious beats. After that I have a few projects with people from the Scottish scene then I’m going to get stuck into my instrumental album and I’ve got a lot of ideas and breaks for that. It would be amazing to do music for a career but just now its just for fun/expression/release teenage angst/whatever you want to call making music without a career. The plan is to live without having to work and just make music all day – I am still working on that one but its looking grim.

As BilL/Matt mentioned, copies of Fade to Static are available at Mixed Up Records in Glasgow, or by getting in touch with billbreakz @hotmail.co.uk (minus the space). And at a mere five pounds for remixes of KRS-One and J-Live, as well as more local acts such as The Being, evaDe poD and Holmes, it’s well worth parting with (a little of) your hard earned cash!

Edit-meant to mention that all artwork for the EP is BilL’s work as well. Man’s multitalented!

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2 Responses to “A little Hobbit who we all admire”

  1. Dope wee spraff there.. well in!

  2. the cd can be ordered through paypal or card at http://www.billbreaks.bigcartel.com

    cheers

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