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DIG, EAT, BEATS, REPEAT – Four words that sum up the life of Boca 45. The Bristol beat fiend has been hard at it now for 20 years, releasing music under various guises for some of the most respected major and independent labels in the game, which has seen him become a firm fave at BBC 6 Music as well as producing music for the notorious Banksy and being specially requested to DJ at the artists Dismal Land project. With styles upon styles and so many fingers in so many pies it can be a struggle to pin the man down, as he says himself the best way to soak up the Boca 45 experience is to catch one of his blistering live sets. Well we can give you a little sample of the man’s mixing mastery with an exclusive mix: "Boca Plays His 45's". An epic feel-good mix which was only available on very limited CD's many moons ago. Boca has dug it out and dusted it off and we can now proudly present it for the first time online!
The goodies don’t stop there as we also managed to blag you lot a free track! Download the funky breaks adventure that is "Airdrums" (Presumably named after it's tendency to make the listener whip out the air sticks and start smashing an imaginary snare) for a limited time only so be quick. Finally we have a fascinatingly in-depth interview with Scott, he talks about how the City of Bristol shaped his career, why old bi-racial bands are the best and why you won’t ever catch him with a bootleg edit pseudonym, among many other interesting topics. It is a great read with some fascinating insights well worth checking out!
The new album has just been released and we are very excited about it here at Juno HQ. We were wondering how the concept for the compilation came about, did Bomb Strikes approach you or was it an idea that you already had and were looking for a label?
Glenn and Tim who run Bomb Strikes had licensed a few tracks from me for previous compilations and I was familiar with their records from back when they were regularly releasing vinyl. I always love their records and always thought that were great DJ tools. The idea was milling around that I was going to do a volume of their Funk N Beats compilations so I flipped the idea around and said that it had actually just turned 20 years of me making and releasing beats under various guises, so how about doing an anthology collection so that we can join the dots on all the projects and remixes that I have been doing over the years. They liked the idea and felt that it worked with what they are trying to do with Bomb Strikes and that was that.
Do you feel like the album is a perfect encapsulation of your sound?
The album definitely fits my remit as a DJ, I want the album to come across with the flow of one of my DJ sets. I start around 90 to 100bpm then get faster and faster, go up through the tempos and then drop in different styles and genres and wot-not. I also wanted to make sure it fit for Bomb Strikes. I put forward some of my more esoteric tracks for the label and Bomb Strikes quite rightly knocked them back, I feel like we got the balance just right in the end.
So it sounds like Bomb Strikes had a lot of input on the album?
They did! But certainly not in a pushy sense, they really wanted it to represent me as an artist across all of my various projects, but they know the digital music a lot better than I do, I don’t DJ digitally I only play vinyl, so they gave me a bit of a heads up on what would work. They also informed me some of my earlier albums are not even available digitally – which I didn’t even know which is crazy! So they guided me very well in that respect.
What were the tracks that you wanted on the album that didn’t make the cut?
There is a project under the name of Dolman which I did with the film composer Ben Salisbury, which is kind of like Soundtrack music. There was project which was a psyche-hip hop thing under the name of Diego and The Dissidents, one of the tracks was used in the Banksy film, so I did put that one forward but it didn’t quite fit.
We really like the Bombs From the Vaults concept and we are hoping that the label may be considering it as a series. Could you nominate one of your peers to do the next edition?
Ooh that is a good question. I think I would have to go for Prince Paul or DJ Format. Unfortunately these things are often dependent on the licensing. We were lucky for this album; it was fairly straightforward to do the licensing. We only had one track that we put forward (that was with a major label) which we couldn’t license.
One of our favourite tracks on the albums is “Stand Up and Be counted“ by Bocawoody – Is that with DJ Woody as the name suggests?
Yeah the Bocawoody project started about 18 months ago, we met in Romania. I was stood in a Romanian airport after a gig, staring at a departure board which made no sense. A guy stood next to me turned and said “Do you understand what is going on?” I replied “I have not got a clue” and I noticed that he had a record bag, I asked are you a DJ? He said yeah, he saw my record bag and asked what is my DJ name – I said Boca 45 he looked at me and laughed “no way, I played one of your records last night, I’m DJ Woody”. We got on the flight and we were sat next to each other and then the same again on the connecting flight back to London. We had plenty of time to chat and discuss music; we kept in touch and decided to start a project together. He is so creative; he uses the turntable like an instrument.
The track has a real disco feel to it, I wondered if you had any future plans to create any more disco music?
Yeah I play a lot of boogie and disco in my DJ sets to be honest, there will always be a segment in my two hours where I will definitely play some boogie. Myself and DJ Woody plan to make some more disco and in 2018 I am releasing a limited 7inch series called Boca’s Club Doughnuts and one of the tracks on there is a big Disco/Hip hop crossover.
Speaking of disco, there are a lot of DJ edits that have become very popular in that scene with artists working under different pseudonyms, you are also a man who works under many different names and we wondered if you have ever released any music under a bootleg or edit alias?
Well no actually I haven’t. I think all of the projects I have done have always been aiming towards an album, so I have never actually done that. I want everything to relate back to me being a DJ and going out and playing records at the weekend. If you do things on the quiet as such, people don’t join the dots and don’t know what you are actually doing.
You are proud Bristolian – How has the city shaped your production and DJ style?
The city has probably shaped pretty much everything for me. When Massive Attack’s Blue Lines came out in 1991 I had just left school, I was big into hip hop from an early age, I was familiar with them from their earlier days as The Wild Bunch, so once that was record blew up it kind of opened the flood gates for us. You felt “Oh I can actually be from Bristol and have a go at this, I can make some music and people will listen to it from out side of Bristol”. Before that everyone was looking to London, but in Bristol we always had a heaviness of knowledge and we looked further. I am also very close to Geoff Barrow from Portishead so seeing them blow up was another way of seeing an opportunity for us. I was working in a record shop in Bristol and DJ Krust was in and he was telling me that he was playing gigs all over the show, at the time I was just working local bars, I said asked my colleague at the shop “why am I not playing all these shows?” he replied “well you have got to make some music mate” That forced me into investigating that avenue of making beats.
It certainly seems like you are primarily a DJ and any producing or music writing has spawned from that.
Yeah definitely, although, I was quite lucky as I got a good insight into the workings of things even before I started working on my own music. The guy I just mentioned at the record shop had a project called Purple Penguin which was signed to local label Cup of Tea Records. They did really well in Europe and America. He really took me under his wing. I was the DJ in his live band and I would do little bits of co writing with him. So I really consider the time I spent in that record shop as my apprenticeship.
So Bristol was intrinsic in your formation as a DJ and a producer, but are there any other Cities or places that inspire you?
Yeah definitely, New York is a second home for me. As I said earlier; everyone who was big into Hip hop from Bristol wasn’t really looking to London, we were always looking to New York, and we were always doing our take on that. The music that was coming out of the east coast during the late 80’s to the early 90’s was just phenomenal.
If there were any Hip Hop artist that you could work with dead or alive who would it be?
MC wise it would have to be Q-Tip, he has a brilliant ear and a great flow. I am also really into Edan. He is based in New York but I think he is originally from Boston. He is a one man Hip hop band; he rhymes, he makes the beats, he does all of the cover art and to top it off he is also an amazing DJ, an absolutely superb DJ!
New York must be a real hub for sample diggers, do you have any favourite sample digging spots?
That changes all the time to be honest, I did very well in Belgrade, Serbia recently, I went to an Oxfam in a tiny town called Keynsham and I picked up a load of good 7 inches. There are records everywhere wherever you go; it is the luck of the draw, although it is getting harder nowadays. You have to work a bit harder nowadays because everybody thinks that every record is worth a lot of money, which of course they are not.
Do you have any tips for fellow sample diggers?
I like stuff from the late 60’s into early 70’s era and if the band on the front is multi racial that is always a good sign! If they have long hair, beards and look like they might be partial to Jazz fags then that is also a very good sign!
Given that you are a vinyl focused DJ we would assume that you also have lots of analogue gear in your studio...?
Yeah I have a few old samplers and drum machines but to be honest I am not one of these producers who think that you can only use old gear. I think if you have an idea and you can realise it doesn’t really matter what it is made on. I use it if the time is right and the tune is right, I am definitely not a gear nazi! I like to mix up the old and the new.
You mentioned earlier your love of 80’s and 90’s Hip Hop, what do you think of contemporary Hip hop?
I like it; I don’t know how much that I understand it. Some of the Trap stuff is really good and sounds really heavy. I just don’t know whether it fits with me, I don’t know whether it is meant for me either. I have always been into a certain sound; I am not going to be into something because it is the cool new genre. It doesn’t matter the year it is made it just has to tick my boxes. I am never going to chase genres.
You have worked with a lot of contemporary vocalists throughout the album, with lots of them you have managed to create an authentic “vintage sound” what is your key to that?
I have done an awful lot of vocal collaborations over the years, I think in general there needs to be a mutual respect from the off. If I am chasing somebody it is not good. I guess you can kid of look it like a relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend, there has to be a mutual respect; if they are not into you they are not going to answer your calls. There is a track on the album with New York Soul singer Stephanie McKay, I met her through Jeff Barrow and I co-wrote a track for her first album on Polydor in 2002. So fast forward a few years and I am doing my Boca45 album and I asked her to work with me, she knew what I was about, already she knew how I worked because I had already worked with her on her album, so it was a good collaboration because she was feeling the track and I already had a good relationship with her. I think having a mutual respect is half of the battle before you start writing or recording. If you are chasing someone or the collaboration is purely about the money then you might be lucky enough to do a good job together or you might get something sounding half baked that is only done for the money.
Do you feel that a lot of music is made or collaborations are done purely for the money?
Yes definitely it is always going on; it has always been like that. People are buying into scenes, hoping to plug into an artists fan base.
You have given us a very special mix for the takeover page, can you tell us a little about that please?
The mix is Boca Plays His 45’s. It is the first ever all 45’s mix. I recorded it back in 2005 for the clothing brand Dickie’s, it was only available on a limited edition CD and has never been online before. There are 45x45 records in the mix. I am really excited for people to listen to it.
When not producing modern industrial/EBM reinterpretations as Charles Manier or classic house sounds as James T. Cotton, maverick Detroit producer Tadd Mullinix returns to his hip-hop project. It comes with a bit of help from local beatsmith Shigeto on his new single for Ghostly International - a label that he's had rapport a with for many years. "Sunset" is a fitting name for this sun-kissed and sublime urban joint, which is a perfect soundtrack to a Sunday afternoon drive through Motown's inner city. Taken from his forthcoming album Three/Three, which features guests such as Ghostface Killah, Jon Wayne and Danny Brown.