Hi Leo, thanks for taking the time to speak to us today. Can you give us a little background info about the man behind Cuttin' It Fine? Where you hail from, your musical background, where your passion for music started?
Yo, thanks for having me! So, my name is Leo Rhodes alter Ego Roast Beatz. I currently reside in Bournemouth, grew up in Cornwall but spent most of my young adulthood in London. Before that I spent time in Australia & studied at Brighton University. My musical background has always been Hip Hop and Funk. Over the last 10 years I have been welcomed into the Mid-tempo, Breaks, Ghetto Funk scene. After making Hip Hop for years I wanted to experiment more with synthesisers and make music for the dancefloor which has led me where I am today.
What was the inspiration behind starting the label?
In 2018 I made some money with crypto currency and wanted to start a label. I felt even though it’s a fairly small scene, there was a place for me in the market. I felt I was offering something different than a lot of other labels. For a start we concentrate heavily on our clothing brand. This helps keep our fans looking fresh and means we can attract people outside of our scene by offering dope threads. We’re able to promote our clothing products through music which brings meaning and adds a story to our garments. Outside of clothing, I’m super fussy about what we put out. Any artists who’ve released on CIF will tell you my quality control is in full effect and I’m a bear to get tunes past.
And the label name? Does it hold a certain mantra for you?
My first album back 2007 was called Cuttin’ It Fine. At the time my friend was starting out as a tattoo artist so I got him to script it on my forearm. For some reason the name always resonated with me. I have always been a scratch DJ, although these days I don’t get as much practice as I’d like! So, the name Cuttin’ It Fine always seemed to fit and has followed me around on my arm for years!
The label has a fairly varied catalogue of styles from hip hop & breaks to Funk & Soul. Can you share with us the process of choosing music to be released on Cuttin' It Fine?
There’s no real process, if it’s dope it’s on! I guess it would have to fall in the Hip Hop, Funk, Breaks category. Our Cuttin’ It fine crew is always growing so I have those guys feeding me releases and freebies consistently. I’m also lucky enough to have a lot of random people submit music. If your tracks fit with the feel of the label, I’ll give it a listen and if it doesn’t make the cut, I’ll always give some feedback. I’m never a dick about it, but I’ll never put anything out for the hell of it. We’ll have some new faces dropping vibes in 2020.
I believe you have had quite the music career spanning over many years, can you share some memorable moments with us? (Working with a legend? Crazy gigs, Hard times…. Etc)
Yeh man, it’s been going on for a while. I’m not one of those artists who plays out a lot. I do some local gigs and festivals but I don’t DJ for a living. I don’t think my fiancé or me could handle that. I’m very family focussed these days so I wouldn’t want to be away for long periods of time. Working with legends….Doing a track with Action Bronson, Jehst, Brotherman and Stig of the dump has to be my proudest collaboration. No need to explain why! I’m also super proud the track Psychoville I did with Dabbla has been so well received. The video has now had over 7,000,000 views and keeps going up by the day! Charlie Sloth and I almost did a track with Fat Man Scoop in 2006. That would’ve been a mad one. Unfortunately, someone beat me to it on a track with the sample I used, this was when we didn’t regurgitate samples! I left London for Bournemouth not long after and Charlie started his radio career. Wasn’t meant to be! Gig wise, Warming up for people like Redman and Method man and GZA was dope. Some of the Ghetto Funk nightclub gigs have been amazing. Boomtown 2014 was a vibe on the Boom Box stage. I’d always wanted to do a gig in a 30-foot Ghetto Blaster. Travelling to do a mini tour in China was crazy. Turning up to a club in Beijing and then having a 12-foot poster with mine and Gobshites (The MC I was touring with) faces on was pretty mad. That whole China trip was mad. They lost my stuff at the airport so I only had one set of clothes the whole trip. Luckily, I took my DJ equipment in a carry-on bag! The whole trip was a full-on party and loads of fun. Props to DSK for that.
If you could work with any artist, alive or dead who would you choose?
The queen Sharon Jones! I loved that woman. Deceased rapper wise it would be Guru or Big L. Alive and kicking I’d love to do a track with Rodney P, The Game, Children of Zeus, Eva Lazarus, Party Pupils, Lily Allen. Loads of heads out there I’d like to work with. I’d like to put out some more original singles with collaborations on the label in 2020 and beyond. It just doubles production time when you collaborate. Hence my album taking so long to see the light of day. Originally the track Lonely Road I did with Dabbla on Chapsville had Rag N Bone man on it. He sang the hook. Unfortunately, his record label weren’t feeling us putting it out so dabs stepped in on vocals but I’d love to work with Rags properly.
Can you tell us a little about the Electric Pistachio album that you’re releasing?
For sure, it’s been on the bubble for 3 years alongside other projects. When collaborating stuff always takes a while. There’s a lot of back and forth and I’m pretty bad at getting mix downs finished and being happy with them. Any way, it’s a 12-track album featuring Kurnel MC, Natty, Profit, Kylie Earl, Greg Blackman, Broken Poetz, Figure Of Speech, Kristy Kurowski, MysDiggi, Ella Mae, Rider Shafique & Triggs Vega. The general feel off the album is up-tempo but I have some mellow vibes on there. I’d say the underlying tone is Hip Hop but I’ve delved into Disco, Funk, House, Reggae, even some African vibes. Some tracks sound old school, some more current. I’ve always stood by I didn’t want to be a one trick pony. It’s probably bitten me on the arse a few times but I guess I just make the music I feel like making and hope it works out. Fingers crossed everyone’s feeling the finished project.
Looks like you have collaborated with someone for every track. How important to the creative process was working with someone when producing music for the album?
I think it’s very important. Collaborating is one of the best things about making music. I’ve been super lucky with who I’ve worked with. You’ll always have an idea about how you want the track to sound when it’s finished. Then you start to think who you can get on the track, make contact, pull some strings and see how it goes from there. This time round I tried to work with some new people but got longed out and some tracks that didn’t make the cut. I wanted to do some tunes with people who featured on my last album as well, purely as they delivered such vibes previously and didn’t disappoint this time either.
Do you have a favourite track from the album?
I can’t pick a favourite, can I? I love Soul Food just because it’s so positive and summery. Homegrown is also a fave because it has so much energy. The People I’m proud of as I’m a big fan of Greg Blackman. I also love how Take me back worked out with FOS and Kristy. I am proud of each track and trust me there’s a load of tracks that didn’t make the cut. All the tunes that are present on the album I’m 100% happy with.
What else do you have planned for 2020? (Gigs coming up or releases to watch out for?)
2020 is looking massive. I’m working closely with Gramophone Soul on his new EP. It’s an original EP with lots of collaborations. People are going to go nuts for it. Mr. Fitz is also getting close to dropping his debut EP. This also has a lot of features and sounds fresh! The debut Liberty Chaps EP is going to turn a lot of heads. I love those guys, they’re super chilled and humble but their music is getting absolutely mental and their EP will prove that. Gig wise, I’m doing the 10-year Ghetto Funk anniversary at Shindig festival 2020. That’s going to be mad. I may have a festival in Italy coming up plus I’m waiting to hear back from a load of festivals so I guess we’ll wait and see. I’ve been toying with the idea of working with a new club in Bournemouth on a monthly night. More on that to come! I handle all my own bookings so if peeps out there want a slice of Uncle Roasty hit me up: email@example.com
You are also running a competition on Juno Download offering everyone who buys the full album the chance to win a free Cuttin’ It Fine T-shirt. Is there somewhere your fans can buy your merch direct?
For sure! We’re more than just a record label. As I mentioned earlier, we invest heavily in clothing. I have always had a passion for fashion and streetwear so wanted to do clothing that was more than just merchandise. We have the CIF SS20 drop coming in April. We have new tee’s with guest artists, new takes on the Cuttin’ It Fine logo on hoodies and sweatshirts. Long sleeve tee’s, shirts and caps. These are all being printed on new top-quality garments that have been ethically sourced. We’re really hoping that it’ll be well received and people will love it as much as us. If you want to make a purchase head to: www.cuttinitfine.com/shop. I’d recommend following us on socials to keep up to date on the drops and reveals over the next few months. We’ll be taking pre-orders soon and are expected to sell out pretty quick. We’ll be promoting some of the items with Free Downloads, we have t shirts for sneaker addicts, DJ’s and people who want to rock our branding while looking slick and subtle. Whatever your steez, Cuttin’ It Fine have got your back.