In the 90’s Bias was Lewis Parker’s dj, but after years of DJing and collecting vinyl he moved into music production. His music is a mixture of samples and live instumentation, drawing on a wide range of influences from folk, progressive rock to Hip Hop and electronic sounds. This week we’ve selected his track ‘Delirious’ as our Pick Of The Week and we talked to the UK producer about vinyl, the current relaunch of his label Canteen Records, using samples and much more.
In the 90’s Bias was Lewis Parker’s dj, but after years of DJing and collecting vinyl he moved into music production. His music is a mixture of samples and live instumentation, drawing on a wide range of influences from folk, progressive rock to Hip Hop and electronic sounds.
This week we’ve selected his track ‘Delirious’ as our Pick Of The Week and we talked to the UK producer about vinyl, the relaunch of his label Canteen Records, using samples and much more.
Listen to a snippet of the song ‘Delirious’ below. This week Laid Back Radio will broadcast our Pick Of The Week frequently throughout the days as well.
Bias, for those who don’t know you, can you please introduce yourself and your music?
I am a music producer and record label owner who has released music independently around the world. I have also made music for films and advertising. I started off DJing for UK Hip Hop artist Lewis Parker and then moved into producing my own material. My music has strong folk, progressive and Hip Hop influences. As well as that, I teach Music Production in college.
Your music is very sample-based. How and where do you search for samples? Can you tell us about that process?
My music used to be predominantly sample-based. However, over the years I got tired of the constraints and moved over to different methods. I still use samples, but they’re not always the main focus anymore. Having said that, I still love finding a great sample and I still look in secondhand record shops from time to time.
I only like shops that have their own record players so you can listen before you buy. There’s one shop in south London and two in Kent that I go to. The owners are all eccentric and the shops are complete treasure troves with not only records but all sort of other strange collectable stuff.
So what are your requirements for a good and useful sample?
Something that’s original, that can be manipulated and something that doesn’t get boring. With so many records out there, it’s just plain lazy to use well known breaks and loops.
Can you give readers an insight of your personal records/music collection?
I have scaled everything down recently, as I have moved into a new place with not much space. I wanted to get rid of the rubbish stuff, easy listeners and just keep the quality things I still listen to or still use for samples.
The records fall into a few main categories. Film soundtracks: Lots of stuff from the 70’s including Sci Fi, Blacksploitation and the like. Hip Hop: Lots of stuff from the late 80s and 90s: EPMD, BDP, Eric B and Rakim, De La Soul, Common, Beastie Boys, Pete Rock… All the stuff from the golden era before it all went downhill.
When it comes to Folk, Progressive Rock, Jazz: Lots of varied records from these genres. They all have great samples on them from drums to synths to acoustic guitars. Stuff like Traffic, John Martyn and Atomic Rooster. And there’s Pop music: 80’s synth pop like Kate Bush, Bowie, etcetera.
Do you own any rare stuff you’re proud of?
A few bits like Archie Whitewater- ‘Archie Whitewater‘ , ‘The Final Comedown OST‘ by Grant Green and the original ‘Deep Throat OST’. It’s funny, but with the internet nothing is rare anymore as you can find pretty much anything as long as you have the money to pay for it. It’s not the same as finding them in a record shop.
Years ago I used to sample only off original vinyl and then realized that it was ridiculous and part of some snobby Hip Hop culture. Nowadays I’ll use stuff from MP3 to bootleg to Youtube. In the words of Joe Meek, “If it sounds right, it is right.”
As an artist releasing/owning vinyl, how do you feel about the digital revolution and downloading music?
Initially I hated it. The whole record shopping culture that I loved was decimated within two years. 70% of record shops closed, distributors went bust and people stopped buying our physical products. One of the biggest loses was the artwork and the whole package design.
However, as time has gone on I have found that the internets ability to promote music is astonishing! For example, on Last FM I have thousands of listeners all around the world and I didn’t even put my music on there. If you have released music in the past, the internet seems to promote for you. From that I have gotten tracks onto a couple of independent films and TV programs which never would have happened when I was just shifting vinyl.
Music doesn’t have a release date on the internet, it’s as and when you find it. The ‘Delirious’ track that you are playing as Pick Of The Week I made nearly 10 years ago! But even though it has amazing benefits, I still prefer manufacturing vinyl and selling it to shops.
You’ve released your album ‘Time & Tide‘ as a Japan edition. Why do you think music like yours (and jazz-influenced hip hop) is so popular in Japan, compared to other parts of the world?
The Japanese are really into instrumental sample-based music especially if it is from an independent label. They’re collectors at heart and like stuff that isn’t easy to get hold of or mainstream. They’re also really open to all sorts of music and don’t have big egos. I think the American market is less easy to please and it’s also huge. Nonetheless, with the internet and downloading that’s beginning to change…
Besides a variety of samples, you also use a lot of musical influences. Are there any styles/genres you still wanna experiment with?
Yes very much so, I have been making more electronic-based music with various synths and will release that material under a different name. I also like a lot of Dub-influenced music and even some pop production.
‘Delirious’ is our Pick Of The Week. Can you tell our readers how you created that track from start to finish?
This is going back a long way when I loved digging for folk samples and blending them with Hip Hop beats. I used old Akai S900 samplers and an Atari. The main Hook was from a Labi Siffri track which I chopped up and rearranged to suit the song. The drums were off a record that a drummer friend made of him playing. So essentially the drum sounds were live but I chopped them up and reprogrammed them. The percussion was played by me and layered over the top. It gave it a less ridged feel.
‘Delirious’ has a good groove to it, but it’s a little ruff around the edges. Technology has moved on so much since then but it still has a nice sound as I was using all analogue outboard to mix and record the song. It fitted in with the album I made at the time called ‘Worry Beads‘ that had a strong folk, psychedelic, progressive feel to it.
To date it’s still the best selling record I ever made so it must have had something….right? In fact listening back to it I’m quite proud of it as all the tracks work very well together. The artwork was great as well and was all drawn by the then co-owner of the label- that was a take of a Jodi Mitchell album.
You started your career as a DJ, also for Lewis Parker, but why did you decide to move into music production instead of focusing on your career as DJ?
For me DJing became limited and producing had a lot more scope. I could spend 10 hours in the studio making a track, but I couldn’t spend that time DJing. I had always wanted to produce and I was fascinated by samples. As soon as I could afford to buy a sampler, I did. Soon after that the turntables began to gather dust. I still like DJing, but if I do it now it’ll be mainly for friends parties and stuff rather than featuring at club nights.
Can people expect more collaborations between you and Lewis Parker? If so, what?
No, I don’t think so. Lewis and I produce different material these days but you never know. I like to experiment with different genres and production methods. However, I am working on a new album with a friend of his called River Nelson. You can see a video for one of our tracks on YouTube called ‘Strange Things‘ by Bias and River Nelson. I hope to release an EP of our stuff on the new Canteen Records site, which we’ll air this Tuesday on www.CanteenRecords.co.uk.
What can we expect from you in the (near) future?
EPs mainly. One similar to my old work, but just a little more complex. Besides that the River Nelson collaboration and an electronic-based EP by Bias 76.
And what can we expect of your label Canteen Records?
Canteen Records has had a face lift and has been re-launched this week with a new site and new artists! Check it out at www.CanteenRecords.co.uk. The first new release is called ‘Patchwork’ by Giacomo. All the music will be available to download from major retailers as well as streaming sites like Spotify and the like. As ever it will be a real mix of genres and should appeal to lots of people. We are definitely back after a period of disillusionment so go and check us out after Tuesday!
If there’s anything else you wanna share with our readers, please do:
Thanks for discovering and listening to my music! I hope you will check out other stuff from Canteen Records in the future. Seriously, it’s really touching that people can find pleasure from music I made a long time ago as well as current stuff. Thanks for being interested in what I do. Oh yes, and buy some vinyl from time to time. Or even buy a download!