Monday, 30 May 2011

SciFi Stu

From his beginnings as part of an experimental avant-rock sound collective to his production work with the likes of Count Bass D, Vast Aire and Moka Only, Stewart Hamilton knows that his work in the studio is as much about pushing boundaries as it is about pushing buttons. From John Coltrane to Shellac, and from Public Enemy to Stereolab; Stu knows his stuff- and it shows. As he gets to work mixing his forthcoming album, we take a minute to hear his side of things.

We've just narrowly avoided being Raptured. What would you have done if you knew you only had a couple of hours left before being blasted into oblivion?
a) Fuck
b) Drink beer
c) Smoke some shit
Haha! I've never really thought about it. Probably all of the above… But let's hope we don't see that event any time soon. Things are just getting interesting.

What do you think about piracy- on the high seas, and within music?
I have infinitely more respect for the seafaring pirate.
Bootlegging is destroying the music industry. Full stop. People make up all kinds of excuses to justify bootlegging, but at the end of the day artists are receiving zero support and are struggling to make ends meet. I have had folks email me and ask where they can get my music for free!? What the fuck? Both my albums were ripped and distributed for free on release day. Like anything else on this planet, music is a product, a product as desired as any other. Why people think it's fine to steal is beyond me. I wish people could see the damage this causes. Soon enough they will, because independent artists will begin to think "What's the point?" To my true supporters I am eternally grateful and I thank you.

What was the first record you bought with your own money?
Hmm...Def Leppard. 'Hysteria.' I think. That was a looooong time ago! Haha!

What was the record that really switched you on to Hip Hop?
Although I'd heard bits and pieces before, my first real engagement with Hip Hop was probably the cover/collaboration on 'Bring The Noize' with Public Enemy and Anthrax. I was mainly a metalhead before that. 

You used to play in some pretty interesting post-rock bands. How did you come to start producing hip-hop? 
I was messing with electronic music around the same time I was playing in bands. Hip Hop has always been a sound I love so I thought I'd try it out…Haha!

Back then, which artists drew you towards the kind of Hip Hop you make now?
Back then I was listening to a lot of different types of music. Acts like Wu, Cannibal Ox and MF DOOM really inspire me... Generally people making smart music.

What's your favourite era of Hip Hop? 
I'm mainly inspired by the 'golden era' sound. 1990s.

Do you make tracks with particular people in mind? Is it always a collabo from the beginning, or do you have instrumentals sitting there for when you need them?
I tend to make a beat then decide who might suit it. I recently produced a full LP for a group called Veteran Assassins, and that was the first time I had to focus on a collection of tracks. The album is out in August. I'm working on my third LP now. This album will be more cohesive... Slicker.

Is this a change of direction then?
Nah, not a change of direction, but a more focussed approach. An alignment of skills I have gained in beat production, post production and the way I approach a project.

How do you get in touch with the artists you work with? Who's your dream MC to have on a track?
My US label connections have been really helpful getting in touch with dope MCs. I'm really proud to have some important artists on my music. I'd like to work with DOOM, Planet Asia, Mos Def and Has-Lo in the future.

Who's been your favourite artist to work with? 
I like working with people who are enthusiastic and honest. The MCs I choose are typically humble dudes who buck the trend and continue to make real music from the heart. I have to mention my early work with Tha Connection from Hempstead, New York. Hus and Smoovth are real musicians with a genuine love for Hip Hop, they brought me here really. 

What kind of set up do you use
Ableton Live 8, Akai MPD 26, various VSTs… Beer.
How long does it take to have a finished track ready for release?
Depends really, I can make a demo beat in a few hours... After that it's up to the MCs to write and record. This can take a while, understandably, and then comes post-processing. I think the quickest I have brought a track to life is about a week and that was only due to a deadline. I think the process should be a natural as possible. On the other hand you could make a classic in a day with the right motivation and some luck.

Do you get a chance to take in much live Hip Hop? Do you play live yourself?
Live music doesn't thrill me like it used to although I will still make an effort to see the stuff I love. My dream festival would be Shellac, Wu Tang, Slayer, Stereolab, MF DOOM, The For Carnation, Public Enemy, Radiohead, Do Make Say Think, Cannibal Ox, Venetian Snares, Vektor, Moka Only, Aphex Twin, Bjork, Low, Weezer, Tortoise, Squarepusher, Non Phixion, Rodan, Oddisee, Portishead, Megadeth, Broadcast and eh... John Shuttleworth for the close.
As for me playing live, I plan to get into action soon. I'll be looking to hook up with some touring MCs next year. I also have some provisional plans to head to the US for a mini-tour next summer. 

Tell us about Digi Crates and Domination Recordings.
Digi Crates was set up by my dude Hus in NY. He's from a group called Tha Connection, one of the first groups I worked with- back in 2008. I will be releasing again through DigiCrates in the near future. Domination is my other label… It is incredible to be releasing music on a label with some of my favourite artists, guys like Count Bass D, Moka Only, Spectac and Remarkable Mayor… the list goes on. I have a great amount of respect for new labels bringing out good untainted music and Digi Crates are doing just that.

Shout outs?
Shout out to Neil Macdonald for the interview and generally being the MAN... And my supporters for making it all worthwhile. I truly appreciate it.

To prove how much SciFi appreciates it, he's giving away 100 downloads of 'The Will', his track with Vast Aire, 4th Place and Jonwayne. Get it right here...

The Will Feat Vast Aire, 4th Place & Jonwayne by SciFi Stu

You can reach out to Stewart at his facebook page, here. His itunes page is here, and there's more stuff on the Veteran Assasins here.

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