Interview for Italian blog sentireascoltare.com

This article has been Google-translated from the original by Tony D’Onghia – apologies for any weirdness in the wording.

Glyn “Bigga” Bush was, with his project Rockers Hi-Fi, one of the protagonists of that musical era that for most of the 90s saw, starting from the United Kingdom, a flourishing of producers and musical formations appropriating the hip hop styles to provide a revised and corrected version, more jazzy now, heavily influenced by dub reggae in other cases or genetically modified through electronic or pop grafts. Call it trip-hop, if you want. From then on Bigga Bush has signed countless other jobs for labels such as Stereo Deluxe and Lion Head, or by publishing under a pseudonym in some cases – Lightning Head, Dandelion Set, Magic Drum Orchestra – but always drawing from their musical roots and giving them homage. The recent release of his intriguing album Sunken Foal Stories, as well as the imminence of a new release for his side-project Magic Drum Orchestra, have prompted us to contact him to learn something more. Here’s what Glyn told us.

Surely some of our readers will remember you for your experience in Rockers Hi-fi. Would you tell us something about your beginnings, about your love for reggae and dub and how your adventure started in that band?

To talk about my beginnings you have to go back to the early 70s, when I discovered my love for records … I remember that the first record that had a big impact on me was a 45 laps of The Who, probably The Ox or Pinball Wizard. I remember perfectly what I felt while I stared hypnotized that piece of vinyl that turned on a Dansette – a typical turntable of that era, mono, with an automatic loading system for which you could put one on top of the other discs that you he wanted to listen in sequence – and how, while I was listening to that rough sound coming out of the speaker, I found myself thinking, “I want more of this stuff!” Later in the decade I learned how to play guitar and I started listening to John Peel’s programs on the radio, and that’s where I came to discover reggae and dub for the first time. More generally, the broad spectrum of musical genres that Peel included in his programs – especially bands like Faust and Henry Cow, but also the more conventionally rock ones – represented the beginning of my musical education, up to 1976, year in which I formed my first band together with some classmates.

In 1978 I moved to Birmingham, immediately getting excited for the local post-punk scene, starting to compose compact and angular songs and playing with other non-musicians in the band The DeGoTees. Throughout the 80s I continued to found and play in local bands, and in about 1988 I started working on sampling and MIDI. After a while I started working as a DJ in the local scene, and that’s where I met DJ Dick and, after having chatted about music, I started making music with the Original Rockers moniker – a name taken from an album of Augustus Pablo. At the beginning trying to produce house music, trying to simply copy stuff that we heard around. At one point, however, it occurred to us to sample dub discs, for the incredible sounds they had and for the parts that were well suited to be ricliclate. Push Push was the second song we made, in that production all our influences were put in the foreground, especially through the vocal champion Johnny Osbourne we had taken from Scientist Rids the World of the Evil Curse of the Vampires. That was a great club success and led us to sign a contract with Island Records, and at that point our name changed to Rockers Hi Fi, at the request of Augustus Pablo himself.

Manufacturers like Kruder & Dorfmeister and Thievery Corporation were great fans of Rockers Hi-Fi. Songs like Push Push and What a Life have become hits. What memories do you have of that period, right in the middle of the so-called trip hop era?

That success turned out to be a kind of double-edged sword. Island Records evidently had an interest in contracting only one trip hop artist, and that was Tricky, so he downloaded us only a year later. But of that period I have a special memory, just the first time I listened to Kruder & Dorfmeister, during my first trip to the United States in 1994, at a club in San Francisco. Original Bedroom Rockers … that piece completely kidnapped me. I am convinced that that EP, entitled G Stoned, is still unmatched.

The mix signed by Rockers Hi-Fi for the DJ-Kicks series is still considered one of the best of that period, combining dub, downtempo and drum & bass. Would you tell us something about that experience?

I remember well those sessions. At that time we had a studio above a musical instrument store in Birmingham and we used to start working in the evening, after opening some Red Stripe and entering the night mood. Dick had put the set together, Farda P was at the microphone and I was responsible for the dubs and the mixing. Everything went spontaneously, it seems to me that the version that was published was the second one we recorded. But that was how we used to play live – as we said at the time “Decks n FX” – so we used to practice that kind of session.

Looking back to things in retrospect, do not you think that after three excellent albums, the Hi-Fi Rockers deserved better luck and the same level of success that other artists of that period have achieved? Perhaps coming from Birmingham rather than the celebrated Bristol did not help you …

All in all, it did not go too badly at the European level, and especially in Germany, even if it was a shame not to be able to make us better known in the United Kingdom. I do not know if it was some sort of prejudice against us in Birmingham, or if things would have been different if we had come rather from London … that was how things were then.

Among your records as a soloist made since the late 90s, what is the one you are most fond of?

I am proud of every one, even though I think my best work is what I will produce in the future.

You recently released an album called Sunken Foal Stories. For this work you have almost completely abandoned the beats based approach, typical of your music, to focus on the atmospheres and textures created by the samples you have chosen and reassembled. Would you tell us something about it?

I’ve always been on the lookout for interesting records and over time I’ve put together a decent collection with the intent of doing something, one day … easy listening album, stereo system test, strange folk records obviously bought by someone during the holidays in Greece or Turkey, after falling in love with the places visited. Disks bought as souvenirs by people who then forgot them and left somewhere to take dust. It is also noted by the fact that many of these albums are still in perfect condition, ie never been played.

Can you tell us about the process of creating and recording this particular album and the way you chose the samples to loop and overlap?

Over the course of a couple of months I worked intensively on the new album of my project Magic Drum Orchestra, titled The DNA of Rhythm and released by Tru Thoughts, so for all this time in my ears I had only beats, beats and more beats , everyday. I felt the natural need to compose some more quiet music, to make the ears and the brain rest a bit, and I spontaneously came up with the idea of ​​pulling out two or three records and finding something quite random. to be sampled quickly. Something that, once extracted from the original context and looped, could sound intriguing. A particular change in tone, an instrumental passage that is not very successful. So starting from two or three samples, in about twenty minutes I had a song ready, simply following the inspiration of the moment and what the chosen sounds pointed to me. I continued to work with this method until I had thirty minutes of music, according to my intention divided into fifteen minutes for each side of a vinyl album. Some traces could be more properly defined edits, where only one original sample was cut at different points and reassembled. In others I have combined samples taken from different sources and looped one superimposed on the other. All this by trusting only my ears, in a spontaneous and natural way. This process has taught me to keep my ears open and accept a certain degree of randomness in the production of my music, rather than purposely seek the elements that can “work” in combination with each other. And this also applies to the material I’m composing at the moment, more based on rhythm. You can listen to something about this creative process here:

Speaking of the more beats oriented aspect of your music. As you have already mentioned, you have also returned to your project Magic Drum Orchestra, with an album from which it was taken as a single a particular version of the classic of the jungle Original Nuttah …

Yes, I always enjoyed trying to cover the most different songs. The first was Snoop Dogg’s Drop It Like It’s Hot, which has always been a great success every time we performed it live. Nuttah is a classic song that seems to have been created to be reinterpreted. I like to put something original and unexpected in the covers, hence the decision to give the vocalist Bundy a feminine perspective to the text. The next step was to reconstruct the bass line and the rhythm with the instruments used by the Magic Drum Orchestra. The original song is very Spartan, it is not a typical jungle piece, since it is only made up of a beat, without particular edits or cuts – which is what I generally prefer – and then a bass line, voice and that particular and distinctive sound that I recreated thanks to a Tibetan cup.

To conclude, would you tell us something about your plans for the rest of 2018?

I’m working on a version of Sunken Foal Stories, which also includes beats, extending the life of the originals, developing them more musically. Trying to bring them back to the essence of dub. I am also producing electro pieces under the pseudonym Elektrassassin. In the meantime I’m always looking for old and new music for my weekly podcast, which you can listen to on his Soundcloud. And I’m trying to play the guitar more!

6th July 2018 by Tony D’Onghia

Bigga’s Big Dig on KNSJ 89.1FM San Diego

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eclectic sounds from Bigga’s crates can now be heard every Monday on KNSJ 89.1FM in San Diego 10-11pm PST.

The first show is a special dedicated to the latest Magic Drum Orchestra album – The DNA of Rhythm (Tru Thoughts), exploring some of the influences and styles behind the music.

Monday 16 July Bigga’s Big Dig #1 KNSJ

01 Schoolly D- PSK (What Does It Mean?)

02 Luke Vibert – Blasted Wook

03 MDO – Griot Goin On

04 Mandingo Griot Society – Sounds From the Bush

05 MDO – Hoodoo Udu

06 MDO vs Mantronix – Hardcore Hip Hop

07 MDO vs The Apples – Killing

08 Lalo Schifrin – Dossiers (from Mission Impossible pilot soundtrack 1966)

09 MDO – Black Arkid

10 MDO vs Kendrick Lamar – Humble

11 Diplo – Way More

12 MDO – Parade Skank

13 MDO – Dread Nourishment

14 Rhythm & Sound – Music A Fe Rule/MDO feat. Farda P – Two Bs One White acapella

15 MDO – Two Bs One White (instrumental)

16 Plastikman – Spastik

17 MDO feat. Bunty – Original Nuttah

Bigga’s Big Dig #2 KNSJ

Monday 23 July Bigga Reps MDO DJ Mix

01 Talking Heads – Once In A Lifetime Instrumental edit

02 Magic Drum Orchestra – Get Up

03 Lightning Head – Message Beats

04 Patrick Dawes – Garden of Love

05 Fela Kuti – Shakara (Ossie’s Bump edit)

06 Blast Head – Mangrove Monkey (BiggaBush Unreleased Version)

07 Benga & Coki – Night (SDP Dub)

08 Lightning Head – Second Line Stomp

09 Classica Orchestra Afrobeat – Mr. Follow Follow

10 Geode – Get Dem

11 Driving Blind – Wandering Lions (BiggaBush Version)

12 Magic Drum Orchestra – Crunked Up

Monday 30 July BBDig#3 KNSJ Afrolatino mix

01 Randy Weston – Introduction – Uhuru Kwanza (Part 1)

02 Madlib – Afrosound Panorama

03 Demon Fuzz – Past Present & Future

04 Classica Orchestra Afrobeat – Mr. Follow Follow

05 OK Jazz – Kiwita Kumunami

06 Antibalas – Ibeji

07 Karl Hector & the Malcouns – Coomassie

08 Orchestre Super Borgou de Parakou – Me Ton Le Gbe (BiggaBush edit)

09 Ryco Jazz – La Juventud

10 El Rego – Se Na Min

11 Quim Manuel O Espirito Santo – Eme Lelu

12 Karl Hector & the Malcouns – Debere

13 CK Mann & Carousel 7 – Asafo Beesuon

14 African Fiesta Sukisa – I Got the Feelin

15 Begun Band – Yo Me Moera

16 Bantous de la Capitale – Watchiwara

This Saturday (7.4.18) at Spiritland – BiggaBush on the decks

Come and hear BiggaBush on the incredible Spiritland sound system in Kings Cross, London…playing a 5 hour vinyl set ranging from Miles Davis to David Axelrod to krautrock to electronica to hip hop to dub to Bigga productions such as Rockers Hi Fi, Lighting Head, Magic Drum Orchestra and more…

You can also hear an exclusive preview of the new album from Glyn Bigga Bush –  Sunken Foal Stories, released on Lion Head Recordings/Schamoni Musik in May 2018.

Admisson free.  20:00 till 01:00.

Podcast 14

Hear it on soundcloud

01 Basil Kirchin – The Dice Is Cast

02 Jesse Fischer/Sly 5th Avenue – Vein Melter

03 Radioactive Man – Steve Chop

04 Henry Greenleaf – Six

05 Bigga Productions – Beat Four

06 The Electromagnetic Azoth – The Left Hand of Nothingness (edit)

07 Khruangbin – Lady & Man

08 The Magic Band – Your Love Brought Me To Life (instrumental)

09 DJ Fulgeance & The Scientist – Imperialist Monsters

10 Stig of the Dump ft. Rag & Bone Man – She

11 Elektrassassin – Untitled

12 Thundercat – 3AM

13 Electric Prunes – General Confessional

14 Moondog – Oo Solo

15 Muhavishla Ravi Hatched – Bombay Palace Part 1

16 King Geedorah – Krazy World

Podcast Twelve

Podcast Twelve on soundcloud

01 Steve Gray – Go For Broke

02 Nico Gomez &His Afro Percussion Inc – Ritual

03 The Residents – Boo Who?

04 Can – Oscura Primavera

05 Tangerine Peel – Trapped

06 Amon Duul II – Soap Shop Rock (ext)

07 Deerhoof – The Perfect Me

08 Thee Oh Cees – Transparent World

09 Madlib Invazion mixed by J Rocc (ext)

10 J Dilla – Make It Fast (unadulterated Mix feat Diz Gibran)

11 Madlib – Rock Konducta (Exts from Side A/Side B)

12 Captain Beyond – A Thousand Days of Yesterday

13 Todd Rundgren – International Feel

14 Paul Bonneau – Univers Sideral

15 Olivier Messiaen – Chant d’Amour 1 (ext)

16 The Jimi Entley Sound – Charlie’s Theme

17 Amon Duul II – Halluzination Guillotine

18 Jefferson Airplane – Today (Diplo beat-up)

19 The Free Design – Harve Daley Hix (Stereolab remix)

20 Gorillaz – Welcome to the Plastic Beach

21 MF DOOM – Tick Tock

22 Glyn Bigga Bush – Baked Beats

Originally broadcast as BBDig#9.

Bigga’s Big Dig #5 aka Podcast Nine

Bigga’s Big Dig #5 – Podcast Nine

First transmission Weds 14 Feb 2018

01 Life – Rock It Right (Mr Thing mix)

02 Edan – Beauty

03 Abstract Orchestra – Dilla Mix 1 (extr.)

04 Mhysa – Bb

05 Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – Now

06 Christian Scott Atunde Ajuah – KKPD (extra.)

07 IZem – ITT

08 Dirty Diggers – Wannabes

09 BiggaBush – Sheboogie

10 Fela Kuti – Buy Africa

11 Stig of the Dump – All In Blind

12 Madlib – Get It Right

13 Andy Mac & Ossia – Soup Riddim

14 Khruangbin – Maria También

15 Unknown – We Like De Disco – (Dirty Diggers edit)

New Mix on MIxcloud

This month’s mix is a hefty slab of 70s library funk, Bollywood horror soundtracks, Ethio-jazz, Sade on cough syrup and psych-rock.  Leavened with the usual selection of instrumental beats and hip hop, some balls-out spaghetti western dubstep and dub poetry and topped off with some sweet Indonesian pop.

 

End of Year Approaches

My website is now live so apologies for any mishaps during the construction process. Meanwhile here’s the latest news:

After several month’s intensive studio work I finished my new album, “Music By The Yard” in early December and plan to release it as a download in January 2012, hopefully with a CD version following. It’s quite a departure from the previous stuff I’ve done – part beat-tape, part library resource, part abstract breaks/prog rock sampler. The album was created in a flurry of activity between February and December 2011 and features 23 tracks designed to be played in any order.

This is “6 Figure Some”

The album reflects a lot of the stuff I was getting into through 2011, starting with the huge effect Suite For Ma Dukes – an orchestral tribute to J Dilla:

had on me, which then took me back to the hip hop and gave me an appreciation I’d never really had before. I hope I’ve done this justice on the new album…here’s another tune, “The Karaoke Sauron”, named after Marina Hyde‘s acerbic take on the evil mastermind behind the X-Factor.

You can check out my latest Mixcloud session to get more of an idea where I’m coming from.

Another big influence – not only for hairy funk grooves, and prog stompers – but also for brevity of tracks – were Andy Votel’s epic mixes, especially Vertigo Mixed,

Music To Watch Girls Cry

and Songs in The Key Of Death on Fat City

….the fuzzed up guitars, leaden drumbeats and wonky time-signatures really took me back to my youth, obsessively staring at the Vertigo spiral as it span on my parent’s radiogram and seemed to go into 3-D (without taking any drugs, honest)

on albums such as Black Sabbath and Gentle Giant’s first eponymous releases, the latter featuring this one:

…so it was quite buzz to hear that Madlib and MF Doom had sampled this track “Funny Ways” on their excellent Madvillainy album:

So the template for this record was essentially short tracks, textures, beat-heavy and with elements of prog rock, library music and LOTS of strings…and plenty of non 4/4 rhythms.

Above all 2011 has been the year I’ve started buying records (as opposed to CDs and mp3s) again, not only from carboots (although these have been particularly fruitful) but also seeking out second vinyl shops, which have been on the up this year. Like the fantastic Disc-O-Box shops in Weymouth and Blandford, Dorset.  If you’re in the area, give them your support, they are an invaluable public service, with tons of great vinyl plus CDs and DVDs!

Early in the new year I’ll be posting a special mix of the album, interspersed with lots of spoken word snippets.

Meanwhile here’s another track – Horizontal Hold – with film shot on my Digital Harinezumi.

Folk Farming in Cardiff

To Cardiff last weekend for a DJ gig at the wonderfully-named GWDIHW (pronounced goodyhoo) which got fairly rowdy in the best possible way. We then had a good look around the city centre the next day, finding some great old Victorian arcades with lots of independent shops, plenty of vintage clothes and records.

One place I’d been particularly looking out for is Folk Farm, run by Chris and Judi Brick.  I first met Chris at their store SMYLONYON in New York in the mid 90s. Like Folk Farm, this place was piled to the rafters with second-hand clothes, although back then their speciality was leisure-wear from the 50s/60s/70s – mountains of turquoise slacks and loud shirts.  It’s almost a universal law that trousers from that era have at least a 36″ inch waist and 28″ leg – completely unsuitable for the modern lanky gentleman.  But still great for a rummage (the store, not the trousers).

The new shop is equally stuffed with fascinating things, but has a more rustic feel with old clogs and fire buckets jostling for position with dolls in fishing nets, old tin baths, farm equipment and an enormous amount of vinyl (as far as I could tell mostly rare American folk music). Good to meet Judi too and hear about her musical exploits as Linda Lamb. It was a real shame Chris wasn’t around that day.

Have a look at Amy Davies’ excellent photoset from the recent Cardiff Arcades Project here.

Chris Brick has also had an interesting musical career.  Back in the 90s he was producing (with Alex Gloor of In Flagranti) and selling compilation cassettes, “Uneasy Listening” by Smylonylon or Tinynyny.  I still have a few of these – amazing mixes of lounge, easy, moog and library music and exotica – but was delighted to find that someone has been posting them on a blog – that someone being the Dalston Shopper (“Once a week high quality digital recordings of cassette tapes purchased at the Dalston Oxfam Shop in East London.”) – and you can check at least one of these tapes here.

cover of smylonylon tape 1

Also well worth a look is the Brick Channel on Youtube – featuring lots of very interesting short films and whacked-out edits of 60s public information films put together by son Sam Brick, often using Chris’ Family of God tunes as the soundtrack.  Here’s their version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”:
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMOwrqJ2JJc&w=640&h=390]

from their eponymous album released in 1996.

Finally – here’s a new mix for the merry merry month of May, reflecting my current love of old school hip hop, the Stones Throw label and twisted beats.  Hope you enjoy.

Brass frolics and gnarly knobs

In London at the weekend for a rival wedding and a highlight of the day was parading from Sutton House to Chat’s Palace in Hackney, led by the Hackney Colliery Band – an eight-piece drum n brass outfit with a real ear for rousing tunes with bubbling bottom end, funky sousaphone and rampant snare.

Here’s them covering Toto’s Africa: don’t worry, it’s way more palatable than the original.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zk-znnba0t8]

I was later delighted when they launched into one of my favourite brass tracks, “Brooklyn” by Youngblood Brass Band who can be seen here doing it at the Big Chill (R.I.P.) in 2005:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rz2rd6nuA5o]

On the subject of funky sousaphone, or Sousaphunk as I like to call it, here’s the Diesler/BiggaBush remix of that track from the last Lightning Head album.  I have a whole album’s worth of remixes from that period that for one reason or another never saw the light of day, so watch this space for more links and release info.

Other stuff that’s been floating my boat this week has been the amazing Madlib/MF Doom collab on Stones Throw from 2004, “Madvillainy”, and wouldn’t you know it, here’s the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble playing one of my top tunes from the album, called Rainbows:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TITR0Owh2ok]

Here’s Madvillain’s version:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3GIQoMYXiI]

Love that Sun Ra sample.

Going further into Stones Throw territory today I stumbled across an interesting sound from artist Dam Funk, with a track called Mirrors:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TYf_qrw2WQ]

WORK that keytar, Damien…

Finally for some reason Hudson Mohawke came into my consciousness over the weekend, someone I originally heard on the excellent first Beat Dimensions comp.  Here’s a typically crazy track, sort of Todd Rundgren on helium with gas mark 10 beats and full-on DX7s:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Igu1XkEeUnI]

Hope you enjoy.