“Get Better” By Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip.
Emceeing Is Believing-Scroobius Pip Interview
I’ve never been what you’d call a huge fan of rap or hip hop, what seemed to have started out as raw, angry urban street poetry slowly morphed into all things puerile and unappealing. Maybe I was a little harsh and, in retrospect , I probably had been exposed to the ‘wrong’ sort of rap but alas the damage had been done. It seemed to me that a large volume of mainstream rap was little more than a shallow hymn in praise of capitalism in which the ‘get rich quick or die’ generation glorified violence as a legitimate tool in a ruthless, soulless pursuit of wealth. This was a world in which respect was measured by having something bigger than your rival, be it your gun, your bling, your stash, your car, or your good ladies gravity defying ‘bootilicious’ backside. There were of course the lone voices of reason that fought against this mass produced slew of infantile, misogynist nursery rhyming but it wasn’t until I discovered Scroobius Pip that I embraced the idea, that in the right hands, the power of words set to beats can be reclaimed as a force for good. If the message and messenger have intelligence and compassion then the ability to produce something that can be moving and at times quite profound is always possible. Pip’s rhymes come from a place that is aspirational but not materialistic, where respect and self improvement is not gained through guns, bling or the acquisition of wealth but through education and knowledge. I first became aware of Scroobius Pip’s ability to communicate messages with meaning via his collaborations with Dan Le Sac in the form of their classic single ‘Thou Shall Always Kill.’ It was this collaboration that effectively put the duo on the musical map and ever since they have worked almost exclusively together. Their début album “Angles” was lauded by critics and fans alike and they have played sell out gigs around the world including all the major festivals such as Glastonbury, Coachella, Bestival and Reading.
After spending much of 2009 writing and recording their second album ‘The Logic Of Chance’ (yes that’s “second” album, the day I use the word “sophomore” is the day I’ll hack my own tongue off with a spoon) the duo are preparing to release their new single, the excellent ‘Get Better’ ahead of the full album release. We spoke to Pip about the new single and album, life, the universe and the mathematical chances of two people called Pip having this conversation
VP: ‘Get Better’ your new single has some wonderful lyrics and a video that looks like you’re some kind of motivational lifestyle guru. Want inspired the lyrics and what was the idea behind the video?
Scroobius Pip: The lyrics were inspired by living in a small town in Essex. Going away and touring all over the world really made certain things stand out when I returned. Hopefully it is a positive song about the negative side of Britain’s youth. I think the papers and press give “broken Britain” a bit of a hard run really. At the end of the day most of these kids are just bored. The video was directed and planned by Richard Heslop who has done some amazing videos in the past for the Smiths, New Order, The Happy Mondays and many others (so we knew we were in safe hands!). He currently lives in Hastings which has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the UK so it really struck a chord with him and he liked the idea of in some way spoofing a motivational seminar but not just making light of it all (if that makes sense). Doing one that is more honest and realistic and using real local teens.
VP: “The Logic Of Chance” is scheduled for release in March, would you say there’s a major theme running throughout the album?
Scroobius Pip: I think there are a lot of themes weaving in and out of all the different tracks. Some are very direct and some are woven into stories and examples so hopefully there’s plenty to get your teeth in to. A lot of it is very rooted in everyday life though. Issues that many people will have either experienced or been close to in their lives.
VP: Writing songs with a social conscience can sometimes be a tricky path to negotiate? Do you ever worry that you might one day be perceived as overtly “preachy”?
Scroobius Pip: I’m ALWAYS perceived as preachy! haha!! And that can be quite annoying to be honest. But I just have to take a back seat in that respect. I think a lot of the subjects discussed are really important and the point of putting them in my lyrics is to get people talking about them. So, if that means me taking the occasional beating in blogs or comment sections then I guess I will just have to live with that! I present my opinions on a subject and hope that people will pick them apart and make their own choices.
VP: What’s on the horizon in 2010? Album? Tour? Festivals??
Scroobius Pip: 2010 is looking hectic already! We have the single out on March 1st and the album on March 14th so from March 14th onwards we have tours going all over the UK and Europe for a couple of months. Then it will be a case of hitting the festival circuit heavily right up until the end of the season with Bestival to top it all off! There will be one or two other surprises along that way but you will just have to wait till later in the year for that!
VP: What would you say is most likely to inspire you to write a poem, love, anger, joy or sorrow?
Scroobius Pip: All of the above! I think the key is finding beauty or poetry in all different emotions. People tend to think poetry is all about love but some of the best poetry (and art in general) will come from hardship. The tough times in life are what can be a catalyst for amazing works. I think, musically, it tends to be hip-hop that is documenting hardship in this way. When there is a tragedy the pop world will often release a single or something that will raise millions. Which is great. But the song itself will have very little worth. But if you look back to 9/11 for example, Sage Francis came out with “Makeshift Patriot” and it captured a piece of raw history. The same goes for Hurricane Katrina so much hip-hop has been made documenting that event (“Georgia Bush” by Lil’ Wayne being one of my favourite examples).
VP: As a duo how does the writing process work, does you come up with the words and Dan fit the beats around them or do you get together and work out the tune and tempo etc together?
Scroobius Pip: It really goes back and forth. We generally write over email. Dan will come up with a load of beats and I will come up with a load of lyrics then we see what fits, what doesn’t, and what inspires new beats or lyrics. Having that space to work really allows our individual styles and strengths to come through (hopefully!). And it stops us killing each other like most bands that spend months in a studio together!
VP: What’s been your favourite moment you’ve experienced as a musical unit?
Scroobius Pip: There have been too many to list really. Working with Pos from De La Soul was amazing. Signing with Sage Francis in America was great to. In fact, signing a record deal in general (particularly to a label like Sunday Best in the UK) felt like a great achievement. Then you have getting to play halfway up a mountain in Japan, tour America, play Coachella, headline a stage at Reading/Leeds festival….the list just goes on. We have been really lucky from day one to get to experience all this so I guess the “favourite” moment would be each moment we get to continue doing what we love for a living.
VP: Have you experienced any ‘Spinal Tap’ moments yet?
Scroobius Pip: Yeah there have been one or two very confusing venues. We played in Switzerland the other week actually and the venue was this amazing warehouse/factory type building that had been turned into a bar/coffee shop/art school/music school/venue! So to get from the dressing room to the stage wasn’t easy! Particularly with all the signs in different language…
VP: “Thou shalt not put musicians and recording artists on ridiculous pedestals no matter how great they are or were.” Have you experienced this kind of adulation and how do you deal with it –“Scroobius Pip, just a poet ?
Scroobius Pip: We do kind of get that kind of thing and we tend to just take the compliment gracefully. The reaction from fans at the gigs and online is always overwhelming! That said we do try to make sure we respond and interact as much as we can via the myspace, facebook and twitter pages. I think it’s really important to have that interaction with your fanbase. If there’s something they do or don’t like it’s good to be able to hear their views and express our own in a very direct way.
VP: Who are your own heroes or inspirations?
Scroobius Pip: I have people all the time that inspire me. People like Sage Francis and Krs One are the kinds of acts that made me start doing this but acts like Kate Tempest, Polarbear and P.O.S are the kind of acts that inspire me to keep trying to improve! There’s so many new acts coming through all the time and that really helps push you to keep on top of your game.
VP: Do you think the internet has democratised the arts, giving people who wouldn’t normally have a platform a chance to be creative?
Scroobius Pip: To an extent yeah. But that fact alone also means the internet is awash with such acts so it isn’t always easy to stand out. There are still advantages that can be had by acts that are backed by major labels as they will have the teams that have expertise in these areas. I think a combination of the internet and the live circuit is key these days. If you work hard at both then it really strengthens your chances of getting noticed.
VP: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Scroobius Pip: When I was 18 I went to try and travel around America on my own (it didn’t go well!) and before I left my brother gave me one piece of advice (that he stole from “Best In Show”): “If you get hungry; eat something. If you get tired; sleep.”
“Thou Shall Always Kill” By Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip
“Get Better” By Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip
“Look For The Woman” By Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip
Dan & Pip audition for X-Factor. SPOOF!