“Do it for the love. Don’t be worried if its liked or not liked, just do it because you want to and because you love doing it.”
Words by Beth & Yelena.
Trim: My names Trim, this is my enterprise and all my apprentices [hahaha]. Yeah this is “Secluded Area Of Music”, the record label. We all work together.
Ed: I’m Ed, I write as “Opake” and I do all the artwork for the label and anything that needs to be done on the creative side of it.
O.B: I’m Obese, the fat boy, the war lord… I do lyrics.
Eazy: I’m DJ Eazy B, obviously I’m a DJ, and I produce. I’m a jack of all trades.
Nico: I’m Nico Lindsay, AKA Codename Lin, AKA Black Magician, AKA Lindsay Go-Ham. I’m an MC, I rap, and I produce as well.
B: So Trim, we wanted to talk about your latest project. You’ve just released an EP with Rage on your label Secluded Area of Music. Can you tell us a bit about the process from initial idea to release and how it all went for you?
Trim: Wow, that’s a good question. Ok, so how did it go from production to release? It was a bit of a journey. Some of the producers were quite hard to get the parts from. We have an engineer that we send all our songs to as well called Josh, he lives in America so yeah from beginning to end it was quite a journey but thanks to Frank and Jasprey at the label it was made quite easy for me. As well as that, I’ve known Rage for a while he’s a good friend of mine from when we were kids. When I realised he was doing music we were in different places to it’s taken a while for this EP to come together but we got there in the end. It took around a year, we both had different things going on in our lives. In terms of process, we both got the lyrics together, sent them off to the engineer, got the date, changed it a million times because we were going to do a video for “No Chill” which we’re still trying to do. We also have another guy called Sergi producing an animation video for us so yeah if I was doing all of that without these guys… I couldn’t have done it on my own.
B: Great, that leads nicely into the next question. You also released an EP last year working with Nico Lindsay & The Last Skeptik. Is collaboration an important part of the label for you?
Trim: Yeah it is because it makes me whole. Collaborating with all forms of artists I find a peace in myself so I think collaborating with people is definitely the best thing for an MC to do because it educates you on yourself and helps you find that part of you. But the label isn’t based on that, the label is based on the fact that we make music that, in my opinion, is different to everyone else’s and it’s within a “secluded area” that not many people tend to find or want to look at because they’re worried of what might come out of it. So yeah Secluded Area Of Music is not just about collaboration.
B: So obviously you guys all work together, is there something in particular that any of you look for when you go to work with someone i.e. what is it brings you together and into that “team” status?
Nico: It has to be genuine. If it’s not genuine then it’s like “right, I’m working with this person but it just feels false”. So I find that for anybody you’re collaborating with you have to know them. If you don’t know them it’s a bit… for example if you’re a rapper and it’s a producer and they’re sending you beats and you’re sitting at home writing lyrics, that’s ok because it’s a different kind of interaction but let’s say it’s two rappers, those two kind of have to know each other otherwise it’s just weird like “ok, we’re both in a room… we might not like the same things, we may not understand certain angles that we’re coming with, so how are we going to come together in a room and make something?” So yeah I think that’s one of the main things.
Trim: Yeah it has to be genuine because you find often with labels, they just get loads of money and push people together and end up making false music that’s not really real.
Ed: If you listen to Secluded Area Of Music, everyone brings something different to the table, it’s completely different.
Trim: Yeah everybody’s got their own form of art, none of these MCs sound the same, non of our DJs mix the same, we’ve got a graffiti guy for artwork, no one does that, they just get graphic designers. So yeah we’re just left, we’re all from the streets, well apart from Eazy B, he’s been working his whole life but yeah we’re just doing us, no different to any other crew or anybody else it’s just we’re doing it our way.
B: So how have you found the process of setting up a label?
Trim: Really hard! I don’t like to be a boss, I’m not that kind of guy, I don’t like telling people what to do, I just want everybody to feel like a family so I don’t try and tell them anything really, I just try and keep the momentum and make sure they’re doing what they said they were going to do rather then actually telling people what to do and I feel like it’s working. It’s not really that hard when these guys are all pulling their weight but we all have blips, we all have life other than this as it doesn’t pay you as much as a normal job so it’s limited as to how much time you can put in and how much time you can give the job. Some people have kids, some people have jobs, some people have families or university. For example, Jasprey works as a Radio Plugger but she balances that out with her own label. So everybody’s got other jobs and are doing other things so you can’t pressure anybody to get anything done really so we’re just a family and we try and work like that.
B: How old were any of you when you decided you wanted to work in music and what ignited that spark?
Eazy: I was dragged into it by my brother! I wanted a SNES back in the day, one of those computer consoles, but our birthdays were two weeks apart and he convinced me that we should save up and buy a pair of decks and it was from then on that I started DJing. I didn’t have much money at the time so buying records was peak and with such a limited amount of music I was able to get down into my skill set, learn to scratch and learn to mix a lot quicker.
B: So how long have you been DJing now?
Eazy: I’ve been DJing for about 16-17 years. I was DJing in clubs when I was 15, and I was doing pirate radio when I was 14/15 so I’ve always been around music since then and before that I wasn’t even into music which is the strangest thing. My brother dragged me into it and I’ve never let go of it since so thanks to him, big up Stuart.
B: On a similar topic, when any of you realised that you wanted to get into music, did you have any mentorship or access to equipment or performance space?
O.B: Youth clubs definitely, for the MCs at least, for me growing up it was youth clubs.
Nico: We had a youth club [Trim] didn’t we.
Trim: Yeah well it started in Frankie’s house then we moved onto youth clubs then some people would come to our area to MC.
O.B: Yeah and often if you went to the youth club you’d end up being on radio somehow.
Eazy: Did no one do the house parties?
Trim: No, No, we weren’t allowed to MC around parents [hahaha]. At family reunions we just had to be quiet and sit there and not move.
B: So in youth clubs you had access to equipment?
Nico: Yeah we did from early on and we got put in charge of it. They put me and Trim in charge of the decks and the mic and lots of people from other areas used to come and clash. That’s when I had my first clash which was with MC Stamina. So yeah, we had equipment from early on so we were inspired to do music.
B: Onto the topic of genres, what is your relationship now with Grime music and how do you feel about it coming to the forefront of UK popular culture?
Trim: I think it’s really good, and it’s good that people are being responsible and knowing what to say and not being ignorant or stupid and that’s really good to see. We’ve got a whole next generation of artists that respect themselves wherever they are and are actually delivering the work so yeah it’s in a healthy place, but for me, I treat it like any other genre and I don’t pay a lot of attention to what’s going on, I just try to write around them.
B: Well yeah your work definitely spans the genres.
Trim: Yeah I’ve been in a bit of a weird space, I haven’t really been listening to Grime that much but I’ve been seeing a lot of it on TV and stuff with Stormzy, A.J. Tracy, Nico, Capo Lee and people like that. It’s really taking off, and it’s good for them, it’s healthy.
B: Often as genres enter into popular culture, it can be easy for their roots to become diluted. What part of Grime do you hope never gets lost?
O.B: Clashing. I don’t want that to go because that’s what I was brought up on. I used to listen to dancehall, I still do, and that’s what I like. I like MCs battling each other and going at it with the lyrics they like.
Nico: I would say pirate radio but radio’s still here though, it’s just a new generation. My generation, I’m 26, I grew up listening all the Trims, the Wileys, the Skeptas and all that, so in my generation you hear a lot of people saying “naaah I just wanna hear those guys”. So when it comes to man like us, people think there isn’t anything going on but there is stuff going on. There’s clashes, there’s radio, there’s all of that going on it’s just a next generation of people doing it and you’ve just got to look into it, not be ignorant. Things are still going on an it’s healthy, it’s really healthy, all over the UK.
Trim: Radio’s definitely come back into fashion. I remember when you [Nico], Capo Lee, and your little mob, went on radio for a whole year nearly every single day so it even made the whole Grime scene think “Rah, we need to go on the radio”. So then I was hearing sets from people from my era running to radio thinking they needed to go on the radio because you guys were doing that. I feel like everybody in the Grime scene works in different areas and that’s why people are taking notice and I’m glad I’m involved.
B: I wanted to ask you about your work last year with James Blake’s label 1-800 Dinosaur. That was a really interesting piece of work, how was that for you?
Trim: It was a sick experience. Well, it was a weird experience for one because some of the time I had to write to songs that were nothing to do with the song itself, they’d be template songs with mainly just the beat that I’d have to write lyrics to so I didn’t hear some of the tracks until they were finished, so that was a really weird way of working for me because I’m used to knowing the beat that I’m going to spit on.
B: So you didn’t hear the instrumental at all? Was it difficult, not being able to feel the tracks in that way?
Trim: There were a couple that I did hear first including Wacko and Man Like Me but there were a few others that I spat to certain tunes then when I heard it back they’d been placed on other tracks and songs were built around my lyrics.
B: That’s really interesting, a whole new way of working.
Trim: Yeah completely, it was an amazing way of working as well. It had me on edge half the time worrying what they were going to do!
B: It seems almost classical the way it’s done, composing the tracks in that way – taking the different bits and pulling them together and constructing music around them.
Trim: Yeah usually you send the guy the beat, they take it to the studio and if you feel something for that beat that’s why you want to do it but this was a whole different way, but I love every track on the album and I think it was a sick experience
B: In terms of spanning genres, do you find that people are scared of what they can’t categorize or put in a box? For example, when you talk about the “secluded area of music” do you ever come across negative reactions because of it?
Trim: Yeah definitely. That’s why we’re still here, still grafting. People are really scared about things that they don’t know and they don’t understand and so it can be hard finding an audience that relates because they need to really listen. People often don’t like to really listen and think about what they’re hearing. We’re not just singing “come to the dance, everybody rave, go home, get wasted”.
Nico: I think last year was a breakthrough for me, because you get so many sub genres now.
Trim: Everything’s cross pollinating!
B: Great, so Multi-Track itself is about supporting future pioneers of UK underground music, what advice would any of you give to someone trying to make it in music?
Eazy: Do as much as you can. So if you’re an MC don’t just MC. Market yourself, get out there and network. Try and be one whole entity. Do as much as you can.
O.B: Don’t get your hopes up. You may have a tune that everyone in your circle is excited about it but you may not get that same reaction out in the world. You can’t assume that because your friends like it that everyone else is going to.
Trim: Do it for the love, don’t be worried if it’s liked or not liked, just do it because you want to and because you love doing it. Don’t come in half heartedly because you will be upset in the end.
B: Lastly, is there anyone you guys would tip as a future pioneer of underground music?
Trim: Nico! This guy here. I think there’s something about him. I wasn’t as good as him at his age so I think he’s going to be something proper. Obese as well. Basically, we’re the ones to look out for, so look out for us…