Filed under: Interview
It’s been almost a year of riding the wave of praise and adulation for their very critically acclaimed self defining first album ‘You Can Be Special Too’, finally being able to shrug off , ever so slightly the breakbeat tag that had been hung upon them. With no disrespect to breakbeat, Nu-Skool or otherwise, Evil Nine are simply so much more. Ok, they are less than nine and far from evil, but the duo from Brighton’s open minded approach and admirable respect for music stretching across genres leaves them with a whole reservoir of sounds which are workable within the wide realm of what they do.
Starting out together back in 1998 Tom Beaufoy and Pat Pardy began producing and making a name for themselves with Singles such as Cakehole and For Lovers Not Fighters whilst also putting together remixes for the likes of UNKLE and Ils. A deal with Adam Freelands, Marine Parade label, started the path towards the first album but stalled temporarily, due to the short term state of bankruptcy the label found itself in, due to the sudden demise of their major distributor at the time.
Had it not been a nerve wracking time the stalling of the release could have been called a stroke of marketing genius, as the few copies of the album which had managed to find themselves on the market and not stuck in boxes in the distributors office had become hot property, leading to the high demand usually reserved for one off bootlegs and the cause of bidding wars on E-bay. With a little help from their highly talented group of friends, Aesop Rock on the oh so addictive ‘Crooked’ and Juice Aleem on ‘Pearlshot’, Mary Shodipo on ‘We Are Not Through’ and Toastie Taylors soft gruff ragga on ‘Restless’, Evil Nine show that respect garners respect and offer a real noteworthy album of work, and proving they are artists of depth and worth.
Ahead of their latest release, a compilation on Distinctives Y4K series and a day ahead of their first Fuji Rock appearance, Higher-Frequency got the chance to share some time with the guys to talk about the trials and tribulations of getting where you are going.
Interview by Mark Oxley
HigherFrequency (HRFQ) : First of all thanks for your time today, you have just come over from Hong Kong and China, but what about Japan, it’s not your first time here is it ?
Tom Beaufoy : No, actually this is our second time, but this time is really the first time that counts.
HRFQ : Yeah maybe I heard about last time, that was in Shibuya, at The Pearl Lounge….
Tom : Yeah it was quite funny, because they paid us quite a lot of money to play, and the promoter usually books for bigger clubs, but when we arrived there was no space, Womb was booked, so he just booked us for like this private party for his mates in a little bar. And there was no promotion, the only promotion he did, was write ‘Evil Nine, tonight’ on a little piece of paper and put it up on the door, ha ha
HRFQ : And what happened ?
Tom : Well we had just flown in, and then went to that restaurant where they filmed ‘Kill Bill’, [which actually we were taken to again last night. Yeah we were like “we’ve been here before”, “We’ve only ever spent ten hours in Japan before but we have been here !! ha ha ] So last time we ate an amazing meal there and then played this gig to about thirty people in this little bar. Then ten hours later we got back on the plane and went home.
HRFQ : So all in all what is your impression of Japan ?
Pat Pardy : We love it here. The people have been really cool so far and it is really clean and pretty and has good shopping. And the people here seem to embrace a lot of different cultures and fashions and music and stuff.
Tom : Yeah it’s always interesting whenever you look around there is always something crazy going on.
HRFQ : For our Japanese readers could you tell us a bit about how you got involved with Marine Parade in the first place, were you friends of Adam Freeland ?
Pat : Originally we weren’t, now we are kind of best friends. Originally me and Tom had been had been making tracks for a while and we decided to send out a demo on a cassette tape and Adam was the first person who called back. Literally the next day he phoned up and I thought it was one of my friends joking, he said “Hi it’s Adam Freeland” and I said “No your joking” or something like that, and he was like “No….it IS..”, I said “Oh cool…” then went round to his house, hooked up and have been best friends since.
HRFQ : How long ago was that ?
Tom : About seven years ago….I think. Not Sure.
Pat : Yeah seven years.
Tom : Yeah it was funny, because we sent out our demo on a cassette tape, and even though it was seven years ago it doesn’t really get you anywhere sending your stuff out on a cassette tape, most people just throw them in the bin. I mean we sent out quite a few, and maybe the only reason Adam got to hear it was because this girl we knew called Gemma was working for Marine Parade at the time [Actually she is the new pop sensation in England, called Gem, have you heard of her in Japan yet ? She is kind of like the new Dido, She is really successful now but she was working at Marine Parade at the time] anyway because she knew us he actually listened to the cassette.
HRFQ : Were you Djing before you became Evil Nine ?
Tom : I was. Pat had been sort of producing electronic music for some time and I had been in some bands but I had been Djing for ten or eleven years and then it was just a happy coincidence that we met really, and we were both at the right point to collaborate. Pat had seen me DJ and we had mutual friends so we were like “lets make a tune” and stuff.
HRFQ : Your music is strongly influenced by Hip Hop would you say that was the genre which most inspired you in terms of making music ?
Pat : I think it is one of many really. I think Rock and Hip Hop are the two main influences.
Tom : But you know, also House and Techno, even Folk and Reggae, everything. We are into everything really, we never rule anything out. When we are not in the studio we don’t generally listen to a lot of dance music. I mean you know we are eight hours a day six days a week in the studio.
Pat : It doesn’t do you any harm to listen to all kinds of stuff really.
Tom : But yeah Hip Hop is definitely inspiring to us but Rock music is as well. We’ve kind of come back around to it, because we all used to be into Rock music when we were younger. We were both in Rock bands and stuff and so listening to more and more Rock was something which we got back into. Because it is a shame, if you like all these different kinds of music and something has got to be one way and you have to ignore everything else that you are into. I think there is a place for it all.
Pat : The only way to make individual and unique music is if you use everything that you are into and then bring yourself to the music.
Tom : Yeah you know, you shouldn’t restrict yourself to one thing, I mean we like Hip Hop but it is quite frustrating sometimes in the whole Hip Hop circles that people just refuse to accept anything else as music unless it is kind of old skool funk or something related. I think the more open minded people in Hip Hop are creating the more interesting things.I mean look at someone like Timberland, I think he is more accepting of other kinds of stuff and therefore he is making more cutting edge beats you know.
HRFQ : Your album ‘You Can Be Special Too’ was released in Japan last June, You got the best album awards at the Breaks Pol – congratulations – can you give us a bit of an idea about what was behind the album ?
Tom : Well, we wanted to make an album which was a proper album that meant something to people when they listened to it. We wanted to make an album which had a variety of flavors, and was interesting and exciting. That is as much of a concept as we had.
Pat : We wanted to make a really good album that wasn’t just a club music album you know, one that people could listen to when they were going out or at home. I think maybe people are getting a bit bored listening to just banging dance tracks at home.
HRFQ : On that album you collaborated with many artists, in particular Aesop Rock on ‘Crooked’, how did you come about featuring him ?
Pat : We have loved him for a long time. We are really big fans of Aesop Rock. It kind of came from nowhere, one day we were in the studio sitting there together and I thought it would be cool if we could get Aesop Rock on it.We sent him an email, he listened to the track and really liked it. We always think it is quite special when Hip Hop artists appreciate the stuff; as Tom said before they are not always as accepting of dance music, but it was cool, he loved it and we took it from there basically. Yeah a brilliant track that I couldn’t imagine having anyone else on it now really.
Tom : Yeah and people like Juice, Juice Aleem, who is on Pearl Shot, – we are into New Flesh, and got involved with his album and through that became friends – and there was an earlier version of the track [Pearl Shot] and he was blown away by it, and he basically just rang Pat up that night and said “What are you doing tomorrow”……
Pat : It wasn’t even that, It was eleven o’clock in the morning, and I got a phone call saying that ‘Juice wants to do this track…like today….’ and I was like “where is he”, the guy on the phone said ” Oh he’s in a cab on his way” ! So I had like half an hour to get to the studio. I got to the studio and literally he just walked in and freestyled the whole thing straight away and did all his own dubs afterwards. Yeah a complete flow of consciousness.
HRFQ : It must be a good feeling when people come and do that for you ?
Tom : Yeah it’s brilliant and he is such a talented guy.
Pat : In a way it has always worked out for us like that in sense that, there is no planning involved, we just fall into things luckily you know.
HRFQ : Although you had a lot of success on the album there was a bit of trouble with Marine Parade and the bankruptcy issue, what did you think when that happened ?
Tom : Kinda scary, well we didn’t really know what was going to happen, but it was kind of liberating in a sense because we thought we had this wicked album anyway, so actually we weren’t too scared that it was all going to go down the pan. The way it looked was a bit more scary because of the fact there were loads of albums just literally sitting there in the distribution office that, couldn’t be released.But a thousand or so copies skipped through the net, they became like real hot property. And there was kind of buzz going round and the price was going up loads on E-bay and we tested a promo of the ‘Crooked’ single with the Bassbin re mix on it and that went for about ninety five dollars on E-bay. I feel a bit sorry for the guy who bought it now, if he had waited two months he would have got it for like five pounds.
Pat : But people didn’t want to wait, they had been waiting long enough already, so in a way the whole thing was like publicity for the album. And it all worked out in the end.
HRFQ : But that was all caused by some major distributor going down wasn’t it ?
Tom : Yeah, 3MV. I think a lot of labels especially independent labels are in debt to distributors to a certain amount of money which they pay off gradually and because they went under, they demanded the money back straight away and nobody has the money obviously, and so a lot of other labels went down as well. NuPhonic and people like that.
HRFQ : Well with all that happening and with Atomic Hooligan starting their own label as well, did you ever think of starting your own label ?
Pat : It was one of the possible options when Marine Parade went down, releasing it ourselves. But we are not the greatest business people in the world, but now we have got a manager who is amazingly business minded but we are not.
Tom : And also when we first started out we thought to get loads of records out there, all we have to do is start our own label, but loads of people advised us not to, I mean it is not just a vanity thing, you have to put a lot of work into it.
Pat : Yeah it is very difficult for small labels to stay afloat and make money, but maybe one day yeah.
HRFQ : You are releasing your new mix album a Y4K album, can you tell us a little bit about that ?
Pat : Yeah, we wanted it to be a reflection of where we are at now, like if you go see us when we DJ, we wanted it to include all the things which we are into like rockier sort of stuff, some techno and atmospheric sort of tunes things with good hooks as well, it is quite a sort of ‘experience’ if you like, lots of different levels and different flavors.
Tom : It is definitely one you can get down and dance to.
Pat : Thats pretty much it; a bunch of music we like ! You know we didn’t put on there any half arsed tunes. It is all stuff we are into, and we thought they were all strong tracks.
HRFQ : Can you tell us about the breakbeat scene in Europe and where you think it is going ?
Pat : It seems to be really strong in Eastern Europe at the moment, the people are really liking it. But Breakbeats is just one type of music that we are into.
Tom : The thing about Breaks is that when we got into it there were a few major people doing it and it was quite a fresh sort of scene, everyone was going off in their own direction sort of forging ahead on their own path. And we are into that vibe. But in a lot of ways I think these days a lot of people are stagnating. I think as a genre becomes more and more established people are more inclined to say that “oh Breaks, has got to be like this…” But we want it to be where somebody is making their own mark. The best thing about Breaks is that it can have all these different edges too it. With some housier stuff , more pop-py, or whatever, and a lot of the times it doesn’t. People are thinking it has to have these certain sounds to it, ‘Wah wah, noises and stuff.There are some people who say, Santos and Maddox in Italy are doing some good stuff and that the Italian scene seems really fresh and exciting and we were out there the other day actually and it seems quite popular there. I don’t know if the producers in England would like it but hopefully there will be some new blood coming through soon some new people on the scene.
HRFQ : Do you have a favorite club ?
Pat : I guess, Fabric. We seem to be saying this a lot these days.
Tom : And it is just a coincidence that we are the new residents there, ha ha. But, no, we really like it, the main room there is perfect for our sound.
Pat : We are not contractually bound to say that, though ha ha. There is Club Audio in Brighton which is very very good as well, in our home town, our local club.
HRFQ : Looking forward to Fuji Rock ?
Tom : Yeah really am.
Pat : No, I don’t want to play in front of loads of people up in the mountains…ha ha [ironic]
HRFQ : Are you playing a live set ?
Tom : No, it will be an accented DJ set, you know, with an MC and we will be using the computers a bit.. From 3.45 to 5 in the morning. And then we go straight back to England and play the Global Gathering. Yeah the very next night at 4 in the morning – we get all the best slots you see [ironic] – ha ha.
Pat : It’s going to be one of those weekends we don’t forget for a while. We have heard some amazing things about Fuji Rock.
Tom : Yeah I really wish we could stay for the whole thing really.
HRFQ : Ok final question, any message for your Japanese fans ?
Tom : Keep being the beautiful people that you are !
End of the interview
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