SYDNEYSIDER SKRYPTCHA (A.K.A. ANGUS MEAD) HAS BEEN IN THE KITCHEN COOKING UP HIS SECOND ALBUM WITH ONE OF HIS FAVOURITE BEATSMITHS, ILLMIND, TWO YEARS AFTER HIS DEBUT LP, NUMBERS. MEAD IS EXCITED TO PUSH OUT THE NEW LP, MINDFUL, AS HE TELLS RIP NICHOLSON.
SKRYPTCHA interviewed @ 13:00 AEST – Monday 16th July, 2012
For Street Press Australia & Rip2Shredz Press
Words by RIP NICHOLSON
[Q & A below]
“It’s been a long time coming. I can’t wait to see it on the shelves,” states an enthusiastic Mead, who has been flat out on the run since the last time we unwrapped a Skryptcha CD. “After Numbers came out I started working on this one straight away. I started sourcing beats and writing. I’ve put a crazy amount of time into writing and a lot of travel around the world, and I’ve had a lot of work to do here in Sydney, so it’s been pretty damn crazy the past two years. I haven’t stopped.”
Inspiration for Mindful was brought on by travelling to where music is at its most vibrant. Always the keen traveller, Mead set off on the creative path of his second album. “I sat down with my booking agent before doing the album and explained to him what I wanted to do with this album. He said, ‘Man, you’ve gotta go to New Orleans. You’ve gotta go to Memphis.’ Without music there is no New Orleans or Memphis. They have such amazing performers and musicians, so I drew a lot of inspiration from those places.”
During his travels, Mead made the point of stopping in at Illmind’s Brooklyn, New York studio for what turned out to be an intrinsic working relationship as heard throughout Mindful. “It was crazy man. He’s such a nice guy, a pleasure to work with. It’s often so hard to put into words what you want and it often sounds so vague. You can end up going around in circles. It’s so much easier when you have someone who gets what you mean and is able to deliver on that; it’s a massive boost.”
“Without music there is no New Orleans or Memphis. They have such amazing performers and musicians, so I drew a lot of inspiration from those places.”
Working with someone whom he considers to be one of the best in the game, Mead felt compelled to really strive above the bar to deliver his best work for the international producer. “I think when you meet someone of that calibre — same goes for the major producers in Australia — you really push yourself and you wanna make sure that you produce work to that standard. And I knew how much of a privilege it was working with this guy. It drove me so much harder to come up with the best stuff I could possibly get out of my head, because I really wanted to do the partnership justice.”
With Mindful just released, Mead is preparing to join labelmate Illy for several shows on the Bring It Back Tour with Chasm Soundsystem over August. “We’re doing a joint set so that should be great. Me and Illy have been collaborating for so many years now, so it’s gonna be good fun to be on stage with him.” Illy joins Mead on My Way Up as they rap about exceeding expectations in their careers now that they’re both two albums deep into their catalogues. When asked if he is satisfied with where he is at today, Mead admits that although he has high standards for himself, he’s pleased with both his album and career.
“I’ve been lucky enough to be on a label with some this country’s biggest artists and now I’m getting plenty of radio love. A lot of what I’m doing now, I never would have expected to do. I don’t think I can be disappointed whatsoever in what I’ve done to this point because I’ve done everything, and I really think I’ve got an amazing result with this album.”
Q & A with Angus Mead (SKRYPTCHA)
RIP: Hey man, it’s been two years since we last spoke, July 27th 2010 in readiness for Numbers to come out – what’s been keeping you busy man?
MEAD: Pretty much this record man. Since Numbers came out i started working on this one straight away. I started sourcing beats and writing. I’ve put a crazy amount of time writing in and a lot of travel around the world and had a lot of work to do here in Sydney so it’s been pretty damn crazy the past two years man i haven’t stopped. So it’s been full on.
So Mindful comes out July 27th looking forward to it?
Definitely man, long time coming. So, i can’t wait to see it on the shelves.
Has it turned out as everything you’d envisioned?
Yeah really nice, my goal at the start was to make it really soul-heavy, have great vocalists and great hooks. I was lucky enough to get the right team together and we really came out with a great result man, so yeah it was exactly what i was hoping for.
Two years back we spoke on how Chasm worked your beats and you played grasshopper, learning the production craft from him while making the Left To Write EP. Now you’re on your second outing, this time with Illmind. How has all this previous experience helped you on this LP?
I think I’ve just learned so much more about music and the arrangements. For this album i got sent skeletons of beats for the most part and i had a vision of what i wanted to happen and with the arrangement I’d send it through to Illmind and he’d do his thing. It’s often hard to get a relationship with a producer where you say something and they just get what you mean. And he just understood everything i wanted and we fit perfectly man so i really couldn’t have hoped for anything better.
I imagine that would be one of the biggest hurdles in getting a creation off the ground between artist and producer is to find that in sync single vision.
Yeah, exactly right and it’s often so hard to put into words what you want and often sounds so vague and you can end up going around in circles. It’s so much easier when you have someone who gets what you mean and be able to deliver on that is a massive boost.
Going with US producer Illmind, you’ve stated you’re a huge fan of his work. how did you get the chance to work with him?
I didn’t really know who i wanted to produce the album and i was just searching around for people and obviously i had the sounds that i had in mind and i was on a website where a lot of big producers put up their beats and i came across one of his beats and it was just out of this world and i thought I’ll hit him up and see if we can make this thing happen and he was keen so it all came together from there.
What was the goal or what did you hope to achieve out of getting him to paint the beats behind the sentiment of your rhymes?
Obviously i wanted him to arrange the whole sound of the album but i think also when you meet someone of the calibre, same goes for the main producers in Australia you really push yourself and you really wanna make sure that you produce work to that standard. And i knew how much of a privilege it was working with this guy and i think it drove me so much harder to come up with the best stuff i could possibly get out of my head because i really wanted to do the partnership justice and i think it really drove me to put out the best product possible.
Interesting to read that you travelled to Illmind over at his Brooklyn studio. When most collabs can be done over email, how was the experience cooking in the kitchen with him for Mindful?
It was crazy man he’s such a nice guy, a pleasure to work with. I’d already started writing stuff and we’d already spoken online but it was really important for me to have that human relationship because i think working with people on the internet is great but unless you can put a face to a name and you can say, ‘yeah i remember meeting that guy, he was great and i wanna do well for him.’ I think if you don’t have that human connection you miss out on a lot, so i really wanted to go over there and show i was a good person and i found out that he was a great person too you know, so i think it really helped us down the line, working alongside each other.
Did you nut out every track in the studio, or did you meet up and get a vibe for what you wanted and continue the working relationship via long distance correspondence?
Pretty much. We went through a few tracks and i was able to express, ‘I’d like to have this happen here,’ because the arrangement was the most important thing for me so we ran through several beats and i expressed ‘this would be amazing on this, on that and the other’ and like i said it all just kinda clicked in his head and he was able to continue and make it happen perfectly for me and everything came out well.
On ‘My Way Up’ you and Illy rap about exceeding your expectations in the rap game now that you’re both several LPs deep. Are you satisfied as an artist, and do you feel that you’re in a much better position now than you had imagined several years back?
Yeah i think I’m in a great spot I’ve been lucky enough to be on a label with some this country’s biggest artists and now I’m one EP and two albums deep and getting plenty of radio love. A lot of what I’m doing now i never would have expected to do. I’ve always had big expectations of myself and high standards and i think the standard that i set this album was really high and i think I’ve jumped over it so i don’t think i can be disappointed whatsoever in what I’ve done to this point because I’ve done everything and i really think I’ve got an amazing result with this album.
So with the boys from Spit on ‘Work Out’ you rhyme about having to hold down the day job. How is it juggling recording the album, gigs and travelling overseas while holding down work?
It’s incredibly stressful and puts a lot on your shoulders but at this time in our lives it’s the only way we can manage you know, so you’ve just gotta try and manage time as well as you possibly can and work hard and one way or another it will all pan out.
When you were overseas did you write, did you draw inspiration from visiting those places?
Yeah, i wrote overseas, big time. I sat down with my booking agent before doing the album and explained to him what i wanted to do with this album and he said man you’ve gotta go to New Orleans. You’ve gotta go to Memphis. I left that meeting and booked my trip, and off i went to New Orleans, Memphis and New York. So, i drew crazy inspiration from those places, especially Memphis. Without music there is no New Orleans or Memphis, they have such amazing performers and musicians so i drew a lot of inspiration from those places.
Now with journalism where do you see yourself taking it? – being that you’re going hard with your hip hop grind right now.
It was actually a while ago it just never really got a mention, i graduated a few years ago between these albums and EPs. But I’m not sure, i really can’t look too far ahead at the moment I’m just really focused at putting everything into this album at the moment and after this album cycle I’ll be able to figure out where to next. So, who knows?
So what’s the live schedule for Skryptcha? You’re heading out with Illy…?
Yeah heading out with Illy and Chasm, we’re doing a joint set so that should be great. Me and Illy have been collaborating for so many years now, so it’s gonna be good fun to be on stage with him.