Trendcrusher

DJ Solo

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A throwback interview from when I used to write for Mid East Dynasty.

Neil Andrew aka DJ Solo is a turntablist and producer. Originally from High Wycombe and London, U.K., he now lives in Dubai, UAE. Read on to find out more about his EP “Who is Wriggly Scott?”, how Neil got the “DJ Solo” moniker and more.

Hi Neil, hows it going? Congrats on the release of your “Who Is Wriggly Scott” EP. How has the response to it been so far?

The response so far has been amazing both here and abroad. It’s been featured on various blogs and radio shows in the US and Europe, and one of the tracks is currently no.21 in the US College/Internet Radio Chart.

When did you start working on the EP? What was the writing and recording process like?

I didn’t specifically start working on an EP, and was just working on separate tracks. After a few of them came together and I did the track ‘Tangible Dream’ with Orifice Vulgatron, I think it was his encouragement which made me decide to try and release something. So from then on I would write beats, and then contact MCs that I knew and thought would suit specific tracks. The only MCs that recorded their verses in my studio were Feras, Jibberish and Orifice, all of the others sent their verses from abroad. It was actually a pretty smooth process all in all.

How did you choose which MCs to work with? How did you get J Live to feature on your EP?

The guys that I worked with were all friends that I’d known or worked with before, and it really was more of a case of suiting certain beats to certain MCs – obviously it depends on which beats they’re feeling also, or the verses would lack energy. In the back of my mind however I did have the inkling that I wanted it to have broad spectrum of nationalities on it. I met J-Live a few years ago when he performed here. Myself and Solphonic always said that we could retire from producing if we ever worked with him, – he’s really been one of my favourite MCs for a long time. Anyway, I managed to get in touch with him via Ben McDonald (Mach 4), who was originally involved in bringing him to perform here, luckily J liked the track and we took it from there, it reminded me of one of the beats off his second LP which is why I felt it would suit him.

“Who Is Wriggly Scott” EP will be released digitally by Dented Records, how did the deal come about?

Honestly it just kind of came up in conversation. I remember when I recorded Orifice’s verse (he’s a co-founder of Dented Records) for ‘Tangible Dream’ he said “you’d better do something with it”, or something like that. I think later on he just asked me if I’d like to release it on the label, to which of course I said yes. It’s been a real learning curve so far, and I’m lucky to have landed on a label that’s professional, and is already established with such great contacts in the industry. As a producer, especially in this region, it’s hard to guage the quality of your work and we always look to producer such as J Dilla or Madlib, as opposed to someone in London who probably knows a producer who lives on his street corner with a string of releases under his belt – I mean it’s great that we do that because that’s a very high standard to set yourself, but it can also make you question the level of your production.

When did you start DJing using turntables?

Well I started collecting records when I was 13 or 14 as it seemed that I could only buy the hip hop I liked on vinyl at the time. I bought my first turntable I think when I was 14 or 15, it was a belt-driven JB Systems Disco 2000 – I bought it from my friend who also threw in loads of old Jungle records. I used to call friends and scratch down the phone on my one turntable – my first DJ name was ‘The Deck Destroyer’.By the time I was 16 some of my friends were DJing, but they were all playing Jungle, Garage or Happy Hardcore and as none of them were playing Hip Hop I felt like it was kind of my duty as my home town (High Wycombe) once had a thriving hip hop scene which nobody seemed to be catering for anymore, so for my birthday I asked for another turntable – this time a belt-driven Soundlab – so my set-up didn’t even match. I also got a Kam GM25 mixer whish was particularly bad. I then changed my name to ‘The Drunken Master’, but it turned out there already was one in Wycombe, so I called myself ‘Peter Parker’ and later ‘Hash Solo’ (which stuck and became shortened once I moved to the U.A.E.) When I was 18 I visited New York with my Art College, and actually saved my money so that upon my return I could buy some Vestax turntables, the rest is history.

Do you play any musical instruments ?

I used to pay the piano growing up, then the guitar but unfortunately put them down when I started DJing. I still like to play the keys when I’m producing and also record a lot of percussion to give it a more ‘live’ feel. My mother and sister were both piano teachers, and I definitely feel that having even a small background in music theory helps me to structure things more musically when producing or scratching. I did take the piano up again a few years back, but due to a heavy workload had to drop it again.

When did you move to UAE? How did you get involved in the music scene?

Around 7 years ago. At first I played at a few MIS parties, and those guys later opened ibo, where I used to play quite regularly. I also played at some of the Global Funk parties. I actually gained a lot of exposure by just handing out mixtapes wherever I went. After meeting Dany Neville, he offered me guest spots on his show so that also helped a lot. Just meeting like-minded people leads you to meet more such people and before you know it you have a good circle of contacts.

The hip hop scene has been slowly developing in the UAE and the Middle East in the past few years, where do you see it going in the future?

Hip Hop and music as a whole has always been an extremely powerful tool to get your message across, but it’s a shame that many of the artists that I revere in this region seemingly don’t get enough exposure. Not only are record companies or club promoters generally more interested in the more commercially-viable artists, but individuals often get held back from traveling or studying abroad due to which passport they hold. Honestly I cannot predict where it will be in the future in the same way you cannot predict where this region as a whole will be next year, but I do see it growing and hope that the scene continues to develop in diverse ways.

You have a weekly online radio show “Another music” and also run a weekly club night “Freshly Laced”, any other ventures that we should know of?

Hmm, well I’m already working on my follow-up release which will be the first official release under the guise of ‘Wriggly Scott’ – it will be a lot more diverse in terms of the production, and will feature a mixture of instrumental and vocal tracks. I’m also working on a release for one of my other aliases ‘Ductchild’ which is much more moody, electronic stuff. I have another few ideas kicking around my head for collaborations but I have to keep them secret for the time being.

What are your plans for the rest of 2011?

Mainly to continue working on my production. I think that after my second or third release I will start looking into performing abroad more but am in no rush right now.

Written by trendcrusher

March 15, 2018 at 10:00 am

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