Interview taken from YEO4
A true legend of the local hip-hop scene, SEAZ unveiled his latest project of beats back in April, ‘Scrapt Chapters’, released via Ill Records. Supported by years of extensive crate digging and sampling of obscurities, the album is full of oozing beats and soundscapes.
We spoke with SEAZ about the early days of N.I. hip-hop, working with some of Belfast’s biggest street artists and how this fresh sound came about.
How long has Scrapt Chapters been in the making and is there a driving concept behind it?
Its a collection of beats I have made over the past 10years. I took the ones that stood out and represent that decade for me, like the end of an era and the start of a new one. I started putting it together at the end of last year ‘20
Being a well-established artist in the local scene now for over 10 years, you’ve witnessed the scene develop, who were some of the main local hip-hop heads that were an inspiration when you were starting out?
Slaine Brown had been rhyming since I started skating in the late 90s and hearing him freestyling at parties up in Portrush was my first glimpse at homegrown hip hop. Dj Troubled Soul’s (now Bethaniens Dust) production and established label Equilibrium gave me an idea of what can be done without adhering to conventional methods. Chris Caul (Triple C) had been DJ’ing locally and keeping hip-hop relevant in Belfast since I’ve been old enough to get into the bar. DJ Koncept’s turntablism and raising the bar in that artform on a worldwide level. Sconey and his crew Belfast City Breakers b-boying and carrying the torch through breakdancing from the early stages of hip hop in the 80s. Noize Thieverys constant flow of beats and just being there from the mid 2000’s onward, anytime we’d connect we’d have 20 new beats to show each other.
Dexter144’s merging of street rap and dark poetry in his unique style and delivery, while also keeping it 100% in a Belfast accent and genuine attitude. The ever-growing graffiti scene with crews like TAO and TMN was changing how the city looked and creating a visual backdrop for hip hop and street culture in Belfast...to name but a few.
If you could bring back one thing about the local hip-hop scene from its pre-internet/social media days, what would it be and why?
Pre-social media you usually would have established a friendship and a get together, a wee session with the people you were working with, and I think it comes across in the sound, as opposed to sending files to someone you don’t really know through messenger
Was getting local graffiti artists involved with your projects a natural match up and what have been some of your standout graffiti meets music moments?
That happened naturally, just folk who were into the same music and moving in the same circles. As for standout moments the first thing that comes to mind are the contribution to my album covers from BORE (who came through with pieces for SEWER RATS and ILL LIT) and ANCO (DOMESTIC GLUE artwork) and most recently Ben Taggart who came through on the Scrapt Chapters cover. KVLR did a really cool piece in town a few years back with a SEWER RATS theme
How did you approach doing the music for ‘Bombing, Beats and B-Boys’ and was there any artists/characters in the documentary you would have wanted featured that were not?
At the time me and Noize Thievery (who also did music for the documentary) were making beats regularly and were both friends with Chris Eva (the maker of the doc), we would let him hear what we were working on and Chris would choose what he thought worked best for certain shots. As far as features, I was working on a lot of music at the same time... To get a proper feel of what was happening musically at the time the documentary came out you could refer to the FOMORIANS compilation on my Bandcamp...it includes many features from heads who were in the documentary, its messy but it captures the vibe at the time
The legacy of Sewer Rats has seen it evolve into a local hip-hop cult masterpiece. What was life like at the time of making it?
Cheers man. 2011 would have been when we were putting that together, and 2012 when it dropped. It felt like things were moving very fast at that time, a lot of ups and downs, a lot of synchronicities that brought heads together at a very creative point in their lives, people who wouldn’t usually be down for recording. I had been putting beats to the side that had a certain feel, and fell under the title “SEWER RATS” (the name had been thrown about in the early stages of the project). There was never a deadline because I was just releasing it myself, which let me chip away at it til it sounded the way we were all content with. Then the untimely passing of a good friend in March 2012 (Dee Corr R.I.P.) brought a closing to that era and we decided to drop it soon after in his honour.
The first single from the new project, ‘Silverhaze’ brings in some tasty Motown sounds and string samples, what do you look for in a song when it comes to sampling?
That record in particular was brought to my house in around ’07 by Sconey (a well-known b-boy and vinyl collector), and the sample sat on my laptop for years, I tried to flip it a couple of times and never thought I did it justice until recently. Occasionally a sample like that will come and I’m just putting drums over the top of the original song because it needs heard...but usually I’m trying to disguise my samples and compile them to a sort of sound collage and make something new, so I’m looking out for warm tones and textures in a record. I’ve found a lot of “world” music and old soundtrack records have what I like to sample, although I’ve sampled stuff from krautrock to happy hardcore
Who are some underrated beatmakers that you have been listening to while recording Scrapt Chapters?
The likes of Noize Thievery, Bethaniens Dust, Steve Loc from Belfast and stuff from beatmakers like Repeat Pattern, Ras G, Dibia$e, Lord Beatjitzu... stuff from labels like Nekubi and Narcorpses... Madlib and DOOM had been getting played a lot, all underrated imo
You like to bring out physical copies of your releases, what can we expect for this one?
Its coming out on Ill records and I think they’ve got an idea to do it in a tin CD holder which sounds pretty cool. I think it makes a difference when u can hold a physical copy of the music before you play it, it doesn’t just exist in digital
How do you see the future of hip-hop in Belfast looking and do you think it’s important that younger artist know the history of the local scene?
The next generation should know where they’re coming from for reference. Hip hop in Belfast is going to grow without a doubt and there will always be an underground scene there too, there’s a lot of talented artists here so I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what’s coming out next.