Dirty Hairy and I connected over the internets a few years ago, vibin on our similar tastes in old jazz records and classic 90s hiphop. Originally from Britain and now residing in Croatia, Dirty has been making crackin’ beats and spinning funk for a minute. Few producers I’ve come across anywhere, signed or unsigned, have perfected the jazzy 90s sound like Dirty (and his partner-in-crime, Ill Treats) in a non-corny, non-plastic way. The guy is a true musician. He’s also hilarious. I asked him a few questions and got some great (long) answers, so this is going to be a two-part interview. The beginning is below. I’ll be posting links to his music and mixes soon as well.
DJ Ian Head (IH): my man, whats the word?
Dirty Hairy (DH): Mums the word bro! Yo good to connect Ian, glad to checkin with you and open the door to cats connecting with me on the regular. I’m busy, building segregating the music that I construct into various projects and hoping to put some fresh sounds into the atmosphere for 2010. I’m not leaking too much on myspace these days, just archiving.
IH: talk about what inspired you to start doin this hiphop shit. did djing come first, record collecting, or production? or everything?
DH: Well, the ride took many twists and turns before settling into beats. I guess I started around 12, taking a huge interest in playing drums. My mum couldn’t afford to help me with buying a set, so I brought some drum sticks and used to set up my school books on my bed in the shape of a drum kit. Snare, toms, hi hat, crash, ride, and a large mutha fucking phone book for the kick drum under my foot.
I began (unknown to me then) studying the arrangements to whatever music I could get my hands on and teaching myself rhythm. Drumming to it loud from my stereo on the books. The school books got all fucked up and ripped from all the hits and teachers went mad! My father, was a casual record collector digging mostly reggae, and 70s rock and my mother was occasionally buying Soul records to add to his growing stack. We didn’t get a cd player in our house until like 1994.I just remember the turntable and that listening to the records was also quite a visual affair for a kid. Seeing it turn and being able to touch it yeah its nice. Once my mum guided me through some tone-arm etiquitte, I had the permission to operate the turntable at my own leisure.
I used to think it was Hilarious listening to shit like Booker T and the Mg’s on 45 and havin a little rub on the Paul Simon ‘Graceland ‘vocal parts..So I begged for gifts of music on many birthdays , and until the mid 90s , the format I got this music was in fact on vinyl. I guess I started off collecting. As time skipped by @ 13 I got me a paper round (1st legal job you can have in UK) , and starting buying my own records and cd’s. But like I say it was vinyl that I was always used to seeing and handling as a kid so it became a mission to track things down on vinyl, anything that I was listening to, and that extended from Jazz through grunge, electonica, hip hop, early 90s rave, techno and drum and bass.
Many jobs, drugs, and woman later,( I had the drum set ) and started gigging regularly with funk, jazz groups around the South of England (after playing rock and punk became boring at college.) With the little money we made , and the salary for whatever bullshit job I was doing at the time, I started to add equipment around the drums and put together a little bedroom studio.. notably a 4 track cassette recorder, microphones, acoustic guitar, keyboard, bass guitar, drum machine (Yamaha RY8, and boss sampler) I got me some cheap soundlab turntables and a bandridge mixer, with them punch in buttons for the scratchin hehehe (see Geoff Barrow on the Portishead DVD live in NYC using them to good effect) I took and still take drumming very seriously although I was self taught I was inspired by players like Steve Gadd, Harvey Mason, and Bernard Purdie. Eventually I got fed up of the politics of bands , people not turning up to rehearse and fucking about .The determination of self crept in and ideas that this equipment I was combining in my bedroom was enough instrumentation to be be really as wild as I could in recordings. It kinda pushed me unconsciously in to writing my own material and learning to use the equipment and instruments I brought to a pretty good standard. I worked on my drum programming, (Trying to simulate grooves I could actually play on the kit) then sampling, multi tracking guitar and percussion sections , and throwing in keyboard parts, layering etc.. I involved live instrumentation for long time and sampled the news, documentaries and adverts from the tv in my bedroom.
While this was happening , I was doing my best to adsorb all these new sounds coming out, mainly in hip hop, punk, grunge and new muiscal concepts arriving . I always found myself carefully watching the origins of hip hop in the form of resurfaced mid west and west coast funk, jazz from late 50s to early 80s. I was heavily influenced by my uncle (a tenor sax player and still the cat with the freshest jazz wax I know). Ill Treats and I even tampered with the underground grunge scene for a while when we first started working together @ 19 .. I’d take a riff , or concept in a structure in any music and see how I could adapt it to my own way , without being too blatent about where it came from.. I later applied that rule to sampling when I brought an mpc in 1996/97. From about there, I locked myself in my bedroom stopped playing the loops I was hooking up with live instruments, and studied vinyl and samples within it very intensely.
In the order, Collecting, producing, Dj’ing. I quit working with bands around 1998, and started dj’ing evenings of underground funk and hip hop in student bars around 1998/99 literally ramming it down peoples throats .. It took some adjusting in the delivery.
West coast hip hop seemed to get around more at the start of school, of course I rocked cassettes, of Ice Cubes Amerikkas most wanted, Funkdoobiest, and the Goats, No goats No glory … dope.. Then we switched to 2 live Crew, Sir Mix Alot, Chino Xl, de la ,Wu, and what ever we could get our hands on..(HHC , a very important UK British hip hop magazine) became a life line for what was happening in the hip hop world It became like a competition to see who could get the new shit.. No internet then.. haha bucks and a format ,no bucks ? the best you could get was a dubbed copy. Mp3s, non existent in the real world.
I got inspired by a few key things .Up to the age of 14, which I carried on through growth to this day. My mother would drive my brother and I around in the car to go and see relatives or go on some trip to the coast and we would all sing in the car. My mum , my brother and me. Normally , stuff like UB40 , Paul Simon, some reggae tapes and also she’d let me have a little time to play my cassettes in the car that I had compiled from the radio stations, kiss fm, John Peel, Tim Westward with some hip hop, or grunge , de la, Mudhoney,or Rob Bass and Ez Rock. Also stuff I had recorded from vinyl, Nas, Frankie Cutless, Common early albums. Inspiration also came from some compliments in the drumming days and early dj gigs from people I placed in high regard. So when I was coming up on the Dj’ing and production tip that gave me the confidence to continue and work hard at listening and thinking diffrently in my approach in music.
Also working with people that dont bullshit, or fuck around , when it comes to finishing , or deciding on something. That was inspiring. Like, “lets record a moment.” Lets make a product’. You down? Yeah lets do it! When I work with someone who thinks the same or similar and I can adjust to their wave length, or them to mine Inspiring. Straight up. That can be a golden moment. Thats why Ill Treats and I became so close, we think the same .If I listen to a hip hop track , he could tell you , what I like about it , and vice versa. Treats and I inspired and pushed each other to learn about what we could do with what the equipment we had and knowledge we took on, We where like musical sponges man looking everywhere to soak up the facts, the sounds, the techniques and acquire the music. In fact Treats and I where so open-minded and multi instrumentalled that we had stints of making, techno, drum and bass, and being inspired by groups like Fila Brazilia ,4hero,Daft punk, Cassius, just because we could make that music as good as the people that had records out. We just never had equipment to make it convincing or the connections to get us in the studio. Ill Treats is definitely handy on the bass man.. Cats got the funk , and I still hold the groove nice on the kit.
IH: what was the scene in britain like where you were? what was dope about it, what was frustrating?
DH: I’ve never been proud to be British, which is why I dont live there. Lets put that up on the shelf right now for everyone to point and stare at. For reasons I’m not going into because some ‘proud lion’ might read this and try and murder me. But good music is good music , and in the UK , there where moments of decent hip hop.. Just shit distribution… For a long period there where cats rapping in a US , accent which was just stupid ,very frustrating. Mike Skinner (Aka The Streets) was probably the last part of that generation which is no wonder no fucker signed him for like 5 years or somethin.. after recording some 3 demos and no interest? Can you even imagine that? the Streets ‘IN AMERICAN’…. ? As soon as he switched back to English started talking about tripping over the dog, vomiting from too much vodka, smoking a fag at the bus stop and drinking a cuppa tea, people started having multiple orgasms and singing his songs at football matches in UK. That was an embarrassing time.
But a brief rescuing period saw The British hip hop label Low Life records(started by Braintax) do some really interesting things in UK hip hop and often featured the more frequent use and mention of MPC’S,SP’s,s950s and nice samples in the music. That was fun for about 4 or 5 years. Nice to see labels Bad Magic, and Jazzfudge putting out some nice 12’s a bit too.. But its ALL that accent man. Yobby, lairy, hooligan like bullshit stolen, inherited ,adapted immigrated, London lingo.. All in the fucking accent ..If you ask 10 real fuckin hardcore British hip hop heads, dj’s ,fans about the state of British hip hop and what they think the majority will tell you .. WACK .Of course we should support our own hometurf, artists, musicans but if the message and music is dogshit why bother? dont feel obliged yo! your free to speak just like the rest of us.?
France and UK were similar for a long time in that they believed that their own domestic scenes were where hip hop started and ended and that is a very miseducated view. French scene has always been dope but c’mon son ‘ get the fuck outta here with that shit ‘ (Ed lover)..
Um dope moments for me? Brotherhood, early Herbaliser, Creators (first album sick production), Low life records for 1998 to 2004 releases, some nice 12’s and promo samplers kicking around. Lewis Parker first coupla albums, Phi Life Cyper, first album, Funky DL’s production , the occasional Harry love beat, Zebra Traffic label in Brighton, early crew Aspects, (from Bristiol) but the rest of it is the most boring souless shit I ever heard, I think Britain invented, grime and dubstep too ? So i’m Sorry about that.
IH: you made the move out to croatia. now your myspace bio is written in another language. has it been a fresh, new beginning for you?
DH: Croatia is a bit of secret in eastern Europe. A small country with only 4 million population(which is decreasing) Great culture, great people and a very strong independent nationaI was on a misson to track down Croatian relatives about 4 years ago, as I have a Croatian name and I am part Croatian through my grandfather. To cut a long story short, I met a solid lady married her and packed the studio up. I’ve been studying the language here which is extremely technical. But I’m trying to encourage the good dj’s I met to get into production and flex the mpc’s as well as music fans to become dj’s. The scene for hip hop here is strong in numbers, but not so consistent in quality. For diggin money and sandwiches I teach English to business students, and make a little dj money. I currently reside in the city of Zagreb with my wife, and yes I have all the record spots on lock down, (shoutouts to Tomislav at Freebird records, I’ll pay that 500kn soon for the last stack, I promise heheh) Smaller countries tend to have more realism about their lives thus making it a mellow place to live. Since the slow demise of Communism here I have to say I’m in agreement with most Croats that take the opinion of the westernization wave coming this way, doesn’t look to offer the better standard of life it boasts.
I traveled a decent amount and also lived in New Zealand for 2 years, it wasn’t hard to make that move as long as you stay positive and open in the mind to continue in what you love. It was just mad expensive shipping all of the vinyl and home studio out ha! It was a fresh start for like 3-6 months, but Croatia is my home now I feel comfortable amongst Croats and playing out here. And I am lucky to have really great friends around me. They (Croatians) really are great people
IH: talk about the get down collective. what are yall up to?
DH: TGDC, is really what I have been doing in the UK for most of my time as a dj. Once I figured I couldn’t ram indy hip hop down peoples throats, I started to go off on a deep funk mission around 1999 fascinated with Funk 45s, and owning most of the Jazzman records catalogue. It was more interesting to see peoples reaction playing out the original sampled version of a soul or funk track that was used in hip hop to give a friendly education in the form of fresh music, than dropping’ Smiff’n Wessun’ or ‘Freddie Foxx’ joints…Sometimes I would play the sampled version, then the og straight after and often I would get the nod, from listeners in the crowd. A little eye contact, kinda in a ‘oh yeah I see ‘ way.
I always got far more gigs in my life as dj spinning funk to be honest. I don’t really buy hip hop 12’s unless its super special, limited, or has a dope pella . So I have a lot of them ‘smelly funk ‘type of records.
IH: what are the records like out there?
DH: Records in Croatia are fascinating to me, and if I’m lucky enough to get literature on the record sleeve, I ask my wife to translate it whilst I listen to the music. You have to watch out on the popular RTB label (ex Yugoslavia/ Serbian, Belgrade label) Those pressings seem to be very very quiet and often too much bass (a bit like Wu tang 36 chambers album..Remember that? I dont know anyone with a good vinyl pressing of that. I got 3 and they all sound like shit.)..Anyhow Yugoton label, have the best pressings in fidelity as do the late ‘Croatian records’ that stopped pressing vinyl sometime in the late 90s. I cant remember if it was Yugoton or Croatian records that sold their vinyl cutting machine(one of the finest and only ones in Europe) to someone like Austria or Switizerland.
Problem is record store owners here like most places know the deal with people collecting, stockpiling, sampling or spinning the lost older music. Especially that funk, and Jazz, we (as vinyl fanatics) researched from an era and now we wanna revive for our own audiences. So prices are fucking ridculous. In Croatia we have Slovenia, Hungry, Serbia, Bosnia & Hercegovina, boardering us, so pieces arrive from those countries and different artists show up making it interesting. It’s totally not unheard of to even meet the dude in a bar on the coast here, that played vibes on that jazz album you just dug out. Less like those smug 7” pervert dudes from Stones Throw records going through phone books and harassing the widows of dead funk musicans. The price we pay for funk eh?.. Well. Smaller place, less diggers, easy pickings mate.
Records, in short, are great here, and although a little pricey at times, you can still find the 1 dollar treats.. You just gotta be clever and nice to the owners..
IH: lets get deeper with the records. what kinda diggin stories can you reveal?
DH: Man I dunno diggin stories. Theres a few occasions. one that sticks out was I brought a reissue by a group called the 3 Pieces (on some Donald Byrd production) in a city near London called Reading. It was the most extravagant purchase of the day at 10 pounds, amongst a coupla of 3 pound orange gatefold impulse bad boys.(btw ,Peace to DEV @ Soundmachine records) I only brought this record for dj’ing .Had no interest in sampling it and felt it had been visited before, but I’m open . Got home, huh? 2 records inside? it was a Jazz compilation, reissue, (not the album I thought I brought) but nice tracks, Coltrane, Nat king, Pharoah Sanders, Courtney Pine. I thought ok.. So I’m not desperate for that record and I aint gunna mention it on the next trip to the store. Ill just pick it up some other time.
Three Years later I’m in New Zealand digging in a flea market in Palmeston North(North Island) and I come across a mint OG copy, that someone clearly, brought over or ordered from USA and abandoned in this flea market. (This time I checked to see if the record was in the jacket. It was. Dope!) I Picked up the album for 1 dollar, checked the cat number, later.. all good, all sweet, and just the most incredible fidelity. Nice album nice find. I think Shadow flipped a break on there If you had found it first you would have flipped it too. But a real listenable lp.. That can be the coincidental side of diggin that makes it fun. I had many rare and great Jazz diggs in Snoopers Paradise in Brighton UK, coltrane mono pressings, obscure Italian jazz, trios..Snoopers are a place which definitely keep the wax on rotation. The goal is how cheap can it be ?, I’m a huge trader of records these days so if the dig is planned I take some doubles and things to trade., I’m certainly not pre occupied with how big my collection is .. I got allot of records I’m not attached too so therefore I would rather loose them if I cant use them. I’d rather have 3000 dope records than 9000 ok ones.
I dont even like to call myself a digger , maybe a true school in the crates kinda guy but even that makes me sound like a dick. More a fanatic and collector. I mean I do that sample hunting stuff, and have for maybe 10 years but I dont make it the basis for buying records. I aint gotta boast about breaks, or that i’m ‘ fuckin deep in the dusty crates’ .. Fuck that.. The best beatmakers in the world dont have splashed all over their websites and myspace pages .. YO I’M DEEP IN THE CRATES SON, FINDING THAT DUSTY SHIT AND THE RARE BREAKS … fuck that shit .. Why you gotta talk about that?
The people that got that on the myspaces, twatters and Fistbook pages I’M THE DEEPEST DIGGER IN THE WORLD WITH THE FRESH BREAKS traveling with my handtrax, Seriously, man check em out? They aint doing nothin ! fo real..
DIRTY HAIRY: ”For real? why you got an MPC then bro? why are you into hip hop? you fucking looser, I’m out, hope your a manager at Burger King one day”
Anyway, I digress. I found some nice pieces during my excavating, and if it hasn’t been used then I’m puttin on the MPC.., I dunno whether to list records I scored or leave it there ?.. I’ll leave it? I never pressure myself on a dig , I’m never specifically looking for samples. hats just one reason. You can spin it out live, sell it on if you already have a copy, enjoy it, learn from it or study it. Its all information, like a book.
IH: what is the food like in croatia?
DH: Really very good, the quality of meats, cheeses and breads alone, is pretty mindblowing. My wife’s family make their own sausages, and wine which is quite exceptional. Not many vegetarians here hahah..biiiiiiig meat eaters. They make crazy things with pastry and street bakeries that can run up until 12 at night. Google these: ‘ Cevapi’ , Burek, Strukli, Mlinci, Kulen if your traveling to Croatia, or curious… All very good, They love soup before a meal, lunch at 12 and because of the stunning coastline, fish is pretty darn popular so you must get envolved. On Christmas eve, no one in Croatia should eat meat. Only fish.
Croatians are resourceful, there are markets with fresh fruit and veg literally everywhere man! They are big on homemade produce, like I said cheeses, wines, and love these herbal concoctions of their native drink rakia, the plum version a favourite of mine, Sljivovica. Get on it.
IH: you’ve always been a true school cat. it’s 2009, and things are changing, good and bad. what are the fundamentals you strive to live by? or have you changed your outlook on certain stuff?
DH: Sir thank you for that compliment. Very large, I apply the rules I live by, into music. Which are mainly honesty, expression, feel, and working with what I have. Also learning, and being open to change –through growth..I dont get distracted trying to understand what I want in life , I just make sure I deal first to things I dont want. To the industry of hip hop and the advancements it takes, (and regarding my Grab serato blog) I accepted the change on my outlook in technology thus, an obvious change in the sounds and, the general esthtetic of hip hop .. What bugs me is the fakers… For me the things in my life, that I really love, ya know ? really fuckin dig I just have to know about where they or it came from. I feel its because it gives me a greater understanding of why I like it and what it actually is or where it could go?.Whilst I dont need that as some form of closure but more for my own learning, I hate fake fuckers that jump into hip hop and start messing around with shit they dont care to educate themselves on .Too quickly they start posting up youtube videos and beats, saying shit like ” beats for sale” the hottest producer in UK, or whatever. Cats that dont even really know what it is that they are doing .. C’mon the fuck on .. If you dont respect, understand, educate and acknowledge where something you love came from you dont deserve any success from it. Your just another ‘I-need-to-associate-myself-with-a-style’ because I have no soul, mutha fuckin-cheater-funk-faking-waste of space and you belong in the trash bin with spunky tissues and banana skins. Get the fuck outta here. Of course hip hop is gunna change and has changed, the music is gunna sound different the clothes we wear, labels, videos, new hot emcees, and dope producers. Thats what growth and change is, but why have the rules for respect and regard within our culture changed? I grew up, fairly well adapted, to adjust and progress in myself as well as staying balanced and realistic within my musical moves. I love change ‘ but the old things, still have that honesty man” .. Are we still all being honest here? I just feel like, technology, not just in music in everything makes us lazy and the concept is snow balling. Remember when we had no remote controls for our TV sets? We had to get our asses off the couch to switch channel? You see, it started small. Look where we are now. I can order a pizza off my cell phone for fuck sake and I dont have to talk to anyone.
IH: how important do you feel are records to hiphop?
DH: Referencing my ‘Grab serato’ blog once again I mentioned that records are the music catalyst, the driving instrument for Hip Hop. How important are they? more important than emcees if you ask me… If records had never been invented, there wouldnt be any hip hop. No Vinyl –No Hip Hop. If you call yourself a hip hop producer and you aint packing some wax? your nothing …. Producers dont have to sample wax EVERY time, but remember there is still music out there that isnt on the net, or cd? only wax. And if someone finds it and puts it onto the internet. Thanks, thanks a bunch for yet again makin it easier for inexperienced diggers. So think twice. go on. take a risk go find it, hold it smell it, read the cover, find albums by the musicians on the lp’s .Thats hip hop right there.
IH: what’s the status of dirty treats these days?
DH: Dirty Treats is like an audio adventure. Treats has a bunch of stuff we did, I have a bunch of stuff we did. We’re both nesting on about 15 tracks, we had a deal lined up people interested, distribution and stuff like that, big emcees hitting us up We had enough for an LP that would have made people involved in UK hip hop alone shit themselves..Due to financial crisis on my part, jobless for 2 months + some expensive living conditions and complications, our stressful jobs and expenses over ran the work rate and we put it in storage. Let it be known, its absolutely nothing personal for the record. I know alotta cats talking shit on myspace or whatever. Treats has always been and always will be my best friend. We pushed each other so hard to get to where we’re at and we talk every few weeks (since I’ve been living in Croatia). The shit we got, is not comparable to any other UK hip hop..Its tooo dope (And believe me, we’re very humble non ego driven chaps!!) we studied what we’re up against. We decided that we should take time out to live and be good boyfriends, husbands to our significant others. Also because we’re making no money from it (yet) we needed breathing space. DirtyTreats, will have an official released at some point. (probably there wont be prior notice, it will just arrive, in peoples faces and you’ll email us for the vinyl because its fresh, organic and honest hip hop). It comprises of an evolution of friendship, experience, ability and skill. Theres a Dollabin remix thats gunna shock folks, we got tucked away and some bits with some solid wordsmiths we connected with via the old space.. But fear not . We both got a lot to say musically, and he’s my brother. I’m the reason he owns an Mpc, and he’s the reason I own an s950.Its all love. Sorry the status? Metaphorically docked in the harbour of beats, marinating in the meat locker, -Or on hold.
IH: anything else?
DH: Well firstly Ian, thanks a bunch for all your dope monthly mixtapes. I’ve played them at parties, put people onto the dolla, spread the word and I believe that your music, demonstrates some real wisdom and abilty in the crates, with samples and beats. I know you flex the software route in your music, but you are the freshest for your set up. I can hear that not much gets past you in hip hop. Also the connection you have with Math feels like a brothahood through the Dolla tracks..Your using technology to your advantage, (its here for all of us of course) but you implement experience and knowledge of hip hop and records in your approach. I really Fucking Dig it. Also thanks for all of the music you have put out to the world, Styles you Cant afford, Pieces, Reborn Soul, One more Crate and all the digi singles.
Secondly thank you to anyone that I worked with musically, and for everyone everywhere that gave me a listen on the music weather you thought it was dope or dogshit. If your reading this and thinkin Dirty Hairy sounds like an ok geezer. Thanks a bunch your right. I aint that bad. Respect someone for speaking their mind rather than whether you agree with it or not..I’m always trying to develop on beats because I love it yo!I hope if you hate it one day I’m sure I’ll have at least one beat you dig !
Maybe if we concentrated on signing decent artists and put some money into distribution, your hard drives wouldnt be filled up with 50% bullshit music you never listen to and dont even fucking understand. Please . If it makes you feel better call yourself a music fan, but you aint shit You dont understand music. Music is a luxury, like food and clothes.. You pay for food right ? If you want it, pay for it? No one gives me free clothes, food, or an internet connection. Why should music be any different. ? Its you, the corporate record labels, and the concent you feel technology has given you that is fuckin up not just the Hip Hop scene, but the music industry. Go clean a toilet.
shout outs to people you need to check on myspace or the internet period all these cats, work hard make good music and keep me inspired and stay true: Brassik (UK South),Ill Treats,(The Freshest-UK, Brighton)Dj Chill (the illest -Croatia, ZG)Dj Big Sale(The Biggest-Croatia,ZG,) Edo Maajka(Croatia),Drumatic,(Philidelphia)Need Not Worry(Rhode Island),Frank Costa(UK Brighton),OMC-(Brighton UK)So Called Musicans,(Seattle)Ear Drumz the Metrognome(seattle),Mac the Barber(Puma Strut),Mr Krum(UK South),I,Nat Lover,Jenkins,IllySpillaz and DJ 2040(New Zealand)Praverb The Wyse(Virginia)Lakai the useless(Arizona),Charade the red comet(Arizona),Parable Paul(Arizona),Glad2mecha,(Arizona)The Clurk(Colorado)Salmon River Project and Dusty Rhodes(Oregon)El Chavo(Spain)Dj Keor (France),Mike Cutler & Psuedo Intelectuals(Buffalo,NYC)Flam & Staffro/Recluse Crew(Finland)Feelstyle(Samoa)Low Budget(Australia)