SciFi Stu is a producer hailing from Scotland that we featured several times on Word Is Bond and if you are a regular you have definitely heard about him before. Collaborating with a lot of independent American MCs, he offers that “golden era” sound with a twist. Infusing his music with carefully selected samples that range from soul to jazz, he creates beautiful soundscapes that constitute the perfect backdrop for lyricists to excel. His latest album, BLOOD, was released back in March and was yet another confirmation of his talent. Featuring artists like John Robinson, Ill Poetix, Wrecking Crew, D-Strong and many other Word Is Bond favourites, it constitutes a modern classic in my opinion. Not one to rest on his laurels, SciFi Stu also created the group Tha Soul Circle, with Fresh Sly and Supreme Sol, and is preparing to release a best of called The Ultimate Collection. After having been a fan of his music for a long while, I am now very happy to present this interview, where SciFi Stu tells us about his signature sound, working mainly with US artists, social networking and more.
First of all, for people who are not familiar with you and your music, could you introduce yourself?
I am SciFi Stu a hip hop producer based in Edinburgh, Scotland. I have released music through US labels Domination Recordings & Digi Crates Records.
Your music has a distinctive 90s hip-hop type of sound, with a modern twist. Do you mainly listen to music from this period? Is it also a way for you to educate younger people to what hip-hop was in its early days?
I listen to quite an eclectic mix of music nowadays. I enjoy indie rock stuff, modern classical as much as Hip Hop. When I listen to hip hop it’s generally a mix of 90’s with some modern stuff, there’s just so much new music to discover. I like to think that the funk/soul sound will always live on in Hip Hop, but for many kids growing up now they might never really know the ‘golden era’ sound and that’s sad. That being said, I think that people need to think for themselves first and foremost. The underground will always be here for people. Personally, I don’t make a conscious decision to pander to any particular group of listeners or to push a sound on them. If I can inspire people to dig deeper, that’s cool, but at the end of the day I turn on the sampler and make music that appeals to me.
You live in Scotland but collaborate with many MCs from the States on your albums. Is that a deliberate choice? Would you consider working with more artists from the UK or Europe?
When I first released my first beat demos the people who mainly responded were all from the US. I recorded a very early demo with a UK MC called Ed Scissortongue around 2008. It was cool and his lyrics were incredible. As time went on I got more and more requests from artists in the US and eventually I ended up with an album of US MC material. I’m currently working with Fresh Sly from Moldova and I’d certainly like to work with more European and UK talent in the future.
I like to think that the funk/soul sound will always live on in Hip Hop, but for many kids growing up now they might never really know the ‘golden era’ sound and that’s sad.
Your latest album, BLOOD, was released several months ago, to great acclaim from listeners and independent hip-hop press. How do you feel about this album and how it came out?
I listened to BLOOD recently and I was genuinely delighted at how it sounded. Today’s market is so over saturated that it is difficult to make a mark without heavy ($$$) promotion. Also the bootlegging thing is crazy. BLOOD was released on a Tuesday in March, by the Wednesday a Russian blog site had the album up for free with literally hundreds of downloads. Needless to say, BLOOD hasn’t made any money for me. But what does that mean? People would only listen to it for free? Obviously, SOME people bought it and hundreds more people downloaded it illegally so I assume it has some value in the world. It’s a hard time for indies and a confusing time for artists. That is for sure.
Something that you often mention is the relative lack of support from listeners and the difficulty to get your music heard by a wider audience. Do you feel social networking sites make it more difficult to share timeless and quality music?
The web is great and offers so much potential for an artist, but the flipside is that it is over-saturated. If you can negotiate your way round that, it’s really about how you market yourself.
Clearly, the internet got me where I am today (for better or worse!). I made all of my connections and collaborations through social media. I wouldn’t have been able to work with the calibre of artists that I have without it.
With the lack of support thing. It’s more about the fact that I can’t really gauge how many listeners I have or how they are reacting to the music. I can’t really tell if an album I have released has reached out to a new audience or has made any impact at all. Feedback is important I suppose.
Have you ever been to the States and/or would you consider travelling there, maybe for a tour with artists you collaborated with? If so, what would be your favourite destination?
Yes, I have been to New York, it’s a cool place. I’d love to do a tour of the US one day. I’ve collaborated with artists from all over, but I’d like to start with a tour down the East coast through Boston, NYC and NJ to Florida.
I listened to BLOOD recently and I was genuinely delighted at how it sounded. Today’s market is so over saturated that it is difficult to make a mark without heavy ($$$) promotion.
What is the latest album, hip-hop or otherwise, that blew you away and why?
Right now I am listening to Bill Evans Explorations. Love that album. Hip Hop wise Marvellous Mag’s recent album was really great.
Anything more to add?
Finally, I want thank my listeners and supporters. It may be difficult to pinpoint my support globally, but I am truly grateful for any support I get.