Buddy Peace

Hip-Hop Core: Introduce yourself? Tell us where you grew up and how you have been introduced to the wonderful world of hip hop?

Buddy Peace : I'm Buddy Peace, but you may know me as Nick. Or Budd. Or Flashy Molasses. Any of those. They all work! I work in an independent record store called Banquet Records (we are the only one in the world!) in Kingston, just outside London, where I handle various parts of the general hip hop and electronics areas within the shop - although we stock a huge range of genres. That's my area though. I've always lived in the UK, more specifically, the southern end of the country. I was born by the coast in Brighton but moved to the greater London area when I was about 3. I stayed in that area since and that's where I grew up and live now. No real great departures or anything – it's cool, I like how there are loads of pieces of history – mine and the family – at these various parts of town. There is so much going on in and around London and in the Kingston area too, and it's a really dope place to be. There are really tight and strong scenes here – the indie/punk scene here is testament to that – it's a very friendly and inspiring group of people, and so positive.

But that's not really what you wanted to know at this point! Ha, I trailed off.
Well, my first introduction to hip hop was when my dad got back from filming a documentary out in the South Bronx, back in 1984. He told me he played me some raw Bronx hip hop he picked up and I was really into it! I vaguely remember – it must have stayed in there somewhere though. I remember dancing with my brother to some Double D & Steinski back around '85 on our little bedroom radio. Fun times – he got me into hip hop and DJing in general – I definitely have him to thank for so, so much of what I am doing now. He's called DJ Budd.

HHC: I understood that you were working for a shop called Banquet Records. How is it like to live surrounded by records everyday? Don't you go mad, like wanting to buy half of it or something?

BP: Yeah that's right – I've been working there for just over five years now. So much has changed inside the shop and out, and there are so many stories to tell. There is a very deep history to the shop – from way before the current crew worked there and since we all started at various points over the last 5 or 6 years. We are very proud, and it's getting busier all the time. You're totally correct about the vinyl though – DJs who work in record shops must be crazy! I remember when I started – I had little or no wages for months at first, seriously. I had huge bags of reserved records and come the end of the month I'd be financially ruined! It works well though. If people ask what a record is or something after I played I can point them to the shop which is good – and it helps keep communications open a little more too. It's cool, it can go side by side pretty well.
But yes – it is a very tempting environment and one that will leave weaker willed folks financially crippled. But in the sweetest way possible.

HHC: Let's talk about the first thing that you were reckoned for : your mixes. What were your early influences for complex mixes of this kind, or djs that did influence you? Also, it seems so meticulously built, how do you operate to keep everything in mind, and have a global judgement on the whole? How much time do you spend on it?

BP: It's been a pretty long journey but there are certainly elements that I can point out along the route that changed a lot for me, in terms of how I wanted my mixes to sound and how I went about them. Obviously the first mixes and tracks I got into were the regular track-blend-track-scratch section-and so on mixes from the old days, which were always dope to listen to, of course, but I think it was around the time of DJ Faust's 'Man Or Myth', those Bomb Records 'Return Of The DJ' compilations and DJ Babu's 'Comprehension' when I started to think, damn, this is how I want to hear mixes from this point on. The seed was definitely sewn many years earlier though around 1993 with an old DJ Riz mix that I'm searching for to this day… The one with Chris Isaak on. But anyway, from then on I was a fiend for the cut up and layered up mixes, and then when I heard Mr Dibbs' 'Turntable Scientifics' and DJ Signify's 'Mixed Messages' that was it, there was no turning back. Same with Jel and Dibbs' 'Presage' set (production and cuts with a conspiracy theory theme!). I realized that there were in fact no boundaries but the ones you set yourself and you could really fit in a lot of you own influence and energy into the confines of the regular mixtape. There was room for everything! As long as it wasn't just pure random nonsense – which can work at times, don't get me wrong – but as long as there was some thought behind it, you could weave in and work in all kinds of elements and personal finds and digs and whatnot.

The way I see my mixes these days is kind of how I always have. Basically, I started out making cassettes back in 1994, the ones where you'd either have a rough idea or just go off the top and rock 'em in one take. Sometime around 2002 I got a computer which allowed me to make multitrack mixes, which – rather than let me cheat – allowed me to put a lot more into the mixes than just the one-shot cassettes did. I still love cassettes but sometimes you need more. So I figured out how to use a multitrack program and that was it. I have certain ways I do things though – like mixing records by ear where possible. I've been DJing since 1993 and I can do a lot, so I try and keep that element shining through in the mixes. The only time I let the computer do the work is on production tracks and the occasional acapella that isn't on vinyl. But otherwise the mixes and cuts are all by ear and as live as I can get them. I don't restrict myself ridiculously rigidly though – I mean, sometimes a little interference can sound great, but they are pretty much my basic rules if you like.

In terms of the global feel of the mixes, well I usually start with an idea and work to the left or right of it! It starts and then I'll either carry on, or go backwards from it, or just add more layers. It really depends. Whatever's clever! And I usually spend a fair bit of time, sometimes a couple of weeks, occasionally a month or more, but depending on what I'm using in them it varies greatly. One mix I'm working on now involves acapellas woven around beats from the MPC which all link in really deeply but it's taking over a year so far!!! It's ridiculous. It's sort of a side project but I've been really taking my time on it – I'll reveal it soon though, definitely. I'm really looking forward to unveiling it.

HHC: The other typical aspect of your mixes are the handmade artwork, with graff styles.. are you an active graff writer?

BP: Haha, not really – the first time I tried graf writing on a wall I got caught! I was alright but I sucked at being chased. I gave up. That was when I was 14. I do still sketch on paper though and I still keep that side up. I really love most kinds of art and graffiti, when performed with imagination and diversity, can be a beautiful thing to witness. But yeah, most art in general is very appealing to me – it can influence so much more than just the visual side. And when it comes to the hand drawn element of my mixes I just like to offer a little something else after the mix if you know what I mean – like the mix is the personal music aspect and then I like to think that each one was finished with that personal touch. I've always done it that way and there are a lot of other ideas I want to try out in that respect. I just love hand made packaging and it really does give something else to the release. Well, most of the time. It's just a nice touch sometimes.

HHC: The mixes are all about records, so let's talk about cratedigging and record collection... How do you manage your monthly record budget (especially with all the new stuff you can grab at your shop)? Do you spend time cratedigging or netdigging? What are the records you are the most proud of, and the most priced items you own?

BP: It's hard to say how much I spend monthly – I mean it used to be hundreds sometimes but that was when I was living with not much rent or bills so times for crate digging and record purchasing were more plentiful. I went a little nuts from time to time – everyone does now and again. Although I did it on many occasions… Got some lovely bits and pieces from some of the expeditions though, the crates have often been good to me! I made mistakes but you have to to get what you want and to get your senses honed. I don't have like these huge lists of breaks I need to find or anything – I usually go by instinct and I do have certain criteria I apply to what I get hold of, if it's not hip hop or new stuff. But these days, what with more bills and higher ones at that, and rent drama, the crates need to be more strictly and prudently refined. It's all good though, it makes you hone those senses a little better and you build up a tolerance for the less good stuff so usually what you get is well chosen. It's not a bad way to be. So these days it's probably a couple of hundred or so at the most I would say. Give or take. We have a little budget at the shop too which helps.

As for time spent digging – I do my thing but as with the money issue, I don't spend probably quite as much time as I once did. But I try and keep it up as often as possible. There are always prizes to be found and great records to be scooped when the time is right so I try and keep up on it when possible!
I don't download stuff – I have no problems with legal downloads or anything, I just don't do it myself. I might check some free stuff here and there just to get an idea but usually when I like stuff I make sure I have a copy. I sometimes buy things online but usually second hand and older stuff that is harder to get, stuff that I have had on my mind for a while! But I prefer the physical element everytime. I know people always say it but you just cannot beat the hands on element – even just the people you meet along the way, the journey, the people you go with – it all comes into it and you may even have some mad experiences that you can then channel into the music – it all comes into play.

HHC: I had this discussion with an old local techno dj that wanted to stop buying vinyls despite his huge collection, and invest in some cd turntables. Is that something you'd do?

BP: Hell no!!! No way. I don't get that. I've heard about people doing that before but have always regretted it. I mean, when people sell their collections. But it's different strokes though really isn't it – some people can't get with how much space it takes up, and even the surface noise can get to some people when they've used CDs for mixing with. But whatever, I don't think I could do something like that. I do like CD turntables though – they can be very useful for cutting with CD only stuff and you can put your own stuff onto CD to use too. You can do that with Serato I guess as well but they are good as additional tools.

HHC: You're the official dj for Lex Records and you did this mix for Warp.. How did the connection happened? What about Bully Records and the 7inch you did for them?

BP: It's been a long journey and it was quite a while ago when the Lex involvement first happened. My friend James Nicols was working at Warp, and the way Warp was back then (and still is pretty much I believe) was all open plan – James would play my mixes on the stereo which I was always really happy about. I love that kind of stuff – it's great to hear that they get play in places like that. Well at that time Tom Brown was operating Lex out of the Warp office, and he was into the mixes so I gave him some from the back catalogue to check out. That was that really – we stayed in touch and he asked me to play at some of the Lex shows. It was completely incredible for me and it still makes me say “damn” whenever I think about it. Some of the people I got to play alongside were, and still are, heroes of mine. At that point I'd been listening to the Anticon and west coast side of hip hop stuff for a lot of years, and I was definitely all up into it at that point. It was a really exciting time, when all these connections with bands and artists were going on things were just generally pretty surprising and refreshing. I got to play with some of these people and it blew me away. At that point Sage Francis was involved with Lex too with the Non Prophets stuff, and I'd been in contact with him for a bit too. He's such an ace fella and certainly one of my undisputed favourite artists so to be able to see him more was a great experience. There have been so many more beside that though, and it's been amazing being able to work with a label that I enjoy so much.

The Warp connection was a follow on from that really, and that was something that happened with my friend Zilla. We were asked to make the mix together which made total sense, and from then we got a few DJ sets and related musical work which was really good for both of us.

The Bully connection was similar – Bully has always put out music that I have instantly fallen in love with. It's a label that needs no explanations when it comes to releases, you just know what you're going to get and what it's about. From the first release with Sixtoo and Matth it was just raw, atmospheric and very banging. I put that on a mix straight away and it was like that ever since! It was cool because there was Sixtoo involvement from day one as well, and Controller 7 was on board too which was dope as he is a real good buddy. Signify was also down too and he made one of my all time favourite mixes (Mixed Messages) so I knew that Bully was going to be a label I would get on with well! At a point in 2005, the head of Bully, Marco, invited me to make the megamix and I was insanely amped about it – it was something I'd been wanting to do for ages, and I'd always listened to Bully stuff with that kind of thing in mind. How I would put it all together – I'm sure I would have done it at some point anyway! But it was an amazing opportunity to tear apart the music I love so much and I really had fun with it. I am definitely highly honoured to have worked, and to continue working with labels such as these – it's the best thing to be on board and I hope that it continues!

HHC: Now let's talk about your latest big project, the huge Commonwealth Kids mix with Carlo. Tell us the whole story behind it and how you met Carlo? How did you build the mix between the UK and Canada?

BP: This started way back in 2005 too… I met Carlo when he was on a brief visit of the UK. It may have been a tax evasion issue, maybe he was on the run from the feds and some gnarly stuff back home, I didn't ask questions. I left it to my imagination. But it was an awesome chance to meet someone I had listened to on Bully and who I knew was equipped with that Canadian heat at all times. We met up in Leicester Square station and took a little journey round town. I don't tend to go in for the sightseeing stuff to tell you the truth and I don't think I offered perhaps the best tourist experience I could have but I can tell you that we got some weird records and I think Carlo hooked himself up with some exotic booze so it was a good meeting. We stayed in contact and eventually got on the topic of mixes – it was the natural thing to do and we decided on a back and forth relay style mix. He started, sent me the section, I followed on, and we batted back and forth in this fashion. It was so dope not being restricted with time issues (we couldn't be really, post from here to there isn't always the swiftest) and we really did whatever we wanted. We have really similar interests and pretty similar styles too so it meshed together real well. It took a while and we made a few changes along the way, and got the artwork and stuff together (which he assembled out there) and eventually we dropped our mix. We are very proud and the reaction has been really amazing so far. It really is unbeatable to have made something with a good friend and to have had such an encouraging reaction. It was a labour of love and we are like two proud fathers. Umm, only not in a relationship, I mean. You know what I mean. I hope we can get another one together soon – we will do, but all in good time. It costs a fair bit as well getting it all together. We'll see. Looking forward to it though! We produce and deejay in our own time so we spend time on our own music too, but it's good that way as the next time we come together on something we'll have more ideas and different perspectives. We definitely have frameworks and early ideas in place though. The commonwealth grows stronger…

HHC: You recently won the remix contest for Subtle's Mercury Craze. Is that the beginning of you being a producer for a whole album or something?

BP: Hey that was amazing. I didn't expect to win, so it was just incredible to receive that news. I approached the remix in a slightly different way to how I normally produce, but I'm really pleased with how it came out – I love Subtle so much, and just about everything that Doseone and Jel turn their hand to, so to have them and the guys enjoy it means an incredible amount to me. And they sent me some sick stuff too! Haha. The back catalogue and one of the 'For Hero: For Fool' games that Dose made. Amazing. I've been getting involved with remixes and whatnot for years now, and I've been working on ideas for a full length for a long time too. I'd truly love to have involvement with Bully Records again – I make sure I get everything on Bully as a matter of course, being a label that you always put your complete trust in. That doesn't happen all the time and when it does, you know you've found something special. There are a couple of other labels that I will be working with in the future though, including the SRL (Suburb Record Label) imprint – a sister label of the super electronic label AI, and also a label that my friend Chris aka Lyrics Porn has set up called '2600 Recordings'. I have a lot of ideas for future music and so many things I would like to try out too, and people who I am absolutely dying to work with, but I don't always find my time management to be what it should be. It will happen, definitely, but I just need to really get my head down and make it so. But yeah, in answer to your question – you will see some Buddy produce very soon!!! I promise. I just made a remix for Bracken too which you may hear soon – Bracken are a superb group on Anticon, with one of the fellas from Hood on vocals on production and two other extraordinarily talented guys in there too. It was a pleasure to be a part of a project like that. Bracken are amazing.

HHC: I noticed that many of the records you use in your mixes are from artists more or less close to the Anticon galaxy... What's the importance of this label in your influences?

BP: What I realized about Anticon (and other closely/loosely related labels like Def Jux, Mush and Rhymesayers – and I can't forget the really early stuff from Anticon on the 45 Below label!) after a LOT of listening, was how much it had in common with traditional 90's hip hop – like the 'jeep' music and boom bap kind of stuff as well as the rhyme styles too. While many would seem to write it off as 'art fag' music or hip hop that was trying to be too clever, I never really saw that. What struck me first was how dope the production was, and at that point in the emcee styles I was hearing styles which were very much in line with the early 90's (and later) West Coast emcees, like Hieroglyphics, Freestyle Fellowship and Saafir (and crew), and also at that point the Quannum collective was starting to make a lot more noise too. I never saw the style as trying to sound clever or intimidate people – I just heard a forward thinking style of hip hop that could happily sit beside the hardcore and perhaps more conventional styles too. Well, within reason perhaps, but there were connections and you could hear the influence. Emcees like Buck 65, Sixtoo, Sage Francis – and the rest of the gang, like Doseone, Sole and Pedestrian and so on – they were coming with a long history of amazing music and a clear love for dope hip hop music (and so much that I love from the old days), but also with a love for so much music outside of the conventional borders too. Buck 65 and Sixtoo were making straight up raw shit and some very powerful productions which from the outset could sound like some hard, raw Shadow stuff or just thumping headphone beats, but on closer inspection you'd hear all these complicated loops and layers that were so far removed from regular funk and soul loops and chops. It was a very exciting time, and it really got my mind working – I started to see how I could incorporate all these other styles of music I enjoyed into what I was doing. It changed a lot for me back then and it continues to do so. All these people and labels I mentioned – they still form a regular part of my listening diet and influence me so much. I have a lot to thank them for. I always check for what folks are doing at the moment and what is coming out in the future, and this kind of music is always changing and reinventing itself. There is always inspiration to be had, and people coming out with amazing stuff to enjoy. You just have to stay alert! I'd like to take this opportunity to thank absolutely everyone whose music I have involved on my mixes and tracks, and everyone who has formed a part of my listening experiences.

HHC: I couldn't avoid this one : what's your opinion about the current state of the uk hip hop scene?

BP: It's really strong, very powerful indeed. Some people talk about the scene as a whole, but it is now so diverse and splintered that you can't describe it all as a whole. You'll miss a lot out. I started off on early groups like Gunshot, the emcee Blade, Overlord X (haha, he was dope – the UK Chuck D!), Katch 22, Demon Boyz, Hijack – all those guys, and their style was just full on, hardcore rough and rugged drum heavy savagery. Seriously, these guys were on some ridiculously tough shit back then! I'm hearing quite a lot of this influence in much UK hip hop to this day – but it's really moved on a lot since then, of course. I just mean that there has always been a slant towards to rawer side with a lot of it. I really like what Jehst, Mr Thing & Yungun, P Brothers, Herbaliser, , DJ Vadim, Roots Manuva and Mark B are doing, but then there are folks like 2tall and Waxfactor (and the Needlework label) who are making some of the sickest and most thought provoking hip hop I've ever heard. I would thoroughly recommend that anyone who hasn't yet heard what they are doing to check them out. I want to shout them out anyway as I am fortunate enough to be able to call them my friends but really, their music is amazing. So I would say that while I don't hear everything that goes on in the UK, what I do listen to is very inspiring and there is just so much to enjoy. I always think it can happily sit side by side with the US and worldwide stuff too (you just need to look at the Mark B and Delta release to see that – Delta is a brilliant emcee from Australia and Mark B is from London), so it's just a great scene to be a part of and enjoy. It's very encouraging.

HHC: What about your future projects?

BP: I've got a lot of stuff going on and a lot I need to get going on – some of this is nearing completion but some is a little way off. I'm quite a detail-obsessed nerd with this shit so it can take a little time. It's not always the best way to be but I know that way that I'll be happy with it and happy for other people to hear it. I'm working on a mix right now that has taken like over a year to get to near-finished point, but it has a lot of sampler usage and layers – it's sort of sitting there waiting for me to chip away at while I'm working on other stuff. But it's cool, you'll hear that soon enough. I hope. Damn. Really need to finish that! Otherwise, I hope to get something done with a good friend of mine and absolutely sick emcee called Anonjondoe – it's something that we've been talking on for a while now but it will surely happen soon. He really is one of the dopest guys I've heard for a while, and a really good friend. I hope to work more with Waxfactor too, as we have some ideas in the vaults for future material – I can't wait to hook that up. Same with Dr Rubberfunk – we hope to be making some rough and rugged old skool style hip hop very soon! Haha, looking forward to that. And it goes without saying but there's the Carlo project that we will be starting very soon too. But as for my solo stuff – like I said, just a matter of time. Moves are being made, and when things are tightened up and nearing completion I will make a lot of noise about it, promise. I'm really excited about bringing it out. I hope folks enjoy it.

HHC: Alright that's it. Thanks a lot for your patience.. Any last word/shout outs?

BP: Absolutely! Always got shoutouts and last words! I want to thank you loads for the chance to speak about this stuff and for letting me get that self promo action on – haha, it means a lot and you've definitely got me thinking about a lot. I'd like to send a public display of love to my girlfriend Sophie, the woman responsible for changing my life in ways I never though possible and for inspiring me so much since we first hooked up (and before). I'll save the rest for our personal time but I just wanted to send some love here while I can! Utmost props and respect to all the fam at Banquet Records, always. I am lucky and fortunate to be a part of the crew and it has become an incredible place. My boss Jon Tolley has put in an incredible amount into turning the place into so much more than a record shop, as has my man Mike Smith, and with everyone else on board (including my flatmate and drone-core sparring partner Drewski), it has become something bigger than I ever thought possible. And it continues. So with the last space I have here, permit me to bigup Banquet and just say stop by www.banquetrecords.com to browse our online wares at your leisure. And if you find yourself in Kingston, come by the shop. You'll be most welcome.

Interview by Pseudzero
June 2007

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