Interview: Scroobius Pip

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Scroobius Pip is one half of the chart-topping hip-hop duo dan le sac vs Scroobius Pip. The duo are set to play Eastbourne Goes Live‘s (a new musical project to promote live music in Eastbourne) first show at the Winter Gardens on April 30th. As the lyricist, Scroobius Pip writes in an honest and direct manner, leaving out the hedonistic and instead aiming for the raw and heavy. We talked about his approach to making music in the digital age.

 

There’s a song on the latest album (Repent Replenish Repeat) called Stiff Upper Lip. It seems to question the role on technology and democracy. How important is technology for you as a musician and a human being?
As a musician, it’s absolutely huge. From the fact that Dan works off a laptop and builds all of our music off of it. We wouldn’t have our career if it wasn’t for YouTube, and Facebook and all of it. Those outlets are absolutely essential to get our releases and everything else out there.

 

And how about as a human being? Do you ever get sick of it – digital fatigue?
Completely. The song is addressing the fact that it’s wonderful that people seem more politically aware now but I think we’re probably at the lowest point of people actually being politically active. It’s so easy now to just retweet or post a Facebook thing that says if this gets a million shares then David Cameron has to live on £50 a week or something like that. It’s irrelevant, it doesn’t mean anything, it’s purely to have a badge to say ‘Look, I’m political’. Whereas, if you didn’t have that badge, then you’d have to admit that you don’t really care that much or you’d have to get up and go on a protest or take some kind of action to push that change. Rather than say ‘It’s not changing, I’ve done four Facebook updates this week, and there’s been no change in the political framework.’ It’s not going to, it’s Facebook!

 

It makes you feel passive in a way.
Completely it’s very pacifying, and that’s such great news for the people you’re rallying against. Moving away from politics, even if you’re posting about how much you hate the X-Factor. I’ve got no issue with the X-Factor because I’ve got huge respect for the fact that it’s an almost perfect product. Because the people who love it will tune in every week and tweet about it, the people who hate it will often tune in and tweet about it. It’s win-win! It’s an absolutely genius product, they’ve got both sides of it. They’ve got their fans essentially giving them advertising and they’ve got their enemies giving them advertising, by tuning in and saying ‘this is appalling, this guy can’t even sing’.

 

How do you go about your lyric writing process?
It’s a constant thing. I’m always making notes on my phone or on my laptop. Even if it’s just a word or a turn of phrase, a collection of syllables even. And if there’s a word that has a nice flow of syllables, I might make note of it. Or I’ll have an idea or concept and make note of that. Then when the time comes, I’ll sit down and work it out and get through it.

 

Do you sometimes think of the rhythm of the words?
Completely. That’s all in the syllables. That’s all the beauty. In a lot of my songs early on, there’ll be a word that’s got quite an intricate pattern of syllables that are then matching the next line; particularly when I’m starting off what I’ll be the most excited about is finding these things that you can weave together which gives the flow and rhythm in a set pattern.

 

How do you guys work together. Is it just 50-50?
Yea, Dan makes the beats, I write the words. It’s pretty much that simple. There’s been points where it’s crossed over a little, but in general it’s 50-50 and it’s over email. We pretty much write separately and then email and bounce ideas back and forth. Again, the technology side of this is absolutely crucial.

 

Where do you think the music industry is going?
It’s tough, and I don’t know where it will go. I know for certain that we will miss out on many bands that could have been amazing. It’s changing and the money is going out of music, therefore a lot of bands that are starting off aren’t going to be able to get a leg-up. A lot of people argue that it’s fine with stealing music because it balances out and people go to gigs, but maybe it’s fine for the bands but it’s still killing off the labels. And that starting point when you’ve not got that big following, the leg-up used to come from labels who had faith and believed in you and put that bit of money in, or even just gave you that guidance; they’re the ones that are losing out and having to close down.

 

And finally, what are you listening to at the moment, anything you recommend?
I’ve got my weekly hip-hop/spoken word show on XFM every Saturday at midnight. Which means I’m more on top of new music than I’ve ever been.
At the moment I’m listening to a group called Young Fathers who are just absolutely amazing. Their album came out a couple of weeks ago called Dead. I recommend that more than anything at the moment. I really enjoyed the Vic Mensa album last year.
A lot of good stuff really!

 

 

[Helen Brown]

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