Ashton James Brown interviewed Edward Scissortongue and talked about his hip hop origins, his grandfather’s advice and his upcoming release “THE THEREMIN EP”.
(The interview was originally conducted on the 13th January 2014.)
From something we missed to someone we interviewed, Edward Scissortongue is now firmly in our sights as someone to stick with in 2014. The second half of his moniker couldn’t be more accurate in relation to his ability to slice through the English language with zeal and sharpness and that showed on his debut album Better.Luck.Next.Life. In our interview with the UK rapper, we talk about history with hip hop, his thoughts on the UK scene at the moment and why throwing the first punch hasn’t always worked out so well.
Sampleface: For our readers who may not all be familiar with your work, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Edward Scissortongue: Hello, my name is Edward Scissortongue. I have been writing rap songs for longer than I can remember. It is my favourite thing to do and after being rated a tosser for ages, the hard work is just about coming good.
SF: What was it that made you first get into hip hop?
ES: The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie was the start point. That got me buying all the imported US rap albums from Jays Records in Cambridge (RIP) and wearing the ridiculously baggy blu-bolt jeans and learning the script for the movie ‘Friday’ word-for-word. The drum and bass scene first got me into the whole rapping thing. I wanted the power and respect that I saw bestowed upon anyone to pick up a microphone in a rave. Hip hop became my preferred outlet as, well, raves stink and I got sick of chatting complete and utter tripe to people fucked on pills.
SF: Can you shed some light on your process when it comes to writing bars?
ES: My verses are my best attempt at articulating the UTTERLY INSANE scenes/patterns/tones/moods/environments that my thoroughly wonky brain conjures up behind my eyeballs. It’s like trying to articulate a dream you have had to someone, but even more fantastical as I have control over the things I choose to focus on and the things I choose to ignore. I’m as interested in themes/concepts as articulating feelings/emotions, but all of these things take a back seat to creating moods; I like to think I consider everything when writing music. I don’t feel scared of anything musical anymore; I am up for anything. It has taken me a while to get over the fear but I am there now.
SF: Who would you say has influenced you musically?
ES: Anyone that has ever made a song that has got me thinking about things. All a musician has to do is get me thinking to influence me. I was humming Avril Lavigne’s ‘Sk8ter Boi’ yesterday, pretty much all day. It got me thinking. The opening lyric (‘He was a boy, she was a girl – can I make it anymore obvious?’) is pretty spectacular. Simple, potent storytelling right there.
SF: What is the best piece of advice, musical or otherwise that you have ever received?
ES: My grandfather told me to always land the first punch someone if you felt someone was going to punch you. Mixed results have been had following this advice…
SF: What are your opinions on the current UK hip hop scene? Are there any UK emcees who you’re listening to at the moment?
ES: The scene is alive from top to tail, more than it ever has been in my humble opinion. Me and my gang just played a sold out tour in Australia, and a full European tour is in the pipeline, these are two instances which are decent indicators of how the scene is treating us and the extent of the current renaissance. I have never limited my scope to the confines of UKHH music however, and more than anything the world of music from where I am stood is alive and breathing beautifully. I find myself surrounded by a plethora of stupidly talented music makers at present; from techno producers to singer songwriters, DJs to accordion players, it is all happening right here right now and I am happy to be knee deep in it. In regards to other emcees I am currently feeling – Jam Baxter, Dirty Dike, Mr Key and Ronnie Bosh.
SF: Your debut LP, ‘BETTER.LUCK.NEXT.LIFE’, was a sonically interesting and lyrically deft project, what approach did you take when creating that album?
ES: I spent three years creating that album. In doing so everything was considered and re-considered which I find is a decent (if painstaking) way of creating something. I am proud of the finished product. My favourite producer ever produced ‘BETTER.LUCK.NEXT.LIFE’. His name is Lamplighter, look him up. I like to think that he and I see music in exactly the same way, it’s just he deals in sounds and I deal in words. There is some truth in that statement. We are certainly very similar when it comes to creating moods and evoking emotions. Not all of my work takes three years to make (most of it does though). I still like putting some songs together in ten minutes. They are often shit however. I just wanted my debut solo album to be as strong as it could be.
SF: Tell us about your new release ‘THE THEREMIN EP’ and what we can expect from your new material?
ES: 2014 is going to be a big one for myself and everyone that I make music with. ‘THE THEREMIN EP’ is scheduled for a March 2014 release and is a really ambitious piece of music. I have listened to it probably fifty times now and I am still finding interesting angles to interpret it from.
SF: Tell us more about these ‘angles’?
ES: ‘THE THEREMIN EP’ has allowed me to expand and elaborate upon certain themes that I tackled on ‘BETTER.LUCK.NEXT.LIFE’. I treated it as an opportunity to fully indulge in one specific avenue of investigation from a bunch of different viewpoints, some global and completely overarching, others small, personal and microcosmic. To cut a long story short, If ‘BETTER.LUCK.NEXT.LIFE’ was an album concerned with ‘life and death’, then ‘THE THEREMIN EP’ is only concerned with ‘death’. On the EP you have tales of one individual battling for survival, sat alongside grand preminitions about the demise of all mankind. It is really depressing. I love it. Seven tracks for an EP is pretty long, it is just about as long an EP as you can get and trust me, it is indulgent as hell, but I am extremely happy with the finished product.
SF: So ‘THE THEREMIN EP’ is a concept album?
ES: ‘THE THEREMIN EP’ is like a strange 21st century Nostradamus prediction, in musical form. It predicts the death of the entire human race, and the various weird and wonderful ways in which this could/can/will happen. Each track tackles a different facet of mankind’s impending doom, the EP revels in the fact that death becomes us all, be it collectively or individually.