Two massive interviews this week with some of biggest upcoming names in Scottish Hip Hop . Stand Up Recordz is a fresh label created by Steven and Craig Duncan that came to my attention after my obsession with the most recent Stand Up Scotland Mixtape that changed my whole look on Scottish rap music. Zayn, who is also interviewed in this post has been kicking out some brilliant tunes recently and is definitely someone to keep an eye on for the future. So enough with the intro, let the guys speak for themselves!
Stand Up Recordz Interview with Craig and Steven Duncan -
Running ‘Stand Up Recordz’ are yourself and Craig Duncan, what would you say to describe how you both got here?
Steven - Well i originally started as a dj and still do that, then started doing mixtapes to promote the all round aspect of the scene together and promoting it to people who hadn't heard it before rather than just the artist fanbase stuff up here usually gets 9Scotland Standup mixtapes 2 and 4 available from djscubasteve.bandcamp.com). Then moved onto the Scotland Standup blog which i had been involved in for just over 2 years. I'd been told by many people including friends that i should start a label, and it's something i'd always wanted to do, and here it is.
Craig - Well, Scuba didn't want to do the label himself, so to get someone else to help, we needed high trust levels. I wanted to learn how to do promotion, so he asked if I could help out with the label. Also, he needed help with the money, so it's cheaper if we both put the money in and I also do the website stuff. Basically all behind the scenes things.
What do you think makes a good artist?/What are Stand Up Recordz ideally looking for?
Standup Recordz - i think what makes a great artist is consistency, and heart, theres nothing worse than an artist losing heart in his musical talent, you find it all too often in the music industry as a whole these days not just in Hip Hop. The whole im making money now so it doesn't really matter attitude just makes me sick. The artists signed to the label just now in my opinion have shown that their work ethic is there, their heart is intact, and simply make good wholesome enjoyable music. You cant really do anymore than that can you.
You have three artists currently on your roaster, which is a lot for such a young label, do you think this number will grow to much more in the near future?
Steven - We have already spoken to someone else, so there may be a 4th soon, but then again maybe not. There are a few artists out there we would love to have aboard, if there are any producers that want to sell their soul to the devil we would be interested in hearing from you haha. But yeh we will be keeping the label relatively small for a while yet.
Craig - As Steven said, there may be a 4th, but we're quite content for the time being. I do have a few ideas, but I'm not planning on doing anything about them until the label is a little bit more known.
So still on the subject of the artists currently signed to your label, how did they come about to signing for Stand Up Recordz?
Steven - Well ive known most of the guys for a while and enjoy all their music fairly equally. Zayn is relatively new to the scene and i heard his music a few months back and he's the first artist ever, where ive heard a first track ive got intouch with him personally and congratulated him, and became a fan instantly. Ratson ive always enjoyed his music it always has a really laid back feel that i've always liked in hip hop music, i listen to alot more aggresive hip hop most of the time just as a preference but when i relax or have a few beers Ratson gets chucked on. Nity and myself go back a bit, and ive known him for the longest out of the 3 guys. I actually didn't ask Nity to start with as with him doing so much stuff for the past few years i couldn't imagine him wanting to jump onto a week old label. But turns out he did and i'm happy he's on it. Dope artist as well.
Craig - Well, even just as we started thinking about starting a label, we thought about Zayn as an artist. He's just a very original writer, there's not a lot of people who match Zayn's style, so he was always an artist we were looking to sign, before we started. Ratson is an artist both me and Steven enjoy and we always said, we'd only sign a person if we both enjoyed them, not just one of us. Ratson has a good flow, good delivery, nice laid back lyrics, so he was a really good addition to the label. To be honest, Nity was just a luck signing. He's a consitent writer who was doing really good for himself for the past while, so we didn't think he'd be interested. But once we found out he was interested - that was that.
Would you agree that there is a lack of decent opportunities for Hip Hop artists within Scotland or are they just not looking hard enough?
Steven - In Scotland at the moment there is alot of regular nights and things but if your not involved in the scene alot of the time you will miss it all. It's really hard to get Hip Hop music over to alot of people. I want to try and get the music a voice outwith The small scene we have up here, we will always support it but the hard facts are there is more than Scotland out there in the world. And thats where i think were doing something different.
Craig - Yes I would agree with that. It seems that if you're not American or English, no one takes any notice of you. Of course, there's Hip Hop nights in Scotland, but you're not really taken seriously outside of that scene. The Scottish scene at the moment seems quite compact. There's a few Scottish artists sneaking into the UK and further, but it's not happening enough.
What advice would you give to any rap artists looking to get signed?
Standup Recordz - Don't be lazy. You can't really complain about getting nowhere in a business sense if you don't put the work in. Keep that work ethic and keep promoting your music even if it is a gew months old. People may still enjoy it.
Anything coming out soon that we should keep an eye out for?
Standup Recordz - Well we got Zayn's mixtape Dazed and Diffused coming soon with a whole host of guest features, Ratson has a new project coming soon. and Nity is battling at Dont Flop's To The Test 9. And also a 7 or 8 track EP will be available for download after Zayn's mixtape is out which will feature the artists on the label, with new and unheard music.
And finally what’s your favourite flavour of Ice Cream?
Steven - Ben & Jerry's chocolate Fudge. Im a big dude and unashamed lol. And anybody that disagrees with the flavour choice is wrong and they know they are, unless they say chocolate brownie flavour then they maybe partly right, but wrong at the same time. And that my friend is the most in-depth Ice Cream based answer you will have had.
Craig - Vanilla, just to piss him off.
Thanks very much yourself mate this is all highly appreciated. And shouts to Justiceneversleeps.blogspot.com.
Interview with Zayn -
Who is Zayn? (Short background story)
Well, i am Zayn. Hip Hop is Life. Born in South Africa, moved about there alot but i was proper young so I dont really remember much about it all. Came to Scotland when i was about five with my family so i was brought up here. I've stayed in Glasgow most of my life... it is the place to be ! I also moved around alot here but i'de consider myself a Shawbridge boy, Pollockshaws all day !
I've always had an ear for the English language, I've always loved to write. I think I actually penned my first verse on a school coach on some trip somewhere and had my pal record it on his phone which he ripped the utter piss out of for weeks, and still does. Recorded my first full song with like two Kareoke microphones taped together, tied to the top of the inside of my bedroom cupboard but since then i've upgraded my sheeit. I first started taking my music properly serious about this time last year. I'm pretty new to the Scottish Hip Hop Scene at the moment and am now working on my first release, the Dazed and Diffused Mixtape which is nearly finished so i'm grateful if you's scope dat !
If you had to describe your style without naming any genres how would you describe it?
Fresh as fuck, Baaaaaad !, One guy knows. But I still keep it real and use my music to express myself with as much honesty and truth as i can give and at times I just use it to tell cunts straight, but I'de say my style is more of showing rather than telling.
How do you get yourself into writing your lyrics?
It really depends. It could be that i'm outside and i'll see or hear someone or something and it just plants an idea straight away so i write something down. Or if im sitting listening to some instrumentals i might come across one i thinks nice and straight away get on it without even thinking twice. Most of what I write is dependant on how i was feeling at that moment in time or either what i can reccolect of my past.
I can sometimes pen a verse or even a full song and have it recorded in a day or other times i'll let something sit for a while, draft it, go through some beats to find which fits best, scope some past writtens i've done to merge some concepts. But to be honest it all really just depends on how my daimons are feeling at the time.
Who would you say has had the biggest influence on your music?
I'm influenced by alot really, music from the whole Native Toungues and Zulu Nation movement like ATCQ, De la Soul, Digable planets and so on. Hip Hop from the 80's/ early 90's mostly, there was alot of heart in the music back then, not to say that that there is'nt anymore nowdays, its just you have to know where to look. I take alot of inspiration from more modern artists aswell, at the moment, the whole Rhymesayers connect and anyone else who is making real music. Although I am inspired by alot of different types of music, aswell as films or what i read. In Scotland there are also a large amount of emcee's I look up to, who are extremely talented to the point where I find it insane how much they are slept on. So i'de say my music is also influenced by what life is like here and everyone i know and will meet. I think Influence is able to come from anthing when making music as long as you have someone who will listen so i leave this answer infinite.
Favourite track of all time and why?
uft, dont know if i can pick an all time favourite, but right now i'm really enjoying :
Kristoff Krane - Leave the summer
A favourite of your own and why?
i'de say Zayn - Rock On , its not been released yet but will be on the Mixtape, i put alot of work and heart into the lyrics for this track so its definatly my favourite, in a way its the combination of everything i've wrote for the whole mixtape explained in one song.
Why Stand Up Recordz?
Well I signed with Standup because Scuba Steve is such a Standup guy. Really though, he's helped me alot so far with advice, collabs and instrumentals. He's really in tune with what he wants to be done with the label and is willing to offer any help needed by the signed artists, the label itself is well connected, has other very talented artists which I'm really proud to be signed along with aswell. Its a new label and as I'm also fairly new to the Scottish Hip Hop scene it will be good to help build the label and show what we're all about.
And finally what’s your favourite flavour of Ice Cream?
I wish there were Cream Soda flavored ice cream, i'de pick that
Safe for this man
And you can find more on Stand Up Recordz and their artists on their website here