"It's Katalyst [Ashley Anderson] and Geoff Barrow that produced my album. I met Katalyst in Australia and we had dope studio chemistry. Me & Phat Kat did features for the Quakers album & later, I found out they were on Stones Throw. When I met with Stones Throw, their name came up & it made sense because I really liked their production. Now, here we are," Guilty Simpson exclusively revealed to The Witzard on the inception of his hot-off-the-press new album, Detroit's Son. Anderson runs the Australian-based headquarters of Invada Records along with long-time friend, Portishead founder, and fellow Quakers bandmate Geoff Barrow; he's been releasing music under a number of aliases since launching his music career back in 1998... Moonrock, Katalyst, 35-member Hip-Hop collective Quakers, and Space Invadas with Steve Spacek. Having previously worked with everyone from Gift of Gab to Jack Johnson, Detroit's Son is Katalyst's first full-length project recorded with a sharp-tongued rapper. "Detroit's Son distills the essence of what made Ode to The Ghetto an underground classic; with the subject of life in The Motor City placed front and center, Guilty's uncompromising rhymes fit seamlessly with Katalyst's hard-hitting beats."(1) Are you able to reveal the sample source material(s) behind Fat Ray-featuring "Fractured?" It kinda sounds reminiscent of Link Wray's "Rumble" guitar riff and even No Doubt's "Hella Good" drum break to me (haha).
I never reveal sample sources. Think you'll find most Hip-Hop producers will give you the same answer to that question, but I can tell you neither of those sources mentioned are where I was looking for inspiration.
(2) How's the progression of "Quakers 2," your 35-member posse project with Geoff Barrow, coming along? What sorts of projects are you currently working on producing and recording?
"Quakers 2" is almost cooked. Once the last couple of guest have recorded, "it's a wrap," as they say in film. I'm also working on mixing another Space Invadas album with my partner in that project, Steve Spacek. So, that's real close as well. I have a few other things [in-the-works], but I don't talk about projects until they are done, or at least near completion; so, stay tuned for more on those, as they near completion.
(3) I remember you mentioning that you had previously recorded the beats contained within Detroit's Son before Guilty Simpson arrived to Australia; but what was the album's recording process like? Would I be correct to assume that all of his vocals were recorded live "in the flesh" right at Geoff Barrow's Invada Studios?
Not all the beats were done before Guilty toured here last year, we did record a number of cuts while he was here in Australia. The rest of the vocals were recorded at various studios in Detroit. All the beats were made here and all the vocals/tracks mixed here in my studio, home of the Australian branch of Invada Records. None of the vocals were recorded at Geoff's Invada Studio in Bristol, actually.
(4) I'm curious to know: what's your beat-making process like? Let's just use "Fractured" for example... where do you even begin when constructing a multi-layered beat like that?
The process varies from track to track, depending on what required and what sound I'm going for, actually. With Detroit's Son, I took a similar approach as I took on Quakers; keeping the beats gritty and raw. Detroit is a gritty place and Guilty is a heavy MC. Both those factors played into the production and [the] style of beats on the album.
(5) I've noticed a definite underlying Rock-influenced sound running through Detroit's Son, which makes me curious to learn... where did the bulk of its contained samples come from? Did you purposely focus on any specific bands, genres, albums, etc?
No, I never really focus a particular genre. One of the great things about Hip-Hop is it incorporates a wide variety of sounds. From Soul to Rock, Classical to Electronic. All genres are represented in some form on the record. Since it's Guilty's record and I'm the producer, he chose what tracks he was feeling from the variety of beats I sent him. So, in that sense, he helped determine [the overall] mix of sounds on the album.
(6) I know that you and Guilty initially linked up when recording Radiohead-sampling "Fitta Happier" and "War Drums" for inclusion on Quakers (2012). But what made you guys decide to reconvene and what ultimately led to the recording of Detroit's Son?
We recorded "War Drums" here at my studio for Quakers when Guilty and Phat Kat toured [Australia] in around 2011. We hung [out] in the studio over a couple of days and vibed on lots of music, including the "War Drums" [which was] cut in those sessions. Both MC's were feeling the vibes and the beats and we talked about working together on some more music outside of Quakers. When Guilty went to LA to shoot the video for "Fitta Happier," he mentioned that to Stones Throw, who thought it could be a good idea for his next album. Everyone was down and so, the process of writing and recording the album began. Now, here we are.
(7) Even though Detroit's Son contains some 17 neck-snapping tracks, Stones Throw unleashed two non-album tracks, "Vanguard Organization" & racially-charged "Animal," prior to its release. How many more dusty, unreleased non-album tracks did you and Guilty manage to record?
I think there [are] still 3 or 4 cuts that didn't make the album for various reasons. I'd have to go back and look that up, but at least that many I can safely say.
(8) Now that you have a full-length recorded with Guilty Simpson under your belt, who else from the Stones Throw roster, or even "extended family members," could you see yourself potentially working with to a similar effect; do you happen to have any such collaborations currently in-the-works?
They have had a lot of dope MC's on their roster for sure. I'm not really sure who I'd like to work with most. Some [Stones Throw MC's] of course, might appear on the next Quakers LP. I don’t really like talking about things til they are done either, so you never know what the future holds, in that respect.
(9) What would you say have been some of your greatest influences on your career, the overall sound which you’ve melded over the years, and most recently, Detroit's Son?
Always a tough question, so many producers and influences. Back in the day, it was cats like Marley Marl, Prince Paul, RZA, DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Madlib, and of course, the late J Dilla. I don’t like to put it down to any one person. However, I work closely with Geoff Barrow and still regard him as one of the all time greats; so, I guess it would be fair to say he has had the most direct influence on me and my sound over the years.
(10) While I remember the early press material labeling Detroit's Son (then untitled) as a "Guilty Simpson x Quakers" project, the more recent album release press material seems to allude to it as a sole Katalyst production. What was your Quakers production partner Geoff Barrow’s role in the creation and recording of Detroit's Son, then?
Geoff is always there to give me his honest opinion about the music. One of the hardest things as an artist is finding someone whose opinion you really value and them giving you honest feedback about your work. I can always rely on Geoff to give me that feedback. He was busy with soundtrack work like Ex_Machina, BEAK>, and also touring Portishead over [that] period, so he left the production duties up to me on this one. He has a great studio in Bristol, Invada Records Studio, where he [could] listen to the music I [sent] and give me that perspective, as well. He’s a Guilty Simpson fan, for sure, and a fan of the album.