The Jazz Spastiks (Also known as The Slipmat Brothers) are a Hip Hop duo from Scotland who are contributing to the thriving underground Hip Hop community with their fat, jazzy productions. With an ear for dusty, sample-based compositions, the team (consisting of members Coconut Delight and Mr. Manyana) has effectively paid homage to the era that, to them, exemplifies the quintessential sound of Hip Hop.
The team's outstanding productions have even earned them in a spot in Mark Farina's acclaimed "Mushroom Jazz" series by way of their tracks "(Never Been to) California" and "Amber Leaf". With an impressive catalogue and phenomenal collaborations with up and comers, PENPALS it seems like it is only the beginning for the Slipmat Bros.
Prox: How and when did you guys initially discover Hip Hop? Who were some of your favorites in the beginning?
JS: It was when we were teenagers that we really got into music in general and at that point we were listening to many different genres.
The Hip Hop that we really loved at that point was DJ Shadow and Jurassic 5, both of which have had a huge influence on what we are doing today.
Prox: What was it that made you decide to produce? Do either of you have a strong musical background?
JS: I used to play in bands and Mikey was a DJ. We both went to college to learn sound engineering. Since then, we have both worked in various studios recording all sorts of music. At night when the studios weren't getting used we would stay up late making Hip Hop.
Prox: There is quite the Jazz influence in your projects as well. What is it about this kind of “hybrid sound” that inspires you?
JS: We really love combining the rough and smooth elements of sound, juxtaposing some nice Rhodes piano with a gritty drum break. The rhythms and swing of Jazz music are an integral part of good Hip Hop along with funk and soul.
Prox: How does it feel to have been featured in Mark Farina’s legendary Mushroom Jazz series? Were you surprised when you got the news?
JS: We are really grateful to Mark for featuring our songs in MJ7, we were already big fans so it was a real honor.
Yeah we were surprised! A mutual friend of ours had sent him some tracks and then we got an email from Mark that said he wanted to use not just one, but two of them!
Prox: In an era where Hip Hop is getting more and more synthetic, why did you opt to focus on scratching and sample based boom-bap stuff?
JS: To us, that's what Hip Hop is. I feel like in the early 90's just when Hip Hop was really flourishing it was killed by the sampling laws.
It's like if they banned guitars just when Rock and Roll was starting to take off.
Prox: Producing as a duo is very interesting to me. How does the entire process work? Does one of you handle certain aspects (drums, sampling, etc.) and the other works on something else (chords, mixing, etc)?
JS: We both do everything, sometimes separately and sometimes together. We take turns, while one of us is working it's easier for the the other to sit back and have a more objective opinion.
Prox: Do you ever clash with each other artistically? How do you guys achieve a kind of sonic symbiosis between the two of you?
JS: Not really, we have been friends since we were 5 years old and are very similar. Musically we both like the same things so we are always working towards the same end goal.
Prox: Who are some of your favorite contemporary artists? Are you fans of any other genres?
JS: There is a thriving scene for Jazz/sample based Hip Hop right now and I wouldn't want to name anyone because I would just be missing out lots of others. It's a great time because almost everyone has the power to produce and distribute music on a global scale.
Previously, and for many years, only the rich have had this privilege. In this day and age it is completely possible to ignore the mainstream music industry and focus on the genuine independent artists out there.
We listen to all genres of music from Jazz, and Rock and Roll to Drum and Bass and House.
Prox: Tips for aspiring producers?
JS: Try and finish things you start, stay confident that it's worthwhile to see it through and then move on to the next song or project. Practice makes perfect and you will get better and better by just working away.
Prox: Tell us a bit about some of your upcoming projects!
JS: We have just completed an album with PENPALS from New York, I think it's some of our best work to date and we are really excited to let people hear it!
Prox: Final Thoughts?
JS: Be nice.