UK’s Stereo MCs and Jack Beats don’t just have the fact that they make music or hail from the UK in common. In 1992, Stereo MCs scored an international hit single “Connected” and brought British dance-rap world wide. Today, they remain sought after remixers, and they are readying their eleventh album, Emperor’s Nightingale (K-7). Meanwhile, in 2006 when DJs Plus One and Beni G met and formed Jack Beats, they quickly pushed the music scene even further with their electro and dub step, inspiring the likes of Skrillex, Diplo and A-Trak. Today these two groups, both massively influential in their own right, sat down for URB for some nostalgic musings about music, the business and the future of hip hop and electronic music.
JACK BEATS: You guys have been a band for over 25 years. How have you managed to keep sane, focused and so successful for such a long time without killing one another?
STEREO MCS: Oddly enough ,when you retrace your steps to the early years it seems like it was just yesterday. Being in a band is a sort of marriage where there are conflicts and struggles and times when you can’t stand the stinking sight of each other but miraculously the promise of new tunes brings you back to the reason that held you together in the first place. In short–be productive.
JACK BEATS : What’s your favorite British rap record of all time (if possible!)?
STEREO MCS: Witness by Roots Manuva, great record!
JACK BEATS: Where do you keep your Brit awards?
STEREO MCS: One is pride of place on the toilet cistern and the other still resides in a black binliner after I ran over it with my car by accident.
JACK BEATS – What current favourite artist or producer are you most feeling in your DJ sets at the moment
STEREO MCS – Redlight /Zeds Dead /Emalkay /Silky /Skream-Sam Frank /P Money and I heard this Switch track feat Andrea Martin called “I Still Love You” which moved me to another world.
STEREO MCS: We’ve seen both of you individually before Jack Beats broke, performing in different crews, Beni with the Mixologists (used to see you DJing with U.K. beatboxer Killa Kela down Clerkenwell Rd in London, and once I think in Berlin) and Plus One with The Scratch Perverts (on an Australian festival tour of botanical gardens and once at Fabric in London). How did you link up and what made you decide to form your own outfit?
JACK BEATS: We’ve both been friends for over 10 years through doing music, and decided to start making music together instead of separately one day. It was very natural, and we didn’t plan anything and certainly didn’t decide to start this project, it just happened and by surprise. its only been the last few years when the project has taken over from all out other music commitments have we got that people have been so behind our sound. Genuinely, until then we were just flattered that a few people seemed to be into what we were doing.
STEREO MCS: From what we know of your musical history your roots are steeped in hip-hop. How did you develop from this to the big room philosophy of your current work and and how much did you have to develop your skills in terms of making grooves, shaping sounds and learning new techniques?
JACK BEATS: We have roots in hip-hop for sure, but also dance music too. Doing the music we do, we have definitely had to learn a lot of new techniques, but its been a very natural process but I’m sure we would have done that regardless of what music we made, as sound design and production technique interests us both greatly. But yeah, making 4×4 music is very different to producing say a hip hop track so we have most definitely evolved.
STEREO MCS : Do you think about where you are going as a musical concept and direction and consciously change or is it a natural thing?
JACK BEATS: Our direction musically always feels natural, we’ve never tried to be anything because of a fad or a popular type of sound, but at the same time we are very aware of what is current and what is old and dated…which helps keep all our ideas fresh to us.