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UK Hip-Hop Duo Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip Talk New Album and Tour (Interview)

Thursday, 16 September 2010 Written by Rob Sleigh
UK hip-hop duo Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip: Stereoboard speaks to Dan about the new album and tour

Earlier this year, Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip released ‘The Logic of Chance’, the follow-up to their 2008 album ‘Angles’. After a hectic few months of summer festivals, the pair are about to embark on their biggest UK tour to date, which will coincide with the release of their new single ‘Cauliflower’. One half of the duo, producer Dan Le Sac, recently took the time to talk to Stereoboard about their music and their growing success.

You’ve just reached the end of the festival season with a performance at Bestival on the Isle of Wight. How did it go?
Yeah, it was awesome. It’s always been a weird one, Bestival. At the end of the year, you think you’ve played to everyone you’re going to play to, then you walk out and there’s thousands upon thousands of people there. It’s always astounding. We had a really good slot this year. It was madness.

You started the summer back in June with a headlining set on the Queen’s Head Stage at Glastonbury, where you were up against Stevie Wonder. How did that performance go?
We’d played the same tent the year before, during the day, and played to a rammed-out tent. We just didn’t expect it to be the same or even better, when you’re going up against Stevie Wonder and Orbital. For anyone to turn up, we were amazed, but it was rammed and it was such a receptive crowd. We’ve had a few like that, where we’ve ended up going up against legends. At Reading and Leeds one year, we played at the same time as Rage Against The Machine. We were like: “No one’s going to come… What are all you people doing here?”

You’ve got a new single ‘Cauliflower’ coming out next month. It sounds like a bit of a love song. Is it based on a personal experience?
Pip wrote it. It’s a play on falling in love, but it’s the idea of falling in love with a song - the first time you hear it and your relationship developing with that song. Obviously, I worked on the beat and wrote Kid A’s part, so I was treating it as a more traditional love song.

How did the collaboration with Kid A come about?
I’ve been working with Kid A for a couple of years now. Back in 2008, we worked on an EP together and we’d been talking back and forth for a while about doing more stuff. It was great to get another opportunity to work with her. It’s awesome that she’s coming over to tour with us as well, because it means that we’ll get to play that song. It will be the only time we probably ever get to play that song. It seems to be one of the favourites off of the album for people as well.

You released your second album ‘The Logic of Chance’ earlier in the year. How did you come up with the title?
Weird, long story. A couple of years ago, we did this little tour that was almost based on motivational speaking. The set was broken up into segments and we presented the whole thing in shirts and ties with an overhead projector. In that, the Venn diagram featured loads. The guy who invented the Venn diagram was John Venn and his book was called ‘The Logic of Chance’. Reading up on him and seeing that title, it was very fitting. It’s one of those titles you can read loads into or you can ignore. I quite like that in a title.

I recently read that many of the tracks on ‘Angles’ originally came from remixes you’d done of Pip’s earlier solo work. As the new album is the first one that you’ve both made together from scratch, how different was it to make?
It was definitely quite a different process because, when remixing, I can hear the original and take ideas from that. On the odd track, it’s me refocusing what he’s done on his original beat and giving it more emotional input. On his solo album, it’s all pretty much set to jazz-style beats, which occasionally can feel a bit emotionless. For me, it was about adding that bit of emotion to the music. On other tracks, it was about totally reimagining them into something quite different. It’s really odd actually, because ‘Cauliflower’ is one of the tracks we wrote for ‘Angles, but we could never find the female vocalist for it to work with. One of them was Adele. We’d been talking to her back and forth and then she absolutely blew up. She got so big, so quickly and, all of a sudden, it just wasn’t going to happen in time.

‘The Logic of Chance’ sounds a bit more dancey than your previous offering. Was it a conscious decision to make a more dancefloor-friendly album?
I’d like to say it was, but it wasn’t. It’s what I happened to write in that six-month period. In 2009, although we didn’t tour, we did play gigs every single week and we went all around Europe, particularly Germany and France. The dancier stuff is more exciting when you’re on the road, because you want to have that instant impact with the crowd. We were playing in Europe, where the language barrier is greater and the excitement in our set was coming from the dancier bits. I think that probably played a big part in what I was writing.

Image‘Angles’ contained a lot of thought-provoking lyrics regarding current topics and you’ve done something similar on ‘The Logic of Chance’ with the current state of the country. Is this something that you both feel strongly about?
When writing anything, you’re going to write about your immediate surroundings. If [Pip] had had a nasty break-up before writing the album, it would have come through on the album. When we started writing the album at the end of 2008, we were off in America just before Obama got in, so we were already politically inspired. Then we came back just into the local elections that were before the general election, so we were very focused on political change in the country. I don’t know if we’d write about budget cuts and stuff if we started writing an album tomorrow, because that might be a little dull. You’re always going to take influence from the world around you.

Why do you think that it’s so important for current artists like yourselves to write about such strong issues?
You live in this world, so you should be allowed to talk about the world. There are some bands that only ever talk about their small piece of the world, their perspective on love and going to the disco. We do need that music that doesn’t make us think about anything, but we only need that music if we’ve got music that makes us think about stuff. There are not enough bands putting what the world is into their songs. It’s no good sitting in an interview and telling people “this is bad” and then going out onstage and going: “Who wants to party?” It’s important to be able to express stuff but, at the same time, it shouldn’t be the be all and end all of your writing. If you’re talking about any issue, but talking about it badly, no one’s going to listen anyway.

You guys are obviously leading the way in breaking boundaries within hip-hop music and on ‘Angles’, some of the songs discussed the current state of that genre. What’s your opinion on the UK hip-hop scene at the moment, bearing in mind that there seems to be so many artists doing well over here now?
The top end of UK hip-hop is very healthy in that pop sense. There are a lot of decent MCs talking about not a lot. Five to ten years ago, there was so much underground stuff coming through. That part of the scene is nowhere near as strong and it’s that part that always interests me. At the moment, it isn’t creating anything lasting, which is a little sad, but it comes and goes with all genres. It’s difficult for UK hip-hop, because it’s so heavily influenced by American hip-hop. You get talented rappers coming through that should be great, but they get caught up in talking about guns, bitches and bling. If you come from Dagenham and you talk about living the life… No one from Dagenham goes out and lives the life. It can end up being really false nonsense, but then, no one wants to hear raps about the local WI.

You and Pip started out as solo artists. Do you think you will ever go your own ways again or will you remain as a duo for the foreseeable future?
I think we still see each other as solo artists. We are a band, but we both know that we are the meeting point between two people. Pip’s had a long love affair with punk, but I don’t produce anything that goes in that direction. It would be a bit false of me to produce it for the sake of producing it. If I end up making punky records in ten years’ time, then brilliant, but I need to get there by myself. I think there may be times in the future where we do separate things, but the main focus for both of us is Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip.

You’ve got some new tour dates coming up next month. It’s the second big tour you’ve done in the UK since the release of the new album. What can people expect from the new shows?
This sounds like we’re Tesco, but we’re trying to make sure it’s value for money. It’s a big ask of people to come out. It was only March that we did what was our biggest tour ever. Now we’re doing our biggest tour ever, again. We’ve always tried to fill the stage with ideas. On the last tour, we had a set filled with things for Pip to mess around with and make it visibly strong. We’d like to move further down that road. We’d like to build a visibly stunning show as well as a musically stunning show. We’re going to put some different material in. There are a couple of older songs we haven’t played in a couple of years that we always get requests for, so they’re going to come back.

Last year, a remix of ‘Thou Shalt Always Kill’ came out, which featured De La Soul. How did that come about?
‘Thou Shalt Always Kill’ came out on Lex Records and then, not long after that, we signed to Sunday Best. Sunday Best wanted to do a re-release, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to just re-release the track. It didn’t seem fair on the people who’d bought it the first time around. There are a lot of bands [that do that], like Snow Patrol. On that third album they did, two of the singles got released twice. We didn’t want to do that, so we said we’d do a collaboration. Then we spent months bandying around different ideas of people to collaborate with. It was really odd actually, because Posdnuos [of De La Soul] was so far from even being possible to get. Rob Da Bank [Radio 1 DJ who runs Sunday Best and founded Bestival] had been talking to them about doing some shows and he said: “I could probably talk to De La Soul if you want.” Then it definitely felt like it was worth doing. From our point of view, I don’t think we really cared whether we released it or not, it was just great to get to meet Posdnuos and to get to hear some stories from twenty years ago in hip-hop.

‘The Logic of Chance’ is out now.
The single ‘Cauliflower’ (featuring Kid A) is due for release on 11th October.

Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip will tour the UK in October and November.
Tour dates are as follows:

14th The Forum, Hatfield
15th O2 Academy, Leicester
16th HMV Institute, Birmingham
17th O2 Academy, Bristol
19th Solus, Cardiff
20th Stylus, Leeds
21st Newcastle University
23rd Queen Margaret Union, Glasgow
24th Lemon Tree, Aberdeen
26th Academy 2, Manchester
27th Plug, Sheffield
28th Ultra, Nottingham
30th Southampton University
31st Concorde 2, Brighton

1st Shepherds Bush Empire, London
3rd O2 Academy, Liverpool

Tickets for Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip are onsale now.

Click here to Buy Dan Le Sac Vs. Scroobius Pip Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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