Interview: Morriarchi

The Sheffield based beatmaker chats about his highly praised new LP Buggzville Sessions and recent collaborations

Posted on Aug 30th, 2016 in Features and Interviews, Morriarchi, Blah Records / By Sam Bennett
Interview: Morriarchi Morriarchi is one of the leading producers in our homegrown hip-hop scene at the moment; he's recently released his full length LP Buggzville Sessions, as well as keeping us entertained with a prolific string of collaborations and appearances. Bearded caught up with him to talk about the new album and much more.

'Oh shit, just as you say that someone's trying to call me” says Morriarchi as I ask how his day's been. 'Yeah mate, I'm just out in the garden, some good settings next to the insects, I'm getting eaten alive out here. I'm fighting away the gnats, I thought I had a good relationship with them, but I see it's not working out any more'.

'It's a bit corny I guess but my friends and family” replies Morri when I enquire as to how he first got into hip-hop and making beats. 'DJing. Digging and tracking down samples that were used in my favourite tunes and tripping about how it was all in these obscure soundtracks and rare grove albums. I enjoyed working out how other producers flip things, what someone could make out of a tiny loop, and how everyone had their own signature sound. Whether it be choice of samples, the mix, the choice of drums; Buckwild would sound different from Muggs, and Lewis Parker's beats would sound different from Farma G's production etcetera etcetera'.

Morriarchi's production is often identified by it's dark and gloomy character. 'Lack of sunlight always helps' says the Sheffield producer. 'Being indoors a lot watching a lot of black and white films (laughs). When I was at university I did a course in electro-acoustic music, and it talked about a track being a landscape, and I looked at sounds as having different behaviours; I'd want things to screech or squeal, or murmur. I've always liked sounds that had a voice to them or some type of behaviourism if that doesn't sound too weird '.

'We're all from Sheffield' replies Morri about how he first got down with the Bad Taste crew. 'I grew up with Trellion and Abdullah, who started Bad Taste, and I met Sniff through a good friend of mine called Deadbeat who if anyones up on their bassline will know about I'm sure. Him and Sniff used to live in these flats called 139 init, so we used to chill there, and record in the studio that Darkstorm worked at. Sheffield is a big city but it's a small place really in terms of networks and that. We just ended up knocking around a lot together and making a ton of music. Mad talented bunch of people there; 2010-2013 was a real creative period, everyone was just mad on it. Lots of great albums were made in that time. I've got say shouts to the squad; Marshall Artist, Figment, Smoots, TK One, Darkstorm, Trellion, Sniffy, Lax, Raw Kid, Walter and the elusive MC Force. We still meet up when we can, but we live in different places now and have a mix of things we're involved in, but me Trell and Sniff have always been rocking the same stuff and we've still got a few bits in the bag; that's the family right there'.

Was there always hip-hop in Sheffield while Morri was growing up? 'When I was growing up Djing I owe a lot to these guys, they schooled us well. I owe a lot to Chris Welch, Levi, Andy H, Danny Mager and DJ Riles. They ran this night called Phonetics, and it was the main hip-hop night in Sheffield for a long, long time. I don't want to throw them under the bus or anything but we were all stupidly young, and shouldn't have been in there, but they were so happy to have people through the door some nights so turned a blind eye (laughs). The first night I went I saw DJ MK, and seeing him on the decks blew my mind, people were putting on wicked live shows left right and centre. Then when the smoking ban hit, it just crushed a lot of venues and nights, and a lot of venues disappeared from Sheffield. There's plenty of people who put stuff out and there are plenty of groups out there that are putting out music, but as far as nights, I don't think there's a premier hip-hop night so to speak. There's plenty of talent always, we just need a home for it I guess.

'It's a collection of stuff I made with the Blah camp and some other people like Rox Slicken, Trellion and Jehst' says Morriarchi about his recently released LP Buggzville Sessions. 'I made it over the last couple of years in-between working on other projects. Lee and I had all these tracks, and I said 'we should do something with them', and we just formulated a plan together from there. We thought it would be rude not to give it to everyone really because they're all bangers, so i'm glad to get it out. It all came together nicely, and everyone represented on it for sure'.

The Jehst and Lee Scott collaboration was met with acclaim from hip-hop heads all over the country. 'That was a cool moment' says Morriarchi. ' I was doing a session with Bisk, Slumrok was coming down, and Jehst just drifted into the studio with Lee. We made like three songs that night, and one was 'Campbell & Algar'. We met up one time at an arcade in South London, and the video developed from there, shout outs to Hollywood Breez, Young Money Miles, Jurgen, Vikky and everyone who got involved with that. Obviously, if you're into hip-hop then you know Jehst, so it's real good to work with him, the guy's royalty. I really enjoyed working on stuff with him and Lee, that's a killer combo right there'.

On the aforementioned track Jehst spits 'Why is everybody rapping hella fast? I'm the bath with a copy of the Telegraph'; the YNR representative is one of the few MC's that can get away with saying a bar that has such little meaning but so much humour. 'Yeah man, he's mad fronting. He's got a Young Thug tribute album that he's made, he's rapping hella fast on that. He's going to do some T-Pain shit too. He's just fronting on everyone. Obviously he's gonna have those lines though that are instant quotables, that's always been his forté. Even now, you still see so many people that are massively influenced by him, and the guy's still putting stuff out. A lot of people hang it up after having that much effect on the scene, but he's still hungry to do stuff and to try new things. He can put it on whenever he wants, the guy's always got bars'.

Back when I spoke to Lee Scott just after he'd dropped the Butter Fly LP (interview), he mentioned an unreleased Jehst, Lee and Stinkin Slumrok collaboration. 'That's from a project me and Lee have been working on that will be completed fairly soon, I'm just in the tweaking stages of it. There's another one that I sneakily premiered on Chris P Cuts NTS show a while ago with Jehst, Lee and Bang On! I think that's for Bang On!'s project which is dropping fairly soon as well. Bisk has got some bits on there too. That's something to look forward to; Jehst's verse on that one is incredible. The one with Slumrok, Lee and Jehst is actually on a beat I made with Sumgii; I was at his around the time they were making Cult Mountain 2, we just made a bunch of beats together. That's how 'Everyday Dumb' ended up on there. There were about four beats that we made that were going to be used for Cult Mountain 2, but there were so many projects being made at that time that they got used on other things, or rearranged and made into other tracks, but that was a Sumgii and Morri collaboration. That was the highlight of last year for me really, getting to work with Sumgii, because he's one of my favourite producers, all around top lad and he's one of the best in the UK in my mind, we gelled well when making stuff together, we've got very different styles but found a way to compliment each other. Look out for more Morriachi and Sumgii productions'.

Rox Slicken appears on the album's opening cut, and he's a character shrouded in mystery. 'He's out in Berlin getting blitzed' says Morri. 'The villain! He's an affiliate of Illuzual who released a project on Bad Taste a while ago called Goodie Bags. Illuzual's one of my good pals and he lives out in Berlin. He hangs out with Rox Slicken, and he did this verse for me and I put it on the album. There are some Rox Slicken bits knocking around, he needs to sort his shit out, Illuzual will put him on the right path and we'll start to hear some more'.

The Squid Ninjaz also appear on the release, and theirs is a name that I wasn't too familiar with. 'Squid Ninjaz were really influential to us guys back in the day. Hekla, Skamma, Joe Blow, Che from Darkhouse fam, they were a crew from Barry Island aka Bazhra. I've known them for a long time. They were the first people we linked with through the music outside of sheffield but then also became mates with. They had links with COTD and Blah; one of the first things Blah put out was a King Grubb CD when he was called Flash4Dem, and I think Hekla made beats on it. The Squid Ninjaz guys, they've put out a bunch of stuff. I highly recommend their release Silent Venoms,for new listeners as well as many of Hekla and Joe's beat tapes. It was a real pleasure to get some vets I knew on the tape. The way they came on that track was really authentic to the way they've done stuff in the past as well, that ugly bally bally shit. That's a highlight for sure'.

Bisk appears on the Buggzville LP, and Morri collaborated with him on the recent Free Morphine EP, and the producer describes how that project came about. 'A lot of late night's, early mornings man. Benzo's and insomnia, that's pretty much what that project is. We've got a few things in the works. Bisk's got a crazy work-rate, he's made a lot of stuff. He's got like ten albums man. He came through real greezy on 'No Phone Calls and Pimpfunk! 'Sonatine' from Free Morphine is one of my favourite tunes that I've made for a long time! I've made so much over such a short period that you kind of lose track of stuff a bit sometimes, But I've listened to that track a hundred times and I still don't get bored of it, which is definitely a good sign. I've got a new one with Lee that’s similar, and this singer I've worked with called Violet Springs; they just have great marriages or melodies'.

I ask about the upcoming LP with Stinkin Slumrok (interview), which will be produced entirely by Morriarchi himself. 'We made that a while back, it's like a shelved classic. Slumrok is hands down the guy period haha. Whenever he's in the studio it's a constant wave, he's constant jokes, constant energy. He's a throwback to the kind of MC that you don't get anymore, you have to see him in person to get the affect, and when you see the shows he sounds like he does on the tracks even better'. Morri's drowned out on his end of the phone. 'Sorry there's a helicopter going over us man, they're watching us. Yeah, Slumrok's got a totally original style, when he goes on those certain classic beats it's sick, but he's versatile as well. He's got a particular style that really worked on the project we've made together, but because we ended up finishing it before Don Pong, and then Buggzville needing to come out, and then some other things in-between it kind of got delayed. It's a throwback classic man, I'm proud of it, coming soon yeah'.

Having worked with an extensive amount of MC's in his career, I wonder who are Morriarchi's favourite people to be in the studio with. 'Like I said, Slumrok is one of my favourites. With guys like him and Black Josh in the studio, it's like being in the classroom, there just bussin' jokes, it's always pretty funny. Lee because it's always mad to see how much the guy's got to say. Lee has always got a verse. It's crazy how he's done so much material and still has so much ill stuff to say. Jack Danz, hands down one of the easiest and best people to record. I don't think I've ever asked him to do a take twice. He might call shit on me, but some of the verses I've done with him he's laid it down straight away. First take. Figment because you always get an impromptu freestyle. The same goes for Trell, Sniff, Josh and Slumrok; its just nonsense for half an hour until someone says a sick line and then they all laugh, go quiet and disappear into their phones and start writing (laughs). Barebase too, that guy has a unique way of putting together a verse. For sure (laughs)'.

With a number of instrumental projects available too I ask if Morri's creative process differs when composing for them. 'It depends. Some of the instrumental things I've done I come up with a concept. A lot of the time I try to do the proper instrumental stuff that you'd never put an MC on. I probably start without drums and go from there. Or I make beats that fit into a theme. I put out a tape called 'Weight', which is all nineties inspired beats. I still try to use samples and things that I'd use in my other beats, but that particular release was me wanting to make those kind of beats. I just experiment with things sometimes; I try to do different variations of my style. My next release 'Restbyte' is more of a throwback to my first release The Outer Sphere EP; it's more ambient and electronic, but I have plenty of hip-hop beat tapes I'm keen to dust off '.

Are there any instrumental projects that have particularly inspired him? 'Yeah man, tons of shit. I won't bore you with a list of it. A lot of British stuff like Grand Central, Fat City and the Ninja Tune stuff, Massive Attack too. That gets really underplayed in terms of how important it is to the way hip-hop from the UK sounds. Nightmares On Wax from Leeds, that shit is what I consider influential hip-hop beats in the UK, and I think that's played a massive part in how UK hip-hop beats sound. It's still a big influence to me. So shouts to all those beat heads and everyone who was doing that stuff back in the day. I'd like to see more of it to be honest'.

What is he listening to at the moment? 'Some old shit, some new shit. Debia$e, Samiyam, Third Person Lurking put out a new project not too long ago. I've got some new Salar tunes he sent me, some exclusive Danny Lover bits we made whilst he was over. I've been listening to bits that I haven't put out yet. It's been good because I haven't listened to any new stuff for a while, so I've forced myself to go out there and dig some new shit up. Some Anderson .Paak for when you want to brighten up the mood. I've not listened to that much dark stuff to be honest, I'm trying to stay outdoors in the sun and not lock myself in the dungeon listening to ghost howls and screams'.

I really enjoyed Paak's Malibu LP too. 'Yeah man I'm liking that. I'm also looking forward to the stuff he's got coming out with Knxwledge. That should be worth checking out. I dig that Malibu album, but it's Anderson .Paak on a bunch of very good production. The Knxwledge stuff should be a bit crustier, and a bit more broken up. It's more unique. Rough with the smooth like, that's why I prefer it. I like old dusty vinyl with crackles and rips on them because I think it's prettier. I like to hear something really nice but then it's got imperfections everywhere; it makes it seem like it's worn, or familiar. Classic in so many words'.

As our conversation reaches it's close I ask what we should be looking out for over the rest of the year and beyond. 'Probably a few more instrumental things. The project's that I've mentioned; the project with Slumrok is titled 'MorrStinkin'. A few bits with Bisk. I've got some bits on Josh's new tape. Some new bits with Blah DVL GNG 616 Sweg Mafia for sure. I've got a project with Lee in particular that I'm tweaking as we speak, so there's a lot of stuff that'll be coming out. There might even end up being a 'Buggzville 2' at some point. It's been good to see the feedback about the album, people seem to have been enjoying it, and it's been good to get it out there. I've got to send my love out to all those that have supported me and the squad'.