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Category Archives: Interviews
i’ve never read a more affecting book than jay griffiths’ wild: an elemental journey. it is the one book i would save from a house fire, and if i had time, i’d save her other books too. the greatest books i’ve ever read have somehow involved an element of luck or intuition (and judging a book by it’s cover). wild was the biggest book on scarborough library’s shelf 6 years ago when i read it. bold, sans-serif WILD emanating from the spine; i didn’t even read the description.
there are many more of these interviews with various authors on resist network’s website, these are just four by jay that i liked.
underworld’s live album was one of five albums i took, on tape, to australia in 2002, and listened to for a full year. since then i haven’t followed much of what they’ve been doing other than to workout to beaucoup fish occaasionally and cite born slippy as the 90′s most representative song.
i flipping love this track though.
my favourite tracks by sheffield’s christopher rave.
between the chapters of government grievances, anti-tourism and ‘synthetic prisons’ abbey writes of his summers as park ranger in the deserts of utah. dry, desolate and unforgiving, the desert as abbey describes it is the opposite. a place to be respected and learned from, protected from the tyranny of the national parks association, abbey explores the wilderness with confidence and excitement. at times abbey rants in the way you can only do with age, and those are my least favourite aspects of this book, though i mostly agree. the rest is diary, guidebook, anecdotes and observations of one of the least explored parts of the usa.
abbey does not fear the wilderness, but embraces it’s ability to instill fear as one of it’s most endearing qualities.
here’s some work i did for the wind up‘s canadian tour. they’re playing a lot of places.
a british seaside town, with it’s squally winters and hectic summers, it’s aging permanent population and little to interest the young, could be seen as a dubious place for a multi-disciplined rapper to emerge. out of an unlikely northern town though, digga jefferson price emerged carving an uncommon path in hip hop. as an extension of the small, underground, local skate scene in the 90′s and the equally small, underground, local music scene, digga chose what, at the time, was still a little-understood genre in popular culture.
digga is not solely a rapper though. a few years ago, i played a fundraising gig with digga on the bill. he played a ben fold’s inspired set on the piano and joined us to play on a couple of acoustic folk songs, far from hip hop. at the other end of the scale, digga is a beast in freestyle, aggressive battle rapping, competing regularly in national battles. digga has found that creativity can come from varied places, allowing his influences and output to reflect this. you’ll struggle to meet a more honest, interesting person to talk to, with so much to say and so much interesting stuff going on, hence i had to get him to do one of these interviews. i’ve filled this with links and videos and i recommend you go through and check them all out.
over to digga…
before i knew you, i knew you made music, that’s over 10 years ago. why and how did you start?
well, i started making music at school, not in the format i do now, it was like punky stuff. i played bass and around the time nothing else was happening in scarborough apart from a load of talentless teens playing in shit bands, i was one of them. then i started djing hip hop in bars around town, then i started rapping around 17. i was always into writing and rap seemed a pretty good idea because i loved the music and culture, the skateboarding, the scene, so i began recording, thus the rest is history.
you’re influences are varied and eclectic, who have been your biggest influences and how have these influences changed over the years?
i guess the biggest influence i have is scarborough really. you can only write about your experiences and surroundings and they have usually reflected back to the town i’m from. i have travelled though, don’t get me wrong, i’m not some kind of backward country boy, i’ve spent time in many other places but always returned to ‘boro. musically, good hip hop has always influenced me, elliott smith, tom waits and the films of the coen brothers. i guess as i’ve got older my tastes have refined somewhat, back when i was younger, i used to be a pretty hard-headed hip hop kid and every other type of music was crap but now i listen to the lot, anything, enya is dope too.
you’ve recently been doing a lot of battle raps, how did that come about?
well i battled a lot when i was about 18 but the battle scene back then was always london based, 4 hours away from me so i just left it. then don’t flop started and i joined at the start of the year after many months of trying. the league is so full with loads of mc’s who want to be apart of it so you kind of have to get in line. it’s good promotion and it’s a good laugh.
what do you feel like when battle rapping, do you have to psyche yourself up before hand?
while i’m battling i think of nothing at all. i can never remember what the person i’m battling is saying to me, i just black out. the only psyching up i do is punching dead meat, running up stairs, eating raw eggs and nutting walls for hours on end. other than that, no psyching.
is battle rapping as hostile as it can sometimes look? are there any limits or is it really no-holds-barred?
it is hostile yeah, during the battle and beforehand sometimes. but generally it’s actually a really friendly league here in the u.k, i know some of the u.s leagues are a little more angry but here is quite cool, which is good for me because i’m a quiet killer, i hate pre-battle shit talking, i just wanna go in there, beat you and shake your hand. as for limits, technically, no, but from a moral standpoint i personally wouldn’t talk peoples children in a distasteful way, i don’t think you should talk about people who can’t defend themselves, if that makes any sense.
what do you consider the best line you’ve ever written?
tough one, i don’t know to be honest. probably something that i haven’t recorded yet. i’ll get back to you.
are you working on anything at the moment that you’re excited about? future projects?
yes! i have an ep dropping october 2011 which is produced by brown bag allstars’ tranzformer and others and features bbas and truth. then i am releasing a 4 part ep in which i will remix four of my favourite artists. more to be revealed. until then check diggajeffersonprice.com for battles and other music.
how did your connections with new york come about?
long time ago, about ’03, i met a talented young man called j57 who is a producer and mc. we started collaborating on various projects and became good friends. he’s a really really sick producer and could burn anyone on a mic too. his group, brown bag allstars are also some talented cats – google ‘em. other ny shouts go to pr dean, tableek, dj concept, famoso, eddie p and jesse and the rest of the old long island crew.
are there any particular themes that run through your music? why do you think that is?
i tend to write a lot about relationships with other people, whether it be love or hate. i have an obsession with how people react to various actions, mindsets etc. i find it fascinating, human nature as a whole on a social level, that tends to be my running theme.
how would you describe the music industry right now? are these positive or negative times for music?
i think for the independent artist it’s half and half. with a addition of the internet you have more power in what you wish to do. it’s certainly easier. but on the flip side there isn’t any quality control, you got any old tool rapping and getting thousands of downloads. it’s a double edged sword. in my opinion, you dont understand being a truly independent until you’ve put your own money into vinyl, cds etc and pushed it yourself. it’s one thing uploading your music to bandcamp and letting your little finger tips hustle it, it’s another taking 100 cds to a battle and trying to sell ‘em, that’s truly independent.
as for just the general state of music, it’s really quite poor. popular music is now in a horrible place. music isn’t sold on albums really any more, just singles, so artists are becoming disposable. one hit, your done, goodbye. record labels don’t press anything up anymore hardly so they are just big management houses for big artists. there’s no idols, no lennons, no zappas, no dylans, no one rebelling against government, no one talking candidly, nothing. just music to supply the clubs with. look underground.
any words of wisdom for the fans?
never move in with a girl (jk) don’t eat yellow or brown snow, always check my battles and music out and you won’t go far wrong in life.
when i was 14 i played a gig in scarborough that i’m still proud of today, a gig that resulted in our permanent ban from the pavillion vaults due to there being footprints in the ceiling after a rousing 6 song set. peggy mitchell was unhappy with the largely underage crowd abusing her ‘premier’ music venue. there are no pictures of this event, not many of any gigs we played at the time, it was a different era of technology and documentation where photographing five school kids thrashing it out in a dreary northern seaside town was low on the list of photographic subject matter. it was pre-digital, pre-social network and pre-scarborough’s renaissance. looking back at it now, that time would’ve made for some amazing music photography, punks were still weird and heavy music was still safe from limp bizkit’s mass-market appeal. if you’d photographed a 200 strong mosh pit writhing under an 8-foot ceiling or seen the enormous, derelict concrete warehouse we practiced in with minimal lighting, i think it would’ve made for some really nice imagery of a small town with an interesting music scene.
scarborough’s music heritage has always been strong and fortunately there is much more scope for documenting it today. david ruston has been photographing gigs and musicians for a few years and has become one of the most well-known and respected gig photographers in the area. whilst studying, he could be regularly found in the new tavern’s small gig space. with free reign to work with musicians, he produces amazing images of some of our most talented bands and individuals, both on stage and off it.
seeing david’s work is a pleasurable experience, his portraits are simply excellent and have a real sense of personality within them, the mark of a really talented individual. here david tells me about his work, career so far and his influences in photography.
where did it all start for you with photography? what brought you to specialising in music photography and portraits?
it started in college, when i was doing my national diploma in multimedia at yorkshire coast college. we were given a unit on photography to experiment with different techniques and try to be as creative as possible. this led me to the dark room. as soon as i walked in was hooked. i managed to grab my first dslr shortly after, and soon got referred odd jobs by my tutor, mike ambler.
music didn’t come into things straight away, it wasn’t until a few mates in scarborough got together and formed everyone an army. photographing their gigs got me listening to more and more local talent and going to a lot more gigs. the kick up the arse was when tom and karen took over the new tavern in scarborough last year. they happily let me in to snap their gigs, and i soon realised that music photography was the thing for me.
i’ve dabbled in portraits since i got my first camera, although i know now they were never true portraits. when i look back none of them had meaning and didn’t reflect the sitters personality. after photographing more and more musicians i began to read into things a whole lot deeper. now i can’t help listening to original music without being inspired by how i can portray them in such a way that reflects their music.
there are some really great music photographers out there, yourself included, are their any who are a particular influence on you?
without a doubt, mick rock has to be my biggest influence. he gets up close and personal with his subjects, he understands them, and I think it’s this that makes his portraits so great. i think the era had a lot to do with it; photographers could get close to stars either on their highs or lows. now there is so much censorship in place. record labels and management wouldn’t dream of letting a photographer release something that could potentially effect their company.
what do you consider your strongest work so far? how do you see yourself and your work evolving in the future?
my fine art project content has to be by most favorite work. the idea was to explore the identity and individuality of a variety of women by photographing the content of their handbags. i managed to get 16 overall, which ranges from students to scenes of crime officers.
i got a lot of frowns when i first started this but i hope they understand as to what i was trying to achieve. personally, i see the contents as revealing the inner self of their owner, and the bag as the skin. of course, everybody has a different take on things. i hope to explore this identity idea a little further and see where it takes me.
for music i just want to get out there and shoot. i’ve spent too much time sitting and thinking at uni and now is the time to get out there! i really want to get to some bigger venues and events, but access is so difficult now. if your not assigned to a publication then the chances are slim. i guess that’s where i am now, seeking publication whilst working on my portfolio.
are you working on anything at the moment that you’re particularly excited about?
just looking forward to the future and see what comes my way! i guess i’m really excited for the day i can focus 100% on photography without having the 9-5 job.
what do you think is the most important aspect when photographing people?
if you understand them then i would say your half way there. everyone is different and if you haven’t spent much time with them before hand then you have lots of work to do when you finally meet. so yeah, spend as much time with them as you can. if they’re musicians then don’t stop listening to their music!
what are you favourite conditions to shoot in? and also what are the worst?
for general out door a slight overcast is nice. maybe that’s the reason most of my stuff looks slightly depressing! patchy cloud is annoying when shooting on medium format or film. constantly having to check meter readings gets a little tedious but then it’s nice to be kept on your toes!
for gigs, dull or harsh red lighting is my hate. the new tavern was a prime example. i just ended up hanging wireless speedlights of the light fittings and amplifiers. no one minded so I didn’t see the problem!
got any words of wisdom?
ha! i’ve only just left uni so it’s probably best to ignore me! a few agencies I contacted a while ago both said ‘shoot what you want’, as then you will always have passion for what you do.
david is a music, portrait & editorial photographer based in scarborough. he has recently finished a ba in commercial photography at grimsby institute of further & higher education.
all images by david ruston