Darkjoint Interview with britishhiphop.co.uk
10 January 2001
Roy 'The Dark Disciple' aka Darkjoint is another of one of those underground producers who is only just now putting his head above ground. He has just completed his debut single entitled 'Maximum Pressure'. It features MCD (Silent Eclipse) and Malarchi. Darkjoint is at the present time working on his debut album which should be out early next year, but he is possibly better known for his work with Malarchi whose album 'Forgotten World' is out now on Gemtoy Records.
The label has a nation wide distribution deal with Pinnacle so the records will be available in all good record shops. Malarchi is like Darkjoint's protégé, and Darkjoint has produced the entire 16 track album. It is not surprising that they work so closely together because Darkjoint and Malarchi live next door to each other in Canning Town, East London.
Darkjoint has been really busy recently having completed six tracks for the forthcoming D-Lyte-1 album entitled '1 AD' and has also done five tracks for the new Femi X album 'In The Biginning The Was' which is out now on Hard 2 Kill records. Femi X was the leader of the Hard II Kill Group with their debut 'Massacare' Ep which was well received in 1996. But sadly the members have now parted ways. Darkjoint is also the name of the studio (basically Darkjoint's yard) where his crew Malarchi, D-Lyte-1, Femi X and 2 Sticky hang out along with other MCs in East London.
Can you tell us a bit about where you are from, who your crew are and who they are associated with?
Am from Canning Town in East London and my crew is Darkjoint Entertainment. We are just a bunch of lads who pretends to be producers and it comprise of Roy "The Dark Disciple" and Leo "LMG" Gilbert from Oval South London.
Are there any other producers or MCs in your crew to look out for?
Well the thing is that we are a group of friends who happens to share the same passion for Hip-Hop, so it is not like a crew or clique. Darkjoint is LMG and myself on production and T-1 taking care of business. It is just a coincidence, that all the stuff out now with the darkjoint tag are all produced by me, (since LMG has been a lazy git over the past two years, talking about retiring and shit (laugh)) he will kill me for this but he taught me everything I know about making beats. When we started he was my DJ while I was the rapper, but frustration from other producers not passing the right beat forced us to harness the skill of music production. The rest as you can say is history. There is this kid from New Castle called Dominic who is heavy. He is young but his beats sounds like they were made by a veteran. He is one of the new producers and I will be doing some stuff with him for my album. He has just remixed U4Days for Malarchi. Keep your ears tuned for him.
You have said that you have been in this game for ten years, which is a long time. What were you doing back then, and who were you mostly listening to? Were you into UK Hip-Hop in the early 90's?
LMG and I started about 90 with just two techniques and a Mic doing as much demos as we can. We shopped around for a deal but were unlucky to get signed. We must have been kicked out of every studio in Brixton, Kennington and Oval around that time. My cousin later bought himself a nice 8-track studio in Surrey Keys so we started to make beats there. LMG bought a lot of records from Red Records in Brixton and many people used to hang out there for several of reasons. I just profile to check girls and still get blast or brushed by any girl I spoke to but we met a lot of rapiers there. LMG had a friend called Marlon who was heavy into UK HipHop. He told us about Hijack, Hard noise, MC Mello, Ragga Twins, Gunshot, MC Duke, Cash Crew, I was already into Overlord X, Derek Bowland, Rebel MC, NSO, Blade, Demon Boys, MC Merlin, DJ Pogo and so many others (memories. I need to check my record collection).
Did you MC back then?
Hell yeah cause after the emergency of Public Enemy and LL cool J, everyone wanted to rap. But not many were that good though. There was variety of UK MC's but not that many producers around.
We did a lot of shows in Kenington park south London which is were am from, but it was all about the performance. I do live now in Canning Town, which is where everything is based.
Why did you change up to producing, it is so much more expensive and producers often get less shine than the MCs?
I have always wanted to do music but it is hard when you can't play a single instrument. In the late 80's all that change with the advent of the sampler. This single piece of equipment started the whole genre of our music culture. To some degree I can express myself more musically than lyrically. Secondly I wanted to give other people a chance to shine from my sides. Especially with Malarchi and his former crew, when these brothers grab a Microphone they just kill it. You will be left amazed by their natural ability to bless the mic. This is not just rhyming but poetry and I love good poetry. I don't like to hear myself on tape when I have these brothers around. Yes music production is so much expensive than mcing but if your hearts in it you tend to just get on with it. I mean with the right drum beat being driven by a f**ked up bassline with some strings to cool it down, you will be surprised how many souls you can possess on any given Saturday night. That my friend is a rush no drugs can intimidate. The power to move the crowd, the aura of musical relief and satisfaction, the anticipation of an angry MC who's 8 bar intro is 4 bars to long. That's what makes me keep loving this. You need to have love and respect with a lot of pride to do what I do. No one can teach you how to do this its either you have it or you don't. The key to my banging joint is to be a fan of good hip-hop music.
How has your style developed over the years? Can you put that down to anything in particular?
Well usually, my music reflects the mood am in when composing it. One minute I might be in the mood to do a beat like "No Question" the next minute am in the mood for "U 4 Days". I tend to just keep making as much beats as I can to reflect all the different sides to me. I just tend to make the kind of music I want to listen to when am in the mood for it. Music play an important role in my life and I try to tell a story with every beat that I make. I don't listen to the radio as often as I would like which is a good thing for me as I try not to get influenced by what I listen to. But my music has steadily grown and mature of the years.
What was your first credit on a record?
That was back in 94-95 I did an album "Physical Pain" with Mo Entertainment and LMG for a singer called Emeka. The first single was "Realise" and "Wish I had a minute" which is produced by Mo entertainment and remix by LMG and myself. It was released through GHC Entertainment a label owned by myself and the rest of the GHC crew. A lot of people were feeling that record especially DJ Bigger who helped to break it to the Blues & Soul chat. That was my first credit on record. As a matter of fact that record featured an MC by the name of Dreadstar who later become Malarchi.
What are your thoughts about the state of UK hip-hop?
Hmmm the state of UK Hip-Hop...I think it is looking very healthy than usual because a lot of people are paying more attention now. Lets start with us the people making it, we (the UK Hip Hop Scene) have moved from making records on white label and poorly recorded tracks to full colour sleeve with well engineered tracks that can rival with any US releases. I mean its like a wake up call that swept across the UK Hip Hop industry and more and more people started investing more into there project with decent promotion and videos. I hope it keeps growing at this rate then we would have people who has never heard of UK Hip-Hop checking the records. We still have a long way to go with regards to continue radio support and mainstream media. I am a big fan of UK Hip-Hop right now because the music is so imaginative and inspiring, always refreshing sometimes a bit provocative and teasing.
Do you think it is going somewhere or is it stagnating?
Well yes, I think it is progressing on to something bigger. By this I mean, that there are more people involved now than ever before. There are more crews, more record labels, more hip hop shows, just more people willing to make more sacrifice to achieve there goals. The only thing that can hold anyone in this game is a lack of vision and maybe more realistically finance. One thing I do respect about this game is that everyone involved with it has a mutual respect and love for what they do. I believe anyone doing uk hip-hop have some love for it and that's what keeps it alive over the troublesome years. Will it ever be main stream? I do not know the answer to that. One thing I do know is that because of that same reason, UK hip hop sound is getting better and better after every other release. If you go to HMV to buy a hip hop record, you have the option to buy something a bit predictable and instantly forgettable like most of the US import (No disrespect meant here just giving my opinion). Or you can buy UK Hip Hop which at least guarantees one or all of the things I mentioned earlier. With financial support and better promotion don't be surprise to see Mark B & Blade, Malarchi, Moorish Delta 7, Darkjoint, Out the Vile, Freddie Kruga, D-Lyte-1 to name a few at the top ten of the UK charts or any European charts.
Who are the UK artists you listen to and admire?
I do admire Ninja Tunes for their survival as a record label over the years doing UK hip hop and so does Gemtoy records or any record company that has been supporting UK hip hop over the last ten years. I like blade since the days of "Mind of an ordinary citizens" and MC Mello since the days of "Open up your mind". Hard Noise with "Untitled", Over Lord X "Rough in Hackney" and "14 days in May". More recently Mark B and Blade, Black Sumaria's album "the struggle continue is one of my favourite UK hip hop albums of all time. Social Misfits Collective, D-Lyte-1's album is going to separate the men from the boys, cause it is so mature. I am a big fan of Black Twang and Rodney P because they always drop something I can personally relate to. MC D's "Don't judge a book by its cover" and Psychological Enslavement Album with Silent Eclipse. Like Rodney P said on 'Dedication', "I don't feel any MC like I feel MC D, that's real." and believe me, he epitomise UK Hip-Hop for me. MC D has the all time favourite UK MC crown for me. I love DJ Skitz production on "Dedication" and his album is phat. Moorish Delta reflects the way I feel sometime so I do like to listen to their EP when am in that kind of mood. Out the vile is one of the more recent crew am feeling. Back in the day they had an MC called Karma Kazi with a track titled "The Truth" which I think was cold. I tried to buy that tune but could not find it in any record shops in London. TY tend to take things back like when we all started doing this, which is nice to bring back those memories. Creators and Nextmen are nice too with different vibes. Insane Macbeth and ice pick are killing it. There are so many others I can't remember right now but I do like that IceBerg Slim tune "Fuck You" because it has more of a UK feel to it. For the past couple of weeks I have been listening to Malarchi's album "Forgotten World" and "Going 4 D.E.L.F" the forth coming Darkjoint album but I need to make my mind up on what tracks would finally make the album. I do tracks then think it is not good enough to make the album and trying to keep with other peoples schedule does not help but its almost finish now.
Who are your UK influences?
I'm afraid am stuck in a decade long gone and that would be the 80's. I think pop music in the 80's is a lot more credible than what is being manufactured today. At least there were a lot more variety and no one wanted to sound the same or be compared to another artist. Most of what I do now is a legacy of that era especially with some of the acid and dance act. Hip Hop was a new thing to me then and LMG could not take any of that pop shit. So hanging out with him taught me a lot of things regarding beat making. He taught me most of what I know now so I guess he is my greatest UK influence. I do like what Skitz is doing cause just like me he is a proper UK trooper with that UK vibe. I also like, Baby J, Cipher Jewels, the whole Social Misfit entourage and what Prestige is doing. I am doing couple of beats for PQ's album also a member of the Misfits. I guess production wise, 1 of the people who inspired me to do this is Neville Tomas and Pule Puto of 2B3 Productions. They just had it locked for me in the 90's. CJ Macintosh and Jazzy B with Nellie Hopper played a great part as pioneers while I was growing up. I always look up to them for inspiration in music.
Who or what are your other influences?
Growing up in a strict African home means that I was not allowed to have a radio to play none of that talk music as my dad called it. I had to listen to what ever he had on his radio. This was Classical music on Sundays, Top of the pops, the whole 60's and 70's music era including the Beatles, Stones, The Police mixed with Bee Gees, Michael Jackson and The Jackson 5, and Bob Marley. Top of the pops and soul train were my only source of information for new music in the 80's. All of these are my influences as it was part of my youth, not by choice but that's all I had. When I was a teenager I started buying my own tapes and records, that's when I was exposed to urban music like Ragga, Soul and R&B and finally hip hop. At first I was heavy into R&B producers like Teddy Riley, Dallas Austin, Devante Degrate, Gene Griffins. DJ Eddie F and the Untouchables played the biggest part as production inspiration for me, LA & Baby Face, Jimmy Jam and Terry Louis, Tim and Bob, and a lot others I cant remember right now. When it comes to Hip Hop, It first started with Marly Marl, Mark the 45 king, Dr Dre, the bomb squared, EMPD and then Pete Rock, DJ Premier, DITC, Timberland, Jazzy Jeff, Def Jeff, ATCQ, etc.
So you work here in the Dark Joint studio in East London. What sort of equipment are you using both to make beats and to record? How would you say having your own studio helps in the recording process? Can you let off some of your production techniques?
Well I use a Mac to do all my vocals, mixed with some outboards and compressors. I use the EMU ESI 32 Sampler for all my beats and samples with the EMU Proteus 2000 sound module for keys. Most of my equipment's old so I tend to do pre-production at home and mix my tracks at MO studios in Edmonton, home to MO Entertainment. He is my mate and he has some decent equipment in there. Having a studio or at least a pre-production studio helps because you can spend as much time tweaking your beats till it sounds right without having to worry about time. This helps us to make as much beats as we can and then screened the ones we like from the ones we don't. We are our biggest critic when it comes to what beats we let out of the studio so all the consumer gets is quality banging Darkjoint after Darkjoint. About production tips ..hmmm let me think for a second...ok ..right.
The recipe to make a dark banging joint is as follows:
- Firstly, you will need a big cooking pot, preferably a Dutch pot with the big handles and strings to hold it. If your misses will not provide you one then try a sampler with a large enough memory to hold your unique sound library.
- Find your self a solid drum kit which you can get from any decent hip hop instrumental or break beat. Drum machine's are usually raw sample sounds without processing so you will need to tweak them heavy.
- Dig deep in the crate to find your unique sample to give the track an identity so it can stand on its own. Perfect example would be any classic hip hop track. Then drop a rugged kick drum rhythm as the beat canvas to build on.
- Add 2 pounds of snare and 1 ounce of hi hat mixed with cubasa and some shakers. Add 10 pounds of bass to provide a mashed up driving groove, sizzled with some deep guitar low down over drive. Sprinkle some piano and horns to get the melody happening. By now the pot. Sorry the sampler should be hot waiting for the right vocals to bless it. One of my trade secret is to cool the beat down with some strings if its to hot.
- Run down to the nearest Her Majesty Pleasure to seek an inmate who has been locked up for at least 10 years (Trust me mate he can deliver one of the most depressing track ever recorded). If the guards refuse, then get the right MC with an explosive energy of 100 mega ton yield of nuclear blast to do justice to your wonderful creation.
- Finally stir or tweak and mixed 'til golden brown. Serve to your local DJ for his immediate attention which hopefully should get the hype bubbling. Tell all your mates and all the skets. Sorry girls you know to request the track from your local stations. I tell you my friends, you have a bright future behind you in the world of UK Hip Hop production. Don't give up the day job until you have a number 1 hit. Mail me at email@example.com with your royalty cheque or credit card details for more tips).
PS. In order to cook up a Darkjoint, follow the steps above and add the mind of a mad frustrated nuclear physicist whose actions will determine the fate of mankind with his next creation. Add to this his stubborn attitude towards any form of authority is intolerable. Mixed this with the genius of any of the great Austrian Classical Music composers. Then and only then will you be able to create a Darkjoint.
Do you like to make beats first and then get rappers to spit on them, or do you prefer creating a beat for a rhyme an MC has already written and why?
It all depends on who you're working with. For instance, when I was working on Malarchi's album, we would have normal conversation on a deep subject like "Why am I always so broke" or "Why here in the UK we are so dislocated from society. In such a way that we don't feel like we are playing our roles as citizens because of what we do, since no one want to listen to what we have to say". This will lead on to reasons as to why that is and what can be done to change that, not just for us but also for people just like us. We would debate this for hours until Malarchi comes up with an idea like "No Survival" (Track 15 on the Forgotten World LP). This kind of topic is very passionate and emotional as it reflects a certain part of modern urban culture which affects so many people's lives. As a producer, I would like to simulate that anger but yet calm kind of moody track or soundscape. Malarchi then goes of to do the lyrics while I would dig in the crate to find the right type of sounds to go with it. Hopefully, when it all comes together the listener will capture those frustration we are trying to let out. On the other hand while working with D-lyte-1, he already had his album written. He would lay the vocals down around an empty drum loop with the right tempo. When am on my own I would then go to work to provide my musical interpretation of what he is trying to say. I personally prefer to be involve with the whole idea of a track since it conception. Because I would like to see how passionate the MC is about the subject matter which becomes a challenge for me to interpret musically.
Do you get involved in the 'Train spotting' and 'one upmanship' of the trendy beat diggers?
No, No, hell bloody no. I am very passionate about what I do and this is simple because I make the kind of music I would like to listen to. Secondly producers now tend to have their time of shine and then they fade to the background. If your whole sound is based on who ever is the "man of the moment", what happens to your sound when he fades out. People make music for all sorts of reasons, and if imitation is your reason then why not. Go for it mate and see how long you last out there. I personally prefer to create my own sound and style which can be an interpretation from what ever vibe am in. That way if my sound blows up then other producers can only give you a cheap imitation of it. Ask Timberland and Teddy Riley they know how it feels to have someone bite your style.
Are you signed to Gemtoy then, or is it your own label? It appears quite affluent, making videos etc. Is that the RnB side supporting the Hip Hop side?
No I don't own Gemtoy and I don't speak to their accountant to know weather it's the RnB side supporting the hip hop side with videos. You would need to speak to the MD cause I don't have that information. Darkjoint is an independent production company working in part with Gemtoy. Gemtoy has always supported us and that's why I signed Malarchi to the label. They are one of the few independent labels who has a whole lot of experience in the marketing and promotion of UK hip hop and RnB. For as long as they support what I do they will always have my support and beats. I would work with any label that has their business locked and Gemtoy Records is one of them.
What does the name of the label mean and is the football in the logo symbolic? Are you football freaks, and if so which teams do you support?
Sorry you will need to speak to the labels press officer as I don't have any of that information. But as football fans go, for me it's the Arsenal. Yes I am a big gunners fan.
Has getting your music out been a struggle as it has been for so many other recording artists? Do you have any advice for aspiring artists about the pitfalls of the music industry?
Getting UK Hip Hop out for anyone is a struggle as the industry is not big enough to make the small pot of money invested go around. So for everyone doing it comes down to the love we have for it. That's why I guess we are so passionate about it. People involved are always trying to come correct better than the last time they released a record. There is always that financial hardship and like Black Twang said "Red Letters". One thing I do appreciate is the fans that support it never give up on us no matter what people say. I guess that's what keeps us as an industry going. The feeling of affecting 500 or 1000 people's lives out of 56 million are the selected ones that get it. For those few 500 gives us the courage to dig deeper and come with the next better release. In terms of advice I would only say you should believe in what you do and persistence would get you through.
Are you at all politically motivated? If you could change something about society, what would it be and why?
I never ever want to be involved with politics. It's a dirty game that leads you to compromise your belief just for political survival. If I can change anything about people, it would be ignorance towards what we do.
oy, you have your own LP 'Going For D.E.L.F (Death Expectancy Life Forsaken)' out soon, do you have anything you'd want people to know about this? Who have you worked with for this project?
Yeah, the project is almost completed and I will be dropping a single soon. I will have to save the details for another interview when things are completed. So far I have MC D, Malarchi, Slanye from Shadow Cabinet, D-lyte-1, Christynette and 2 Sticky. Am still waiting on confirmation but I have to see how it goes. The album is going to be hip hop with a mixture of other influences. It will have everything you have come to expect from the Darkjoint and more.
What is going to be keeping you busy over the next few months? What is happening with the D-Lyte-1? Is it out now?
I have just completed the remix to "Da Shock" and the re mix to "Gentle Distance" by Christynette. I don't know when D-lyte-1 will drop his album as he is still recording a couple of more tracks. Mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out. I have done a couple of tracks for B-Sharp and a couple for Pee Que's album. I have been commissioned to do other projects by some big name American Artists but we just have to wait and see how that goes. I am a hip hop junky and will always be making beats so let see what the future holds for me and this industry. Only time will tell what happens.
What are your longer term plans and objectives?
My long term plan is take this to the next level. I hate being looked at as a second class beat producer just because am from the UK and I don't push as much units as my American counterparts. This goes for all the UK producers who have stepped up the game in the past couple of years and we refuse to be seen as such. We are just as good as any of them mans across the Atlantic ocean.
Is there anything else you would like to mention?
Yeah, this is what we do and it is real to us. The industry should take more notice of what we do so I can give up my day job to do this full time. Much respect to the ones that took notice. We owe the little we have to the fans who unconditionally support us as an industry. The magazines like Fat Boss, Fatlace, Knowledge, HHC, Rago, Echos, DJ and so many others. And web sites like UKHH.com, The Crate Estate and Ollie, QED with the knowledge and history of UK hip hop, Babs at Homegrown.co.uk, Fusion @ darkerthanblue.com, Crate Digger with British.co.uk, The staff of Gemtoy records, Big Dada, Ronin, Ninja tunes, Low Life Records, Son Records, Titan Sounds, Kemistry, Dapper Dan, Big Trev, Wolf town Recordings, 7 Entertainment, Word Play, Bad Magic, Unforgiving Entertainment, Insane Macbeth, Mo Entertainment, Darkjoint Entertainment, Misfits Entertainment, Fasfwd, and all the people in the struggle. There is a brighter day ahead even when the future seems bleak.
Is there anyone else you would like to mention?
Myself for putting up with this fickle industry..nah that don't sound right. The fans man.they make keep doing this. Malarchi, for trusting me to fucked up his whole album, LMG my partner in crime for putting up with my shit over the years, T-1, D-Lyte-1, B-Sharp and Gem @ Gemtoy for the support, trust me these mans don't know but I do and appreciate your effort, Prestige and the misfit, am still waiting for my application, PQ, Moorish Delta 7, need to post you that track hope you like it, my boys C-Town Inc (Maximillian, Memphis-Da-Don and Mendes Mendosa), Tim Westwood @ R1, Jenny Francis @ Choice, One Step, Big Ted and Shorty Blitz @ Kiss 100, Greenpeace @ XFM, DJ ASH @ first Love radio, P.O.T., Ollie, Crate Digger, QED u the man, PQ, B-Sharp, Out da ville, Lady Zimmer, Lethal and destruction, Ty, Iyare, Fusion and T max, Braintax, Task Force, Rodney P, and everyone that gives us the support.
Thank you very much Roy for breaking away from your equipment and busy schedule long enough to fill everybody in on what you are on. Check Darkjoint's track by track breakdown of Malarchi's'Forgotten Worlds' LP at UKHH.com.
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