Vocalist/writer Rob Birch, and DJ/producer Nick Hallam, founded the biggest selling hip hop group the UK has produced to date, Rob Birch and Nick Hallam met in Nottingham in the mid-80s before relocating to London, forming the first incarnation of Stereo MCs and producing debut album ཝ 45 78′ a labor of love that involved hand-making drum loops in the most rudimentary of studios and crafting the blueprint for their sound. It was undoubtedly a raw record, but utterly original, drawing the attention of the likes of the Jungle Brothers who would soon feature in a star turn on the second album ‘Supernatural’, released in 1990.
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“Elevate My Mind” from that album was the first British hip hop single to reach the U.S. R&B chart.
By creating a very British take on a very American discipline, influenced as it was by the rising tide of acid house as much as Public Enemy and the early rap pioneers, Stereo MCs had created what no British group had managed before credible Hip Hop from London able to appeal to the masses.
The Stereo MCs [EP] (1990)
DJ-Kicks: Stereo MCs (mixed by the Stereo MCs) (2000)
Deep Down And Dirty (2001)
Retroactive (2003) (‘best of’ compilation album)
Stereo MCs Interview
1. Welcome to Songstuff what have the Stereos been up to in 2007?
We’ve been carrying on making our new LP which is nearing completion we’ve got about 20 tracks we’re working it’s coming great and we hope to finish very soon to get it out in January, we’ve also been working on some tracks with a friend of ours Finley Quaye for his next LP, we’ve got about six tracks on the go for that, and Rob has been doing various DJ spots all over.
2. Technology has advanced a long way since you first started touring and using cassettes, do you approve of the affordable home software for budding musicians and writers? What do you use?
It’s great that people can make more advanced recordings at home. It’s opened things out a lot for everybody, now you don’t have to spend so much money to make music makes it less elitist and more exciting and challenging. We use Logic Audio with pro tools and Macintosh with reason etc Akai samplers turntables guitars keyboards old gear new gear …..
3. When you write a song do you have a message in mind, or does your creativity just produce one?
I guess sometimes an idea for a lyric can inspire the whole track but there’s no real deliberate message, but whatever makes us think as people would obviously end up in our music and lyrics one way or another.
4. Who influences the Stereos musically?
Everything really new and old Funk reggae rock dance music, the new and the old.
5. What’s your experience of the record industry when so many talented home musicians and writers are trying to make it through?
Just make your music and keep doing it if you love it, there are great people in the music business and there’s a lot of clueless idiots who unfortunately can dictate how things go, don’t let them put you off, put your record out yourself put it on Myspace do gigs play to people, if you get an audience you can get a record deal on your own terms.
6. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Really just people we vibe with could be someone unknown off the street or someone known just down to a button being pushed that gets you excited.
7. Lyrically your songs are very strong do you forget the words live, or do you have a tip to avoid this?
Practise! Sometimes it’s bits of the ones you’ve done forever you forget.
8. When are you releasing a live DVD?
There was one from Connected that Island re-released last year. We hope to do a new one from the tours we plan next year.
9. How long does it take you to make an album?
Anywhere between 2 months and 5 years!
Its to do with where you are in your life sometimes, if it doesn’t come it doesn’t, just keep making tracks till something kicks in, we made three LP’s in a row in a short space of time and toured worldwide in between them, they didn’t feel it for a while, now we’re back to a more even level of creativity, sometimes you get burned out and have to step back.
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