For this month's Pica~Sounds we're joined by none other than Burgundy Blood.
He’s shared a stage with Wu Tang, he’s kicked it with Kool Keith, he’s written about French comfort shoes, and on Thursday the 28th of July, he’ll be spinning records at Common, just round the corner from our Manchester shop.
Who is he? What sort of music will he play? Does he believe in ghosts? We pestered him for some answers...
Okay, what’s been going on lately?
Apart from the beginning of the complete anal prolapse of western civilisation?? I've been rehearsing with my new live band, we just recently supported Cypress Hill at Brixton Academy, or Bristol Academy as I kept calling it, re-modelling my garage and having a fantastic family holiday in Croatia.
Who or what is Burgundy Blood? Can you give us the full, unabridged back-story?
Burgundy Blood started in my mind and as a conceptual rap group, loosely based on the Wu-Tang Clan, that was made up of several different rap personas that lived inside the psyche of one deluded and vulnerable MC.
The group was home birthed, with an emergency c-section, through a collaboration with MPC diva prince Richard Weedawn and production guru Roman Dave Moses. At that point we all became Burgundy Blooded from the afterbirth and placenta quiche. Since that immaculate conception we have amalgamated and coagulated with various creatives, most recently forming the live band that we are currently working on, and in.
When did you start putting out your own stuff?
We started pretty quickly after our conception. Having a long standing friendship/professional relationship with Mr Chopped Herring Records meant that we were able to bring out our first official release, Cordial Stance, not long after we'd completed our first album. In terms of the World Wide Web and the YouTube we'd pretty much released our shit from the start.
I know you’ve been knocking around in Manchester for a while, how has it changed since you were a starry-eyed lad?
My first most starry eyed recollection of the Manchester "scene", as it were, was going to The Gallery under 18's night on Deansgate back in oooh… 1985. Johnny Jay the harlequin was the DJ, me and my brother were quite visible in our white skin and it was fucking ace! They had "your mum" battles between Moss Side and Longsight on the mic, it was well moody and we got patted down by the door staff on the way in so I thought I was in Beat Street. After that I went to The Hacienda (and quite a few raves, blues party's and hip hop gigs) from the age of 13 to 21 and on... so I was pretty spoilt you know? My niece goes out raving now and I'm pretty sure she's having as much fun as I did back then.
What albums were you into growing up?
I'm an album kind of guy to be honest, when I were a lad I'd sit and listen to one of them vinyl disc things end to end and then again. As a real youngster I liked Madness and Michael Jackson, then when I got into hip hop, around the age of 11/12/13, I'd listen to tons of albums.
The most prominent I can think of right now are all the early StreetSounds Electro compilation albums, Straight out the Jungle by The Jungle Brothers, Paid in Full by Eric B. & Rakim, Licensed to Ill by The Beastie Boys, Yo! Bum Rush the Show by Public Enemy and maybe Mantronix. There was tons of stuff though really.
What are you into now?
Right now I listen to mixcloud. I'm still in the process of setting my decks back up and I listen to most of my music through the laptop of doom. I really like a dude called Jazzcat, terrible name but he puts up some great mixes. Other than that I'll put on a DJ Riz mix, take advice from my homey the MADNICE marauder and all manner of great pre mixed goodness. I don't nerd out on artists like I used to, I just find good shit and listen to it.
I know a lot of people have that mind-set, with hip hop, that it had its glory days in the mid-90s, and don’t listen to anything after that. What are your thoughts on hip hop in 2016?
Mid 90's hip hop heads… those people who think music should have stopped the minute they took out their mortgages or whatever. I know them and I avoid them. I think hip hop in 2016 is very good, the fact that it's pissing off middle-aged hip hop fans means it's doing its job correctly!
I love that 808 shit, I always have and I think hip hop is kind of going through its grunge phase or something? It's dope, there's some sick shit in France too, this crazy drugged-out African club shit! Then you have Kendrick who is just bonafide, Action Bronson who is a role model, the man Lee Scott, there's plenty of good shit. For me, since the mid 90's when hip hop got really popular, there's always been tons of shit groups, you just had to dig a bit deeper to find the good stuff, and it's the same now I think.
Who else is decent round here on the hip hop front?
Hip hop wise, I'm not too up on the local scene you know? I'm a family man and I don't get out much. My man Konny Kon and his brother Tyler Daley are making some very sweet noises as Children of Zeus. I really like their shit and they are finally getting recognition and TING. I clocked a group called Cul De Sac I thought were pretty sick, I'm hoping they will bring out some more stuff.
You supported Wu-Tang not too long ago. Have you got any stories you’d care to share? Did you meet the main-man Gary Grice?
I did meet Gary, he was one of the best to watch during the tour (we watched them to the end every night). My main-man and DJ, Paddy Quinnzola (No Fakin), compared watching the GZA to watching Zinadine Zidane; the way he prowled around the stage waiting for his perfect moment to lunge forward from the group and destroy shit on stage. That tour was fantastic, the whole thing was a story.
All our team were amazing. I got to bring my daughter along for Brixton Academy and Glasgow, my sister and my cousin were in the team, we had my good friend and Suede Comet album cover artist Mishka Henna taking bizarre Instagram pics. It was the perfect mix of family and friends and hip hop love. It's a pretty dull story but all the Wu-Tang members that showed up were top gents. Got to chat with Ghost, U-God, Gary, and Cappadonna was a super funny guy! That whole thing was a blessing. Big up Chris Waring for that one man. I was a happy fucker on that tour.
How did you get Kool Keith to do that track with you? What’s he like?
The Kool Keith thing was set up by a certain Mr. 2 Kool Tony, or Triple Terry as Keith liked to call him. We were working on a vinyl release Tony had hooked up with us – Sadat X and Bazooka Joe "Elephants Breath" released on his heavy crates label. Tony has some amazing connections stateside and was tour managing part of the Ultra Magnetics UK tour. We supported them in the hip hop Mecca of Hebdon Bridge and in a drunken post gig meeting we decided to offer Keith the opportunity to rap with UK underfloor legend Burgundy Blood!
Keith leaped at the opportunity and a date was booked the following day in Burgundy Studio's, AKA Roman Dave Moses front room! We had about 32 beats for him to listen too. He turned up on time and it was pretty surreal for me. This guy is my Miles Davis of Rap, a guy who's music and lyrics have influenced me possibly more than most, especially in a sexual context. He got straight into it and listened to every beat a couple of times, finally choosing by far the freakiest of the pile. He wrote his shit on the spot and hit the booth. It was fucking unbelievable for me to sit and listen to him do his takes and shout out my groups name. Again I was a happy fucker. After his takes he kicked it with us, watched some Burgundy Blood vids and he was very complimentary. A real super star to me. I was blessed to have had that opportunity too… big up Triple Terry.
You put a lot of effort into your music videos, and each album sort of runs like a film. Where do you film this stuff? Do you get funny looks when you’re knocking around in the park with stockings on your head?
The videos were very important to us in the beginning. YouTube was so easy to access and we could use very basic technology and we had tons of ideas. It was fun and easy for us because we are creative geniuses. We had the idea of doing the first album as YouTube video episodes influenced by watching box sets etc. I think we were the first group to do a video for each track on an album ever? On the second album Suede Comet we linked all the videos together to make them into a full length film… everybody thinks Beyonce did it first but she fucking didn't. One of the problems with being creative geniuses is you are too far ahead of the game and your wings get burnt because you fly so close to the sun. But I will never stop flying and I will never stop getting sun burnt!
Last time I saw you, you were talking about starring in a science-fiction film. Have there been any developments in this? Can you divulge any plot details?
We've made a trailer and our producer has promised he will come back from Hollywood with millions of pounds to fund it. The director thinks that Brexit will give us a great opportunity to allow investors to pump thousands into a British made movie about a cult in Manchester! This is British culture after all… isn't this what you wanted? It's a horror film set in the 80's. I think reality is much scarier right now though.
Do you think man will ever reach Mars? And what are your thoughts on ghosts?
I don't know about Mars? Maybe? We should send Donald Trump to check it out and "Matt Damon" the cunt.
I believe in emotional ghosts, like Drake.
You were the man responsible for bringing the humble Arcus shoe to the masses. What other clothes are you into? What are your top three suede shoes in ascending order?
I do like clothes, I'm not a metrosexual though and I'm kind of getting to the Larry David stage where comfort is primary. I've been trying to find smart jogging pants. I mostly wear a mixture of Carhartt, Champion, Lacoste, Polo Ralph Lauren, Edwin, Nike, Clarks and some Y.M.C.
Suede shoes from the top down. I love the Weaver you know, need to get some. I think you should give me some? I had a lovely pair blue of suede Pegasus that were nice and I've always wanted a pair of suede Bally shoes.
You also work as a plasterer. Have you got any tips to help anyone planning on a bit of home improvements?
When planning to engage a plasterer to undertake your plastering requirements please ensure all wallpaper has been stripped from the walls you wish to be plastered. Trying to evaluate the work required to fix the plaster surface of a wall when the wall paper is covering it is like asking Quincy to perform an autopsy without a fucking scalpel. None of your old wallpaper is funny.
Clearing the room of all furniture does not mean pushing it all into the middle.
Get some decent coffee.
What sort of stuff do you reckon you’ll play on Thursday?
Fuck knows what I'll play on Thursday? I'll have a dig and see what I've got. I'm thinking a bit of Santana? Crosby, Stills and Nash? Some Kool Keith? Some acid house? I'm really not a DJ so don't expect any smooth mixing.
What else have you got in the pipeline?
The live thing is my main thing at the moment. We've got a shit hot band and the live gigs are great fun, super times. Got a gig in Sheffield this Saturday at the Tramlines fringe ting. More gigs, more plastering.
The kids are off to Wales with their Gran so I've got a bit of time to work on the house, work on my self, expand my mind! I'm going to France and Amsterdam, 3 weddings, best mans speech… bloody shit loads.
I think I've probably asked enough questions now. Cheers for doing this. Any wise words you’d like to end this informative interview with?
I would like to take this opportunity to speak to the youth. My advice to them is to become as politically engaged as they can. Having smart trousers and well crafted outerwear is important but so is your future. From what I can see is happening, my homeboy Jeremy Corbyn is getting mad love from young people and rightfully so. You gotta fight for your right… to rights it's seems!?
Keep on keeping on, be kind to strangers! Let love rule…
Burgundy Blood will be playing Pica~Sounds on Thursday 28th July. Find out more here.