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Interview: Scroobius Pip

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Scroobius Pip started out as one half of the wonderful hip-hop/electronic combo, Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip. Their first single ‘Thou Shalt Always Kill’ led to a string of equally brilliant tracks and albums, and last year Scroobius released his second solo album Distraction Pieces, to universal acclaim.

Scroobius PipPip talks to TNS about illegal file sharing, his experience with festivals and how his drummer got his face smashed in whilst in France.

Used to touring as a duo, what’s it been like heading out on the road without his cohort Dan Le Sac?  “I’ve just toured the solo act on a full UK and European tour. The reaction’s been great so it all seems to be going down well. It’s really interesting because I toured Distraction Pieces around the UK in the month it came it. It was great to do it on this tour because everyone knows the words and record completely. People have had time to take it in and it seems to have benefited from that.”

This tour has not been short of action, Pip explains the perils of a rock n roll lifestyle, “On our first day off in France, my drummer managed to completely smash his face in by drunkenly attempting to do parkour. That was the fourth or fifth day of the tour and I think he’s done with parkour now.”

This has all acted as the perfect precursor to another summer performing at festivals, including the big student shindig Beach Break Live.

 “It’ll be a good one. I played there a couple of years and they’ve always been rowdy and up for it,” says Pip.

 “The smaller festivals are in a lot of places that bigger festivals haven’t been, so there’s a lot more buzz and excitement. I personally think it’s great to have a variation of the lot. I love playing your Glastos, your Bestivals and things like that. Headlining 2000trees last year was an amazing experience and I love the choice between bigger and smaller festivals.”

Smallness aside, Scroobius’ biggest gig to date will be a slot at Wembley in April.  “It’s exciting. It’s one of those exciting ones because me and Dan aren’t doing many shows then. It’s hard to pass up the opportunity of being asked to play Wembley with Billy Bragg.”

Pip notably recorded an additional rap for illegal versions Distraction Pieces, and in a world filled with music piracy, does thinks he’d survive if he started making music now.

“It’d be a struggle. The reason I’ve been able to release three records and play hundreds of hundreds of gigs is because I can do it full time. I had a label to put my music out and that’s how I made a living from it. It’s not all about money but if a band wants to put all their time into it, they need to earn a living.” It’s a tough one.”

And are record labels suffering too? “People who think [illegal downloading] isn’t damaging the music industry are blind and it’s the smaller labels that are passionate about music that suffer badly. People argue: ‘Oh, you’ll get more people at gigs and more merchandise sold,’ which is great for a band but most of the labels don’t see any of that.”

What about his own material? “It’s still not 100% confirmed if Dan and I can release our next record, because Sunday Best are a small independent label.”  

He moves on to the distribution of Distraction Pieces where he deliberately chose not to send advanced copies to journalists.

“Most of the time, after recording, it’ll be two or three months before anyone hears it. That’s enough time to lose the energy, passion, and buzz so I wanted to release it right away.”

It’s all about the people then? “You can spend months and months trying to finesse the radio play but at the end of the day, if it’s a good song, people will get excited. It doesn’t matter who’s telling them it’s good, it’s better to let people make their own minds up.”

It’s been mainly citizen bloggers who have been giving you good press too? “It’s best to let people make their own opinion than be guided by the press in a positive and negative way. It’s kind of annoying when things get so overhyped.”

Pip is known for being a fan of watching and hearing poetry rather than just reading it. I ask whether the people themselves have, in effect, dictated his song writing. “I generally write until I’m happy with it and it’s a bonus if it goes down well with the audience.”

 “I started the solo stuff because I had some vocals I felt didn’t quite work with Le Sac vs Pip. I’m always writing and there are certain bits that could have ended up on either records I guess.”

As the interview wraps up, the conversation moves on to whether the good press has spurred Pip on to make another solo record.

 “It was great to get that reaction because it was a record I made for myself and released on my own label. The focus at the moment is to start on the next Le Sac vs Pip record and that’s always been the plan. After that, I’m sure I’d go back and have another go at releasing a record on my own label.”

How is the new Le Sac vs Pip record going? “We haven’t started writing yet. Dan’s got a solo record on the way and once that’s out and ready, we’re going to get our teeth into the next record. We’ve got no plans on how it’s going to sound or what approach we’re taking yet.”

Has his solo experience has given him a new outlook on his releases with Dan Le Sac. “Sunday Best have been amazing to me and Dan and I play to stay with them. All the stuff on Sunday Best has gone down amazingly and they’re unbelievably professional. I’m not going to turn around and tell one of the best labels in Britain how to release music. We’ll discuss stuff but there’s nothing set in stone. We’ll see about that.”

Scroobius Pip plays this year’s Beach Break Live festival




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