Words: Colin Brownbill
32 producers, 4 heats, 1 winner; this Wednesday Red Bull Studios host the final clash of their ‘Riddim Rally’ to find the UK’s hottest new beat producer. Inviting talent from around the UK to take part, each producer entered a regional heat where they were given a three hour studio session to record three tracks. They were then pitted against each other at a live clash in London, with the audience picking a regional winner, guaranteeing them a place in the Riddim Rally Final.
Glasgow’s Bushido won the North and Scotland heat, taking down Edinburgh’s Prok Fiskal in the process. Firmly embedded in the local scene, Bushido borrows from elements of grime and bass to throwdown a sound which is both weighty and colourful. Last year’s ‘Grandmaster Cash’ EP found him blasting tropical beats on Astral Black, while support slots for Wiley at the Sub Club and a slammin' set at the Red Bull Music Academy tour with D Double E and Sir Spyro have caught some serious hype.
Ahead of the Red Bull Riddim Final, we caught up with Bushido to talk clash tactics and his love for the local community:
SynthGlasgow: Firstly, congratulations on reaching the Riddim Rally Final! You were up against the likes of Proc Fiskal, DJ Milktray and Rapture 4D in the North & Scotland heat – it must have felt good to be representing as part of a strong Scottish squad?
Bushido: Thank you! Shout out to everyone involved, had such a good time. The scene in Scotland is killing it at the moment. It was good going down to London with a bunch of people I already knew; I've known Milktray for longer than I can remember and it did make it a little less stressful.
SG: You only had three hours to produce three tracks for the regional heat; what were your tactics going into the studio session? Were you allowed to bring sounds and samples with you?
Bushido: I just tried making beats in ten minutes as I figured it would be a good method. I did that on the lead-up to the event to practice, with the thinking that if I get the basic stuff out quickly then I had more time to be creative. We could bring sample packs etc, but weren't allowed to sample any released tracks.
SG: During the regional clash you only had 90 seconds to play your track to the audience; was there pressure to produce something that would have an instant impact?
Bushido: That's exactly what I went for; not too long an intro and a heavy impact drop. I didn't really think about the clash format, just went with best one first.
SG: In the North & Scotland heat you were up against producers from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Northern England. Even though you were competing against each other, was it good to hook-up with different producers from around the country?
Bushido: It was definitely a sick experience! I did already know most of the producers there but we are rarely all together at the one time, so it was definitely a good laugh.
SG: Scotland’s grime scene is growing rapidly, with both producers and MCs attracting attention from around the UK. Do you think there is a distinction in the Scottish sound compared to other regions of the UK?
Bushido: There is for sure; I think everywhere has its own sound to be honest. There’s some really talented people in Scotland - I'd deffo keep an eye on it.
SG: You’re based in Glasgow, home to Astral Black and the aforementioned DJ Milktray, Rapture 4D and a host of other producers. How important has the community aspect of Glasgow been in your development as a producer?
Bushido: I think it's really important; there is a massive sense of community here which I love. There is so much variety and I fully appreciate how lucky I am to be surrounded by such talented producers.
SG: You’ll be heading down to London for the Riddim Rally final this week; how confident are you going into the final and what did you learn from the heats which might help you win the competition?
Bushido: I’m getting more and more nervous the closer it gets. I have been keeping my eye on the other regional heats to see who's going through; it will be sick to meet people and make those connections. I learned to be patient, give an idea some room and if it doesn't work then take the positive ideas and use them on the next idea.
SG: Finally, how’s the summer shaping up for you? Are you working on any special projects or releases at the moment?
Bushido: Currently finishing up an EP which will be out on Astral Black, which is shaping up nicely. I'm also playing a set at Eden festival with one of my pals and I’ve got a few things in the works too, so keep your eyes peeled!
Bushido clashes in the Red Bull Riddim Rally Final this Wednesday (17th) at Red Bull Studios London. Bushido’s remix of Boycott ‘Kowloon Bae’ is out now via Pear Drops. Catch Bushido at Hyper Funk with Neana, Sycophantasy and Curls on Sat May 27th at Stereo.