After making his name as the brilliant hype man for Jehst, UK’s very own Asaviour slapped people into recognising him in his own right with the “Savoir Faire” EP and “The Borrowed Ladder” album.
Now, he’s back with a new record, made with long time friend DJ IQ and recently Abjekt caught up with the man from the HUDD to talk about running his own label, what inspires his production and how he may be able to fit Barack Obama into his schedule in 2010.
Right, Asaviour, Savvy, Mr Savoir Faire, let’s get the basics out of the way – Where are you from, why did you call yourself Asaviour, what’s your basic outlook on life?
I’m from the HUDD (Huddersfield) West Yorkshire, North of The UK for the international readers, I actually called myself Asaviour left the name then came back to it for different reasons. At first it was from the naive arrogant attitude that yeah I can save hip hop (like it needs it haha) I’m the best, all that crap.
I went through a few other names, though nothing ever stuck so I guess it moved back to it after a bit of reading and broadening my outlook on things. It became more about saving myself because you can only really save yourself, no one can do it for you. It was more about life than a rap thing, it influenced the title of my first album “The Borrowed Ladder“, just trying to get somewhere from what I create. Outlook to life here I guess is Live & Let Live innit, much success to you even if you wish me the opposite.
Was Huddersfield a strange place to grow up in for hip hop, or was it pretty easy to get hold of the music you were searching out?
Well, actually it wasn’t too bad its actually harder to get hold of the music nowadays but then again there’s always downloads, you really need to leave your house. We used to go Leeds or Manchester to pick to the real underground ish.
Who were your influences when younger? Was there that one golden record that made you think, “yeah man, this is the shit I want to get into?”. Mine was “Kick In The Door” by Biggie, made me sit up and realise that it was like nothing I’d heard before and all I wanted to do then was get more and more hip hop into my ears.
Okay here goes – Tribe Called Quest – “Electric Relaxation“; Public Enemy – “Fight the Power“; NWA – “Straight Outta Compton“; Snoop – “What’s My Name?“; Biggie – “Juicy/Who Shot Ya“; Jay-Z – “Dead Presidents“; Nas – “The World is Yours” and sooooo many more!!!
Did you want be a rapper from an early age?
Yeah I guess but I wanted to be a few things before a rapper, I wanted to be an inventor, astronaut, racecar or Monster truck driver, lawyer, an actor, assassin, Olympic swimmer, then I guess rapper.
How’d you get in with the likes of Jehst? And at that point, when you were moving into live rapping and such, was there a healthy scene in Yorkshire or did you really have to grind and carve out your own platform to allow your music to reach people?
I’m from Huddersfield and I think he moved up in his early teens, I got to know him through college I’d already started rhyming then, I was his weed supply for a lil bit. We started working on demos rhyming with other mates that moved onto other things, Jehst was far more informed about the UK hip hop and what was going on in this country. He had supportive folks that took him to gigs n’shit, so he knew about events happening in Leeds and surrounding areas.
We’d just go to nights, try get on open mics and do our thing (sometimes get kicked out too!). There were things going on here and there and with time we started to build a name. We had to be quite proactive to make things happen but I guess that’s just the case for anything really, people were generally supportive.
Did it help you touring extensively with the likes of Jehst, learning the ropes and knowing where to go when you branched out on your own?
Yeah man we pushed so much material together it was a great learning process for all of us, Moving from just rapping on stage to actually performing, learning lyrics inside out so stuff sounded seamless, Playing with Jehst, Harry Love, Sarah Love, DJ IQ, Selling out the Jazz Cafe. Generally developing my skills & some professionalism, learning what not to do aswell as what to do, you know attitude etc.
I also gigged with quite a few different artist like DJ IQ, Tommy Evans, Usmaan, Braintax, Verb T, Kashmere Ghost etc they all helped me develop into the artist I am today and definitely stood me in good stead for touring the new album and doing the launch parties etc.
With UKHH being quite hard to make a full time living out of, I read you went to study music tech. What was the thinking behind that?
Well for one I wanted to know what the hell I was doing business wise and musically, I guess for me there was no other way I could have learnt these things, I just took the relatively obvious route to me. Also I didn’t have the money, there was no way I’d be able to get my hands on the wealth of equipment at that age.
What did the course involve?
Advanced Synthesis, Psychoacoustics , Electronics, Music Business, Studio Engineering and so many other things I forgotten..
Did you do it knowing you wanted to move into production as a career?
Yep kinda I guess, I had sounds and beats in my head that I wasn’t hearing and I wanted to get them out (still do). Basically writing lyrics is cheaper. It’s cool if you got a bit of money behind you because it means you can get into production earlier, but I had to save and hustle to get my first sampler which came quite a few years after my first demos n stuff like that.
Coupled that with the fact I’m not an artist that’s instantly impressed with myself, by that I mean I always been quite critical of my own production. Just because I made it, doesn’t mean its good enough to use, Perhaps I’ve be overly critical. I don’t know, but its helped me develop a rounded sound and by that I mean it incorporates a lot of different sounds. I’m not one of these peeps that’s like it’s only hip if you sample this particular record or use these types of drums, and on the other side I’m not trying to make synth’ed out club bangers all day. It’s the balance innit.
And did the music you make suffer as a result of not being able to focus every minute on it?
I’ve always been a quality over quantity type of person. I get waves innit, right now I’m more dealing with business and I’m moving into my writing phase, then I shift more in to production again then I guess I’ll try put something together. End of the day I do whatever when I get inspired but I’ve always kinda worked like that. If anything, it’s worked to my advantage in ways, you can be locked away in the lab not seeing daylight and just focussing on making the music but my music (well at least the lyrics) is about life and your experiences. You need to soak life up to really write that thought real provoking shit, if you’re locked away you can lose touch and relevance.
I mean you can still write clever almost mathematical stuff (rhymes from the head) but not the emotive shit from the heart. On the production side as well you can just get lost in it all – hear a beat too much and think it’s wack when actually it’s next level and vice versa, The music needs time to breath, and so do you, I deffo think distance from the music is good.
How do you think the UKHH scene has changed since the early 2000s when it seemed to be on a good wave, at least in London, big crowds at nights, prolifically big albums being dropped left, right and centre? Do you feel its ridden that wave and it’s back to being really hard to get a lot of people to notice what’s going on?
I’ll be straight up – the financial side for the scene has dropped but the good music is still there, if not better than it’s ever been. But the reality is if you can download it most people won’t buy it. Everything’s very disposable nowadays within 10 minutes you can download a whole album skip through it and bin it. If you look at the amount of illegal downloads people are getting if they were actual sales things would be a whole different story. End of the day I never made crazy money from the music that’s never been my motivation, I guess you just gotta do what you love, work hard at it and the rest is a bonus.
You dropped your full length “Borrowed Ladder” and it got some really good reviews, how do you look back on that record?
Its was a good jump off for me, it took me from just been know for features, and a couple of singles to a proper solo artist, The response was good, got some decent support from DJs and the heads at gigs we played were happy. “So Northern” got a lot love as well. Yeah can’t lie I was happy with its reception its was a good move for me.
So, you’ve now got the “A Loop Theory LP” which you made alongside DJ IQ, do you feel it’s a step up from everything you’d done before? If so, what do you put that down to – is it that you’ve got a lot more to rap about, that you’ve come on a long way in terms of production, you’ve learnt new techniques or maybe opened up to even more new music to take influences from?
It’s a definite leap on from previous releases with regards to the sounds we incorporated, the approach to the writing, everything. I guess I put it down to getting bored of what I was hearing, wanting to push myself and just maturing as a listener of music in general. Like I said before, you need to live a bit to really write good content, I grind my rhymes out of everyday life so yeah I guess it’s just a case of having more to write about. I listen to all sort I used to chill with heads sometimes and they’d talk about a tune being shit literally because it’s not Hip Hop. It got to points were I wondered “Do you not like this or do not want to like this?” I guess I listen to my own instincts a lot more now as I become more confident as an artist.
Did you and IQ share production duties? Did it help to vibe off each other during the making of the record?
Some beats I totally created, some we made together, and some IQ made himself. Yep, it definitely helped vibing off each other catching jokes fucking around with ideas, but to be honest if our heads weren’t in the same place musically I doubt we would have even tried doing the album together.
You two down to tour it?
We already played quite a few gigs across the country and at the moment I’m talking to some peeps in the States & Europe trying to really get the sound out there.
What guest spots do we have on here for people that might not know ? Did you have a wishlist of people you wanted to get involved in the record, or did it all happen naturally, like you and Smurf were chilling and you just decided to work together?
If I’m honest, a bit of both. It just so happens that some of the wish list were people we were already working with on the the album. You can expect Kyza, TB, Verb T, Sir Smurf Lil, Jehst, Pride, Dubbledge, Graziella and a few other suprizes
Now for a really obvious one – who do you wanna collab with that you’ve not worked with before?
Timbre Lockhart, Jay Electronica, Andre 3000, La Roux, Dizzee, Ebony Bones, Calvis Harris, Mr Scruff, VV Brown, Razorlight, Gorillaz and loads more man they’re just who can to my head this instant.
Running your own label can’t be easy, why’d you decide to go down that route? Whilst it’s definitely good for more control of everything, it must mean more trouble, strife and work no?
Yep but it got to a point where that was the only feasible option to take. Putting a record out off your own back is fucking hard work, it’s a number of jobs in itself. I don’t have any assistants right now so it’s quite a struggle, but hey fuck it, without stuggle there’s no progression. I’m just happy the album came out and has had a good response.
What’s the future got in store for Savvy then? More beats for others? More solo shit? Move to America to be Obama’s UK spokeman?
My people are talking to O’s people and we might get something popping mid 2010, more of a spiritual guru thing than spokesman, haha. Yep always grinding – we got a single and crazy video to drop for “No Days Off” featuring Sir Smurf Lil which should be out late August-early September, check out the site www.saving-grace.co.uk for some preview shots. Then I got a compilation and production album coming after that.
Safe for taking the time out to talk to us, shout out any and all right here:
Asaviour and DJ IQ’s “The A Loop Theory” is out now on Saving Grace. Make sure you support UK Hip Hop and cop it!