Interview by Marc Kets
Having hit the top reaches of the UK charts with Black Legend ‘You See The Trouble With Me’ , to which he provided fresh vocals after the Walrus of Love didn’t take too kindly to being sampled, Elroy ‘Spoonface’ Powell has gone on to set up FAADA and Ear Dis, both of which have made some serious inroads into the record collections of some of the finest tastemakers across the globe as well rumbling many a Co-op special with his perfect synergy of bass, rhythm and consciousness. Collaborations with everybody from High Contrast to Seiji has proved that the Spoonface story may only just be getting started but with the drive, talent and commitment of the man you can be sure that the future is very bright for North London’s finest and as the man so succinctly puts it, “Everyday is an adventure.”
Who/What are your influences?Everyday occurrences; family, real friends and honesty in expression. Musically; reggae artists like Jacob miller, Black Uhuru, Michael Prophet, Tenor Saw, Sizzla , Jah Cure, Pinchers, Snachez, Beres Hammond, Tiger, early Shabba Ranks, Ninja Man, Admiral Bailey, Major Mackeral, Donnie Hathaway and Maxwell to name a few.
What initially drew you to reggae?I had no choice. My dad bombarded me with it day and night for most of my youth. He had a small sound system in Tottenham and collected 'nuff' music as they say. The main thing for me was the use of melodies, which were very hooky, lots of bass, laid-back percussion and plenty of soul. Also, I thought it was funny how reggae heads had a cover version of every song from all kinds of genres. Although a lot of reggae was quite similar there was always an appreciation of good music from any style. This was something I definitely latched onto.
Who do you think is making a unique contribution to music at the moment?IG Culture, 4 Hero, SomatiK, Colonel Red, most of the Goya music supported camp as they're making the music they want to make and not worrying too much about boundaries or trying to be cool...it is what it is. Many of these artists have many experiences that they're sharing through the music and the live element of what is springing forth takes it to another level. Club meets live with the same energy...love it...
With 4Hero finally releasing their first studio album for 6 years in '07, how relevant do you feel they still are to music at large? Do you think they are still as innovative as they were a few years ago, or do you think the rest of the scene has caught up to an extent?I think people get too caught up with innovation. What matters to me as a listener is whether or not the content of the songs tell a story and that I can get my mind and soul into what is being projected. If the song touches my emotions in some way I'm happy and I believe they are still doing that. A lot of producers are copying their sound and copying the sound of others from the broken beat scene. There seems to be a generic sound emerging, but I think that should be received as a compliment more than anything.
What is the greatest record ever made?I don’t know, depends what mood I'm in: right now, Redemption Song by Bob Marley. It is not just about black struggle. It's still relevant now and to many no matter what race or colour. For me, it's about finding freedom from material gain, emotional corruption and pretty much any hindrance to your ability to exist.
Five records that changed your life and/or your thinking?Tenor Saw - Golden Hen Golden Hen introduced me to Tenor Saw’s distinctive woeful croon, half sung and half spoken. He has a very innovative style and unique means of lyrical construction. Jacob Miller - Tennament Yard Jacob miller, another that died young, again a unique style of vocal delivery, which encouraged me to experiment with my flow fo’ sure. George Michael - Careless Whisper I love a bit of cheese and the Saxophone on Careless Whisper is the one. Haha. Almost like the Police academy blue oyster bar music (we should have got clues about George's orientation from then...) but it sets the mood up nicely and I remember a reggae cover from someone, a must for the slow-rub runnins. Sly and The Family Stone - Family affair Sly ‘n Fam are over-quoted I know but it has to be done. There is something special about that whole funk thang that has clearly inspired many into making tunes through broken beat outlets. 4 Hero - Hold It Down The first 'Broken Tune' I ever heard that just made me stop what I was doin’, close my eyes and float away. A breakbeat DJ played it to me first, Deekline, we were on Raw Flex doin’ a show and he dropped it and I almost jumped through the roof. When I heard it at Co-op for the first time on that Plastic People soundsystem, yeah you know da score...big tings. Had to run to the studio that night: dred, inspiration, music and lyrics all in perfect harmony.
Is broken beat as relevant now as it was 3 or 4 years ago?For me, Broken beat is about freedom of expression through music, so it will always have a place and I'm sure it will morph and evolve, but hey that’s music fo’ yah. I'm excited about where it can go especially with Bugs doing their thing mainstream and Ear Dis getting the attention of hedz from other scenes.
How has London changed over the past 5 or so years musically?Due to a lot of the broken beat ramblins UK Garage has been given a revival as funky house, indie bands are multiplying by the minute....(this would be cool if they didn’t all sound the same). All American r’n b sounds the same and electro seems to be trying to reclaim the mainstream, minimal and otherwise, so no not much difference....
Where do you see yourself and/or the scene in 3 years?Well I hope to continue making the music I like making the best I can make it. Dance music always changes, so who knows. I just hope the egos stay as tame as possible and that everyone continues to do their bit and thus a thriving scene emerges providing fruits for all to feast on.
Over the course of the past decade, what pursuits have you been involved in?Collaborations with: Black Legend - no1 single uk 2000 Deekline & Wizard - breaks beats and Blondes Pink Remix - get the party started K5 FReQ Nasty Tour Ill logic and Raff - Price High Contrast DJ Andy Dub Conspiracy Commonwealth - Hip hop, signed to Edel Records 2001 Seiji - Yin Yang Wunnademwuns - Ear Dis - Hey Girl, I feel, SOS, 'Ear Dis Island Album' Faada - Spoonface, Pancosefo and WAH SYndicate Album Trouble TV
What is the best and worst thing about the city in which your are currently based?Best thing is the Co-op on the first and last Sunday of the month. The worst is queuing up for ages at a bank holiday Co-op speshy.
What trait do you most admire in others?Honesty, saying it how it is even if it means upsetting somebody.
Non-musical hero?My mum, cause I swear she’s superhuman.
What's your most over-used phrase?Bless up!
Given the accelerated pace of modern culture, what are we due for a revival in?Pearly kings and spoon players.
Anything else we should know?Much blessings to Liquid Fusion, Simon Harrison, Goya Music, Keith Harris music ltd, CDR, Burnt Progress, Emotif, Hospital Records, Zeiger, Fabrique Records, Black Tronica and all supporters. Much appreciated... every time.
Picture taken by Lorna Buchanan-Jardine Classic Broken Beat/Funky House Anthem "Hey Girl" - Ear Dis available as exclusive ITunes Download from Monday, 19th March 2007. Check www.myspace.com/eardis for more info.... www.myspace.com/spoonface1 www.myspace.com/faada www.myspace.com/eardis
Marc Kets, Feb 2007
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