In Fokus: We Talk To MC Fokus About His New EP With Homemade Weapons
Posted by Adam on 17th May 2017
Hi Phil, how are you? Where have we caught you today?
Hi guys, i’m good thanks. I’m at home trying to get my son Dexter to go to sleep, real life stuff!
You’ve been a part of the scene for well over a decade now. How did you get involved in Drum & Bass and what has changed for you, as an artist, during that time?
I started playing on pirate radio back in 1999 so it’s nearly 18 years in for me (shout to anyone reading this who knows about Prestige FM – RIP Whizzard). I guess like most people it started off as a bit of fun with my mates, making tapes, playing at parties. This led to playing at clubs around my local area (i grew up in Hitchin, a town thats always had a healthy music scene), and then getting onto some of the London-based pirate stations – namely Origin FM. This gave me a good introduction into the London club scene and i soon started playing for various promoters and featuring on tracks. For the full story check the track ‘Blaze Dis One’ which you can find on my Dispatch Mixtape. It sounds much more interesting on there!
What’s changed in that time? I think everything is much more label orientated these days, with all of the artists representing the various camps. Events tend to be more label-focused, with their own rosta heading the line-up. In the 1990’s/early 2000’s there were more raves, events and promotions spread across a range of venues, all bringing different sounds under one roof. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, it’s just how the scene has evolved.
One thing that hasn’t changed – wages. There seems to be a ceiling of what promoters will pay for an MC of my kinda level (not a newbie but not the top boy either). It’s normal for me to do 2/3 hour set and get paid half of what the DJ gets for playing one hour. And there’s always someone who will do it for £50 and a few beers. No complaints, just giving you an insight into how this all works. Big up the promoters who know the value of a good MC!
You’ve been working with Dispatch for a long time too, how did you end up in their camp?
Yes Dispatch is my true musical home as far as I’m concerned, and I’m proud to fly the flag when I’m on the mic. It all started in 2011 – me and Skeptical (a fellow Hitchin-boy) made a track called Structure. Ant liked it, released it on Dispatch and I’ve been involved with the label ever since. Dispatch has a proper family vibe – everyone is a good laugh, I always look forward to the link ups, and the Dispatch supporters are the best crowds, hands down.
You’re back on the label with a new EP with Homemade Weapons – how did the project come about?
My pals from DBR UK introduced me to Andre’s (HW) music. I connected with his beats straight away, my kind of style down to a T. We got chatting online and made the track Chrysalis. There’s a long back story to it all, but i’ll just say the track was a long time in the making. We then decided to make a second track which became ‘F-Word’ and thought “Why stop there?”. So we hooked up with Cern & DBR to get some different flavours on ‘Lost Souls’ & ‘Paper Thin’, and the EP was born.
Was it a challenge working with someone who is half way across the world?
In a word – yes! It’s hard to express ideas via email which is the main way we communicated (other than the odd Skype chat). I’m a perfectionist and am rarely happy with stuff so I kept on asking Andre to change bits & pieces around and probably did his head in lol!
What inspires you when writing lyrics?
My life experiences, my surroundings and abstract thoughts. Sometimes just a word that I like the sound of. I can rarely just sit down and write……the process starts with an idea, a word or phrase, maybe a spider diagram. Weeks later I pick up the pad, find the ideas and lyrics tend to write themselves from that point.
And who, within and out with Drum & Bass, would you say influences you?
My biggest influences over the last few years have come from the UK Grime scene. I’ve always had a massive respect for the original dons that started that whole movement – Wiley, Skepta, D Double E, Ghetto. It’s not necessarily evident in my sound or style but I find their work-rate and commitment inspiring. I love MC’s. It’s the MC that has always excited me – Method Man, Busta Rhymes, Stevie Hyper D, Conrad, DRS, Navigator, Juiceman, Dynamite, Jehst, Task Force. Obviously the music is at the core, but the MC is an integral part of the sound and the culture. That’s where my heart lies.
Check the track ‘What’s Your Definition’ on my Dispatch Mixtape for the proper run down.
As well as being an MC you’re also a producer. Do you prefer one to the other or do you move between the 2 as you want to?
In all honesty I’m really not a producer. I’ve not yet developed the level of patience to learn. I’ve been creatively involved in a lot of the tracks I’ve featured on, but it’s not me on the buttons.
Where can people catch you live next?
June – Intrigue, Bristol. July – Basscamp Festival, Hungary / Genesis, London / August – Dispatch, London / September – Outlook Festival, Croatia
Thanks! Is there anything else you want to tell us about?
Just to keep your eyes peeled for a whole load of fresh music coming soon. I’ve got various projects on the go and intend to keep pushing the vocal elements of DnB to the forefront. Watch out for a track called ‘Within Me’ coming on Nitri’s album – the most honest bars I’ve ever written.