Awhile back we caught up with Manchester born, now Berlin based, producer and MC from The Natural Curriculum, Aver for a few words about the crew, their music, influences and more. This was originally meant for when they dropped their debut album as a full crew, “The Best Fertiliser is the Gardener’s Shadow”, however due to one thing and another it was delayed. However, now Aver has just unleashed 15 brand new instrumental tracks on the world, we thought what better time than now. So, enjoy…
Can you introduce yourselves to the readers, run down the full crew and what you all do
Aver – Beatmaker, MC
Bill Sykes – MC, Weed Enthusiast
Chalk – Beatmaker, MC
Jam – Beatboxer
Omas – DJ
El Statiko – DJ
How did you all meet and when did you start making music together?
Myself and Chalk went to primary school together, Sykes lived round the corner from Chalk so we have all been friends since a very young age. We grew up in Withington, as did Jam, and he, Chalk and Sykes all used to rock an open mic night at Indigo when Jam used to be in beatbox crew called Folded Remediez. Jam ended up becoming an ‘official’ part of the crew a few years later. Omas used to put on nights as part of AtLarge DJs and he put us on very early on and we always sort of collaborated and did/do music together until he also ended up becoming and ‘official’ member. I use the inverted commas as we are essentially just a badly organized group of friends who occasionally create music together. Over the years we had a number of other friends in the group: Woli Wols, who was the first TNC DJ; then Mathmatics kinda replaced him; DJ INK has also played and recorded with us over the years; Dayse, who used to be in a group with Omas called Atrial Phonics was also part of TNC for a number of years; El Statiko has been doing the live shows with TNC of late and he is also individually taking part in many turntable competitions, keep an eye out for him!
Who or what would you say your main influences are?
With regards to the group I think the likes of ATCQ, Souls of Mischief, The Pharcyde and a lot of 90’s hip-hop was what we grew up on, which in turn influenced us. For me personally, Company Flow essentially changed the way I looked at music and how or why it should be created. I remember the day myself and Chalk copped the cd in HMV in town, took it to a mates house, put it on his system and just sat there listening kinda not really grasping what the fuck we were listening to. It is such a dense piece of information that I don’t think I will ever tire of listening to it. This has then spawned a desire in me to want to emulate this density. I like films that you have to watch a few times to really understand what is happening and to be able to absorb the true meaning the director is trying to transmit. In a world that is now so instantaneous and impatient I feel this kind of density is less and less prominent.
You have put out a number of different albums from different crew members, each one having its own flavour. Is it important to keep your own individual identities, even when you record as one unit?
As I said earlier, we actually mostly create as individuals and then bring it together for live shows and the occasional album. That is why we have only just put out our first full length LP after being a group for about 13 years. The individuality is just part of the process, the friendships allow us to tie things together very easily when we need to.
On that note, you have a new Natural Curriculum album out now, The Best Fertiliser Is The Gardener’s Shadow, whats the story behind the album?
I had become disen
chanted with the actual publishing and pushing of releases back in 2013/4 and really just wanted to enjoy making music again, as sometimes the independent promotion can take up so much time that it gets in the way of actually having time to create. We never quite made enough money to do it full time so we all held down jobs whilst pushing stuff and it got to a point where I stopped pushing and just made a ton of beats with no project in mind, whilst running a restaurant. I think in about 20 months I made some 250 beats and in that time myself and Chalk started writing new stuff then by mid-2015 we had ended up with the basis of what is now TBFITGS. It was musically finished in 2015 but the artwork, videos and promo all took a while to set up and co-ordinate.
I wanted to create a set of songs that not only worked together sonically but that also had a similar tone in content, a sort of anti-establishment or against the run of the mill theme. I realize some people could listen to the album and not see this, but if you are into hip-hop you will be able to tell that we at least attempted to make some thing progressive.
Your sound has a strong traditional boom bap influence, but there is also a darker, more off key feel to it to. Do you like to try and experiment with your music?
Totally. The regular stuff I make doesn’t generally even get exported from Pro-Tools. I don’t see the point in just looping something and sitting there all happy like I re-invented the wheel. It’s not the 90’s any more, a large percentage of the vast pool of samplable music has been molested in some way already and the real skill lies in being able to either use it in such a way that others haven’t or in sampling things people just generally don’t go near. This leads to listening to more experimental music, which then has a knock on a effect on my own output and ambitions for wanting to challenge listeners instead of just giving the same simple ass shit that everyone else seems to be peddling.
The Manchester hip hop scene is pretty strong right now. What acts/artists are you liking right now?
Herrotics. Voodoo Black, although they don’t do many shows/releases themselves as they are doing various solo ventures. Lay Dot and Cul de Sac also.
On a wider scale, who, from anywhere around the world would you like to work with and why?
I’m not sure, I think its odd when people are like ‘imagine if Doom and [insert upcoming rapper’s name here] did an album, wouldn’t it be great?’ Or ‘Bronson should work with Premo’ etc etc etc. I don’t really see the point in collaboration for the sake of it. We never really had features on our albums unless we were mates with the people, don’t get me wrong I love posse cuts but it just feels forced if it’s on some internet trade shit.If I were not being a pretentious twat I’d love to sit in on a studio session with Geoff Barrow of Portishead and just see how he works, it’d probably be so meticulous that it’d be boring as hell but maybe not. It’d be grand to record Radiohead for a day in order to generate my own samples. The same goes for Mica Levi who did the ‘Under the Skin OST’, she is sick.
I like the idea of getting Go Go Penguin in a room with Lee Scott and giving them all a tonne of mushrooms and seeing what they’d come up with. You could get Onoe Caponoe and Strange U to be back-up singers as well and I reckon you’d have some multiverse altering shit right there.
What are the plans for the future? More music we hope!
Well, I just put out a set of instrumentals which are essentially good pieces but that don’t quite fit into this new instrumental project I am working on. The working title for that is ‘The Assassination of Rupert Murdoch’, I wanna challenge myself to make something the likes of which I have never made before.
Sykes is working continually with his other group The Bluntskins, El Statiko is gonna spend the next year planning his routine for all the turntable championships at the end of next year.
The question we always ask people, which cartoon old or new, would you like to supply the soundtrack too?
Rick and Morty
Any last words or shout outs?
Massive thanks to Aver for taking time out to answer our questions, now we suggest you go and grab “The Best Fertiliser Is The Gardner’s Shadow” as well as Aver’s new release “Instrumentals.3” you will not regret it!