Arkaik: Street Hustle
‘I often get my leather waistcoat out while I’m making beats – just for inspiration.’
Whoa. Sounds like a grainy film title really, when you set it out like that. You can imagine the shots: rainy night, steam coming off the streets, moody people about. We went in on Arkaik‘s personal mise en scène, co-starring Guru, Sabre, RoboCop and… a tribe in the rainforest. Keep locked!
Arkaik, is the title ‘The Hustle’ a reflection of some form of reality?
Well, in the beginning I called it The Hustle as a reflection upon my experience within the music industry. At that time I was finding it hard to survive, working hard in my full time job whilst trying to push my creative side within my music but in hindsight I’ve realised that the hustle isn’t the music industry – it’s just life really.
It’s like the title of a real life drama, a screenplay: which film comes to mind?
It’s funny you should say that actually because I always felt like The Hustle had a kind of ‘Warriors’ vibe to it, especially when they’re being chased around the back streets of New York and having to hustle their way past all the different gangs to get back home.
In fact, I often get my leather waistcoat out while I’m making beats – just for inspiration.
Have you ever been in a similarly dodgy situation… street-wise?
Yeah of course! When I was a teen and in my early twenties I was part of a graffiti crew in Reading, Berkshire so we obviously had a lot of close encounters with the police. One thing that still makes me laugh to think about was getting chased by the BTP whilst painting trackside: my friend and I ran to the only exit but found the gate was locked.
We hid in the train yard for about 20 minutes or so before we noticed the BTP had opened the gates to come in and look for us so we just casually walked straight out again, right past their van!
And what TUNE from the ep would you combine with a film, soundtrack-wise?
‘Heat Seeker’ is quite a futuristic beat, it’s quite mechanical and sounds like some real shit is about to go down so I’d say it would have to be a film like RoboCop or Terminator, but one that hasn’t even been made yet because it’s so futuristic.
Speaking of The Future: if someone asked you to make an ep with no computers and some raw materials… what would you ACTUALLY do? The raw materials are a microphone, a simple old sampler and the stuff in the room where you are right now.
Firstly, I’d be like “What the hell am I gonna do now?”. Secondly, I’d remember that my mate Phil bought me a xylophone for christmas, I’d sample that, grab some spray paint and record the rattle and spray noises, plus I’ve got lots of old vinyl that I’d sample. I think I’d quite enjoy it!
Tell me about the tune with Dexta & Mauoq: how it came about and why the title?
It was quite a natural process really, I was at Dexta’s studio one day and we decided to get on a collaboration project after we stumbled across this lush stab and the tune just kind of flowed from there. We found a vocal that worked perfectly and played it to Mauoq, he was really feeling what we were doing… the rest is history!
Who, alive or dead would you actually hustle/hassle to work with in music like your life depended on it?
My ideal collaboration project would be to have Guru on the vocals and me and Sabre on the beats. I grew up listening to Gang Starr, I loved Guru’s flow, his tone of voice, everything. And for me, Sabre has made the some of the freshest beats, and still does! ‘Old Flame’ is one of my favourite tunes and his ‘A Wandering Journal’ was a massive inspiration to me back in the day.
It would probably be quite an odd track though.
How does your recording time start, as it were? The phases when you start to get things done. What are they?
If I’ve got a day off the first thing I’ll do after I wake up is have a coffee then get straight in the studio and start listening to music, anything from up and coming D&B in my Soundcloud feed, some hiphop… unless I’m making hiphop in which case I’ll listen to some jazz or latin funk. The next stage is sample hunting, then as soon as I feel happy with what I’ve found I whack them into Logic and start arranging.
The again… I say that, but sometimes I’ll be on my way home from work and I’ll get an idea for a beat in my head and have to get it down as soon as I get home which is the complete opposite of everything I just said so I suppose I don’t have a set routine, it’s more random.
What tunes is in your head right now?
A-Cray ‘Hybrid Tune’ because it’s f*cking dutty! It’s an earworm.
If you close your eyes and nominate one last tune off the ep… can you visualse what’s happening in it for us?
Ok I’m choosing ‘Babylon’.
I’m wandering through the depths of the rainforest, spotting all these crazy animals, there’s danger all around but it doesn’t matter because I’m in such a state of disbelief. Suddenly I stumble across this tribe, loving life, having a giggle and we party until the end of the track.
The Hustle ep