Exclusive Mix & Interview: MC Coppa
A one man lyrical army, MC Coppa is up there with DRS as an artist who backs up his hosting and performance skills with equal level of studio and recording activities.
Case in point: An Act Of Aggression… His debut artist album, released on his own label Comanche Records, features a premiership squad of international producers: Mindscape, Maztek, Borderline, Machine Code, Heamy, Cooh, Benny L, DJ Hidden, Disphonia and a whole ton more.
Flexing from neuro to liquid via skin-scorching terror-tech with attention to detail and slick consistency, not only is it testament to his skills as an artist but also the healthy state of underground drum & bass.
We caught up with the Leeds-based, internationally-minded artist to find out more. We also copped this killer exclusive mix…
Before we get busy on the interview, a few things you need to know… MC Coppa has been on this mission since he first picked up Eazy-E’s Eazy Does It and Ice-T’s Home Invasion on cassette. Since his first performance at Leeds’ infamous Cheeky events he’s based himself across Europe in the pursuit of creativity including several years in Berlin, Vienna and Bratislava. This international attitude and drive have given him an opportunity to transcend the usually UK-based art of MCing and develop an appeal with the widest D&B community.
Immerse yourself in the mix then dig deep and learn more about Coppa and what’s brought him to this pivotal stage of his career so far…
For me the goal was to show that it’s all really just one music: drum and bass. I hope including all kinds of drum and bass music on the LP is to show the unification of our music. A bit idealistic? Of course! But it’s genuinely what I believe, and have had the pleasure of working with this music and all corners of it for over 10 years.
Yes Mr Coppa… What’s popping in your life right now?
Things are great at the moment thanks!
The introduction this year of my Coppa LIVE show is one of my proudest achievements so far (along with my album) It’s been something that I´ve always wanted to do. As an artist I´m torn between performing live and the creative process in the studio; this live show has helped me to marry those two elements and bring to life the songs that I´ve performed on, collaborated on and written in the studio into the club settings.
I played the first time in Novi Sad Serbia in March with the Drop Sensei crew. It was an amazing feeling to have the crowd singing along and rapping to the words to my tracks. It was very humbling. All the producers I´ve collaborated with have been great and have made special instrumental versions of the songs for the show so people can get to hear a lot of their favorite Coppa related tracks live in the flesh which is a different level of interaction with the tunes. Now I´m working with Tony from Mayan Audio (aka Roklo) on the live front as a DJ. We vibe so well together.
Plus I´ve just got a puppy named Charlie. He´s 50 shades of amazing.
The album is done, dusted and hitting the shelves today. No going back…. How does it feel?
Feels great man. I´m really proud of the work that everyone’s put into it with me, all the producers really stepped up and represented their A-game for the project and we had a great time putting the tracks together, which was important for me. I wouldn’t change a thing!
Has an album always been the masterplan?
It’s always been in the back of mind but it was actually a few of the producer friends of mine who pushed me over the edge. I was always contributing to other peoples LP/EP projects with track collabs and they were like ‘why don’t you do an album?’
MCs and artist albums don’t come hand in hand as much as they should (DRS notwithstanding), why do you think this is?
I think the answer lies in the definition of both those two terms. I think because you can MC, doesn’t necessarily mean you can go in the studio and write songs. It’s two different skill sets, both equally impressive when done with passion and technique.
I´ve been writing, recording, releasing for many different genres of music for many years. I´ve had featured releases on Kruder & Dorfmiester´s label G-Stone (electronica), Francois K´s Wave Music (dub techno), Freestyle Records (funk) and even vocalized material for tracks on Len Faki´s Figure label (minimal techno) to name a few things. So, for me, writing and studio work has been a large part of my music life for a while.
It works both ways; there are many great studio artists who are not really all that on the live MC front. It depends where your foundation is, I suppose. D&B is traditionally about MCing in the live context. DRS has been a certified dope rap artist and MC for years. I knew of him from his Broke n English days… He definitely more than knows his way well around studio and the live format.
Let’s talk album inspirations…
Just songs man. When playing live I´ve been booked across a very wide spectrum of D&B over my time and I actually enjoy the variation and watching the effect of D&B on people. Whether its hardcore crossbreed D&B, techy neuro or melodic liquid, the result is still the same. People are dancing, letting go and enjoying the music.
For me the goal was to show that it’s all really just one music: drum and bass. I hope including all kinds of drum and bass music on the LP is to show the unification of our music. A bit idealistic? Of course! But it’s genuinely what I believe, and have had the pleasure of working with this music and all corners of it for over 10 years. This LP was to be an aggressive push towards this ideal.
A bit of an echo to my Jamaican heritage; our national motto is “Out of many, One people” I think as a music culture and scene, this ideal is something that we should embrace more for drum and bass.
Ah… Now I get the aggressive tone of the title! Deep down it is all love, right?
Oh totally, don’t get it twisted. It’s actually the opposite of a war ting. It’s about breaking down barriers and encouraging people. If they like what I do, then I can hopefully introduce them on the record to other sounds and vibes of D&B via my voice. It’s a war on separation and unnecessary segmentation. Yeah… NOTHING but love!
There are so many talented producers involved in this project. This makes me think of two things… One: it must have been a logistical brain melter to bring it all together.
Definitely, and that was part of the personal challenge! I´m not sure that constellation of artists and styles has been been replicated on an artist D&B record before. But that’s just how my mind works; I always have my attention and interest in multiple sounds and ideas, so it’s a reflection of where my mind is at right now; a little bit of everything.
Two: how do you maintain such a consistency throughout the project? Your voice is obviously the main spine of consistency, but there’s a sonic finish throughout that creates an entire experience from start to finish. How does this happen?
I have a great team of people I´m working with who spent a lot of time on all the vocals and the final mastering and instrumental work to bring some kind of togetherness to the project. It’s quite an achievement in itself to bring together all those different tracks and vibes to a point that sonically makes sense. Crazy me decided to have a liquid singer vocalist track (Rhythms of Life with Virtue and Damian Yonge) on the record alongside a hardcore crossbreed D&B track (Fight Became Violent with Hallucinator). It’s no accident that it sounds this way, all props for this go to them. Shout outs to Tommy & Tim!
Every album has dramatic tale when the chips were down and you never thought you’d get this far. What’s yours?
Well, it all started when I was canoeing up a river in the Amazon and I noticed a shadow in the water below…
To be serious though, I´ve never really doubted myself or what I want to achieve at any point. I´ve had days and situations when I have questioned WHY I am doing this, but these are only momentary lapses and it’s mainly to do with being involved with the wrong people. This is a situation I´ve got good at addressing quickly nowadays and it’s how I manage keep the chips consistently up.
Also… you’re releasing this on your own label. Has that made life easier (as you have total control) or made it a whole load more painful?
The control element is definitely a big factor. That´s one of the main reasons I started my label Comanche Records so that I can be free to create music exactly how I want and get it out to people directly. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to make an LP that would never in a million years fit particularly to one label´s music policy, so this for me was the only way forward I wanted to make it happen.
What else does everyone need to know about An Act Of Aggression right at this moment in time?
Well, all I can say is that it’s a record made with a lot of personal time and effort just to attempt to give as wide a variety of people a little something to smile about, get crazy, and enjoy themselves to. So far the response has been great on both sides of the fence, for this I´m over moon and I promise there’s a lot more of this to come. If you wanna see and hear me perform these and a lot of other tracks live, you catch that action anytime you see COPPA Live on a flyer. The next installment An Act of Peace, Love & Daisy Chains, the retro soulful house LP is almost complete… Hahah!
Final shouts… I’m sure you’ve got a few!
Shoutz to Disphonia, Raise Spirit, DJ Hidden, Cooh, Heamy, Benny L, Hallucinator, Mindscape, Maztek, Borderline, Machine code & Virtue for being a part of this project, good fun on the journey and sharing my crazy vision. Notable nods to the Eatbrain family & the Trendkill mob 🙂 Salute!