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The Rough Treatment
If you followed the 'underground' Hip-Hop movement in North America during the late 90s, you probably have seen Sixtoo's name on a couple of records, and you most likely saw him on stage ripping it at many show..
Sixtoo: The Rough Treatment         by DJ TREW
Blowing up synths, destroying breaks, pounding MPCs...

If you followed the 'underground' Hip-Hop movement in North America during the late 90s, you probably have seen Sixtoo's name on a couple of records, and you most likely saw him on stage ripping it at many shows around that time. Early 2000 is when it all started coming together for Sixtoo with the release of his first instrumental effort entitled Duration.

But it wasn't until his move to Montreal that he appeared on Ninja Tune's radar. His first release on the label, Chewing On Glass & Other Miracle Cures, found him using live musicians for source material in addition to the tried and true method of mining old vinyl for samples. On his latest album, Jackals and Vipers In Envy of Man, he's gone even further outside what's considered traditional in terms of Hip-Hop production by piecing together two years worth of live performances, giving those songs new arrangements, and filtering everything down through his MPC.

Ground Lift had the opportunity to speak with the Canadian studio wiz about stepping away from the mic, the current state of 'digging,' and why weed delivery is a must during Montreal's long, cold Winters.

So on Jackals you've stepped away from the mic and focused solely on your voice as a producer. Is Sixtoo the MC retirement-bound?

The genre of rap that I was involved in became so insular and self-referential that it sucked it's own dick into extinction. When it grows some balls back, I might rap. That being said, dudes still catch me at the spots rapping sometimes. Only if it is real tight.

Have you found production to be a more effective means at delivering your musical message/ideas?

I think more than anything, it has just become the language I am most comfortable speaking with. I mean, sometimes it is graphics, sometimes graffiti, sometimes just writing, but mostly it is just samplers and drum machines and synths and stuff. I talk well with machines.

So we're down here in Chicago where the winter's last half the year. How has being in Montreal influenced your music/creative process?

I love Chicago man. Montreal is a real fresh spot though. The most heavy-handed influence is that I am an outsider looking at American pop culture that influences world underground culture. Montreal is dope because it is an island, socially and geographically. It takes a lot to make weak shit swim across water to an island that speaks another language. I love it. Dudes are not really sweating what other places are doing, and so there is a lot of really cool music in many genres right now.

Does being holed up during the winter make it easier to bang out beats?

Depends if you got the weed delivery or not. Could be a 50/50 on that one.

Going back to 2004's Chewing On Glass & Other Miracle Cures, you moved away from mining wax for sample fodder and instead fed live elements into your MPC for flipping and chopping. Is vinyl dead to you?

Well, that's not totally true, there was still a lot of sampling on that record, but for the most part, my days of tripping off whatever Japanese kids are willing to pay 10x as much as Americans for, are kinda over. I still dig for beats. I still chop records; I just couldn't give a shit about what is going on in contemporary production.... The best dudes chopping records right now are like, who? Flying Lotus, Black Milk, some L.A. and San Franciso laptop kids, some NY electronic dudes, and a handful of French cats that make Techno influenced by Hip-Hop.

That whole thing of "oh shit, you got THAT?" is dead. Everyone has everything the minute it gets unearthed. Dudes are murking the rarest shit off of mp3s, and just looping it up! I mean, I LOVE a one-track-jack when it is dope but really, I dunno man. You caught me on a weird day... who am I feeling? I have gone back to the records I have always loved and am now re-flipping stuff. I like French shit, tough ass breaks, library composers, Italian soundtracks and Black American music. That will never change for me.

Sampling wax has its obvious limitations when developing tracks, how has incorporating live instrumentation changed how your visions come to fruition?

These days it is really a 50/50. I am making bigger projects that have more potential to get bit for samples. I am a better musician than I was 3 years ago. I can re-play shit. I am a good engineer with ok gear, but I know a lot about recording, so If I want to, I can usually get a sound pretty close to the OG. That being said, I am more into sampling the non-musical parts of my favorite stuff, and then adding complimentary stuff. Sampling the 'feel' more than the music.

The Roots set the standard for Hip-Hop bands comprised solely of musicians playing traditional instruments, but recently we've seen bands begin to incorporate Hip-Hop production gear into the format. Is this truly a case of the 'best of both worlds'?

Depends who is on deck. I have seen some of the worst music in both worlds played by a dope band with an MPC on stage.

In your group Megasoid, you work with a bassist in addition to your PA set up. What's the story behind you guys uniting as a crew?

Nope, no bassist in that group, we sometimes play with Holy Fuck, so there is a bassist then, but mostly it is just some big ass synths, drum machines, samplers and a flamethrower! I met Hadji after I blew up a synth that he let me borrow. The rest is a coffee-line rumor mill.

Jackals is based partly on past live performances, but during the creative process it turned into somewhat of an improv piece itself. What were the difficulties in paring down and rewriting live pieces into to a 'song' format?

Just trying to pick the best stuff and to be objective about your performance. I spend months logging clips, but once I got down to the work it was really short. Two years of performances. Three weeks of logging clips, 3 days to splice the whole thing together! There is a short documentary at weaponshouse.com that shows those three days.

Did your time performing with Megasoid make creating Jackals a simpler feat?

For sure. I have a a really good working relationship with Hadji that has spilled over into what I am doing as Sixtoo.

The album's full title, Jackals and Vipers in Envy of Man, sounds somewhat like a futuristic B-movie or Japanese gangster flick, similarly the music sounds like it could be a film score. Had you intended the album to accompany a non-existent movie?

Not really, although some of this shit could be for Blade Runner 2010, no doubt! I mean, most of my stuff is cinematic for whatever reason.

You've also written the score for the film Next: A Primer on Urban Painting. How does scoring films differ from programming Hip-Hop?

Less song writing, more song feeling. I think.

Last question: head-nodding or body moving, which is the better crowd reaction in your opinion?

Depends how swerved you are.


Sixtoo's latest release, Jackals and Vipers in Envy of Mant is available now through Ninja Tune Records. Visit Sixtoo on mypace here.

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