MCENROE - Interview
More than just being an excellent mc and one of the best canadiens producers, Mcenroe is also a good guy who don’t forget to sleep and to shout out his girlfriend. Interview with a regular talented guy.
You make all your beats on a macintosh . Is it a choice of a type of sound or the fact that you hadn't enough money to buy a "real" sampler?
Strictly by choice. I have a "real" sampler and have invested enough in my studio to buy 5 MPC2000's, but prefer the method I use and its flexibility. You sacrifice something as far as dynamic drum programming, but other than that the sky is the limit. I did 7 releases with an AKAI S01, The Ethics EP was the first record I used a macintosh for.
We can remark in your music many allusions to the old school (Rakim.) and to other classics groups, can you tell us what are the albums which mark you the most when you were younger? What are the albums that made you become a hip-hop fan?
P.E. - Nation of Millions
De La Soul - 3 Feet High
Tribe Called Quest - People's Instinctive Travels
Pete Rock & CL - Mecca and the Soul Brother
and of course A.L.T. and the Lost Civilisation (kidding! but I had a dub of it on the flip side of my Pete Rock tape and listened to it way too many times as a result)
Lots more, too. When I get into something, I don’t go halfway.
These are all kind of late, basically I was into punk rock in the late 80s and up to about 91. I thought rap was something used to sell fried chicken and did not understand hip hop. But Pip and Hunnicutt got me into it, proper!
But if you want to talk about what got me into music big time:
Elton John's Greatest Hits vol II - I listened to this as a toddler, wore out the record
Van Halen - 1984 - Lip synced to this for hours
Dead Kennedys - Give me Convenience or Give Me Death
This record probably changed my life the most. Opened my eyes to a world of music that isnt the swill you hear on the radio, and a belief in doing it yourself and reaching people with out needing to be on the front rack of every record store. A lot of hip-hop people could learn from the Punk Rock ethic of 10 years ago... I learned from Local bands like Red Fisher and Propaghandi about doing your own thing and sticking to it.
For a few years, with artists like you and all P&C crew, Buck 65, Sixtoo, Moka only, swollen members. Canadian hip-hop is more exposed and Canadian scene is better known . You're in hh for some years, do you remark this new importance of Canada in the world of hip-hop?
It seems like we get a lot of attention, at least in some circles, but I would not attribute it to being better or more important. I think maybe its just because we have smaller local scenes to cater to that we are forced to seek an audience through other means. For example, if you lived in Atlanta, you could probably play live there for years and make quite a name but never get any attention out of the city limits, and be quite happy with that. But when you play small shows to the same handful of people you gotta think about finding a larger audience. Maybe.
You have the reputation to be a very hard worker but is it possible to reconcile a "real" job and a music carreer ? Do you find the time to sleep?
I usually get a good night's sleep. The sacrifice is in the social life. I go out to the club like once a month, if that. I go see movies a few times a month, and watch movies at home, but a huge chunk of my time is on music, so I just don’t watch much TV or do much partying. And that’s just a choice I have made that I am happy with. But if I didn't have the support of my girlfriend it would be much harder.
Internet is now very important for the promotion of indie music labels, do you think internet is vital for artists like you?
Yes, it is, it has given me the freedom to make the music I want and find an audience for it. It has given me the means to put out a record whenever I want, on my terms, and the only limit is really time, finding the time to do all of these projects I want to do.
We have a long way to go but right now it (making music) is pretty rewarding in itself...
You made the soundtrack Billy's Vision for the artist Andrew Hunter's exhibition, was it a way to change from hip-hop's routine or do you consider that one like your others projects?
I was a change in that my approach was strictly sitting down to the piano and composing, my method of making beats for rhyming involves digging in the crates, so it was very different. But I had done it before, I did a tape called Emissions in 1996 that was also live instruments and my little rinky-dink compositions. So I knew what I was capable of and it was fun to do. I hope to do another instrumental LP this year for Mush Records, similar but different. Also I want to do some other songwriting, not my little raps but composing music and lyrics... you know, songs.
The choice of your producer's blaze is simple to understand because I think your first name is rod so Roddy rod, but why Mcenroe?
No real reason. I don’t go by Roddy Rod anymore at all, Mcenroe is my producer and mc name. Keep it simple. Mcenroe was just a name that popped in my head that I liked, and that I thought would be easy for people to remember while being different. I don’t like most MC names, they all sound the same to me, different ways of saying nothing. If you are an mc, I know what that means, I don’t think you need to name yourself "intellectual, scientifical, mathematical, skills, etc." I mean the whole notion of having these stage names is pretty funny in itself, and what some people come up with makes it worse.
Your music seems to be very inspired by jazz . Do you really love this music or like some other hip-hop producers do you consider jazz like a bucket to take samples?
I really love Jazz. I appreciate the talent that a jazz musician has and puts into his craft, and would like to be better at it myself. But I buy all kinds of records, and have a lot of bad jazz, silky smooth 70's stuff with no soul.
My faves in jazz are - John Coltrane, Jack DeJohnette, John Handy, Cannonball Adderley, Kenny Burrell, Gabor Szabo, Cal Tjader, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Hubert Laws, Bob James (early stuff anyway), Jim Hall, Stan Getz, Herbie Mann, Jeremy Steig, George Benson, and many, many more.
You can see in all hip-hop magazines some hip-hop veterans complaining about nowadays hip-hop quality or saying "that was better before like in 1988." . Do you agree with this opinion?
Well I do and I don’t. I like earlier stuff better, but those days are gone and we gotta move on. I mean in the early days, anything with a beat was dope and people will always be nostalgic about that. I really miss the production style of the late 80's / early 90's, it seems the day of jacking big chunks of songs has come to an end, for legal reasons.
There is a lot of stuff that people are really excited about that I am just not feeling. But I get by, and do enjoy some new hip hop. I look forward to anything from Buck 65, Aceyalone, Blackalicious, MF Doom, Company Flow, 2Mex, Jedi Mind Tricks, People Under The Stairs, etc etc etc...
You are both an emcee and a producer but do you prefer rhyming or producing beats?
Well I would have to say producing, I spend more time on it and get more recognition for it, also I think I am moving in the direction where I can really do some new and interesting things with hip hop production and sampling. But I like to rap and enjoy writing songs, its an important outlet for me, its one thing to produce but rapping allows me to communicate my ideas directly which is something I enjoy.
I don’t think I could put the time into mc-ing to be considered great, and would not get enough back even if I did.
Can you tell us what are your materials coming on Peanut & Corn?
We just released Factory Seconds and Spring 2001, our new vinyl. Coming in the next few months is Gruf's (of fermented reptile) solo album which is really trippy and different. No songs about rap. After that is Pip's 7 inch single, then a mcenroe LP or something like that, and maybe a Break Bread family album? Plus John Smith is ready to go again, maybe some new Park-Like Setting stuff, new Pip Skid stuff, I will be producing some more Josh Martinez stuff...
Also I am into filmmaking and am going to be doing several videos... John Smith's "Climb Everything" video is basically done. I am doing a new video for a song of mine called "Corner Store", then maybe a tour documentary for our upcoming Canada tour.
Now the classic question, what is on your playlist right now?
Its all over the place, right now:
Led Zeppelin - III
Elton John's Greatest Hits vols 1 and 2
Cannibal Ox - The Cold Vein
Awol One and Daddy Kev - Souldoubt
The Police - Greatest Hits
Bob Marley - Talking Blues
Plus a steady rotation of my all time favorites: Beatnuts, Pete Rock, De La, Tribe, 3rd Bass, Organized, Goodie Mob, Mobb Deep, and on and on and on... I listen to music constantly.
Have you got anything else to say to conclude?
Take care of yourself. Drink plenty of water. Be a good little consumer. Buy our stuff, etc etc etc... thanks!
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