Before cross-genre mash-ups started becoming the thing to do producers such as RZA (“Kiss Of The Black Widow) and Mr. Walt (Heltah Skeltah’s “Prowl”) were sampling the British group, Portishead. For many, the combination of Geoff Barrow’s basslines and turntable skills along with Beth Gibbons’ vocals made for an enjoyable listen whether they wanted to see how Portishead was sampled or just listen to the original works. In a recent interview with the Village Voice, Barrow points to his origins as a reason why that may not have been a coincidence.
“Hip Hop is kind of my punk, really,” Barrow explained. He moved to the turntables and drum sequencers after initially being drawn to Hip Hop culture as a B-Boy in his native, urban fishing town of Portishead. “When you’re younger, and you’re putting music together, it can be a bit of a cockfight with other bands—the kids who got all the trainers and the right MPC. But RZA sampled me, so fuck off.”
In addition to explaining the reason for his short-lived Hip Hop remixing phase, Barrow revealed that he didn’t get a pair of Technics turntables and a proper sampler until after Portishead got a record deal. Barrow also gives some very candid opinions on scratching as a form of musicianship versus producers that only focus on the technical aspects.
And while Portishead’s latest long-player, Third, was a departure from the sound that got them labeled as a “Trip Hop” band, Barrow is still working on some Hip Hop related projects. He recently produced the Quite Nyce single, “Jobless” and he’s working on the upcoming “Quakers” project with Fraser Stuart, Katalyst and about 35 other emcees. For the full profile, visit the Village Voice’s site.