Don't Talk To Strangers are a crew from West Yorkshire that has started its own label and is expanding to get their name out Europe wide. They have an impressive slate of releases lined up for 2009 already. Check out what their main man Bane had to say to Certified Banger and find out what has happened to the crew since we last caught up with them at the begining of the year.
Certified Banger: Yo man, how’s it going?
Bane: Good thanks, you?
CB: We’ve got loads to talk about because there’s so much going on with you right now. Begin by telling those who don’t know about DTTS, who are you, where are you from, what your mantra is:
Bane: Put simply, Don’t Talk To Strangers is an artist run independent record label and wider collective of creative individuals based in West Yorkshire and slowly working our way into Europe and the rest of the world!
We’re basically three crews merged into one, the original DTTS heads, 9-Livez and Brutal Artistry, each keeping its own individual identity but releasing music through one label; strength in numbers as it were. Over the last couple of years the focus was on getting the DTTS name into people’s minds but now its time for the individual acts and artists to get recognition in their own right and shine!
CB: So first of all, tell us about the new DTTS record label, how did it come about? What’s been the set up process and stuff?
Bane: It was always our intension to independently release our own material it just took us a little longer than we expected for one reason or another, usual bullshit really, 9-5s, real life and various other issues I won’t go into kept us unorganised for years but we finally got our s**t together in 2005 and started making the label a reality. We dropped ‘Disabled Blue’ and ‘WY’ last year and that laid the foundation for what’s to come both financially and creatively. Since then we’ve spent a lot of time securing distribution deals, networking and generally turning our ideas and concepts into reality.
CB: What will your aims be? Is it going to be just local music, just Hip Hop…?
Bane: The one and only aim is to put out high quality independent music, nothing more, nothing less! Initially all the planned releases are hip hop but that will expand into other genres such as Soul, Gospel, Hardcore (the guitar kind not that s**t they play at Wigan Peer!) and Electronica in the future. Basically if we think it’s fresh and original we’ll put it out! We’re not just releasing local stuff either, our first non-Yorkshire signing is a US artist called Turtle Hands who is extremely dope and will be releasing an EP through DTTS in the New Year. The priority now is to keep the momentum up and literally drop release after release until we all get where we want to be.
CB: How is your independent label going to be different to a lot of the others?
Bane: I think the main reason we’re different is because we’re fully artist run and artist funded. Its also a none exclusive sort of set up so if a DTTS artists wants to release on other labels too they have the freedom to do so. There’s no one person who calls the shots, each artist is fully in control of their own creative process and the label just acts as a platform to actually get the material out to the public.
CB: Is this gonna be a full time job for you?
Bane: Ha, yes but I wish it was my only full time job! I’d love to say that I’ve been able to quit my jobs and eat off the music but that isn’t the reality. I work full time at one place, part time at the next and all of my remaining time goes on the music, all the DTTS heads are pretty much in the same boat, we all work far too much!
We put everything we make off the music back into the next project so to date we haven’t lined our own pockets yet. We’re very focused on pushing the label, the music and the DBC clothing line forward so personal financial gain comes second to that for now! Don’t get me wrong, we’d all love to get paid off this ish and that time will (hopefully) come soon but we’re in no rush, the label is priority.
CB: So, what releases have you got coming out? First, tell us about your own that is out soon.
Bane: First up’s the ‘Self-Harmonic’ single which features Cage and is released on the 31st of December 08 on download followed by a limited 7” zombie green vinyl release in the New Year (props for the dope review by the way!). It’s the first single off the album me and Mury Poppinz have done under our collective name No Pretense which is almost completed and sounding sick!
In February 09 we’re dropping a double a side 12” single with our label mates Knew Jeru’slum (Jonny Alpha, Watson G and Belinda Hards), the A side is their track called ‘Hibernation’ which is produced by Brutal Artistry and features Pigeon John and the AA side is our track called ‘Elevation’ which is produced by Eliphino and features the legend that is Prince Po from Organized Konfusion!
After that, probably round late summer we’re dropping our debut album ‘Music & Mouthwords’. The whole albums produced by Eliphino and as well as Cage and Prince Po it features Chief Wigz, Proptic, Spida Lee, Belinda hards and a few other peeps too on guest vocals, we’re going for a full blown worldwide release on double vinyl, CD and download so hopefully it will do well! Oh, and the cover’s designed by Alex Pardee who is a SICK artist from the states who’s done ish for Cage, El-P, Hurleys, Upper Playground etc, you should check his website Zerofriends.com and cop some of his fine produce!
Last but not least we’re dropping a No Pretense and Brutal Artistry EP called ‘Horror Epicz’ which we’re currently working on. Horror Epicz is a 6 track ep produced entirely by Miki B and is basically a horror themed concept record. We’ve recorded the first two tracks and their sounding DARK! It’s on a totally different tip to the album, a much more hardcore vibe and a taster of the next ish to come!
CB: And who else has got stuff coming out on the DTTS label? Can you unleash any more of your plans?
Bane: Yeah man, there’s the Knew Jeru’slum album ‘Jeru’s & Gentiles’ which is a Gospel hip hop release dropping hopefully the same day as ours and so far its sounding big! Most of the Beats on it are done by Brutal Artistry and Eliphino’s done a couple on it too, it features guest vocals from Man Child from Mars Ill, Pigeon John, Chief Wigz and Naryckin. They’re releasing the track featuring Man Child as a download single in the very near future too so we’ll make sure Certified Banger gets that ish first!
Chief Wigz is dropping two EPs and an album in the New Year, again Brutal Artistry is handling most of the beats and from the tracks I’ve heard it’s going to be HUGE! In my opinion it’s the best Wigz material so far and should give him the recognition he deserves and solidify his place as one of the best MCs the UK’s ever produced. He’s got collabs on there with me, Spida Lee, Proptics, Jack Flash, J-Simple, Jonny Alpha and a few others across the 3 releases too.
TCB (Live Wire and Space Hed) are going to be dropping their ‘Taxman’ track on 7” vinyl early ‘09 which is heavy and should make a lot of noise, followed by their debut album which will hopefully be out next year too. Megamouth and Live Wire are still on with their ‘Fuck a Mixtape’ album which should be out next year too. Turtle Hands will be dropping his ep for DTTS; our new signing 3Demonz will be releasing a mixtape produced by US production team News Ent and another produced by Miss Tofelees. We also have an EP / art collaboration with El Don Badgerino(Plug) called ‘Attack of the Flesh Eating Badgers’ which is currently in the development stage along with the Knew Jeru’s and Naryckin ep and a No Pretense LP with new DTTS producer and Wakefield’s secret weapon, Jig-One.
The dope thing is, because we’ve spent a year or so off radar working on new material we have all the releases for 2009 locked so as we promote that lot, the next ish will be in production for 2010! (Including our soon to be infamous ‘Superfriendz’ project!)
CB: What will your priorities be? How will you market your music etc?
Bane: Our main priority is getting the music to as many people as possible to give us the maximum exposure and the maximum possible sales. We’ve got a worldwide distribution deal in place which we’re really pleased about and other than that it’s just putting a lot of time (and money) into promotion and trying to find fresh new ways to get us noticed. We want to give our audience a high quality product both sound and packaging wise so they’ll be loads of coloured vinyl, cassette tapes, Data Stick releases, promotional clothing from DBC and as much other interesting ish as we can possibly get out their to keep the existing fans happy and bring new ones in!
CB: Is there anything else you need to tell us about the label?
Bane: Nothing apart from hit up myspace.com/dttss, check out all the artists and show us some love! I won’t say keep your eyes open for the new material cos if I have my way they’ll be no escaping it!
CB: So, you’re a rapper and a label owner? Loads of people in UK Hip Hop do so many different things for the scene – is this a good thing?
Bane: I think it is yes. Aside from been a rapper and label (co-)owner I also make beats (me and Deadboy produced all of last years Disabled Blue ep and most of the DTTS tracks on WY) and do graffiti too. I don’t think it’s just in the UK that heads do that, most people I meet who are actively involved in the hip hop scene are multi-disciplined and I put it down to creativity breeding more creativity, in Europe its crazy, its like none of the elements ever started to fade over there and each is as important and respected as the other. I think a lot of people enter the culture through one discipline, discover the others and find they may be gifted in another area too so they run with both and maybe try even more.
I’d encourage anyone who’s interested in the scene or those already involved in one area to explore it all, rapping, djing, graffiti, break dancing, beat production and beatboxing, its all hip hop, its all dope and you may find something else you love! Hip hop plays a massive part in my day to day life, its gives me a reason to get up on a morning, to go to work, to stop taking drugs! The motivation I have to succeed at this shit has got me through my darkest times and I can’t see that ever changing, I know the rest of my people feel the same way and whether we’re successful or not we’re here to stay!