To coincide with the release of his first album, I met up with Leeds MC, Instance. We had a chat, a couple of jars (one in The Bourbon where the music was too loud and they charged a quid to get in and another in a Wetherspoons of all places… well, they had no music did they?) and we did an interview that we recorded on my brothers phone.
That was the same phone that he lost in the pit at Vagabondz later that night, but fortunately, through the magical power of Bluetooth, I’d already secured a copy of it on my phone. Instance brought along his ex / friend, Louise, and we all had a laugh at his expense when he started talking a lot about gay icons… see below. He told me not to put that in, but I did, because you do, don’t you?
We’ll start off with all the usual stuff, like background, musical influences, other influences…
Instance: OK, well I guess I started off as a drum n bass MCc which you may or may not know, I started rhyming in my bedroom about five years ago. It wasn’t until I met the PCP of Crackhouse Recordings who was part of the Smackdaddy MC’z and he dragged me on a track called Kansas to L.A. which is about a girl who moves from the countryside in Kansas to try to be a movie star but ends up in a porno with Max Hardcore – that was my first track.
Not heard that one, but heard of it!
Instance: Yeah, I can get you copy any time. But my lyrical style is a bit different to what I’ve developed into now. I guess my big heroes are Roni Size, MC Skibadee, MC Fearless, old school Drum ‘n’ Bass MC. We used to listen to a very strange blend of Happy Hardcore and Techno back in Burnley, but I like to think I’ve moved on from there now.
If you’ve moved out of Burnley you’ve gotta move on!
Instance: Yeah! (laughing, obviously)
Desert Island Discs; what would you take with you? What are your most important CD’s or vinyls or whatever?
Instance: I’m gonna be slated across the whole Hip Hop community in Leeds for this, but, I’d take Lil’ Wayne ‘Tha Carter’, Crazy P ‘The Wickedest Music’ which is a funky, soul Jamiroquai twist on stuff and… how many choices do I get?
Instance: Probably… I’m a big house fan to be honest… and Drum ‘n’ Bass fan so it’d have to be either a house or Drum ‘n’ Bass CD, but I think it’s that sort of musical eclectiveness that’s steered me away from making such a straight Hip Hop album.
Why Lil’ Wayne?
Instance: He’s just got a crazy flow, he’s dirty, he doesn’t apologise for anything. He’s just a dirty boy from the dirty South with crazy styles.
He’s a bit weird though innee?
Instance: He’s a weird dude, he is. He’s been in the hip hop game since eleven and I’ve heard he’s got an addiction to cough syrup which is a mix of codeine and promethadine which is gonna make you even weirder if you’re already weird. They all drink it… drinking that (together) SIZZURP! (more laughter)
How would you describe yourself as a rapper? You’ve already said you’ve got quite a diverse influence but how would you describe your style and contents?
Instance: My lyrical content ranges from the unique to the typical. I’ve got the whole spectrum in there. I’ve got a lot of the content of some of the tracks is what you’d compare to the tracks on Channel U (I pull a face)… I know!
You sure you wanna admit to that?!
Instance: No well I don’t but, I dunno it ranges from your standard stuff but a lot of the stuff is a lot more political, socially aware. I’ve got a track on ‘Demographic’ called ‘Slaves’, the first verse is about sweatshops, stitching stuff for Primark and brothels. People don’t realise, they think that slaves… they think to themselves, coffee and sugar plantations. But it’s there on your back doorstep. ‘Tomorrows World’ focuses on social breakdown, climate change. ‘Mass Produced’. Especially my outro, ‘Nomad’, is looking through the eyes of a drug addict, who’s strung out on smack or crack. It’s just him wandering the streets trying to make money and persuade people to take drugs with him. My personal experience of taking drugs is that you feel better about taking drugs if you’re with someone else. ‘Questions’ is also loosely based around drug addiction as well. ‘Jackanory Stories’ is three separate short stories about how fate can come around and bite you. ‘Demographic’ is loosely based on characteristics of people really although there are a couple of tracks with me having a rant, pissed off. And it’s loosely based around issues that affect us globally.
Is that your motivation for rapping, for making this CD? For this project anyway?
Instance: For this CD definitely, I’m just trying to open people’s eyes and introduce myself at the same time.
Is there any one issue that concerns you the most?
Instance: I’ve always been a big fan of Geography and I think what I want to say is that although we live in a modern world, that things are changing very fast and I guarantee the way we live now, fifty years down the line we’ll have to accept some major changes. Tracks such as ‘Tomorrow’s World’, ‘As The World Turns’, ‘Demographic’… I hope people listen and take something away from that and accept that things are going to change. That was my motivation.
Because of that focus, it might come across that you don’t want to rap about anything else. Is there a place for other topics in rap?
Instance: Yeah, there is. Music as a medium is meant to evoke emotions. ‘Demographic’ itself, from the lyrics, the beats and the artwork, everyone can tell it’s a dark piece of work. That’s one side of me. I’m a split personality sort of person; I’m split straight down the middle. Although there is a dark side of me which I do embrace, ‘cause I find it the most creative side of me at the moment, that’s not to say that in the future… I want to make some happier tracks. I wrote a track last night that was wicked, it’s about alley cats… My other stuff with Crackhouse Allstars is a lot more chilled out, happier and tongue in cheek. We’re serious about having fun at Crackhouse.
How important is it to have this CD out as a physical product?
Instance: It’s a big part of it. I want people to look at it and think, as a label, as an individual, he takes his work seriously and is proud of it. People look at it and want to buy it. I’ve seen projects by other people and no disrespect ‘cos I know everyone’s got a big passion for music, but I think, if you’re going to put all that passion into your music, why not put as much effort into the presentation and I’m being realistic about it, I want my hobby to pay for itself. I want people to buy the album, I don’t want to just spend all money my on hip hop, I want to come away from it having made money. I think that presentation is a big part of helping me achieve that.
When I got it, I was well impressed by the artwork. I thought, ‘They’re doing it properly!’
Instance: Make no mistake, it’s a proper CD. The level everyone claims to be at, we should be making proper CD’s. Don’t say you are something and not back it up with the product.
We managed to talk about that without touching on online stuff like mp3.
Instance: It’s a massive part; online distribution. I’ve found a site that’s gonna take it. I’d planned to get it on iTunes but it seemed to fall through. I hadn’t realised how much they demand of you. I think it’s a great way for artists to honestly distribute themselves, but for me, it’s all about hustling it on the streets. I’ve gotta move these units hand to hand as well.
A lot of other MC’s and artists are gonna be reading this. What sort of process do you go through when you’re writing a track?
Instance: With ‘Demographic’ I wrote 50% of the material without a beat and then the other half I hooked up with Mike D of Subterrania studios and got a load of beats off him and wrote the second half. My main inspiration was purely watching the news. If there was a major event happened tomorrow then I’d write about it. I’ve woken up in cold sweats with lyrics popping out of my head. ‘Questions’ was a bad dream I’ve had.
How involved are you at Crackhouse Recordings?
Instance: Very. Me and PCP run it. We manage fifteen other individuals. We do all the promotion. We run all the nights. We don’t do it all, but we do all the coordination. He’s the face of it and I’m a bit more behind the scenes.
What do you think of the Leeds scene?
Instance: I can’t compare it to other scenes ‘cos I’ve not really experienced any others. There’s a lot of talent, but it’s slightly in a bubble, maybe. I think people are ambitious, but it’s hard to break out. Everyone talks about how we need to integrate and stick together, but we don’t. We need to focus on ourselves and break out of the city and I don’t care how, we just need to do it. I can only focus on myself… what CD’s have I listened to over the last few weeks? My stuff and my mates stuff, and a bit of Lil Wayne. (chuckles all round) It’s not about repping Leeds. True stars, you don’t know where they’re from, they’re truly universal. Where’s Elton John from? I’m not comparing him to this lot but… where’s George Michael from? I’ve got no idea! What I’m trying to say, all the big stars, we don’t know where they’re from.
We’ll rap it up with anything you want to say.
Instance: ‘Demographic’ clearly bridges Hip Hop and more electronic styles. I’m a big electronic music fan. On a Saturday night you can catch me listening to house and garage. I’m not necessarily going to be bumping Dr. Dre or Jehst. It’s a truly eclectic album, it’s contemporary, it touches on a lot of social issues, it’s raw in parts, it’s soft in parts. It features some truly talented people. We’re representing Leeds, people in India, people everywhere. Buy it, you can get it at Tribe, Crash. I’m doing a live gig at Zavvi’s…
Instance: Yeah formerly Virgin and got a few gigs coming up. Check my Myspace. I’ve got an obsession with how many views I get so check me out!
When you do go to his Myspace so he gets those all important hits, be sure to click the button to purchase his CD (called ‘Demographic’ if you didn’t catch it!) for a mere fiver!