I've interviewed Ryan three times now; once for Basic Soul, which you can read here and he did the One Hundred Project, which you can read here, and the reason why I keep on coming back to Ryan is the fact that he is never one to stagnate, he's always got something on the go that needs to reach a wider audience. I learnt a lot about DJing and record collecting during our many conversations out and about and he's definitely one of my DJ heroes - if you can find his September mix from a year or two ago then your ears will be rewarded. There are some exciting developments in the coming weeks for Ryan and as soon as they're confirmed I'll let you know. Big up to a true music man.
What does the name Hoya:Hoya mean?
It's Japanese for 'fresh'. Well, that is according to an internet Japanese translator! We had to hand over all the press to the Music Box and the deadline was 2pm. We were sat in Common, searching the internet for ideas at 1.50pm! We were typing in all kindsa stuff into a translator and one of the results for 'fresh' was 'hoya-hoya'. I loved it straight away, as did Barney, whereas Jon wasn't so keen. So we just replaced the dash with a colon and voila, 'hoya:hoya'!
Do you think Hoya: Hoya would work in London or New York? Why?
I reckon so. In theory, it should be able to work anywhere. However, we've only just started it, and we kinda capitalised on the Sketch City reputation to get people in. In London or New York we wouldn't have that reputation to capitalise on so it would be more difficult. I'm a believer that a good night would be able to work in the majority of places, as long as you tweak it slightly to better suit its surroundings.
What does the future hold for the night?
After the Daedelus and Mark Pritchard show in May we've taken a break for the summer, and we are actually relocating to The Roadhouse, where we start up again on September 27th. We really can't wait to get there!
What do you think of the new beats scene coming out of LA?
I'm really, really into it, although I wouldn't say that it's a 'new' scene. In my opinion (as an outsider) it's been around for years, but is just evolving, and the new 'generation' of this scene has started to get noticed quicker. We've been lucky enough to hook up with guys like Flying Lotus, Gaslamp Killer, Samiyam and Daedelus, who are all ridiculously gifted. FlyLo's album is gonna propel his career forward so much, Willie's (Gaslamp Killers) album's due, Sam's signed to Hyperdub, Daedelus' new album's out next week, I think, and they're all getting mad props, and rightly so. However, you've also got people like Daddy Kev, Kutmah, Sa-Ra, Poly, Ras G and Carlos Nino all heavily involved in that scene, it's crazy!
Daedelus has, without doubt, the best electronic live show I have ever, ever seen. It's like, truly mindblowing the first time you see it. I'd love to see him booked to play before someone like Soulwax, because I really think he could cross over into that market. All those guys fully deserve the success I hope they achieve.
When you're making a beat, describe your process.
It varies, to be honest. Sometimes I just mess around and come up with something that I reckon is a goer and it gets done really quickly. But, recently, I have been going over undeveloped ideas from like a year ago and finding it quite fun. However, it usual starts with my thinking of a killer riff or something, and then trying to get that down as soon as possible before forgetting it!
How has your music making ability/techniques changed in recent years?
Ummm...I think that I've just learned how to use my gear better. I haven't got the most advanced studio in the world, and it is still essentially a bedroom setup, but I've just learned how get the results that I want with the setup I've got. Also, about a year ago, I bought a load of hardware and that helped me heaps, as I much prefer the hands on approach that hardware offers as opposed to soft synths etc.
What are your ultimate aims for your productions?
Ultimately, I'd like to develop to the standard I want to get to in the various genres that I want to make. For example, at the moment, what I'm essentially making is hip-hop, but with a different feel. However, I've also dipped into making House, Techno, Dubstep and heaps of other stuff, but not to a standard that I'm happy with yet. But, one step at a time, eh?
Tell us about Sketch City's gallery Upper Space.
Well, obviously Sketch City is half art based and half music based. We (Jonny Dub, Barney Francis and I) built Upper Space, along with the help of some very good friends, to add more emphasis on the art side of things. It's the first street art gallery in the North West of England and is one of the biggest ones, space-wise, in the country. We've currently got an exhibition by Chris Drury, of Fingathing fame, which runs til the end of June. Barney's the main man in terms of gallery stuff. He's pulled out all the stops and lined up some killer shows that will be made public soon, he's proper got it locked. Check here for more info.
Are there any artists at the moment that are particularly impressing you?
Some of the artists who regularly paint at Sketch City are properly doing the business at the moment. I'm a bit reluctant to call them 'Sketch City' artists, as they are just residents at the night, but artists in their own rights. Bollops did an incredible piece at Eurocultured and all her stuff is super good. Guy McKinley's 'Dead Japanese Warrior Girls' are one of the best things I've seen, really feeling them right now. Eight-Bit, Mr. Gauky and Will Flawn have come up to paint loads recently and all dropped killer pieces at Hoya:Hoya in May. Apart from that, I'm really into people like James Roper, a local Manchester boy. Shit, there's loads of really incredible artists around, I feel a bit spoilt for seeing it as often as I do.
Sketch City has opened a branch in Australia, are there any other cities that you see the night happening in? Why?
Yes, there is now a Sketch City in Melbourne, run a by a girl called Rachel who used to come down when she was in Manchester. It's doing really well out there and has the key elements that what makes Sketch City, but with it's own take and personality. We hoping to start up in Sydney through the help of an artist we know out there, as well as Rachel's links. Hopefully, after that would be LA, as we've made good links with a lot of the music guys there. Then after than, New York, Tokyo, and even places like Rio, which has a killer graff scene. It's all gonna take time and a lot of hard work to do this, but I think the formula is pretty appealing and if it's done in the right way, and tweaked according to each climate, it can be as successful as Melbourne has been.
What makes a great DJ? What makes a great producer?
I'm not really sure, to be honest. When I think of all the DJs I consider great, they all have different styles, or play different music etc. Some are established but some are farely new to it y'know? In terms of great producers, I think consistency is the key. In my opinion, making one great tune doesn't make you a great producer. Also, just because you've put out 12 albums, doesn't make you a great producer, if the quality isn't there. When you think of Jay Dee, he had such a ridiculously high output and had an incredible range, whilst keeping his quality higher than most hip-hop producers. The same can be said for the likes of Axelrod, King Tubby and the Mizells, all of which I consider to be great producers. But, in all honesty, I'm not entirely sure if I'm qualified to answer such a question!
When you get artists such as Dabrye to come and play at your nights, do you ever seek out advice from them on your music? What sort of influence has he had on you?
Tadd's had a huge influence on me. When he was last over, he was here for five days, so we hung out and I played him some stuff, which was a big deal for me. He gave me feedback and also some real encouragement, which was ace. 'Two/Three' is one of my favourite ever hip-hop albums and I see him as an integral part of pushing the genre forward. I don't quite think people realise how important an artist he is and how unique he is. There's very few people that are so accomplished in so many genres as well as trying to keep these aliases very separate. He doesn't compromise on anything, music-wise. For example, he has stopped doing Dabrye live shows, because of the complexity of the new Dabrye stuff. However, this doesn't mean he will DJ as Dabrye, because he doesn't consider himself a hip-hop DJ and therefore only DJs as James T. Cotton. You've gotta respect that.
You've said that you'd like to go into the Live realm. How would you go about this? How important is the performance aspect to you?
I think it's really important to be honest. For example, if Daedelus or Lotus toured as DJs, I don't think their shows would be as good. Now, that's not dissing their music tastes, but it's just that their live shows are memorable. I think transforming and doing something live is just a bit more exciting than DJing. But at the same time, I do love DJing, so I would never abandon it. In terms of live setup, I'm just looking into it at the moment. But, hopefully when I get a few bits out, I'd like to be fully ready with a live show by then.
What was the last little gem that you dug up on your digging sorties?
To be honest, I haven't had a good dig for ages. But, I did get a couple of Syliphone bits in wicked condition for cheap cheap, stuff like the Les Keletegui et Ses Tambourinis LP and that. Umm... a couple of Brazilian things have turned up, couple of reggae bits. Nothing major.
Do you find Manchester to be evolving in any way?
It kinda evolves all the time really. At the moment, as with a lot of places, everyone's dubstep mad, which isn't a bad thing but gets a bit funny when you see DJs who were out and out electroclash DJs 18 months now only playing dubstep! But there's some incredible music being made in that scene, so it's all good. I think people are getting a bit bored of the super big nights and are starting to go to more grassroots nights, if you will. Nights like Hit n Run, Hot Milk and Bass Camp have got a core following, which is wicked, as all those guys are awesome. I think because there's no Electric Chairs a lot of the more experienced clubbers haven't been to many of the new nights, which is a shame, but then again, you can't please everyone.
Music wise, there doesn't seem to be heaps of stuff coming through. There's a few people who I know are making pretty decent beats, Dave Trusme's doing well, Broke'n'English too, but there's not a wave of talent breaking through like in Glasgow with HudMo, Rustie and the LuckyMe crew, although it's only a matter of time.
Tell us about your working relationship with Jonny Dub.
We don't have one. To be honest, it never really feels like work with Jonny, because we're on the same page 99% of the time. Then on the rare occurance that we're not, we talk about and it all gets resolved pretty quickly. He's immensely supportive if I wanna do anything outside of Sketch City and has become one of my closest, most trustworthy friends. In all this time we've only properly kicked off once, and that was at Sketch City about 18 months. Jonny wanted to put the decks 3 feet back from the front of the stage, and I wanted them right at the front. So we argued for ages about this rather important three foot of space and then realised how fucking stupid it was! In all seriousness I think it's a huge testament to him that he let me do so much straight away. For example, when he first asked me to get involved it wasn't like he was asking me to work for him. He just said outright, 'co-run Sketch City with me, 50/50 responsibility'. The same thing happened when Barney got involved. Now we each look after our own areas within Sketch City and Upper Space.
Photography is another skill of yours. What attracted you to the medium and who are your influences?
My ex-girlfriend, Ellie, is an amazing photographer. I started pretty much getting into it just after we started seeing each other. I bought a digital SLR which she taught me how to use it and all I wanted to do was take photos like hers! So I copied all her techniques until I figured it out for myself a bit more. She bought me an amazing Practika SLR for my birthday last year, and then I picked up a few more cameras, mainly lomos, and started to really explore it. It was like the photographic equivalent of holding onto a kid's bike the first few times they ride without stabilisers. I don't really want to pursue any kind of career in it, it's just a hobby, but i do really enjoy it.
How did you come to take some photographs for Stones Throw?
By accident really. Recently, Guilty Simpson, Percee P and House Shoes were playing Manchester and Leeds on the same night. We know both promoters who did the shows, so we were gonna drive them from one gig to the next. It ended up not happening that way, but I got offered to jump in so I went prepared with a camera so I wasn't just tagging along some wide-eyed kid. It ended up being a really great night hanging out with those guys, who are all really nice, taking photos at gigs etc. Although, the best photo I got was one of House Shoes and Guilty in a beige service station, 4am, buying cheese. Ace. I then sent Egon and Jeff the photos and they used them on the site. I then ended up taking a few for Wolf and James Pants when they were over at the Warehouse, which they used also. As with most of the stuff I do, pure fluke!
Sketch City on Myspace