Busting hard out of the throbbing heart of the grime scene and bringing it all spectacularly on top with their debut album – It’s all on Top, Jargon VA are rolling life’s slinking beats into a furious cocktail of concrete sculpted mayhem. Dripping pure urban soul from vocalists as notorious as Ms Dynamite and Tinie Tempah over rippling instrumentals and deliciously dirty bottom ends, they are already whipping up an urban storm with support flooding in from all corners of the scene as their blurring of the lines between radio friendly and the underground melts down into an up front fusion of the delicate and the just plain nasty. We had a quick word with the lads for a bit more insight
Can you tell us a little about yourselves:
We are Cem Ripper & Mensa and together we are Jargon V.A! Born and raised in South London. Love all types of music, Love making beats, Love Djing, Love Lasagne and Throwing Parties!
How did you initially get into studio work – did it come through the electronic or the acoustic:
Electronic, Cem worked on the odd Saturdays in Big Apple Records and that is where he first started to get into producing, used to listen into Magnetic manís early sessions and try to replicate some of their sounds. Mensa originally as a Garage/Grime DJ who shopped regularly at Big Apple Records when the scene was thriving and progressing into taking an active interest into how tracks are made and what works on dancefloors.
How do you define grime and how did it become such a part of your musical identity:
In a lot of ways Grime represents how the youth of today are feeling. Its all about expression, so where it has had negative attention because of some of the lyrics, that is focused on too much. People are venting their frustrations, it probably is more helpful for them to get it off their chests in a Mic Booth rather than on road.
We think a lot of grime artists probably feel they are unable to turn to people or traditional avenues so they let go of their emotions on a beat. For us, grime is one of the hardest types of music to make a hit out of. Itís more straightforward to make bait pop music but only the best can make the cross over sounds work. I.E: Tinie Tempah ñ Pass out, an artist formed from the grime scene.
Tell us about the scene you were a part of as you developed your sound:
We have been heavily involved in the grime scene.† An early track called Rubble with Ms Dynamite which topped the 1xtra charts for several weeks and have worked with acts such as Roll Deep, Roadside and Big Narstie. A lot is owed to the grime scene and it is responsible for the grimey edge when we make over music, hence the crossover sounds.
We’d say increasingly the artist defines this more so than the producer does. For instance, Pass out, Bonkers, On a Mission etc, these are all underground sounding instrumentals which have been kicked into the popular scene by the artists take on it. Which is a brilliant thing for Music and contributes to why things are so exciting right now, especially in the UK.
How much of a laugh do you have together in the studio and how do you resolve creative differences:
It usually ends up with loads of alcohol and jokes, and random people that have never been met before lol! We always have a good vibe and we usually support each others opinion.
How do your vocal collaborations work – are you firing off instrumentals or are the tracks built together from the ground up:
It really depends on the artist, The Tinie Tempah collab was born from being at Cems mums house listening to beats, he picked out a load and it all went from there. With A-Dot and Ice Kid, we would sit in the studio, make beats and write all at the same time but its very individual.††
How much is working on the album allowing you to explore musical directions that you may swerve on a single
We love it because there is a lot of music that we make which doesn’t really fall into a genre and the album will be our outlet for this sound. We do try to keep within our sound but there is some experimental stuff on there that we are looking forward to seeing how well it’s received.
How critical are melodics to your sound over and above vocals, rhythm and bass:
Its all dependent on the track, currently the big pop tracks are very minimal with the vocals doing all the work and the underground scene is the complete opposite. Would say its best to have a good balance of both.
Depends what it is that’s on top of me
Why did you choose High Rankin on the remix:
Known Will a little while now and seriously respect that crazy mofo! We chose him because to put it quite bluntly High Rankin don’t f*ck about, we love his music, regularly play his stuff out when DJing, the guy is on a next level. How he manages to juggle his production/djing/remixing/youtube acting career is beyond me. If he wasnít a Musician I would hope Rupert Murdoch would give him his own channel on Sky!
How are you working your live performances:
At the moment our DJ shows quite often have a host so there is a bit of a live feel to them. In terms of a fully live show we are working on it and developing it for the end for the end of 2011/beginning 2012. Working with so many artists makes it slightly more difficult but definitely not impossible.
Are you looking to work more with live musicians in the future:
We currently have a guitar player and a piano player, who are both extremely talented. I think with our sound and direction, we would prefer to stick to the more electronic sounds but who knows what is around the corner.
The Label is called Cheese On Bread Records and has come about from our early days as jungle/garage/grime DJs, Hosts and producers. For us, the aim is to bring the parts of underground music scenes we are involved in to a credible mainstream with a record label that is much more than just that, we are looking at creating, building and promoting a brand, that brand is Cheese On Bread. We draw inspiration from what Rick Rubin, Russel Simmons and Jay Z have done in America as well as what Boy Better Know and Rinse are doing in the UK.
Is running a label basically a break even at best labour of love
†Yeah we would definitely agree with that, certainly at this kind of stage. We are definitely loving it though, its great to have freedom to work with who you want when you want and put out what you want. But then even more so after all the hard work and stress when you get some positive feedback it makes it all worth it. Even when you get negative feedback you gotta take it on the chin and remember at least its been noticed ha!
Within that kind of time frame we’ll see our debut album It’ s All on Top is out, will be available for 100% free download and features artists such as Ms Dynamite, Tinie Tempah, Narstie, Killa P (Roll Deep), Adot & Ramzee. Also would like to have completed work with a shed load more artists, both established and up and coming. Its important for us to work with the unknown artists as well for us because it can help them develop and also provide the foundations to the making of a scene.†Would be great to be doing some more remix work and DJ Gigs as they have been going really well. Also would like to get out some bits from our electronic band ìDeath By Misadventure, we are both pretty excited about letting that cat out of the bag!
Long term – what’s the dream
†With Jargon V.A we would definitely like to open up the scope of the artists we work with, we feel there is a lot we can add to what is going on in urban music at the moment and with a sound that crosses many genres it would be really interesting to see how we can push it. For us variety is the spice of life so working with a range of artists, signed, unsigned, underground or popular its all the same. Music is Music at the end of the day. With Cheese On Bread Records, we would like to see the label grown organically and be a platform for up and coming artists to get out there, we are fairly new so enjoying it so far and learning a lot of new things (as well as lessons!) but its all good. Our aim is definitely to establish ourselves as a small but serious independent record label and brand with the UK music industry in the short term and in the longer term definitely internationally, you gotta aim high!
INTERVIEW TAKEN FROM
LSD MAGAZINE ISSUE SEVEN – MADE IN SPACE
May 9th 2011