B-Burg - Beats, Rhymes & Pudding

Sampling is an amazingly free way to make music. Its like taking someone else's colours and painting your own picture.

Feature by Bram Gieben | 17 Mar 2006

B-Burg AKA Chris Hall has been around on the Edinburgh music scene for a long time. His boyish good looks and amiable nature belie the jaw-dropping musicianship he has displayed as a guitarist with Livesciences. The production and mixing skills he has honed as a DJ, and during the making of his eagerly anticipated debut album, 'Dessert Island Disco,' owe much to his musician father, and time spent in Broughton High School's big band under teacher Iain Carlton. This tutelage gave him a love for jazz that vibrates in every note of his music. B-Burg is named after a famous cake. The Skinny spoke to Chris about beats, rhymes and pudding.

How long has the album taken to put together?

I best start by specifying that it's actually Dessert as in cakes/pastries, not as in arid landscape! It was a great moment of definition for me when the name came together, because it really brought the concept alive, helping me to first visualise the 'dessert island' itself, which has been beautifully brought to life in 2D by one Gregor Mackie, AKA codename 13. It really began as a few concept/situational storyline kind of tracks that I started to put together about five years ago. A lot of what has come since then has been written to themes and story ideas I've had, which have been added to and developed in the studio with other artists and producers. One of the most recent being the track Bananas in Piranhas. It is the title theme for the album, and is one track off the forthcoming 'My Name Is' 12-inch which will be released on Local product in the coming months.

You're releasing on Local Product - is it a big family of artists? Tell us about your labelmates.

The 12" will indeed be flying the Local Product flag in the coming months as will much else of my work. The album itself however, will be released through Edinburgh based label LVS records (Lvsrecords.co.uk), which is run by Jonny Crawshaw and Ben seal, two of my Livesciences compatriots. My fellow artists are all amazing in their own unique way, so I suggest that rather than listen to waffle from me, everyone should check the LVS site for free downloads and more juicy info. They include solo projects from Joe Seal, the legendary MC Profisee, group work from the amazing and thoroughly mental Abdominal Showmen, and the Darkroom Quartet, the newest kylie-esque vocal led funk offering from the LVS boys themselves. Check that site! Local product is also a label with far reaching and diverse work from the likes of Whys, Show n Prove (Brighton),The Addict (Edinburgh) and Eyesee.

The album is very playful, was that a conscious choice, to move away from the focus on jamming that brought about Livesciences? It certainly sounds like you are having fun.

I have to say, a hell of a lot of fun has been had and the snowballing of other artists' involvement in the last year particularly has brought about a real whirlwind of activity around many of the tracks. That has really helped to keep it from going stale and keep the vibes good. It is a totally different approach to the on the spot liveness of Livesciences, yeah. Sampling to me is such an amazingly free way to make music. In many ways for me it is like taking someone else's colours and painting your own picture with them: I like to think of a lot of what I do as painting a visual scene or situation through sound. If someone makes a beautiful chord or something, chances are its been played before, so I feel its good to acknowledge what goes into a piece of work in that way, by sampling rather than copying. It's impossible to say what is truly original anyway. To have the work of musicians that exist on recordings, whether they are dead or alive, is such an amazing resource to have access to. I don't feel I have to justify digging in the crates, but I guess that does!

Tell us about the MCs you use on the album, and how you met them.

The MCs on the album come forth by the names J Seal (also of Livesciences) 1sp, Jee4ce and Mr Hiz. Originally I met Joe through his brother Ben. We met at the launch gig of the first Livesciences record - 'Heavens Mirror' - at the old Bongo Club. We stayed in Ben's flat together in Polwarth when Ben went to stay in Australia some three years ago and in that time made a lot of music together. We recorded the one vocal verse of his that appears on the album, and since that I've completely re-written the instrumental around it and got vocal input from Jee4ce and Mr Hiz, which leads me to… Jee4ce, who stars on the track which is the real monty, a hilarious rich-man-poor-man story and is potently vocal on another track with Mr Hiz, a 'Tron'-film themed sci-fi tune called Reflections. I met Ronan at a night called Lyrics to Go, which was a Livesciences-orientated jam night at Cabaret Voltaire. I was instantly impressed by his laid-back attitude and searing gift of writing and improvising. We also played together regularly at Medina on a Thursday night for The Realness, where I first played him my instrumental ideas. Before I knew it we were in my studio catching some Irish rec'. I also met Mr Hiz at Medina, where we DJ'ed together and spent lots of our time sending up anyone we talked about. I'd originally met Hiz through a good friend and local producer S-Type (Surface Pressure Records), and had heard he'd liked my instrumental work so was keen to work with him and see what he had to say. In his own style he instantly put a colour into the tracks that for me remains completely unique. We have also been compiling work together for the Edinburgh Gritty Committee compilation, which will have a release scheduled at some point soon. Which brings me last but not least to 1sp, the hyperactive hyper-vocal and totally blazing French microphone master. I met Jean-Marc at the Bongo Club as well, originally at the night El Segundo which he had hosted occasionally, when I started DJing there some three years ago. When we eventually found the right idea for us both, I saw his skill (and my lack of skill with French) and put some takes down that really strongly lead the still unfinished track Ration of Alliteration.

Rumour has it that Eminem got sent a copy of your My Name Is tune. Have you had any feedback from his camp?

Yeah, through Richard Worth of Livesciences, who is a friend of his current tour manager. Nothing as yet, but watch out! "My name is, my name is , my name is ...Not sausage..." I hope he digs it, it's just a silly laugh... I know you'll be keen to know that I've been convinced into doing a breaks remix ..hold tight!

Any plans for live PAs/gigs?

Well I've a new laptop and the MPC is dying for a walk out the studio. I haven't set anything definite yet, but certainly with my recent promotion to main resident at Solid Steel Edinburgh, there is no doubt something will be coming up soon. Not sure of the format but it's going to happen, I'm really keen. The right format will make sense soon. I'm in the process of making my studio portable and much more easy to use in a live context, that's really all that's lacking.

Is it nice to return to scratching and writing loops after playing guitar with the band for a while?

Yeah, but it's something I've always done as part of the balance, they've always gone had in hand. This year particularly so.

Any other solo projects coming up from Livesciences?

Well, we've just re-carpeted and hung some fairy lights in the studio! Everyone else in the band has other stuff going on at the moment. LVS Records has the goss on such matters! As far as the band goes, we are moving into new territory musically and I think this year could be a fruitful one.

Tell us about Flies in the Night - it's a haunting tune. Is there a story behind it?

Yeah, that tune carries a lot of sentiment. In one sense it is a situational scene about being lost in a forest at night, being deep in the heart of something and being out of your depth I suppose. It also carries the viewpoint of being at home in such a place, with the flute representing a bird's flight and the scratch representing the sound of its cry in the night. The vocal samples are there to set the scene and I suppose say how before you know it,if you aren't careful, you can be lost, literally or metaphorically. I hope it sets imaginations going, I'd really be happy with that!

My Name Is 12" out on Local Product in March, date TBC, with the album 'Dessert Island Disco' to follow on shortly, on LVS.

My Name Is 12"" out on Local Product in March, date TBC, with the album 'Dessert Island Disco' to follow on shortly, on LVS.

http://www.lvsrecords.co.uk, www.radiomagnetic.com