Brighton scene – Mixing pot for creatives

By Dylan Robinson

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The Brighton-based independently-driven Oxomo has a busy end to the year and start to the next as he unloads some of the jewels he has stashed in his vault. It’s been over two years since his last full album ‘Turn the Page’, but only a few months since his last single ‘Over & Over’ taken from one of the many projects in the works. We touch on those after getting to know Oxomo better, along with Brighton’s scene and how these are shaping his future.

What’s good, loving the new track ‘Over & Over’ what’s coming up?

Yeah got most of a whole project that follows on from ‘Over & Over’, from that two singles that’ll drop one on Public Pressure one on Collective Minds Records, my own one, then the whole project will come out at some point. Just got like loads of stuff sitting in folders, waiting.

Why release now? Last full album was 2021.

It’s been enough time, I’ve probably spent more time on this than the other ones; the first one was fully self produced so I just did that all myself and I got a feel for it, then the second one was more refined and now this one I’ve spent all the time on it and done it properly. It’s a completely different style to the first album, but is similar kinda vibe to the second one.

Moving away from Boombap style?

Yeah is definitely faster-paced, lyrics haven’t changed too much but different style for sure and different producers.

Growing up what music was around?

My Mum was like pop music from the 80’s, proper cheesy mum music, salsa-soul, bit of jazz. Then my Dad was like 90’s hip hop, techno, weird random records, he was a music collector of sorts. I remember not rating it so much and then realising actually it isn’t all bad.

So which came first for you producing or rapping?

Producing came first. The reason I started rapping was just cause I was around rappers all the time, I was producing for them so after a while I just thought I could jump on this, save all the best beats for myself aha and yeah eventually evolved into this.

How did first recording a track with you rapping come about?

Well I was working with Dereck d.a.c and Verbz they just kinda gave me the push saying these were good.

You three been boys since day?

Yeah back in the day when Dereck lived in Brighton and Verbz was here more we used to be on the same gig circuits and that, ended up at the same afters and house parties, oh and Audio Active stuff as well, yeah just been a mates since.

Does Brighton’s scene inspire you to put music out?

Yeah definitely, everything is already there and people are always working on stuff, makes it way easier to collaborate too cause everyone’s kinda on the same thing, they’re super on it.

Swear most people in Brighton are either students or unemployed so perfect mixing pot for creatives and for an audience.

You from Brighton originally?

Born in London but moved here. My mum was tryna avoid rent prices but they’re the same here now haha.

Magazines like Offie Mag and other creative hubs have started putting on shows now, the opportunities seem to be snowballing. How are the opportunities to perform in Brighton?

Pretty good I think compared to some parts of the country. Like the people who are active in the scene do a lot in the way of putting on live shows, the opportunities are definitely there. It helps when you’ve got Offie Mag like you say, Highfocus, CMR, Basement Flat, did have Yogocop, there’s a whole host of labels putting on shows.

So what made you wanna start your own label?

I think I was just naive as fuck at the beginning, but nah it’s actually turned out alright in the end. Honestly thought just pure naivety to be like I can do that, turns out it’s actually really difficult and there’s a lot of things to it.

Solo adventure or other people helping?

To begin with it was just me. My mate Marlon (MarMan), another rapper from Brighton and a couple others we all chip in and get stuff done, which is better than just me tryna do all of it purely by myself.

How did the pandemic affect your music, was it good for creativity, stockpiling beats that kind of thing?

A lot more writing than producing cause during that time my Mac broke. It was annoying cause we kinda had a lot of stuff lined up and so we had to cancel a load of gigs, stop basically collaborating, obviously we had the internet. It was tough to be fair cause playing shows is my favourite bit and you’re just making music with no idea when you’re gunna get to play it live. It was good for creativity, but knowing you couldn’t play it was kinda like what’s the point.

Why do you enjoy playing live shows so much?

That’s my favourite part man, that’s what I make the tunes for. Usually bring a few guests with me, get the whole of CMR lot together and do a set as a group. We’ve got loads of tracks together so come as a collective really.

You use record shops a lot for producing?

Yeah I’ll drop a few names, we got Across the Tracks, that’s a classic, got there 50p crate that’s usually full of weird unusual film scores that are really good for sampling, real dramatic strings sections and stuff. So Across the Tracks is good for random bits, then we got Rarekind for like the old proper jazz records, and then yeah I just use charity shops, do it the old fashioned way- cut up drums, make it all from scratch basically.

I did Music Production at college and that was when I first started properly producing, they sorted out all the software and a lot of the starting stuff that you’d otherwise have to work out on your own. Gives you the basics with a bit of theory so you can take it anywhere. There was also an Access To Music initiative which has now shut down, but that was a really good melting pot for Brighton’s creatives.

What inspires you to write, travel/ day to day stuff?

A lot of this album was written outside of Brighton when I was in Morocco for a bit. Manchester a lot of it was written there and trains, trains and buses are always a good time to write. Whenever I feel like a certain emotion or something to write then I will, but then I might not for like months at a time. Or if someone sends me a beat and I’m just like I’ll write a whole track to that in like a week or a day.

Current artists you listen to?

Knucks, new UK rap stuff. Most the UK scene I listen to now. Back in the day was US Hip Hop like Gang Starr, De La Soul was what got me into Hip Hop but now is more UK scene. Stuff that’s more like introspective, yeah that’s the one.

Quite a direct style of rap, less abstract?

I do like that abstract kinda imagery style of rap as well, but yeah my stuff has always been more direct and introspective, more like in your face. With the new album I’ve tried to get it so it ties together more with topics and has more of a story kinda feel to it, if you’re dropping an album now you need it to make sense cause people just don’t have the attention span.

How is dropping an album compared to dropping a single? I feel like it requires a lot more of everything from the artist.

Yeah time, energy and as well with an album you put a lot more money into it. Like you have to fund it, especially with merchandise and then if people don’t like it you’re stuck with loads of pieces of plastic…with your face on. Aside from that I like putting together a project, it gives you an end goal, what does it all mean, you wanna tie it all together with the concepts I guess. With singles it can be completely different to your last one cause it can take a long time to get something out sometimes. I prefer letting an album breath and creating a whole project I think.

Is there stuff in the works for the new album then touring wise etc?

I’m trying to get everything together before hand and it’s a pain in the ass to put it lightly aha, hoping to get everything ready before we think about release dates and stuff, it’s a mission but it’s the right way to do it. Brainstorming ideas to make a proper release strategy; merch, CD’s, tapes there definitely will be, the rest, we’ll see aha.

Is physical merch an important think with the current scene?

I think so, and a lot of people understand now that streaming doesn’t really pay you anything and if they actually like an artist they’ll buy a CD or T Shirt for a tenner or fifteen quid or whatever, and as well if you’re playing a show and the promoter isn’t paying you much you can still make some money selling merch and your guaranteed to sell it cause the people who like your music are already there. Cassettes as well like no one has a cassette player any more but people still buy that stuff.

How is it taking the step from releasing stuff online to playing shows, is it mainly guesting for other acts or?

Yeah can be, but we also put on a lot of our own shows the Collective lot, we book a lot of people, or do guest spots like you’ll have a promoter ringing you up like you wanna fill in this guest spot starts in like five minutes aha. A lot of the big opportunities have been on the day like completely random, on my bike ahha.

There’s a big community of people here, but not a lot of venues will take you, they’ll take the bigger acts but anything else are like nah it’s too risky man. We’ve got like Green Door Store, Rossy Bar, Prince Albert, Hope and Ruin they’ll all do hip hop gigs. Other bookings are mainly like indie rock bands and that, but of course there’s a gap for hip hop.

There is a reason for it though. Some places the bars have been trashed and people been smoking weed inside, so they’re just like nah no more hip hop.

Who’s helped you the most in the scene?

Directly it’s bee Ohhwot, like he was the first person I properly met in the Brighton Hip Hop scene and he helped me produce like properly, introduced me to a load of people and has just been about the whole time- we’ve got a joint project coming out together as well. In the scene everyone has given me advice and pushed me in the right way.

Anything else in the works beyond this drop?

Yeah some pretty large things in the works actually. We got three tracks coming out with The Mouse Outfit this year, they messaged me asking if I wanted any beats I was like what the fuck you joking, so yeah been working with them getting everything mastered me Franco and Lori Asha that’s coming out first and that was all shot in Brighton, that’s like next couple months so maybe before the album. We’ve got everything played in by the band like ready which is good so it’s all ready to translate to live shows and shit, hopefully.

And then we’ve got a big show in Brighton in the 25th October which is Coops headlining with CMR and Basement Flats supporting which will be a big one. Then yeah just organising stuff for the release really, bringing it all together.

You ever played with The Mouse Outfit before like with live instrumentation?

Yeah I played with them in Bristol at the Jam Jar, that was the one when I got called up on the same day, gotta get to Bristol that night, turn up play with a full live jazz band no rehearsal aha, that was this year completely sold out Jam Jar was really good.

Shout anyone out?

CMR lot, Marman, Ohhwot, Lori Asha just had her baby, big up Bonnie as well. Basement Flat lot, Mouse Outfit, Public Pressure, yeah that’ll do.

Keep tuned for Oxomo’s appearance on our very own platform where he will be dropping an unreleased single, maybe before or maybe after a project with The Mouse Outfit, we’ll see.

Collective Minds Bandcamp

Oxomo Soundcloud