TikTok feels like fast-food music

By Dylan Robinson

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Skott 3ree has found himself a comfy nook to call home in the UK rap scene. His 2022 project with Jack Danz, ‘Die Living’, gave him both confidence and the ears of many. He paused his Rap Game UK marathon to chat with me about where it started, what’s changed and how it will continue. It’s been a busy few years for Skott 3ree. What made you embark on this journey and start putting music out?

That goes way back. I guess my earliest memories of rap are little Lil Wayne and Eminem when I lived in Scotland, Limp Bizkit, that kinda stuff, but yeah, I’ve always been interested in pursuing music. My step dad when I was young was like ‘don’t listen to rap music cause it’s really bad’ or something, but yeah since my earliest memories it’s never not been a thing in my mind. When I was 16, I decided I really wanted to do it, so I have put a lot of time and money into it since then. Now I’m 25, so almost ten years of doing it.

What has changed in the scene regarding releasing and receiving music, and what’s changed for you since you started putting music out?

I guess accessibility. When I started, I wasn’t privy to, like, electronic press kits and promotion; that’s all kind of a new game to me, so the last couple of years, I’ve been working that stuff out. For me, I’m producing more music than ever and of better quality as well. Then I guess reaching out to artists like Jack Danz has also changed it up. Mainly though it’s like the music business side so how stuff is packaged; I’m spending way more time working out what to do with my music once I’ve produced it. It’s basically gone from a creative outlet to How can I make this work as a living? Even with the other people I grew up with, through social media and TikTok, it’s easier to reach out and work with these people you might not normally get to.

Touch on TikTok and what has changed in the industry.

The way people consume music now. It’s good for getting people to know who you are, but does that translate to music too well? It used to be you’d have to exit the app and search for the song you’ve heard elsewhere and with people’s attention spans they’re not gunna do that, but now I think there’s a feature you can just go straight onto the artists’ Spotify via TikTok. Before, it was hard to turn this into streams, but with that, it should hopefully improve; it kinda feels like fast-food music.

I don’t take it too deep. I do noodle reviews sometimes cause I’ve learnt if you want someone to check you out you don’t wanna just cram music down their throat but show them you’re a real human being, that’s more what Tiktok is. I use it to push my art sometimes, do like a slide show with a few of my bits and a track playing. It’s a sick feature but I never think about it too much just try stay natural and organic.

I just wish Soundcloud or Bandcamp had a system that if you don’t rate a song then it goes down the algorithm so you are less likely to see it. Like Soundcloud you’re putting your music out but there’s no real exposure, like how does their explore page even work aha. I’ve looked into it a lot and it just seems a bit of a mess, like people aren’t gunna find my music their ahead of anywhere else.

The contention around TikTok and its effect on the music industry is well documented. If platforms like Bandcamp or Soundcloud incorporated TikTok’s personalised algorithms, artist exposure could be majorly increased. However, this would rely on heavy user engagement and a potential layout rework. Which came first, rapping or producing?

Rapping. I never set out to be a producer, all my friends being producers like twentysix he’s basically a brother. He was always producing then when he got bored I’d have a go. Watching Danz do it, that’s when I got really good cause he’s a wizard. I would just pick their brains all the time and see what plug ins they use, not to steal the song but just like soak it up. This last year I’ve got a lot better though.

Talk to us about your first meeting with Jack Danz.

Jack Danz I met through an event called Sinewave he was the support with Defenders of Style and I went over and fangirled for a bit aha but ended up taking his details and buying a couple of beats off him. Once I recorded one of them ‘Suffragettes’ I sent it to him and he was like ‘bro this is sick’ and invited me to his studio and we started working together.

When that ‘Die Living’ album came out last year, that was a huge thing for me. Since then, people have taken me so much more seriously; they liked it before, but after that, I had bigger artists on me cause of Danz. I haven’t released any of the stuff that has come from that yet, but I’ve got a lot in the works like way bigger than anything I’ve put out, bigger features and stuff. Honestly, just invest in yourself and create your own space, and if you put the money in, then people will see you seriously and want to work with you for free…as long as you’re good… I dunno that was my method.

It really seems you have evolved since then. What has influenced this?

It’s funny cause rap music has always been the main thing in my head, but I listen to so much other music and always think how can I make this into rap music. Like loads of stuff, heavy metal, old shit, then avant-garde more experimental stuff I always think like how can I evolve the sound. Another point on that, a guy not many people will expect me to say but is a huge part of music history that has influenced me is John Cage. So he is one of the Godfathers of sampling but not Hip hop sampling. He built one of the first samplers, and he has a piece called ‘4.33’, which is a piano piece and it is 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence and he’ll play this to sold-out shows but it’s all about creating ambience in the room. His whole point is ‘if I say it’s music how can someone else tell me it’s not music’ basically and yeah I always think of that. It was like a switch-flicking, learning about that, like I don’t have to follow any set rules. This can be whatever I want it to be.

I love trap music and grime so if I’m with Danz I’ll try get him to make me something faster. I want something not like Gabber but like Jersey Club Beats. I need something like that for the live shows. if you do all slow and moody tracks, people are gonna wanna end it by the end – like, sorry for making you all sad, guys.

Is signing to a label important, or does independence take precedence?

I dunno if I could be signed. If someone got the vision then I’d sign to a project, like Warp Records I would one day love to make something weird enough to get on there. Or like Daupe! would love to get stuff to them, but being independent is important to me, but then I’d never say no to a good offer. It’s not like I’ve had many conversations like that yet cause I’m still a small artist with a good cult following, so obviously they get it and support. I get good money from what I’m doing now anyway from selling merch, mixing and mastering, selling beats. I wouldn’t see much point in signing unless they’ve got a lot to offer and get me as a person and wouldn’t be like oh you gotta make this. I never know what I’m gunna make til I do, I don’t like to think about it too much.

I don’t think many people in these positions, like music business or whatever, understand what’s cool now, like I have a better understanding of what’s cool in society. See like I’d wanna be getting my music synced to like video games, or movies but I don’t even think people are thinking about that.

Concepts and ideas are what is required to stand out from and appeal to the masses. Understanding these ideas and an artist’s image can be difficult for a label. This has resulted in more independent artists paving their way, using their own promotion tools and doing the groundwork themselves with their connections. When you create something, a niche, that people get and buy into, well, you don’t need too many followers to survive. What inspires you to create?

One of the best ways I can explain how I write is like Mac Miller made an album, ‘Watching Movies with the Sound Off,’ and I literally took that. I find it hard to rap about something specific, this last year I’ve been tryna train that, but more just the things around me.

Like “Henry Hoover, smoking a ciggie while I be watching the snooker” just dumb stuff like that, it doesn’t mean nothing cause it captures a mood and when I look back on it I know exactly where I was and what my subconscious was doing. I take influence from everywhere like video games, I watch a lot of foreign movies, like at a restaurant I’ll read the whole menu and make notes of what food sounded cool with the syllables; basically sampling life with the lyrics.

David Bowie said like there’s no point tryna overthink your lyrics cause whatever you mean no one else is ever gunna believe you meant that or get the same meaning from it, they’re gunna take whatever they want and that’ll be their meaning from the song so there’s no point overthinking it.

Where are you based, and would you say there are enough opportunities for live shows and studio time?

At the moment I’m in Halifax near Bradford so yeah like Yorkshire, but I’m gunna be moving to Lancashire so bit closer to Manchester to try and work with some artists from there.

If you’re tapped in, then maybe, but in Halifax, there were no rap events for me to be a part of. I grew up there my whole life and didn’t see an urban scene really til I was 17 and went to a rave at a place they usually host generic club nights, but I was asked to host it and that was like the first time in Halifax an opportunity like that had come up. There are opportunities if you put yourself out there and make it happen but not on the surface; it doesn’t seem feasible to me in Yorkshire- you need to go and meet people through open mics and the internet.

We’re putting on more events next year with REHABITAT and another thing I’m starting up, but that’s cause I don’t think there’s enough rap events anyway and maybe I should be the one with a couple of mates to make that happen. It’s not like the people aren’t there, but if you never have a show or something for them to check out you’ll never know they exist.

Would pursuing music be possible for you without the Internet?

I don’t know if I’d have been exposed to the music I was. My music exploration very much came from the internet, but in terms of putting it out, I’d still do that. It’s not like the internet is the only place my music is exposed; word of mouth is big, I do open mics and make sure I always chat to the other guys to see what they’re on and if we can add to each others. Maybe I wouldn’t have come as far, but it’s more the artists I’ve discovered online, Odd Future for example, that’s like embedded in their music.

Which artists have influenced your sound?

Definitely Earl Sweatshirt and his ‘I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside’ album like I showed that to my misses the other day and she was like this sounds like a Skott 3ree tape, aha and I was like yeah probably cause I jacked my entire steez from this growing up- I can see the parallels now. Mac Miller, Danny Brown that era of rap with Bronson and A$AP Rocky is a big part of me that.

What have we got coming up?

There will be a video for the lead track ‘ERROR 404’ from the ‘PLATTERPLUS//++’ EP that dropped a couple of weeks ago with Manu Mainetti, which should come by January. Then we’ve got a new project called ‘DOOMDEATHAPOCALYPSE’ which is all self-produced. There’s no date on that yet but it’s all done just wanna sort out a release party.

Then there’s a couple of collaborative projects that I’ve produced for a few different artists coming out too. There’s also an album with Danz coming called ‘Permafrost’ which is mainly done but realistically I’m not gunna drop it til December next year cause it needs to be in winter. Danz is only rapping on one tune but it’s more a Skott 3ree album produced by Danz cause people were saying like I wasn’t giving my full self on the bars on ‘Die Living’, but for me it was about getting confidence which now I have. Some real good features on there too, Tzusan, Verbz, Vitamin G there’s others too. Hopefully a sequel to ‘Crying On A Hill’ with Caneva, he’s amazing we’ve got a single coming out in a few days.

What are you doing for Christmas this year?

Going to see me Ma, then getting some tattoos from my girlfriend then just chilling really, oh and turkey.

Plenty to come and plenty to get you acquainted. Picking up the right friends on the way, Skott 3ree looks sure to take on 2024 like he will his roast turkey this Christmas. There is space to more than just breath in the UK scene, even thrive in and make your own, you’ve just got to be good, oh and put the work in.

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