So Tzusan, what’s been happening on your window sill?
Tzusan: I could send you a little photo of the collection at the end of the window sill… but yeah, I dunno the summer of lockdown; wasps kept popping up in the studio. They were all over the gaff man; they became part of the tapestry, part of the mythos.
Your last project dropped in 2021. When did you start putting this together?
Tzusan: So I started a while before ‘Fizzy Milk’ dropped, just after my first album ‘Babau’, which was like the November before lockdown, and there was a lot of stuff happening off the back of that. I had bookings out in Thailand, Australia, and some other good shit and I wanted to work on a more summery kinda album full of bangers to play at festivals, and these kinda shows. Then obviously, lockdown happened, they all got cancelled and this kinda summer album I was making over the next couple of years morphed into this warped, dark journey.
I’ve got a lot of references to like climate change, and there’s just kinda a bleakness to it. Like yeah, it’s summer it’s great we’re all getting a tan, but like the crops are failed, and there’s going to be a tsunami, and we’re all gunna die in the next twenty years, you know?
That is the feeling I got. The production helps this massively. How do you go about producing, is that all you, is it samples, what sort of kit were you using?
Tzusan: The production is all mine. There are some samples in there for sure, and I’m blessed to have some talented studio musicians working with me, so Harry Weir did some of the saxophone parts, and Scott Brydson did some of the guitar and a couple of keys.
There’s definitely some 808 in there, I mean, I don’t have one, but it’s probably stolen from somewhere – as I run on a pretty minimal setup. When I was in the studio with the wasps on the window sill, it was a bit more kitted out; I’ve been going back to the basics.
Who would you say influences your sound?
Tzusan: Definitely, the people I’m surrounded by, grew up making music with, and currently make music with have a massive influence on me. CPRNTR is probably one of the biggest ones, just the way he writes, but I love working with him and hearing when he has new music out. Yeah, it always puts a bit of fire up my arse, haha.
I’ve known all of them for a while now. We met through music but probably like seven odd years ago, and we’re pretty close friends these days. He’s (CPRNTR) always someone I’ve had a lot of admiration for, not just musically; he’s just a safe dude.
There are certainly a lot of musical influences going back, like Jam Baxter and Lee Scott; I’ve been listening to a lot of Kojaque recently. He’s someone that is absolutely killing it.
For sure like ‘For a Limited Time Only’, the sound there is quite similar.
Tzusan: Yeah, I’ve had that before. I’m always hesitant to say it, but it’s an easy frame of reference. But I feel I draw more from the likes of Wiki, Kojaque and Tierra Whack her shit’s amazing. That Whack World was a huge influence for me the style she goes for, the colourful but deliberately low budget, like aye, just amazing; her tunes are fucking hard. I could talk to you about music and what I like all day. Brian Eno as well. There’s a Harold Budd record produced by him, ‘The Pavilion of Dreams’. I’m sure it’s been sampled in some shit, but that album is so good, man. That’s one I’d put on when I’m doing the dishes or reading a book. You know what I mean.
It’s not all hip hop and rap, then; is there other kinda music in it?
Tzusan: Definitely, man. I just love music, everything about it, the history of it, the cultural impact, like weird trivia I just love everything about it.
Do you play any instruments yourself?
Tzusan: I used to when I was younger, but I never really got into playing with bands. I’m too like a perfectionist. It has to be my way, you know, haha.
Oh, I feel that man. So how has where you’ve grown up had an impact, obviously being from Scotland?
Tzusan: Scotland is fucking beautiful, especially out in the rural bits, I grew up in Edinburgh, and my surroundings definitely have an effect on what I make. This ‘WSPSNSYRP’ was half made in Edinburgh during lockdowns. I’m living in Brighton now, so the last couple of tweaks were made here, and I think you can actually hear that in a couple of tracks. It’s a bit sunnier and more South, aha.
Like obviously, it’s urban music, but I want it to have a bit of a rural feel to it. I’m a rural guy I like being out in nature and whatever; it’s exactly that juxtaposition and contrast that I like tryna play off, you know?
Were there many opportunities in Edinburgh for you to grow your music, be it studios or live shows?
Tzusan: I’d say in terms of infrastructure, there wasn’t a lot. I recently chatted on a podcast about the Scottish music scene, and it is getting better. They’ve got things like Pitch, the Hip hop conference, and there’s more attention on putting a shine on local artists, but when I was first coming about, that wasn’t the case at all. It was more word of mouth, and I was quite blessed by the local scene, and the people in it took me on from a young age and saw I had something to offer. They gave me encouragement and a platform.
I’ve been to the Fringe Festival several times, and there always seem to be things happening and to get involved with but wanted to see how it was from your side.
Tzusan: See, that’s a bit of a bone of contention with the locals. It’s very much seen as this London-run thing where many tourists come, price out the locals from the city centre, all the shops raise their prices, and there’s not enough opportunity for local artists and theatre production. They don’t allow them into that festival, it’s closely guarded, and the music that does get through is typically folk (music). There’s not a space for more modern, underground music like there used to be.
Having touched on living down in Brighton now, did this happen as a result of the CMPND features or vice versa? How did the features come about?
Tzusan: I met the Yogocop lads years and years ago, very early days I don’t even think I was Tzusan back then. I came back a few years later when the CMPND boys were living in the Ultrasound flat and, yeah, had a messy week with them, cut a couple of tunes. We did the track ‘Aphids’ on Babau and ‘Griezmann’ off their recent album ‘Long Live the Court’. Ever since I came down to Brighton, I have liked it. I think it’s good for me.
Did you come down with the intention of living there?
Tzusan: The first few times, I was just visiting, making tunes, partying, whatever, and then during the lockdown, I felt a change of pace was needed so yeah, I’m down here now. I’m living with Wundrop, we’re getting busy with some tunes, bits and bobs.
Considering how small a place it is, there’s a lot going on.
Tzusan: There is aha. I couldn’t live in a big city like London. It’s just too much more me, like a sensory overload. Going back to that rural shit, Brighton seemed like a nice place in-between. I’ve got the beach, got the downs and I still got access to all that good popping culture and nightlife- I think it’s quite similar to Edinburgh in many ways… just less rainy.
Back to the Wasps in Syrup video; what an interesting date!
Tzusan: Yeah, a wasp drowning in syrup is the ultimate, like what a way to go. The ultimate hedonism of it feels amazing, but actually, it’s killing you. Then the video I wanted to borrow from weird UK comedies as I love them- Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, The Mighty Boosh, Peep Show and all that kinda shit. Monty Python going back, like Terry Gilliam’s animation, I love shit like that, films like Brazil. I kinda wanted that video to be Peep Show meets The Mighty Boosh, David Cronenberg; chuck it all together and see what happens.
The tune itself is about drugs and addiction, but it’s also kinda about climate change, climate crisis, ecological disasters and how those kinda link up through hedonism. Like the individual hedonism of someone being like yeah, I’m gunna do loads of drugs and fuck my life or whatever, and the large scale, social, global hedonism of people being like I’m just gunna drive to wherever, like fuck it, the worlds on fire but we’re all getting a tan.
Shout out to Bonny (Halo and a Hand Gun), who did all the costume work, and she’s obviously in the video as well and Baxendale for making all the cocktails and sorting the location at The Bramble Bar, and Tommy, as always on the lens.
It seems you have a good little team around you.
Tzusan: It’s getting there, man. I think I’m just quite blessed I got people who are good at what they do and appreciate what I do. Obviously takes a while to develop those links and make those friends, but I just think if you’re nice to people and you wanna work with people, and people are getting paid, then everyone is happy.
I’m a big believer in collaboration. I think it puts artists out of their comfort zone and makes them make more interesting art. Sometimes that might be a total flop and a fail, but you still made something a bit more interesting and creative and took that risk, and I always appreciate it when I see that. I’m not about just for the views culture like yeah, that didn’t do so well, but they made something mad.
So this project is going to be released independently?
Tzusan: With my previous releases, I was running a label called Skoop, with some of the other Edinburgh lads, and we had a good five years, but now we’ve decided to go our separate ways kind of artistically and creatively and just have a fresh start. So I wanted this one independent really. But if any label wanted to work together, I’ve got some stuff on the back burner for them.
Are any shows you are looking forward to?
Tzusan: There’s gunna be an album launch in Brighton towards the end of September, and then hopefully a tour off the back of that when the vinyl arrives and all that. Be nice to do a couple of gigs, main spots London, Bristol, and usual places.
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