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Soup Interview - Taking the Beat Route

Author: Guido Farnell
Tuesday, 25 October 2005
SYDNEY HIP HOP PRODUCER SOUP HAS ENJOYED A VARIED CAREER INCLUDING PLAYING NBL BASKETBALL WITH THE SYDNEY KINGS A FEW YEARS BACK.

One time professional basketball player with the Sydney Kings, John Blake started tinkering with beats, and before too long he gave away basketball to pursue making music as a full time occupation. Inspired by hip hop, funk and go-go music, his musical alter ego, DJ Soup, started putting out albums in the mid '90s, which have been successful in hip hop circles across Australia. This month see the release of Soup's fifth album, 'Beatroot'. I caught up Soup, who was at the airport waiting for a plane to Melbourne, to find out more about his new album.

So what exactly is Beatroot-
It's a cacophony of samples, which are chopped up into small sound bites. The art of this approach to making music is really about being able to bring together these pre-recorded sounds to create a new piece of music. I have used a lot of samples themed around conspiracy theories. So rather than just being another party album I hope people will find a few ideas in there as well while they are bouncing around the living room or dancefloor.

Beatroot seems to suggest that you are a huge fan of funk music.
I am a huge funk fan, but I do listen to lots of different types of music. I started out by getting into hip hop and it opened a lot of musical doors because hip-hop samples so many different genres of music; everything from funk through to reggae and dub. Apart from using old records as sound sources I have also used bits and pieces from old movies and audio tracks from instructional films, which I also collect.

The samples I use are culled from a range of sources and not necessarily just records. I guess sampled music has always tended towards being groove based. Acts like Manitoba have changed things a little with a more psychedelic approach. I have more funk records than anything else so I am sure that is bound to come through on what I record."

Is sample clearance a headache-
My approach is that I don't try to clear anything. My philosophy on this is that the music is out there to be shared and people should be allowed to use it in this creative way. I would challenge the idea of it not being legal. Copyright is one thing, but I use very small snippets of sound to create something new. People who sample 44 bars of a tune that's really well known are definitely asking for trouble.

What does Beatroot represent in your evolution as an artist-
I think that the biggest difference with this album is that I pretty much recorded it entirely by myself in my home studio. In the past I have worked with engineers who have helped me to record the tracks. This time around I engineered and recorded it all in my home studio, which was specifically set up for this album. It felt like a step in a different direction because making music in solitude is a very different process as opposed to when you are collaborating with others. All things considered I think that 'Beatroot' has turned out really well.

I don't necessarily like working alone. I love the freedom of it, but often you find yourself needing to make decisions where the choices are almost infinite and sometimes that can be difficult. The biggest downside of working in this way is that you have no one to bounce your ideas off. Collaborating with others has also been especially helpful in situations where I have been struggling for ideas. I really only collaborated with Damien Millar who sings on a number of the songs.

What are your plans for Beatroot-
PIAS have been distributing my albums in Europe and all four seem to have sold quite well. The first album 'Souperloops' was signed for release in Europe but unfortunately the company went bankrupt a few weeks before the release date so it never got released. It was total devastation and a huge disappointment. I am hoping that 'Beatroot' will do well enough to get a full<
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