In Depth: Sam Zircon
It was originally going to be called ‘The Zircon Thing’ but me and Lee were talking about an old film called ‘Godzilla Vs Destroyer, Godzilla Wins’ and it somehow ended up as what it is…
No, that isn’t a quote describing an upcoming blockbuster movie. Sam Zircon was just explaining how the title for his latest project, Attack Of The 50,000ft SWEG LAWDS From Outer Space with Lee Scott & Black Josh came to be. On January 16th, Blah Records released the full length album consisting of 10 tracks, cooked entirely from scratch within the infamous Blah mansion kitchen sometime in 2014. As such, it’s nothing short of incredible how the record sounds ahead of its time today in 2018. Some credit is owed to Sam Zircon, who produced the project in its entirety. Earlier this year, Zircon accepted our invitation for an exclusive interview revealing insights into the album’s creation process. But first, introductions are due…
Sam Zircon should be recognisable for most with an ear to the underground of UK hip-hop, he’s produced plenty of classic projects for over half a decade. For starters his first physical release was ‘Unprogrammable: Raw’ with notorious Nottingham lyricist Cappo in April 2013. Since then Zircon has been involved with 12 projects released to date, 7 of them alongside Blah signee Bisk. The acclaim Zircon has attained over the years as a producer stems from his early work with the Swamp Harbour collective, consisting of himself, Bisk & Stinkin Slumrok. As Zircon explains:
Swamp Harbour came about when I was living in Leytonstone. Slummy would come over most weekends and we would make music or just end up getting to fucked up and eat. Slummy was talking about making a group with a load of other rappers and I would make the beats. A little bit later on Bisk started coming round as well and us three started making tunes together.
Through his affiliation with Swamp Harbour, Zircon soon became introduced to Blah Records, which recruited a number of new wave, independent hip-hop artists in 2014 including Bisk & Slumrok. Almost all of those artists were involved in Blah’s now-infamous Cult Of The Damned posse that released a self-titled EP the same year. Zircon himself became affiliated with Blah founder Lee Scott whilst working with Slumrok on his debut album, ‘Don Pong’ which Blah released in 2015.
I’ve been working with Blah since Slummy on Don Pong and Blah ended up releasing it. With Lee, I sent him a beat time ago that he didn’t end up using and me and Slummy used it for ‘Microphone Junkie.’ Me and Slummy started doing more music and he was working with Morriarchi as well. I ended up meeting Lee through them.
Zircon got to know about Black Josh – a rising Mancunian MC signed to Blah and closely connected with the notorious LEVELZ collective- through a friend who showed him one of Josh’s earlier tracks, which also features Thruthos Mufasa.
My friend showed me ‘Triple 6’s’and I thought it was sick, so I sent him some beats and he ended up using a beat called ‘Honey’ for ‘Escape Music.
Sam, let’s take it back to the beginning. At what stage did you become involved in ‘Attack Of The 50,000ft SWEGLAWDS From Outer Space’?
It was finished a while back apart from mixing and it only got it mastered mid 2017. I was involved from the beginning, we did it all via email. I was working as a bin man at the time, so had to be at work for 6:30am. When I would finish at 2:30pm, I would make a beat before I went to bed, then send it to Lee and Josh. Usually by the time I was back from work, they would have sent the vocals.
What came first; the beats or the bars?
If my memory serves me right, Lee hit me up asking me for some beats for him and Josh to use for another B-Movie Millionaires project so I started making a few things and sending them over. All the beats and bars were done for this project.
What is the most experimental technique you used to produce a track on this album?
It was all fairly simple really, I’d starting messing with Logic to make beats with and decided I’d use it for this project solely because I was having to get up for work real early and wanted to save some time as my sampler was playing up and not saving properly.
Were you involved in any of the visuals lifted from the project?
No I wasn’t but all 3 are looking mad! Lee sent me the rough for ‘SW£G LEVEL 9000’ a good few years back though but I haven’t really been involved in many of the videos with my beats. Not that that’s a bad thing though; the end results always come out super and I trust Lee with the visuals – he’s got a good vision.
When you listen back over the album, which tracks do you enjoy the most and why?
‘Chicken Pill’ because I had never made anything at that tempo and style before before and I think it turned out pretty hard, also ‘Whatchusayin’ because this was the first track that started the project.”
If you could go back to the days producing this album, would you have done anything differently?
“I don’t think so you know, I like how the overall project sounds.”
Why has it taken almost 4 years for this project to release?
I’m not too sure really it’s just been sat there for a while. I think Josh started touring a lot at the time it was being completed and we needed a few extra bars here and there. I don’t really stress over time-frames anymore. I used to a lot but stuff will come out when it’s ready, you know.
Are there any showcases lined up for heads to catch these tracks performed live?
I hope so; I want to hear it live as well!
Have you got any more projects in the pipeline with Lee Scott or Black Josh we should keep an eye out for in 2018?
Nothing lined up at the minute but I’m sure we will get a few projects out in the near future. Individually though we are all working on a lot of things so there’s going to be lots coming out.
What has Sam Zircon got in store for the rest of 2018?
A lot more releases with Bisk and Slummy and hopefully some more instrumental tapes coming out.
Sam, thank you for your time. Any final shout outs?
“No Worries, shout out Slummy, Bisk, Lee, Josh and everyone at Blah and anyone who’s listening, it means a lot!”
Words by Evo