Interview: Eric the Red
Eric the Red is no fresh face on the UK hip-hop circuit. This year he made a big impression with the release of his debut solo album Caught Red Handed which dropped on his birthday, April 24th. Brother of rapper Leaf Dog and producer Illinformed, Eric created a career off the back of his lyricism with Leaf and Illinformed regularly on the beat. Since his 2016 Test Subjects collaboration album alongside the Creatures Of Habit collective, Eric made a name for himself staying true to the ways of old school hip-hop. The release of Caught Red Handed marked a fresh start on his journey, as it was released on his own independent label Lost Scroll Records. This was the first project dropped on the label, as a basis for future classics to follow.
How long had Caught Red Handed been in the making for?
I started making this album in 2013 in Crouch End, London with Illinformed in a shared flat. It took about five years to make.
Who handled the artwork?
Shindy Design is the genius behind the artwork. He's also the artist for Babylon Dead's 2000BD. I sent him a photo of me crouching over with a can of paint in my hand and he recreated it in his own style. I also wrote out the text for the police arrest notice and Shindy added his own spin on it with the ‘Metroporkitan’ police header on the letter.
This album was released on Lost Scroll Records - why not RLD?
The album was released on Lost Scroll Records because I wanted to build up my own label and there is no better way than to establish it than with a strong first album.
How did the feature with Bill Shakes happen?
I meet Bill Shakes years ago at the Glastonbury Skate Jam - a charity event Leaf Dog was holding to raise money for the Somerset skating community. We got on really well as Bill Shakes is a top joker. A few years later I asked him to get on a track and the rest is history.
Illinformed is the sole producer on the album - why did you decide to stick entirely with him for this project ?
When you make a project with one producer; you make a sound, a vibe, a journey through music. Albums can often sound unconnected when you use a mixture of producers.
How did you try and make this project different to anything you’ve put out before?
This album reflected my day to day struggle with paranoia, drug abuse and my addiction to graffiti - this album is the gritty and crazed Eric, very different from the smooth sound of Creatures Of Habit.
The release date must have had special significance with it dropping on your birthday. Why did you decide to drop it then?
I started making this album when I was 21 so I decided that on my 26th birthday the album had to come out. I had that moment of worry and clarity that I'm getting older and needed to get the album out.
This album was released on cassette tape and CD. Why did you opt to release cassette tapes as well?
There has been a resurgence of cassettes over the last couple of years. Labels like Blah, RLD and High Focus have also been doing the same; people want to buy into retro products. We had sold a fair few tapes but we only got a limited run of 100 made.
Have you got any more videos to drop for this album?
Yes we had a video dropping recently on Lost Scroll Records entitled The Omen. The track is about being the devil and the video was inspired by The Grudge.
Are you working on any other projects?
Sean Peng, Illinformed and myself are working on Creatures Of Habit 2 so keep your eyes peeled for that.
Are there any artists you’re watching in UKHH who you think are making dope music right now?
Yeah man there’s loads - Cult Of The Damned, Verbz, Coops, Split Prophets, Bish, Stinkin Slumrok, Cappo and so many more...
What projects are you looking forward to seeing in 2018?
I’m really looking forward to the Sonnyjim and Conway project. Also Sean Peng’s solo album Trips to the Medicine Cabinet also coming out on Lost Scroll Records.
Have you got any shows lined up this summer?
You can see me with Creatures Of Habit at Crazy Calamities at Boomtown, NASS Festival, Day Trip and Wonderfields.
Eric Da Red, thank you for your time. Any final shout outs?
I’d like to big up Ilinformed, Leaf dog, BVA, Jack Jetson, Smellington Piff, Bill Shakes, Chris Younce, Paro, Dat Kid, DJ Merk, Babylon Dead and all the real writers.
Interview by Evo