We headed backstage at the Brixton Academy to track down one of the architects of a new wave of sonics that was booming under one roof for one night only – when Sango joined a line up headlined by Kaytranada and included Chicago’s own Vic Mensa.
In terms of the beats, Sango has been laying down a catalogue of next level beats for the past eighteen months and clearly will be long into the future.
You make it sound like it’s so casual, but really what you’re doing with the beats is on the next level man! What’s been happening since we last hooked up?
Man, a lot has happened in between! Mainly – beside the music – I got married…
Congratulations! That’s actually cool now, getting married!
So I’ve been working on an album as well, working on an EP, and I just released an EP with SPZRKT, and that’s called ‘Hours Spent Loving You’, and that’s doing pretty well right now, so…
That ‘I Want’ joint is a beast, I play it almost weekly on my show – that really is pretty much what it says on the tin in terms of that’s the anthem right there! That’s like victory, that music!
I appreciate that, I appreciate that! One of the tracks that I like to listen to before I do shows, or when I like to get inspired before I produce a track, I refer because I like to refer to good records for mixing, so I know how a good track will sound, and I play it in my sets all the time, and it’s ‘what you need’, Jay-Z and Kanye, that’s like a pump-up song!
I saw you drop it at KoKo last time, and that was insane!
I’m dropping it tonight, because that’s my go-to, my anthem!
So when you’re mixing records, is that your guide, or something that you compare to when you’re making tracks?
That whole album actually, ‘Watch the Throne’, that whole album is what I’ve recently been referring to as far as mixing – ’cause especially with vocals, I think it’s a good standard for me to run off and do my own thing, and make sure that when I’m doing my mixing it’s gonna come out good.
I wanna go deep now, ’cause a lot of people take sonics for granted. Like when they hear something in the club they’re like “Oh yeah, this sounds good!” but the attention to detail that goes into making the beats pound, the mix sound right, the clarity – do you get frustrated sometimes when that gets taken for granted?
Yes, exactly. You know, on the way here I was talking to a woman from Chicago, and I was explaining to her, because she’s a photographer, and I was explaining how like when you develop a picture, how it is when you’re mixing, and she was telling me how she went to an Alicia Keys concert and she left in the middle of it because it sounded so bad! She said she was singing amazing and everything, it was just that the sound was bad, and I was like that’s a prime example of how bad acoustics can turn down your whole night when you’re trying to experience a nice piece of music. So when I was talking to her I was telling her when you’re mixing and you’re adding in pitches, the best thing to do is to come up with a good picture that you don’t have to edit too much, come up with a recording that you don’t have to edit too much. If you’ve got a recording, a vocal where you need to do a whole bunch of work on it, that’s not good! That’s what I believe, so I think that when you’re walking into a venue, and it’s spoiled, and people don’t really understand, they’re just sitting there enjoying it, but they really don’t know how it should be listened to!
Or how much better it could be!
At my standpoint, I think as a producer you’re never satisfied, you gotta kinda roll with it, you know.
I Hear that! What’s your take on the latest Drake album? ’cause I know you’re a fan of Drake, I seen you drop joints on the show, tear it up, mixes, your own mixes…
Yeah, I’m a big Drake fan in terms of his production, mainly. I love his lyrics – actually, his lyrics are really like…I don’t want to compare Kendrick and Drake ’cause it’s kinda hard to compare them, but right now that album, Drake’s album, is perfect for introspective, inside looking out, Kendrick is a perfect example of outside looking in. Kendrick’s sharing what he sees about the world, and Drake’s sharing what he sees about the world in his eyes. Kendrick kinda removed himself from it, I feel like that’s two parts of the scale that balances hip hop out right now.
What’s your favourite joint of the Drake album?
I’ say ‘Madonna’, it’s a tie between ‘Madonna’ and ‘Jungle’.
Why’s that? ‘Know Yourself’ is kind the ultimate turnt up joint right? ‘causing riots out here!
It’s funny, because if you listen to that track not in a club, it doesn’t sound turnt up, but if you’re in the club, or in a place where music is playing loud, then it’s turnt up. It’s kinda funny, because…who produced that…I think Boy Wonder made that, and that dude, he’s been at it lately, and a lot of his songs production has been really stripped down, and he’s making sure the drums hit right, he’s making sure Drake’s being heard, and that’s why people enjoy it, because people can hear it perfectly, there’s not too much going on. That’s the anthem, you’re hearing it, you’re with it, and that’s all you can hear. So that’s the reason I like that song!
When are we gonna see a full-project between yourself and Drizzy?
Man, in my dreams! …No, I actually literally had a dream where I was making music for Drake, and it was kinda surreal because it felt like I was in a space where that could happen. Usually you have dreams you’re somewhere like the clouds, but I was in a studio that looked familiar, it looked like Sarm Studios…but hopefully in the near future – you never know, you might get an email tomorrow or something!
We’re just oppressed and we’re just trying to be heard
What’s your take on the Kendrick album?
Actually that album made me call my dad. I didn’t bring up the fact that the Kendrick album was a catalyst for that conversation, and I’m like “Pops”…obviously at that point I’m in university and I’m studying graphic design, and a lot of my classes don’t have any African-American students in them – it doesn’t bother me, but I notice it sometimes. And I was like “Pops, why am I always alone?” I’ not trying to make it like I’m outnumbered or anything because of my skin colour, it just appear like that. Culturally you have to relate to some people, and this just kind like what society has developed. Now you just have to be some kind of cultural relation..further beyond skin colour, if you met another person in the room who listens to hip hop, or you meet another person in the room that is an artist, or designs clothes, that’s like a cultural thing. And in my situation, that check-mark would be being an African-American – it doesn’t bother me, but that conversation I had was pretty much what Kendrick was talking about. If you really listen to that album, it’s not about black Americans, we’re just oppressed and we’re just trying to be heard, what it’s really about is that we’re all in a state of mind of…we should all be aware that to stop racism we should just stop it, stop bringing it up, and I think that conversation with my Dad was enlightened, after that I was enlightened by it, because what he told me was that “Son, you shouldn’t even take the time to feel like you’re being separated because of your skin colour, because when you notice it that’s when you start dwelling on it, and that’s when evil spirits in your mind and soul start telling lies and pulling you away from what you’re trying to do.” Which is be successful, so that’s what Kendrick is doing.
What are the good spirits telling you to do in your soul?
… hmmm…be a good husband!
That’s real talk! Is that easy, being on tour, travelling the world?
You know what, it’s easy in a sense that I’m confident in what I have back home. And she’s confident in me when I’m out. It’s the same with my family…they know that I’m doing what I love, so I think that’s easy in that sense, but it gets to be hard when you get distracted by busy schedules, or I just found out that my flight’s cancelled so it’s one less day that I can spend time with her. I love Saturdays, can’t spend them like I want to anymore! I guess it’s easy and hard, but mostly easy I think,
What do you think about what’s happening in the UK at the moment? I mean, you’ve got a UK team, so you’ve got an added insight more than anybody else!
Man! I want to put this out there, Grime is not new. And I want Americans to know that! Grime is not new…
And it’s not a fad! It’s not fashionable…
Exactly! I think a lot of people, they jump on the train, they listen to one person and keep repeating, but there are people doing all of these movements and you should dive into it! Ann I think that, as an American, I think the equivalent to Grime music right now is Drill music. Different lyrics, but the same sense, go in, go hard, you know man up, man up type of thing.
Who you feeling from the Grime scene in the UK?
Hmm… Stormzy, Stormzy!
What do you like about him?
I wouldn’t really consider him Grime, I consider him hip hop, but the thing is, I can see the influence of Grime, I can see that UK in him. But what it is about him…I saw this video of him, ‘Know me From’, his mom, his mom in the shot, that’s tight! And his attitude, I feel like he incorporates a lot of people that he really loves.
I think he’s gonna set a trend of the mum-in-the-video kind of thing, he got mad love for that, and mad ratings, so…
In his video you don’t see half-naked girls, you don’t see none of that, you just see him…yeah, he was just riding on a bike with all his homies with flip-flops on just chillin’, you know! Spittin’…that’s what I like about Storm, his attitude.
To are we gonna see Sango and Stormzy on a track together?
Yeah, I’m sure enough!
Is he gonna turn up tonight at Brixton Academy?
…Yes. I think so…what I’m excited for is – I wanna go back to that grime thing – I actually want to thank Kanye as an American for puttin’ Grime on a nice platform for people to see it finally in a nice way, ’cause some people are shouting a lot, it’s too fast, it’s too much this, too much that. Stormsy now, he’s comfortably doing what he wants with that co-sign, ’cause Kanye co-signed him…so I think Stormsy’s gonna kill it tonight, you know?
What should we be watching out for next from Sango?
Man, my project ‘Da Rocinha 3’, that’s my third Brazilian instalment that I’ve been doing, it’s coming out crazy, and my album, it’s called ‘In the comfort of’.
Who you gonna put on that?
Well I can tell you this: SPZRKT is gonna be on it, just my usual homies, Waldo…Kay’s gonna be on it, Kaytranada, Jesse Boykens as well.