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Kam Sandhu

From MC to producer to illustrator; DRS is a prominent force in the scene for more reasons than one. In the midst of a string of projects, and ahead of his debut album release, Organic gets some one-to-one with the Northern Wordsmith…

1. You’ve been a recognisable MC throughout drum & bass since the early days with LTJ Bukem and Marcus Intalex. You are also a founding part of the Broke’N‘English stronghold, and valid contributor to the hip hop scene which has bore your roots. Yet, this year sees your debut album release on Soul:R. Tell us about what we can expect and look forward to. And why this year is the year you’re ready to release the album.

Well, my debut drum & bass album should be out in early to mid 2011. As for why I did it now, I just think it’s about time. Before I hang up the microphone I would like to leave an album-sized mark on drum & bass…ha ha. It features production from D-bridge, Makoto, Lenzman, Calibre, Marcus, Dub Phizix, Lynx and more. Also, the new Broke’N’English album is later in the year. I also have tracks with Icicle, Calibre, Marcus, Tali, Lynx and Dub Phizix (to name a few) coming soon.

2. As your album work and Broke’N’English projects testify, you’ve become a force in the production side of things as well as a renowned graphic designer and illustrator – particularly in urban art and graffiti. How important has it been to your career for you to branch out into these other areas? And is it something that has played part to your longevity?

I have always been a creative person for as far back as I can remember, so the artwork side of things I have always done - from school to graffiti to illustration.

As for Broke n English and production, I was always a hip hop MC, but drum & bass or jungle or even hardcore at the time, came along and was fresh and exciting, and I found my way to do hip hop bars over the top. Then finally, I got a chance do some hip hop in the late 90s and Broke’N’English was born from there!! Producing came from me/us wanting to be self-sufficient musically, and not wanting to have to rely on anyone else, and we just got better at it.

3. You still remain an eminent Master of Ceremony, being resident to A Bunch Of Cuts, Signature, Soul:ution, and of course your success with Broke’N’English. What keeps you coming back to MCing?

I just love to do music. I will MC for as long as it makes me happy, or as long as I feel it’s relevant. The very second I don’t, its over!! I refuse to be one of those MCs/artists who are well past their sell by, and get by off past glory!!! It’s not fair to the ravers, listeners or even yourself… not for me.

4. A common word used for your lyrical style is ‘honesty’. And your illustration has been described as hip hop expressionism. You’ve certainly broken the mould for the UK MC – bringing together hip hop technique and drum and bass music – from a solid UK perspective. Tell us what made you bring your hip hop talent to the drum and bass scene. What were your influences? And how come the music has worked so well together?

I just wanted to do hip hop from day one. At the time, there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for UK MCs, especially in the north of England! So when I first went out raving, I was drawn to the MCs; the likes of GQ Conrad, Mad P and Bassman to name a few. I started to MC over hardcore shortly after. That’s when I first met Marcus, he was the first person I ever MC’d for…and still do!

As for the 2 styles working together, I just think hip hop tempo is half the speed of drum & bass; so my words sit nicely between worlds. And, because I don’t try and keep up with the drums you can hear every single (honest) word clearly.

5. You’ve collaborated with many names over the years. Who’s been the most memorable? And who would you still like to work with?

I always enjoy working with Dom (aka Calibre). We are compatible musically, and magic always happens every time we do collaborate!!!
Also, I did a tune with Alex Attius a few years back. That was one of my favourites. But I only work with people I respect and feel - so every collaboration is of the same value to me to be honest.

6. Now we all know you’re a northerner, and proud. So what keeps you in Manchester? Does it put an edge or inspire your material? And how important is it for you to provide and represent some part of the scene here?

Manchester, and the north of England is where I am from. Where I live, laugh, cry, triumph and fail, and will always be my home. I just can’t imagine ever living anywhere apart from the north. I lived in Bournemouth for a while - years ago, and Bedford for a few months during the ‘Good Looking’ era, but I always came home. It definately influences my music, art and life. That’s where the honesty comes from. Up here, if someone thinks you’re a prick, they will tell ya…ha ha. As for scenes etc, I just do what I do and if that fits within scenes I am honoured.

7. As well as the album, what else have you got lined up for us in the coming months?

I have a lot of stuff forthcoming like I’ve said - my drum & bass debut, new Broke’N’English album, and an art exhibition later next year. Also, the launch of my skate company, various features with drum & bass, hip hop and dance artists, and releasing a few artists on our label Estate recordings. The first will be Skittles (broke in 100 pound trainers), he is sick!!!!

To all the people who have supported me over the years, thanks – it’s been well appreciated. BLESS.

Calibre - Judgement Day feat DRS by Samurai Music