Introduce yourself, crew, affiliations etc…
Hi Chaps… My name is Scott Da Ros. Half Italian/half Canadian, born in Halifax, grew up in Lr.Sackville (part of the greater city of Halifax) and now reside in Montreal. I run a label called Endemik Music that was also born in Halifax but was forced to move with me. I also make music, under my alias, Scott Da Ros. I have no crew, only my label mates and there are a few group projects being worked out at the moment. Main affiliations include Granma Music in Japan and I am working on a few more.
You are the man behind Endemik Music how did that come to light? How did you choose the name?
The label started all because of the second album we released, Stigg of the Dump EP. My man was finishing up his debut EP (that featured Sixtoo and Buck65) and he wasn’t thinking of what to do about releasing it so I sorta stepped to him about starting a label and that could be our first release. We really had no plans beyond that were concrete. That was the main goal… get this record out. Before we released that album, Buck approached Stigg about releasing Synesthesia (around the time when he was in negotiations with Warner). We agreed, because Buck is a huge part of Halifax rap to me and I was definitely a fan. It was good to release this album first because we got to deal with a bunch of shit… Like not being able to release the album through distribution and not be able to sell it to stores (only one in Halifax) – this we found out after the album was being pressed. So I scrambled and worked a deal with Hip Hop Infinity to sell it exclusively and then Buck would sell some on tour. It worked out well; it became the number one seller at HHI (even though they later shorted me for about 800.00). So, that’s it.
Endemik (endemic) means – Prevalent in or peculiar to a particular locality, region, or people. It was meant as a reflection of Halifax and the hip hop scene. But has spread to mean more for me…
What are the challenges and limitations to running an independent label?
Not much money. Sad but true. No way to properly get your music out there in public. You can do it but it takes a long time. Internet helps and word of mouth. The way the infrastructure is set up within the music industry makes it hard to turn over a profit unless you start with something huge. But, I could complain about 50 million things… No point… I would like to continue busting my ass and spreading the good word. Karma might exist.
What is your favourite Endemik release so far and why?
That’s a hard question to answer. I have to equally say Bleubird, Skyrider and Stigg. Stigg because the beats are so nasty it hurts, it was also one of the main reasons the label began – to release that album. Bleubird because I was there for most of the recording process and it was amazing to see that much truth put into a record… and he can rap – I didn’t realize how good until I witnessed that. And Skyrider because it made my head twist when first I listened to it and I wasn’t able to pinpoint any other album I’ve ever heard like it. And that’s no stretch… I really couldn’t figure t out… I want someone to point me something so I know where how to pinpoint the audience – haha. There is so much going on in that album but you really can’t find it unless you focus. It’s also based on some things that struck me pretty hard…
You have released two 7″s when can we expect a full length?
Yeah. A full length can be expected this year… most likely in July/August. I am actually finalizing it all now and only have one song to finish. I am excited about this record. 3 of the 4 songs that were included on my two 7″ singles will appear on the album. 2 songs will be slightly different. Its 14 songs that range in length from 1 minute to 19 minutes. Features a bunch of my favorite rappers: Bleubird, Tweetch !zown, Filkoe176, jdwalker, Ghettosocks, Yskee, Dave Pal, Apt, k-the-I???, and Sole. My favorite song is the last one and is 19 minutes in length (sorta feels like a mini-movie), a long soundscape with no real drumming involved… it was very fun to craft the music in this piece… I ask three MC’s to spit spoken word poems… Tweetch !zown, Bleubird and k-the-I??? and after I received the vocals I made the music around the words. It was my most ambitious effort to date so next time I have to figure out how to push myself further… But I have been talking with an MC about releasing a group project that will be based on a written story (from the rapper) and produced by myself in full. The release will be accompanied by an illustrated book and hopefully a short film.
How did you get your start in producing?
I would say Stigg of the Dump helped me mostly. I originally bought turntables and began to DJ and scratch. Then moved onto other gear….I nagged my friend Stigg about what gear to buy and he helped me out a lot. We talked a lot about sampling and what it meant to us and why we chose to be sample musicians instead on conventional music makers. I use to go to his house while he made beats and asked him questions and questions (and probably annoyed him). It sorta went from there… and everything I made had to match up to him… I didn’t look beyond to let’s say, Shadow, Krush, Sixtoo or what anyone else was making… If Stigg wasn’t gonna feel this or something within it, it just wasn’t good enough. He hasn’t heard any of this album so I’m bit nervous to hear what he thinks. But he’s more calm these days so I might pass. It’s like having a master Sensei (although he doesn’t know it) – haha. Yeah, I guess to back to the question. Well, that’s it’s… And of course, Bleubird, who was the first to rap on a beat of mine and to make it to record! My homies are my heroes.
What do you use to make your beats?
I use mainly a Yamaha EX5 – which is a workstation – keyboard with sampler and sequencer all in one. It was the competitor of the Triton.. But everyone bought the Triton and made bangers. I bought the Yamaha and made dirt. No I have also expanded to using a Lexicon MPX100 effects processor and a Yamaha REV5 unit. And do all of my recording in Digital Performer – which had really allowed me to make music how I wanted to. Perfect for digitally-ing my music out!
Who do you think is really bringing it in the production world?
You know… So many styles. And if I’m to look at the genre of hip hop (and close relatives) and at present time, I would say I am enjoyed Lab Waste, P-Love, Meaty Ogre, Amon Tobin, Sixtoo, and Dalek. I think Skyrider really brought something completely fresh to sampling/hip hop/music (the reason Endemik released it). There is this guy named Nuccini from Italy who I truly think is brilliant (pushing hip hop somewhere new) – it’s been talked about but maybe ill be the first to say in it an interview – post hip hop! ha…. He is also in a post rock band named Giardini di Miro… so its only fitting he’s incorporated this in hip hop.
You have worked with a lot of great artists like Sole and K-the-I???. Who would you like to work with in the future?
In the future I am hoping to continue to work with Bleubird, Tweetch and k-the-I???, Subtitle and everyone else I am currently working with… But people I haven’t worked with… Hymnal, Rubberroom, Blue Herb (Boss MC), Sontiago. I would also hope/love to work with Moocha (female singer from England). My dream collaborators would be Beth Gibbons, Jeff tweedy, Brain Wilson, Black Sheep, Rza, Masta Killa, Carlton Fisk, and Elbow.
What was it like being in Halifax when artists like the Sebutones (Buck 65 and Sixtoo), Hip Club Groove and Josh Martinez drew national and international attention to a relatively unknown part of the world?
I wasn’t so directly involved in anything at the time, sorta learning and standing in corners taking notes. I was around and getting really excited for everyone and found myself extremely surprised the world was learning about these guys and their strange form of hip hop. It was so refreshing to hear it and see it and know how much they were putting into their music for the love… and to know people were catching on to it. There was many other things happening in Halifax hip hop but these are the artists I grew to love: Sixtoo, Buck65, The Goods, Tachichi, Knowself, Recyclone and J-Mart.
What changed and why did a lot of artists leave for cities like Vancouver and Montreal? Why did you leave?
A lot has changed. I guess people left to continue to pursue their career and needed to make a change to a new environment to do so. Halifax is a great place to learn a craft and start as an artist but the East Coast isn’t always the best to back local talent. On a small scale yes. Mostly I think artists leave to grow. It’s hard to push yourself as an artist if you remain in one place forever. It’s good to get a fresh new look and surround yourself with something new. I left because I had an opportunity in Montreal to help push my career. I had been planning on leaving to go back to Australia through this music program but that fell through. So, someone pushed me to come to Montreal and I thank him everyday for that. If I had stayed I wouldn’t be able to work directly in the music industry within in a job I enjoy… No opportunity there for me and what I love. Also, the hip hop scene was also losing what I had enjoyed so much about it… But that is my perspective and many other do not share this and that is why it has changed.
How has the Halifax scene changed over the past 10 years?
There are many positive changes that are happening in Halifax at the moment. Many corners of the genre are starting to talk more and work together. You know hip hop… It’s so touchy and everyone is so ego within this genre… But things seem to slowly coming together more – gangsters kickin it with boom-bap rap… etc. For me, music is music and I enjoy things that continually push boundaries and buttons. So it became less interesting to me (excluding a few of course). Too many people are trying to prove they are something when it’s not about that – it’s about making music that reflects YOUR life and the world around you. The innovation was lost and the pursuit to become accepted by a mass audience was put in place. But who knows, I could be full of shit.
If you could change one thing about hip hop or the music industry what would it be?
Blank all of the minds in the world of pre-conceptions and have people make music that they truly feel. I wish the music industry would get behind music that is innovative and important… not what is the flavor of the month might be. No images, no fashion, no cliché. Remind the world what it is to love about music…
What do you do when you are not making music or running the label?
Haha, not much at the moment. I also work at a management company called Envision Management three days a week. They work with Kid Koala and Amon Tobin – so this and my label take a lot of time. I drink good coffee a watch movies and try and hang out with those I love.
What is in store for Scott Da Ros and the entire Endemik family?
We are releasing a new Bleubird 12″ EP in May, my album in mid-summer, and then Bleubird’s full length in late summer. Also coming up is the debut album from Tweetch !zown (Lansing Michigan MC), a DVD from sHORTfACEDbEAR, a special group project between myself, Skyrider, sHORTfACEDbEAR that will feature guest singers, and a new Skyrider album. Bleubird western Canadian tour in May. There are a few other things but no need to mention because they are not 100% as of now – but talk of a Bleubird mini-book focusing on cats and a Nuccini collab project. I would say keep an eye on our website for future details (not myspace – our real website).
Who are some Canadian artists that you enjoy?
I enjoy a lot but Ill name some I’m into into – Cee!!!!!!!(so dope), Ghettoscks (watch out for him), Apt, Al Tuck (one of Canada’s greatest songwriters), the INSTRUMENTS (onto something special), Pip Skid, Sixtoo, Kid Koala, Recyclone, Jon Epworth.
Do you have any shout outs, stories or last words?
Shout outs to my family, my friends, fellow producers, you for this interview (I thank you). Shout out to No Distribution for ripping me off for $2000-3000 – suck a lemon.