Myke Forte's string of Zodiak releases have steadily cemented his reputation as an impeccable producer, one with a deft ear for chops and loops and a taste for forward-looking aesthetics. With the series near completion, and with the Cosmik Panda EP already turning heads, the beatmaker has teamed up with SBTV to present Cosmik Zodiak – a hybrid of the two projects. We caught up with Myke to talk his hometown, collaborations and the sampling rulebook.
We first learnt of you from the Zodiak series. What were you working on before this?
Good question. Before the Zodiak series I was working on two projects, one was called Discovering Myke Forte and the other Pay EP. I was new to beat-making but felt as though these projects were a pivotal moment for me as a beat-maker, so I decided to release them via iTunes.
Besides the MPC, what piece of studio equipment could you not live without?
I couldn't live without my Core 2 Duo Macbook Pro. Without this I couldn't design websites, covers, social network or record the music from my MPC2500 to mp3 format - and wouldn't be here today.
Hip hop has traditionally meant sampling vinyl, which to a certain extent sets the limits for its sound. Do you subscribe to the vinyl-only rule?
No, not at all. I'm an advocate of sampling from vinyl, but ever since the web it's kinda changed the way I sample and where I sample from. I like to sample from films and video games, old classic games and films. Not all of these sound bytes will be on vinyl, so I have no option but to find them using the digital outlets like YouTube, Spotify, iTunes and computer stock libraries. I sample from vinyl because I have a small collection of records which I love, but I'm not a complete purist.
Birmingham is a hub, being home to the Louis Den network and there's been plenty of talent in the city. What does its beat scene look like today?
It's thriving and producers work together on collaborations a lot. I've thought of collaborating with Urban Monk, Kosyne, Raul Supreme, Decypher, The Avengers and Mac Real. There is a community and it's good, we just need a professional network to push it further.
Is there anyone in particular in your hometown that you're a fan of on the producer front?
There's a few. I'm a fan of Knox Brown, Kelakovski, Urban Monk and Cypher of MD7. They all bring something different and original to production.
Are there any producers you think people should be checking for, UK, US or elsewhere?
Black Milk, Nottz, Nicolay, Labrinth, Elaquent, Smith The Mister, Preditah, Budgie, Jaisu, Raul Supreme. There's too many for me to mention, I'm inspired by so many. Ask me again next week and it'll be something different.
What MCs would you most like to work with, on both sides of the Atlantic?
Nas, Elzhi, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Talib Kweli, Kendrick Lamar, C4, Akala, TY, Jae Mann, Malik of MD7...
You worked with C4 last year on Time, the flip to his first single. He's made noise in the grime scene with his producer brother Preditah since then. How did the hook-up come about and did being involved with his debut help to get you in front of a new audience?
I've known C4 and Preditah a while through a youth network called Fit4Life. They were very talented in their own rights from day one. C4 was recording lots of music and he wanted a style which showed his versatility, so he asked me to make a beat using a vocal he had recorded. I made two beats and he chose one which became Time (Retro Chain).
What are you working on at the moment?
I'm working on a remix album called Darker Than Black which is my own take on Jay-Z's Black Album and I have a debut LP called Tronik coming out next year. And then I've just finished the SBTV exclusive beat tape called Cosmik Zodiak, which is a special edition Zodiak tape.
Pick up Myke Forte's Cosmik Zodiak over at SBTV.