We were a fan of Captain Over as soon as we heard his collaboration with Trim on his debut EP last year and now, carrying the torch for his follow-up, is another of London’s finest, Manga Saint Hilare, on a track that follows the same off-beat, sci-fi, grime path but with a more uplifting tone. We facilitated a chat between Captain Over and Manga to find out a little more about their working processes, why MCs can be conservative and what makes an “outsider” in grime.
Following on from the success of his debut No-One Ever Really Flies EP (featuring Trim), XVI Records have done it again with Captain Over’s second offering, the impressive Better EP.
The Leeds-based producer continues to perfect his trademark blend of dark and sci-fi infused bruk/grime on this beautifully-crafted record. Calling on former Roll Deep member Manga Saint Hilare for the EP’s lead track (as well as the thoughtful and introspective ‘When You’re Ready’) the Better EP sees the burgeoning producer exploring new territories. Lush synths, broken drum patterns and eerie melodies run throughout allowing Manga’s vocals to glide effortlessly overhead.
Not forgetting to bring the dance-floor energy, the Captain steers the ship into funkier atmospheres with the ferocious ‘Dope’ and ‘Social Assassin’ blending jazzy, broken beat-inspired drum patterns with spires of icy eski sounds and futuristic, dystopian FX.
We facilitated a chat between Captain Over and Manga to find out a little more about their working processes, how some MCs can be conservative and what makes an “outsider” in grime.
C.O: Thanks for doing this and getting involved with the project. You don’t do a huge number of features – is this a conscious choice? Was there anything about my music that appealed, or did I just pester you until you gave in?
M: I’m always open to doing features, usually the music isn’t very good though or something I can work with. In this case it was different.
C.O: I don’t recall hearing you sing much in the past (although I could be wrong on this), so it was a pleasant surprise when you came back with the chorus for ‘Better With’. Are you planning to do this more in the future?
M: I wish i could actually sing, I’d stop MC’ing straight away. I just thought I’d try a ting & I guess it worked out.
C.O: When we were working on these tracks, you seemed to gravitate towards the non-140bpm beats and your flow is so effortless on those. How do you go about picking beats? Do you have a specific process, or is it an unconscious thing to an extent?
“So if people enjoy my music they can wear it, hear it and see it live. Full experience.”
M: I just picked ones i could come up with something to actually say on. I listen, hum a few things and see what I come up with. It takes me a long time to write so if the vibe isn’t there straight away I don’t usually force it.
C.O: Why do you MCs are far too often so conservative in their choices? An MC once told me he couldn’t work on my beat because it wasn’t 140bpm (it was 137).
M: I don’t know you know, I just always try a ting. See how it turns out. You never know so why not?
C.O: You obviously put a lot of time into the overall presentation of your music, from art direction, to videos and merchandise design. How important is that side of things to you? Obviously those things are becoming more and more necessary for artists these days to stand out.
M: Well music is basically free today. Also the amount of people that are making it has increased. So you have to try to do something to stand out, plus also add value to yours. So if people enjoy my music they can wear it, hear it and see it live. Full experience.
“I’m an outsider because I have never been the golden boy or part of the “circle” in music.”
C.O: Being an outsider and forging your own path appears to be a recurring theme in your work. Is that how you see yourself in the grime scene, as an outsider? To me you’re in a unique position, seen as an ‘O.G’ but also not restricted by the baggage that can bring.
M: I’m an outsider because I have never been the golden boy or part of the “circle” in music. I’ve always been in close proximity but not in it. If i’m honest i’m only considered an “O.G” by some because i’ve been out here a long time. The last 5 years of me making my own lane has been way more impactful and inspiring than anything I did before. The rest is just nostalgia.
C.O: Do you think there is too much pressure on artists to adhere to the ‘traditions’ of their genre, rather than encouragement to push it forward? I’m thinking of people arguing about what is and isn’t grime/UK hip-hop/rap/drill/whatever, and the whole thing with Lil Uzi saying he didn’t care about Biggie.
M: Yeah people are scared thats all. Only real talented & hard working people can actually push a genre forward. That isn’t most people. We haven’t got many of them. The arguing is all a distraction. Just go and create.