Earlier this month MOVELTRAXX founder BIG DOPE P unleashed his debut album MEHLISH: an extraordinary collection of music that smashes the boundaries between hard-hitting electronic club sounds and old-school, sample-driven hip-hop.
MEHLISH features collaborations with a wide range of singularly talented artists, including TT The Artist, DJ Slugo, Karlito (from legendary french rap band Mafia K1 Fry), Mighty Mark, DJ Jayhood, Feadz and more. Infused with that instantly recognisable Big Dope P sound, the LP packs in influences from Chicago Ghetto House to French Hip Hop via Footwork, 80s Funk & US/UK rap across 11 distinct and dynamic tracks.
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With support from a huge array of artists including The Blessed Madonna, Boys Noize, Jamz Supernova, DJ Wonder, Nina Kraviz, DJ Earl, Anz, A-Trak, Sherelle, Chrissy, Nightwave, Partiboi69, Jaguar, Wuki & many more and airplay on BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra, BBC6, Rinse FM and Radio Nova, MEHLISH sees Big Dope P at the very height of his powers, delivering an album that will surely be counted as one of the finest of 2021.
Thanks for talking to us. Are you still basking in the post-album release glow?
Thanks for having me guys. Most definitely. Still waking up every morning to cool messages about MEHLISH so every day feels like release day lately.
For you, where does the impulse to create something come from?
I guess I just make the music I want to hear. I never thought about this before, it’s a natural thing, to be honest. When I cannot work on new music for a while when I’m abroad or too busy handling label things, I’m kinda depressed and there’s always an urge to go back to making tracks. I just need to, even if I only release 1% of what I make.
I just need to, even if I only release 1% of what I make.
You spent a lot of time in record shops when you were younger, is that still the case? Or do you buy most of your music online now?
Not really. I still buy 12″ releases occasionally but mostly from online shops these days.
Is the physicality of music something you think you’ll always value?
I am not attached to any format in particular. back in the day, I used to go to record shops because a lot of the music I wanted was not available in any other format. This made that I have a huge vinyl collection, like thousands of them. But I ripped most of those to have digital files and don’t really value the physical copies like that. I value the music, not the format.
If you weren’t a musician, do you think you would have found a different outlet for your creativity?
It’s hard for me to imagine an alternative reality where I don’t make music but I would say writing probably as I love sharing stories. I used to paint a bit too when I was younger. I also recently started to develop a strong interest in video in general, which is something I might dive into as soon as I have time to do so.
When you hit the studio, do you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve? Or is it more freewheeling and improvisational than that?
I usually have a clear idea of what I want to do. Make some notes on my phone and execute them as soon as I can. Occasionally, I just start from scratch and experiment but most of the time I just try to execute an idea that came to mind earlier.
How do you know when a track is finished?
I don’t think a track is ever finished but I guess once it sounds like what I had in mind, I’m comfortable with sharing it with everybody.
Do you have a daily routine when it comes to creating?
I just try to make a lot of demos anytime I can. Like laying down the whole idea in one shot and then I go back to it ages after and decide to finish those that stand the test of time.
In terms of your new album MEHLISH, were there any tracks that came together very easily?
Most of them did. There’s a lot of versions for every album track so it was mostly me making those and arguing which ones I should release. The title track “Mehlish” was probably the most natural one. “Work Move Shake” with DJ Slugo came together pretty fast too. In one afternoon, the bonus track, “Presidential Pimpin” was made. It’s the only one containing an obvious sample/loop and we cleared it the same week too!
MEHLISH is out now on Moveltraxx
Were there any specific bits of hard/software that you used a lot when producing the album?
All the tracks were produced in my MPC Live. Sometimes I used certain synths, drum machines or other instruments but everything ended up in my MPC, even the vocals I recorded so it really was the core of this record. AKAI needs to offer me a partnership or something now haha.
Who for you are the most important artists of all time, and how do they influence your work?
It’s a tough question and very subjective too. I don’t really believe in this idea of one artist single-handedly shaping everything. It’s always a galaxy of artists involved in a movement that influences the future even if it’s easier for people to have one artist personify everything. That being said, I will name Stevie Wonder, Just Blaze, Paul Johnson, Missy Elliott, Rick Wakeman, Mr. De, Three 6 Mafia, Dance Mania Records, Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers.
What’s next for you, and your label Moveltraxx?
We have a lot of cool surprises coming to expand the album experience in the following weeks/months. For Moveltraxx expect a new Street Bangers Factory compilation before the end of the year + a stacked lineup of releases in 2022 including a new DJ EARL album.
(image credits: cindy bartillon)