HE’S A music legend , a soundman, a DJ and all-round UK pioneer, but by his own admission, Shy FX wasn’t ready for this interview to promote his latest offering of work Raggamuffin SoundTape.
Primed for the usual questions journalists ask when probing an artist about the creative process of pulling their latest project together, the north London-born artist was a tad thrown when asked if this body of work was a skeletal representation of who Shy FX is, and if so, how much of it has he exposed to his fans?
“This is me up until this point. So, I think if you listen to that, you have snapshot of my life,” he says, after a brief pause.
He added: “I like the way that people older than me all the way down to 18-year-olds all get something different from this project. But I think anyone around their 40s that grew up through the whole jungle period and everything that was prior to that, it speaks to them.
“People can hear all of the influences and they can feel the movement that caused the project like this to even happen. We were blessed to be born at a time when everything was becoming a melting pot and we were starting to create all of these different styles.
“For me, it’s a council mentality from when I was living in Tottenham, experiencing all types of madness on road and music as well, this culture thing happened and all of a sudden we were going to parties with white people, Asian people, everyone just raving to this music. Anyone from that era will hear this and get that from it.”
Featuring a broad spectrum of both established and upcoming artists – including Cara Delevingne, Chronixx, Gappy Ranks, Ghetts, Kojey Radical, Lily Allen, Maverick Sabre and Sinead Harnett (to name but a few) – Raggamuffin SoundTape flawlessly switches through hiphop, R’n’B, dancehall, breakbeat and jungle to form an eclectic soundscape that melds together seamlessly into a satisfying whole.
NEW MUSIC: Shy FX’s Raggamuffin SoundTape
Few artists are able, brave or inspired enough to traverse genres with the consummate ease that Shy FX does on this album. So what emboldens him to tread where so few do?
“If I wasn’t able to do it, I don’t know, man… There are loads of producers who I am around who can make loads of different genres, styles and everything else, but they choose to stick with one thing, usually because their fan base demands it, or they are too scared to step away from that.
“My whole vibe is: there is so many people who want to do what were are doing, if you are blessed enough to have the talent and you are blessed enough to make a living from it, how dare you disrespect the blessing by just doing and conforming to what everyone expects?
“It doesn’t make any sense to me. I go with the heart, my experiences, to create music I want to hear, music that I think is missing or just music that feeds my soul. To not be able to do that… I can’t even picture life like that.”
Describing the finished product, Shy FX said: “Everything fits together – it’s tight, it feels like one piece. The 15-year-old me would be overly gassed by this record – I wouldn’t have been able to imagine making all these genres, all these styles… And now I’m able to put it under the same name and it makes sense to people.”
There aren’t too many who could have galvanised the pool of talent that has turned out for Shy FX on this album, the names ring out like a ‘who’s who’ of the music world.
Chronixx, Ghetts and Maverick Sabre are just a few of this journalist’s favourites and they all deliver.
But how did the artists who didn’t make the cut feel?
“I wanted to have that mixtape vibe but still retain the album polish, the attention to detail and all of that stuff. So it kind of flows like a mixtape and it’s an ongoing thing, so whoever didn’t make it on this one will make it on the next one.
“Everyone that didn’t make this one, when they heard the finished product they got it, and I am already working stuff around the other music that I have and I am already half way through sound tape number two.”
Trawling through online reviews of Raggamuffin SoundTape to garner a snapshot of how the project has been received by fans, there aren’t too many negative reports, with the general consensus being Shy FX has contributed positively to the rich tapestry of musical content available at the moment.
For a person that has been in the business approaching three decades, though, how much does the input and feedback from others sway his thinking?
“I’m quite selfish as a producer – I just make music for myself, to make myself happy,” he admits.
“When I go in the studio, whatever mood I am in, that will come out. It literally is a vibe where I might be depressed about something, so I make a tune that calms me down or sorts that vibe out.
“Or I need to hear music in the car, so I make for that journey. I don’t really watch what people are saying. This is my art – either you like it or you don’t.
“That said, as much as I might say ‘man don’t care about what people say, I’m just doing my own thing’, still, I am gassed to see that everyone is feeling it the way they are. It’s been mad, actually.
“Obviously not everyone is going to like everything you do, but I haven’t seen too many negative comments. The only thing people have said is it could have been longer.
“If anyone is planning to listen to it, do so from top to bottom because the way it all flows together is important.
“The whole thing has been done with pure love and you can feel the energy and the frequency from that.”