Fox has been recording music and MCing in Manchester and beyond for longer than most of us at Truants have been allowed to venture outside the mansion. He’s prolific and ubiquitous. Chances are, if you’ve spent any length of time living in the North of England’s premier city over the last decade or more, then you’ll have witnessed Fox performing somewhere. Performing for nights as varied as Hoya:Hoya and Hit and Run as well as providing vocals for collectives such as The Mouse Outfit and Levelz, Fox is a jack of all trades.
With a broad spectrum of tastes and an undeniable adaptability it’s no surprise that he’s slotted right in to Swing Ting, the Manchester night and label we’re great pals with. Fox has teamed up with a host of Swing Ting heads and friends to put together the Musik EP, with familiar faces of Truants such as Florentino, Murlo, Samrai, Platt, Brackles and Famous Eno all featuring. ‘I Swear’ is produced by Puppy Disco, who you might remember from his excellent remix of ‘Tease Me’, which we premiered earlier in the year. In the same vein, the track brings together the sounds of Manchester and Kingston, the two cities which Fox has spent most of his time in and have made him one of the most recognisable voices in the UK. It’s a heartfelt summer dancehall jam which is system ready and possesses the same unique playfulness we’ve seen from Puppy Disco before. We’ve luckily been able to premiere the track on the site to get you all set for the longer days. Fox also had a chat with us about Swing Ting, his Musik and his influences. Enjoy!
So first of all, how did the Musik EP come about? Has it been in the pipeline for a while? “The Musik EP came about as the label sort of established itself over the last year. I’ve obviously recorded a few bits with members of Swing Ting before the label came about and I guess this was just a natural progression. I felt I needed to start doing more projects that represent me a bit more than I get from doing collaborations and I floated the idea to Samrai and Platt and they were down with it.”
How did you end up as part of Swing Ting? “I’d stopped actively trying to pursue being an artist within the industry and was teaching a lot of workshops and doing community work. A couple mates of mine came to my house and refused to leave till I agreed to start recording again. At this time all the popular nights had really good MCs and it was hard to find my own space, so I looked around for something and someone I could build with. I’d met Samrai through [Manchester clubnight] Hotmilk I think, and he asked me to host a Swing Ting night which I did. It wasn’t packed out and at the time was mostly friends and friends of friends that came and supported. I really enjoyed the vibe and felt it was somewhere I could feel comfortable so I continued doing it. It’s slowly built into something really special and I know it’s special ‘cos, though I do a lot of different clubs, raves, festivals and I’m part of a few different Manchester musical collectives, I still get a higher than normal buzz ‘n’ pep to my step when I know it’s a Swing Ting dance.”
I feel like the Swing Ting crew has hit a bit of a purple patch for productivity with lots of strong music coming out lately. What’s it like as an artist to be part of something like that? “It’s great!! I wasn’t there when Swing Ting started but I’ve been a part of it long enough to feel like a proud parent or uncle watching a young family member grow and blossom. The whole ethos of Swing Ting has been about playing good music and creating a space for people to party without bad vibes or pretension and I think that has manifested itself into the kind of music the label puts out, which suits me just fine.”
When I interviewed Samrai and Platt last year for Truants they mentioned how the label felt like an organic extension to the club night. When you made the tracks for the EP did you have getting them played there in mind or does working with members of the crew mean that comes naturally? “I guess since all the producers on the EP are Swing Ting members or close family associates and have played or collaborated with us before you could say it was natural and inevitable but it was also an overt thing to make music that would be what we would like to hear at our night.”
Tell me a bit more about ‘I Swear’, how did the Puppy Disco link up happen? “Samrai and Platt had that link to Equinoxx and Puppy Disco. I’d already done a couple bits over some of their beats so when we were stacking possible riddims for the EP, Samrai played me that track by Puppy Disco and I loved it! It reminds me of the kind of dancehall tracks I’d hear in a yard dance.”
As a lyricist, who or what are your main influences? “My influences are too many to really do justice to it all. A legacy of my Jamaican upbringing is the love of a little bit of all types of music, so I grew up loving Al Green as much as I loved Supercat and Ninjaman. I love Rakim, Mos Def, Nina Simone, Dennis Brown, Bob Marley, Cocoa Tea, Prince, Drs, Skittles, Rodney P, Biggie, Sade, Nate Dogg, Skepta, Muddy Waters, Sammy Davis Jnr, Dean Martin, Led Zeppelin, Amy Winehouse, Abba (yeah I said Abba and what??), Whitney, New Edition, Capleton, Miss Lou and the list goes on. I take inspiration from whoever and wherever! I’m influenced by the sound of trains, the rain, thunder, laughter, people’s speech patterns, just life in general.”
You’ve hosted a variety of different parties over the year and your versatility as an MC is there for everyone to see. Do you feel because of that alongside the breadth of music at Swing Ting makes it such a good fit for you? “Everything I do feeds into the other things I do without a doubt but at the same time I’ve never really tried to get everything I need from any one source. The relaxed music orientated vibe of Swing Ting and the personalities involved make it what it is and is the reason why I fit in so well but also because I get other parts of my personality catered to by other things I do like Levelz, Mouse Outfit, Hoya:Hoya, Hit and Run, Drs live, Dub Phizix and Strategy’s Well Good Do and all the D’n’b bits. The really nice and loyal people who keep coming to Swing help make it a good fit as well.”
What have you got lined up next? “I’ve already started working on my next project which will be a D’n’B EP, maybe album. I’ve got a lot of collaborations working on and due out this year too. Bits with Eligible Batchelors (Chimpo, Trigga and Black Josh), Lx One, Mark XTC, L Side, Think Tonk, Red Eye Hifi, Compa, Leadbelly, Serocee, Youngsta and Cimm are in the pipeline. I’ve got a wish list of artists that I’d like to get some work done with too but keeping *shhhh* on that till I make it happen.”
Musik EP is out on June 17th on Swing Ting.
Swing Ting are celebrating the Launch of Musik at Soup Kitchen on June 18th.
Photography from Louis Reynolds
Artwork from Karen Cazabon