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31 May 2011

Interview: DJ Muggs

DJ Muggs does not really need a lengthy introduction; with over 25 years in the game, he has done it all. Apart from being Cypress Hill’s primary producer, he has worked with legends from Dr. Dre and Ice Cube to rock bands Pearl Jam and Sonic Youth, as well as releasing many successful solo and collaborative projects. Over the years, he has set up a number of established business and radio shows. Our contributor Toby Kay caught up with Muggs last week, just before the Gumball 3000 Rally in London...

Q: Taking it back, 25 years, how did you get started on the production tip and with Cypress Hill?
I started as a DJ. I was in a group called 7A3. I didn’t produce shit, but I had all the records and ideas for the album. Somebody else produced my ideas and I didn’t like the way it ended up sounding. So when I got a little money I bought a drum machine and said “I’m gonna do this shit my way from now on”.

Q: What big differences and significant changes have you seen the game go through in that time?
Everything, the world has changed as a whole! Things change everyday up here, man. Just like people change. It ain’t the smartest person who wins, it’s the person who is able to adapt the quickest, you know, shit moves so quick. If you can’t adapt…those who cease who change, cease to be. It’s all about adaptability, man. To me, I stay true to being an artist and the music…I can never say what’s going to inspire me at what time. I don’t particularly go out of my way for commercial success or to please anybody. I do my shit, if they don’t like it, then you can eat a dick…

Q: Who have been the favourite artists you’ve worked with?
RZA, Dr. Dre, Prodigy and the Infamous family, KRS-One, Xzibit, Ill Bill, SickJacken, the list goes on.

Q: Anyone that you haven’t managed to work with, but would like to?
There’s nobody. I’m not about wanting to work with people. If we’re going to work together, we gotta be able to vibe on an everyday level. I’m not on that “put something together” shit; I don’t send too many beats out.

Q: You played a large part in Alchemist’s come up. How’s it for you now, watching his success?
He’s amazing, he’s inspired me to do greater things! That’s what it’s all about, helping each other and inspiring each other. We’re on a winning team together! Alchemist, Evidence and myself actually share a spot in LA where we have separate studios set up, each one where we write and record our different shit, we can bounce ideas off each other whilst there. Like, I might be making an electronic track in my studio, pass through Alc’s or Ev’s studio and then completely change it into a grimy hip-hop track!

Q: The Vs. Series seems to be where we can hear a lot of your hip-hop production these days, who’s up next?
It will be me, with Ill Bill & Vinnie Paz for sure. Then I am like “who’s the next person?”…I want to do Roc Marciano, he’s one of my favourites. I might do another one with Sick Jacken…or maybe one with all the guys that I’ve worked with, do one if all five of those guys. If they just gave me two songs each, we could work that real quick man. I could do that within a month.

Q: I’ve also noticed that you’re starting to get involved with the Dubstep scene, which is taking off majorly over here, can you explain a bit about that?
The electronic scene globally is amazing. The dubstep scene is ridiculous. Kids are out there banging their motherfucking heads, going crazy!

Q: How about studio time with any UK artists while you’re here?
I was working with Itchy Robot, a dubstep dude; did a track with him. I sent out a couple of beats for P Money, the guy who did the Slang Like This track with True Tiger, that track is huge! I like P Money a lot, he’s dope. I like Sukh Knight, I like his beats, they’re banging! Also, I'm meant to hook up with some drum & bass dudes.

Q: The West Coast is starting to make some mainstream noise; do you think it’s their time again?
I mean, outside of Cali, and especially over here in UK, you’re only going to see the mainstream shit. But I think LA, the underground LA, has one of the most progressive music scenes going on right now. It’s ridiculous. Kids are becoming sick of the pop shit. Artists on the come up now ain’t even trying to be on the radio or MTV. It’s probably the most avant garde it’s ever been! You can look at everybody at ‘Low End Theory’ (weekly club night in Los Angeles) and the guys at Alpha Pup Records, what they’re all doing is ridiculous, dope shit!

Q: What are your thought about upcoming Cali cats like Odd Future
For me it’s going to be interesting to see where it goes. They’re at the stage where everything is cool…like Cypress was right there 20 years ago. But when you get the fame, everyone is going to be telling you you’re better than everyone else. Everyone will start getting separate managers, accountants, lawyers…start getting new girlfriends, and separate friends…let’s see how they handle that.

Q: I know that Yelawolf, did a take on (Cypress Hill’s) ‘We Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That’. What do you think of him?
Yela’s a real dude. He’s doing something original, a super nice guy. I know he’s worked with Raekwon and hear that he’s opening for Wu-Tang in a couple of weeks here.

Q: Rock The Bells was announced earlier, I see you’re performing the entire of Black Sunday, you looking forward to that?
Yeah, we’re doing that. But, I’ll be back in the UK for the V Festival on the 21st July! Certain acts are making $200,000 a fucking festival DJ’ing for an hour and a half. Dudes need one hit song and you’ll make 50, 60,000 dollars on a night at one of these festivals, come every summer, imagine that shit!

Q: What else is planned for you this year?
My plan is to put this album out called Bass For Your Face, it’s an electronic record. Then work on my next hip-hop album with Ramel Zee. We gotta wait on who we’ll feature on that one though.

Q: I know you fuck with a lot of rock music and had your Mash Up series…if you could assemble a dream line up, who would it be?
John Bonham (Led Zepplin) on drums. Jimi Hendrix on guitar. Jack Black and….John Lennon.

Q: Any last words?
Man, I just want to say thank you to everyone who’s lent an ear to listen to my music throughout the years. Everyone who paid a couple of pounds to come check out any shows. Thank you to you for taking time out of your day to come interview and hang out, we appreciate it. I’m lucky to be able to make music and travel the world, and motherfucking…live my dream!

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