I did this interview with Proc Fiskal back in 2017 for Radar. He was playing one of their parties and had not long released ‘The Highland Mob’ EP on Hyperdub. We spoke about his production style, grime at 160, video games and his future plans.
The grime scene in Scotland certainly seems healthy at the moment, and Proc Fiskal is one of the bright talents in a scene packed with high quality producers and DJs. His musical journey started at the age of 13 producing grime, and eventually he began to send tunes to various DJs in the London scene. He’s had a good 2017, his debut release ‘The Highland Mob EP‘ dropped on Hyperdub earlier this year and featured a collection of suped up 160bpm grime bangers that speed out of the speakers. Ahead of his set at the last date of our third birthday celebrations, we caught up with him to discuss his production style, his show on Radar and much more.
It seems like you’ve had a pretty good 2017. The Highland Mob EP came out earlier in the year, you had a track on the Dream Eater compilation, the Just Jam set and now you’ve just started a show on Radar. So how’s it been musically this year?
It’s been okay, because all those tunes I made that have came out this year I made like two years ago, a year ago. This year I’ve been doing a lot of stuff that’s potentially gonna come out. It’s hard to measure success but it feels like its been pretty positive. I’m thankful for what I’ve managed to be able to do.
You made that 160bpm grime stuff and that’s obviously not the only style you do but that style and other tunes you make are very distinctive I feel, and it stands out from a mile away, that production style you have. So how did you develop that sound over time? Where did that come from?
The 160 stuff?
I remember I used to make footwork which is 160, liking grime and
and trying to make the UK sound with that sort of speed. I like fast music. In grime, sometimes it sounds quite slow because it’s half time, and I just sort of like that danceable, fast stuff. It was from hearing Ruff Sound sets as well, back in late 2015, June in 2015 there was quite a few of those Ruff Sound sets with Vision Crew. Me and Polonis were really into that, we thought it was the future and I liked that idea of it being the progression of grime.
So you’ve said in previous interviews that you mainly use samples to make tunes. What do you look for in a sample when you’re finding stuff? Is there something specifically that grabs you?
It’s whatever sounds nice. I chuck things into the thing and just see if they actually stick and just sort of see if it works.
So it’s very instinctive?
Yeah, I mean I don’t really think to much about the kind of palette I’m using, I’m just using it because it sounds alright within the tune. But sampling is easier and you can do a lot of stuff with like stretching and manipulating which I quite like being able to do, it feels a bit more of tactile.
So after you’ve found the sample and put it in, do you put a filter on it, time stretch it or reverse it?
In Ableton you can just chuck it into the thing and see the sound wave and just how the sound wave looks, I kinda go off of that. Just seeing how it looks like laid out. And you can like do a lot of warping, in Ableton you can really stretch out a sound and get little tiny patterns just through fucking with the sound.
Where do you want to take your music in the future? Would you ever consider doing a live set up through Ableton, as opposed to DJ sets?
Yeah I have thought about that, but I’ve no idea how you go about it. It seems quite complex. Potentially I’d like to do it, because one thing about DJ’ing I was thinking about recently is that you just play set tunes, you can’t actually add anything in the actual mix. Whereas live bands you can add emotion into the tune. But musically, I don’t wanna just keep doing the same thing over and over and over again, and even just doing 160 stuff is kind of limiting in some ways as well.
I understand what you’re saying. If you’re making music you wanna keep reinventing yourself and innovating.
I wanna keep sort of being in opposition to something. Challenge something a wee bit, don’t get comfortable or anything, just keep confusing myself.
You’ve said in the past as well that you listen to a lot of video game soundtracks, and the Earthbound OST was a standout. So are there any others that had a big influence on you, and could you tell me the ways in which game soundtracks influence your music, if they do at all?
They definitely do, it’s like just growing up and playing games all the time. Those games that have all these sort of influences. But those influences come into you through those tunes as a kid without even knowing the context. I don’t really think about it that much, I’ve not analysed it but they are a big influence and I do listen to a lot of that sort of stuff.
So what other ones were your favourites, other than the Earthbound one?
Earthbound’s the main one, probably. But there’s a few ones: Phoenix Wright I’ve been listening too, have you ever played Phoenix Wright?
It’s on the DS, I was listening back to the soundtrack the other day and I was like yeah, that’s one of the best soundtracks, that’s in my top five probably. There’s a game called The Legend of The Mystical Ninja which is on the SNES and that’s got a really good soundtrack. It’s all Asian melodies. It’s quite good. Cause they’ve got really good melodies, the song structure as well, they have different patterns and the way they flow into each other, I’ve been trying to get into doing that in my tunes.
Moving on, I wanted to talk about the radio show. I wanted to ask how you approach radio? Is it a case of having fun and testing tunes out, and doing stuff you wouldn’t be able to do in a live setting? I wanted to ask specifically about the passage at the start with the recordings over the tunes, because I thought that was quite cool.
I really like that sort of shit. It’s just sort of having fun with the opportunity to sort of broadcast something to people. I kind of think of that kind of radio – the interviews with fucked up people outside of pubs and stuff – it’s like it’s sort of a documentary. I don’t want to sound pretentious about it, but I just thought it was quite sort of like a film, kinda. It’s kind of like a wee slice of reality. Initially it’s to make me and my mates laugh, and then to actually be able to present it to people in the context of a radio show, it’s quite sort of different.
What do you have planned music wise for the rest of the year and beyond?
Well I’ve been working on like an album of stuff, it’s not really an album, it’s a load of tunes in the style of this sort of melodic stuff, kind of experimental, mainly based on melody. But I’ve also been making more 160, jungle-ish grime stuff which is potentially coming out next year.