There’s two kinds of MCs on the UK Urban scene, those that come and grab their five minutes in the spotlight and bounce or those that live to MC, developing their craft claiming underground support while having to continually adapt and learn new styles as the ‘urban’ scene evolves from Garage, to Grime, to Rap, to Funky and beyond. Chino Deville sits firmly in the second camp having been on the scene for almost a decade, from the early days on Lush FM with Heavy Artillery, through Project Mayhem and now Funky. We caught up with him to talk about what it takes to make it, the importance of getting exposure and Gal… Nuff Gal
Soulside Funk: The new single, Nuff Gal, tell us a little bit about it
Chino Deville: It’s a new funky house track I’m bringing out and one of my first releases in that genre. It’s just me talking about girls. Something for the man dem, an up-tempo catchy tune with a lot of energy.
SSF: On your MySpace page you say you’ve been off your A game for a while, is this a return to that?
CD: Yeah yeah because if I’m being honest a few years ago there were a couple projects put my all into it and I didn’t get the returns I was expecting or would have liked so I kinda fell off for a while. Over the last few month or so the drive built back up and I was writing a lot. I gotta song Hopscotch that’s on my MySpace that he [my producer] came to me with. I remember I was in my room ironing my shirt [when I first heard it] and my head just started bouncing. When I like a tune lyrics just start springing into my head and that was it really… I was back.
SSF: With Hopscotch, you say you heard the beat and the song just came to you, was it the same with Nuff Gal?
CD: I have a bit more of a personal attachment to Hopscotch because it bought my drive back. With Nuff Gal the riddim was good but because I had my drive back it was more business as usual. I just knocked it out. When I heard Hopscotch and the funky beats it was something different fresh and it just felt like the right thing to do.
SSF: So if Hopscotch is the one that bought your drive back, what made you release Nuff Gal over Hopscotch?
CD: I put a lot more work into hopscotch and lyrically it’s a lot more technical. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and there’s little things to me I’d to get that bit tighter [on it] so I wanted to hold back on that until I was 100% ready on Hopscotch. I am now so that one is going to be coming out soon. With Nuff Gal everything just fell together straight away. Everything went the way I wanted it first time.
SSF: Some people may know you as a Hip Hop MC from your early days, what made you move to Funky?
CD: For the record and you gotta put this in capitals I HAVEN’T LEFT HIP-HOP (I get a lot of stick from my hip-hop fans). I still write hip hop bars all the time. However, we live in Europe and whether people want to admit it or not, Europe is a dance nation. It’s easier for me to get my funky house tunes played and put out there than it is for my hip hop. But obviously outside looking in it may look like I’ve put hip-hop aside but nah, most of my favourite lyrics [I’ve written] are hip-hop.
SSF: You have been on the scene for a long time, has it been a struggle to get noticed?
CD: Yes and no. When we were a collective (Heavy Artillery) we spent a lot of money; on videos, on records, on this, on that but if I am being honest I cannot say 100% that the dedication needed was there. Before we had all the talent and all the heart but we didn’t have the knowhow. I can say I’ve learned from my mistakes, and you get your experiences from what you’ve learned.
It was hard, in terms of how the scene is and what you’ve got to put in with music. You say to someone you’re doing music [and all you get is], silence… then an “oh ok.” In UK, if you’re not on Base, or you’re not big and not known you don’t get no credit. Not saying I’m looking for credit but sometimes you need those pick me up to build morale.
I’ve had days where we’ve been in the studio all day then picked up the records we got pressed and then gone and given them out, going to all different parts of London and I’m getting dissed by my mum. On the flip side I’m getting a dead-end 9 to 5 job getting cussed by my manager and my favourite meal is cooked for me. I am getting more respect for that than for chasing the dream. It’s hard but you gotta do your thing and kind of keep at it and keep on doing it. I would say it is hard, at the same time I do believe that not as much work went in to my earlier years as it should of
SSF: So what’s changed in terms of your work ethic?
CD: There were people see on channel U, and I would say I was better than them. But this guy may be hitting all the clubs, this guy may be hitting all the radios, this guys may be doing this. Saying you need ten things make you a good artist I had one thing over him and he had nine over me. Then after a while you gotta stop saying your better than this person and do it. If you can do it then do it and I’m at the point where I am sick of talking about it. And I hate working. And this for me is not work, it’s something I love doing so I am giving it my all.
SSF: In your opinion, what is more important, exposure or talent and how are they related?
CD: I think exposure is more important unfortunately. A lot people don’t even know what [music] they like. If you put something in their face enough they will get used to it and they will like it. There has been songs where I haven’t actually listened to and you’ll hear it in the next room on the radio, or you go to someone’s house and it’s on TV, you’ll be walking down the road and the car is playing it, , you go into a shop and they’re playing it…
Then I’d go to club, hear the song and I’d know the bloody words! I’ve never actually listened to the song but I know the bloody words. Everyone is in the club and singing along and the DJ rewinds the song. It’s not because you like it because it’s been beat into your head. So unfortunately expose is a lot more to do with it. There is a lot of talented people out there but at the same time I think there’s more people out there who are successful due to the exposure they’ve got rather than the talent they have. I think expose’s the key, so when you get people who get the exposure they deserve and they got the talent, they go all the way.
SSF: If it’s more about exposure, lets imagine say six months down the line you don’t get the exposure, what’s next on the agenda?
CD: I’d have to go back to the drawing board and see what I haven’t done, what I have done or what I haven’t done enough of. Basically go at it again because I feel I am a good judge of what is good and what’s not good. I think the tune [Nuff Gal] is good enough, so if it hasn’t got enough exposure to I need to research and find [new] angles. Push it out into clubs burn up some CDs, hand it out, whatever it takes.
SSF: Is there going to be a point where you think “I cannot do the job anymore” or will it be a fight until the end?
CD: Nah, it wouldn’t be [a fight to the end] because now I’d probably say there’s a hunger, I want this I want to be tearing up clubs and have my album out but obviously if years go on, I start getting grey and have to pay bills you can’t keep chasing the dream. I’m not saying you give up on a dream, but you have to still get on with life.
Music is something I always will do , I’m an MC, I’ll be walking down the road and I’ll just hear a word and my head just starts rolling. That will always be something I do and I don’t see that ever going. And if I ever do a tune that I think is good, why not? I’ll try it and if they don’t like it I’m still happy doing my music, I have been writing lyrics for a while and when I write a good one I still get excited and hi-5 myself. It’s something I like doing and I don’t think it will ever die out.
Finally, let’s imagine tomorrow you get a phone call from Sony, Universal… whatever major label you like, what would your response be?
CD: [Long silence while he thinks]…Rah…[another long silence – more thinking] …I’d be happy as fuck but I wouldn’t let them see that. I’d try and keep cool and I’d have to meet them up and talk business. There’s a lot of people that say they were only offering me this or that on the contract, but if it’s clean more than what I’m making on the retail job then I’m gone.
Listen to Nuff Gal here – and download the full version from his SoundCloud – http://soundcloud.com/chino-deville