Bigfoot Interview – Giant Steps: Imbeciles, Inoffensive Smooth Talking & Emo-Rhymers

aahh: After years and years of waiting, we’ve finally copped the debut LP from “giant” of the scene Bigfoot. Why has it taken so long for us all to see a full length Bigfoot solo album?
Bigfoot: I spent a lot of time working on music for other people, doing shows, moving house a whole lot of times, paying bills & laying on my back in hospital.  I’ve never had somewhere stable to record everything, as evidenced by the number of different studios “Giant Steps” was recorded in, so I could never complete tracks to my satisfaction until recently.  I could have put something out years ago, but I would have been looking back hating it, so I’m glad that I didn’t.

aahh: You’ve been involved heavily in the hip hop scene since the mid 90’s, repping The Burn. Tell us a little about your earlier days and also your role on the now legendary PBS Formula sessions?
Bigfoot: I grew up listening to “Steppin to the A.M.” with DJ Krisy on 3PBS.  That was the first place that I heard Aussie hip hop.  All sorts of pioneers went through there and ripped it live.  Bias B & Stewbakka took the show over about the same time I was getting my flows going, so I passed a 4 track demo tape to Bias through a mutual friend & was invited to go in there and spit something live.  The first time I went in Strut was there & we exchanged numbers.  I kicked it with Strut a little & went in there a few more times with me & him rhyming off of each other.  Strut helped me out a lot in the beginning, hooking me up with supports & doing his backups, things like that.  It used to be sick as a youngster to tune in & hear live freestyles every week.  Radio is not quite the same these days.

aahh: Giant Steps – Massive album, massive name. Fully self-produced with a bit of help from Hired Goons mate Heata. Looking back was 2010 the year you felt that everything had just fallen into place for the album coming out or was there some rough time frame you were aiming for?
Bigfoot: Things finally fell into place.  I had too much other shit going on in Melbourne & was going ’round in circles, so I bounced to Brisbane to do some things with 750.  Brisbane is a bit more laid back & slower paced, so I had a lot more time to concentrate on things, fewer distractions & I ended up with my own set up for tracking vocals.  I could have spent another year fine-tuning, tweaking and bullshitting around, but I just decided to drop it and move on to the next things.

aahh: The production on Giant Steps is thick and diverse. We’ve got dirty funk samples, monster bass lines and banging drums plus some live guitar. Do you have a big experimental phase when you’re creating your beats or do you work in a more structured sense with a definitive sound in mind that you’re chasing?
Bigfoot: I have no set ways of making music, it is different every time.  If I am writing lyrics, I tend to get into the groove & keep writing for a few weeks at a time without even touching the MPC.  For the most part it is usually a case of inspiration striking & banging out an idea that has popped into my head.  Sometimes I’ll go through records & not vibe from anything, but when something catches my ear I get energized & go to town on it.

aahh: The opening track on Giant Steps, Stepped On throws back to the days when the battle circuit was your stomping ground. Do you miss the battle scene these days?
Bigfoot: I grew up listening to rap in the 90’s.  Battle rap wasn’t a genre, it was just a natural part of MCing.  KRS, Kool G Rap, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Ice-T, N.W.A., Geto Boys & Hieroglyphics all had a sick battle style.  New school psuedo-journalists always seem to whine about rappers rapping about rapping, at the same time giving props to emo-rhymers for letting their feelings show.  They seem to have no idea where this music has come from.  I wasn’t catching the train as a teenager listening to Kanye trying to auto-tune, I was listening to classic b-boy shit.  But as far as open mic contests are concerned, I don’t miss the battle scene at all.  It went wack after 8 mile came out.  All these kids had their rhymes worked out with gaps for inserting competitors names and things like that.  It got so staged & fake that it thankfully self destructed as far as I’m aware.

“So ashamed of the state that the scene’s in. I’m enraged by the sights that I’m seeing. Bring hell on earth with fire that I’m breathing. Hit the mic screaming, driven by demons.” – Bigfoot (Let ‘Em Burn)

aahh:  Let ‘Em Burn is a fierce commentary on the some off the younger emcees in Australia. What would you’re number one criticism be, or if you want to go the positive angle, words of advice for some of these younger cats?
Bigfoot: I’d advise kids to be themselves, not follow trends, pay dues & make the music they want to make because they are driven to make it, regardless of whatever style the old guy at JJJ is putting on daytime radio….  That whole second verse in “Let ’em burn” is referring to a near death experience that I went through.  The line you quoted was basically me getting out of hospital & being fed up with the way things were headed after some time off & deciding to go hard on my own shit.

aahh: Hell’s Gate has been a much talked about track feat. Hired Goons. We hear a lot of discussion about tracks with catchy hooks and samples. This track flys in the face of that philosophy. What is it do you think that attracts people to a track like this one?
Bigfoot: It goes back to the music that inspires me.  All of the old school rappers always got their whole crew on one joint. Back to back verses just smashing on the mic, no need for a hook, the sentiment speaks for itself.  “Bring it on” by the Geto Boys, “2 to the head” by Kool G rap “Symphony”….the list goes on.  To get on daytime radio you need some catchy refrain between some inoffensive smooth talking.  Obviously that is far removed from where I’m at.  I make music that I want to hear.  Why make more soft-ass cafe rap when the radio is already overrun with it?  HG is my crew, so is 750 Rebels, so I had to rep them both.

aahh: What Goes Around… is 1.43min of pure lyrical murder. Tell us the reasoning behind this track. We also seen a film clip drop in the lead up to the release for the album (executed by Heat) had this one been in the bag for a while?
Bigfoot: Those lyrics were written in the late 90’s.  I changed a line or two, otherwise it is as written.  It’s just a true story about someone who I knew through graf that rated out some writers & got caught up with.  It’s pretty self-explanatory, I didn’t need to make up some abstract fairytale.  We didn’t even draw up plans for the video, just went off the song lyrics.  I think Heata shot it about 2 years ago at Pony bar.  No need to fill the track with more words to make it 3&1/2 minutes when I’d already said my piece.

aahh: Over the years we’ve seen you work with the who’s who in hip hop, including Brad Strut, Bias B, Reason, Lazy Grey…the list goes on. Does it feel good to finally be able to call on some of these dudes after years of helping them out?
Bigfoot: Yeah these bastards owe me!!  I like bouncing ideas off other people when writing.  Everyone on the album is a mate, no overpaid ring-ins.  I basically made a name for myself over the years through guest spots, radio freestyles & live shows.  My world revolves around music, so most of my friends are the same as me & it feels good to get it done together.

aahh: We always ask about the reasoning behind putting the lyrics in the album booklet and what the artists thoughts are on this?
Bigfoot: All the classic joints had lyrics.. “Fear of a black planet” “O.G.” “Power”… I grew up rapping along with them, looking at the pictures & shout-outs.  I put effort into writing the lyrics but streetpress misquote, people miss the double meanings & wordplay, so I thought I’d put ’em in to avoid confusion.  Discourse couldn’t get too busy with the design ‘cos there were too many pages of words, It also cost more to do, but I don’t care.  All classic albums should have lyrics.

aahh: “Can’t Fool All The People All The Time feat. Len One and Lazy Grey” as Brothers Stoney really put us in nostalgia mode and I’m sure we weren’t the only ones. Was this a bit of a nod to the old days with a killer dub step spin?
Bigfoot: I’ve been a big reggae fan for a very long time & that sample was always in the back of my mind waiting for its moment.  Lazy is big on reggae as well & Len one is a walking encyclopedia of all types of music.  I could just hear the two of them on that track so we made it happen.

aahh: As an artist do you have any expectations of the listener?
Bigfoot: Who am I to dictate who can listen to what?  If you like it, bang it.  whatever floats your boat, I just don’t appreciate misinformed criticisms at the hands of imbeciles.

aahh: The names on this album are huge but you also have some great DJ’s on the cut, including The Master. You obviously have a lot of respect for  these guys and the role a DJ plays?
Bigfoot: You’re the first person to ask about the cuts.  I love the sound of scratching on a track, put people just bang shit out with no attention to detail these days.  Master came through sick on this, so did Lopsided from 750, plus Discourse & Mixa on one joint each as well.  A lot of cuts I had laid out & planned, but some, for example “crime wave”, the Dj’s just did their own thing and smashed it.  A lot of Dj’s can cut but can’t choose a sample to fit a song for shit.  That’s why I roll with these guys.

aahh: Will we see a tour, State album launches or any plans of those in the near future?
Brisbane Step Inn –  22nd Jan 2011
Sydney The Sando –  8th Jan 2011
Both shows with Tornts + Jakebiz at Brisbane show as well.

Purchase Bigfoot – Giant Steps (via iTunes) here. Includes bonus remixes.