Finnish duo H.P Lovescratch and DJ J-Man aka Cut Beetlez drop their latest project with Nice Guys CBNG. It's an unabashed journey into that old skool type of boom-bap hip-hop, evoking images of Gang Starr. It's hip-hop nostalgia for those who witnessed hip-hop's golden age. Breaks, obscure (at times) samples and of course frenetic scratching are the order of the day on this collaborative project due for release on the 1st of May. From the latest singles Cut Ya Ass Up and Graveyard Gravitas, this seventeen track project substantiates Cut Beetlez's status as one of the premier hip-hop outfits from Finland. In the lead up to their album we had a brief conversation with H.P Lovescratch to discuss; their album, working with Nice guys and obscure vinyl.
Let's talk individual music journeys and what was it about your individual journeys which brought this love of hip-hop as a culture incorporating mastering turntable-lism?
I used to play and study drums and baritone horn for couple of years in my youth. The turning point for me was hearing Gang Starr at the age of twelve. That introduced me properly to hip-hop and all the elements including beat-making and turntablism.
J-Man used to study keyboards back in the day but for him, the first genre of music that really clicked was hip-hop around the age of thirteen. Before that he was listening to his parents' cassettes and CD's (since turntable were off limits) which included ZZ Top, joe satriani, metallica, Thelonious Monk, art Farmer, Rinneradio and more. J remembers first hearing hip-hop on the radio and after that he started to actively search and listen to new hip-hop.
Let's talk your individual record collections-how many records and give us an idea of the diversity of your collections – vinyl that no one would guess is in the collection?
Both of our collections are around 3000 vinyl records presently, and they are quite diverse since we are both searching and scouring actively for some weird ass records to wear and tear. For me I cannot throw away Dr Alban's record because my mom gave it to me when I was young. J-Man is more well known for his weirdness and marginal records from all the genres. It is natural to say that his collection represents him as a character too – they kinda correlate. Odd is the common and normal for him.
Who were some of the names who influenced you both? *
And tell us briefly about how and why Cut Beetlez became something real?
DJ J-Man stumbled in my lair one day by a coincidence around 2012. He was coming to buy a piece of art from my roommate. He discovered me and found out I was a beat producer / dj living. He loved my interesting records on display. From that visit on, we kept discovering we had a similar interest in music and making hip-hop. After a short period of time we started working on some instrumental hip-hop –turntable style – material together.
Sonically what type of vibe energy are you aiming for we hear that type of Wu Tang, Rakim boom bap energy?
We are not precisely aiming to create or recreate classic boom-bap. We want to develop our own production style and music. Sometimes we end up sounding like 90's era boom-bap which of course is not a bad thing if the track sounds like us anyway, but we are not strictly aiming for that anymore. Creation process is more “in-the-moment” and flowing. We try to follow our instincts, listen to the music and do our best with what we have always. Creating something new sounding is interesting to us.
Indeed, tell us how you work together to create tracks-elaborate on the samples you choose etc loving Rua Das Pretas sample production techniques.
We have known each other for years and worked together countless hours so we move and create new music as a unit nowadays. Of course the unit sometimes comes to a halt for a second or two but keeps going again with double speed after that. We both actively contribute to an idea. We keep bouncing it back and forth creating the music at the same time while using our strengths. I'm good at putting things together and turning ideas into practise while J-Man paints ideas with available instruments and records to be fed to me. Sometimes I might have an idea and I pitch it to J to be played or scratched. I then record and arranges what comes out from J's brain. Using samples is not our only focus or main source. We can sample whatever the sound or noise we hear or like if it matches our vision.
Let's talk working with Nice Guys on Cut Ya Ass Up-how did that come about and why did you want to get them on the track?
J-Man happened to hear a project from Nice Guys, aka Dirty Winters and Lynx 196.9 (2019) and played that to H.P. We both agreed that there is something very original going on with the duo sound and style wise. We decided to contact them. After some back and forth we agreed, (together with the Nice Guys), to start working on a full length project. Cut Ya Ass Up was just one of the tracks we laced together with the Guys that are Nice. The project came together painlessly and surprisingly fast. It was a very pleasurable experience working with them, there is no denying that.
What's the plan in terms of releases-we know you dropped Graveyard Gravitas (would love to know that sample) after Cut Ya Ass Up but where are you heading next in terms of releases, ep, albums etc?
Next up is Home which is the third and the last single off the upcoming CBNG –album with the Nice Guys. Then there are tracks coming out with 3pl B from South Africa plus we are producing an EP for a group called The Scribes from the U.K. There is also a producer record, which is complete and ready called What Beetlez!? coming out from us with a various artist line-up. We can't tell you any exact date yet for that but we are working on CBNG2 with Nice Guys. We have one big surprise that we are going to reveal soon so stay tuned.
Lastly, tell us your covid vinyl you could play on repeat without ever getting bored; why did you choose it, what relevance does it have to you or a moment in your life and how did you find said vinyl?
There are some records that you can listen to multiple times in a week but eventually they wear out. Records need a break too! But if we, as a unit, had to decide on a record to be played on a covid-island that would be Madvillainy (2004). It's so variable and interesting. That record relates to multiple moments in both of our lives. We found it in a late great record shop Levy-Eskot (levy = record in Finnish) in the city of Joensuu in Eastern Finland.
* We decided to put a soundcloud playlist together with some of the names who have influenced Cut Beetlez. Hope you like the tracks we chose.