Mr Fantastic Interview
Thank you for your guest mix for the show. Can you tell us about some of the 45s you included in the mix and why you selected them?
The theme for the mix was just to be not Hip Hop 45’s as I recently did a Hip Hop mix for the Live From the Grove guys so wanted variety for anyone listening to both shows. My 45 boxes are all in the stackable Really Useful Boxes and although not really in any order they are in themes so I have Hip Hop boxes by age, James Brown and related box, multiple 60’s & 70’s Soul Funk Jazz boxes and modern Soul Funk Jazz so I picked one of the 60’s & 70’s Soul Funk Jazz boxes at random and stuck to records from that one only. It’s about 50/50 of stone cold classics such as Rusty Bryant, Manzel and Wilbur Bascombe and some deeper gems like Berry Street Station, Melvin Jackson and the raw funky Blues joint by Mr Bo and a mix of vocal and instrumental songs with a few famously sampled for the geeks – all original pressings for the cork sniffers out there.
You run the superb AE Productions label which includes releases from two of my favourite artists Jorun Bombay and Phil Most Chill. When did you first set up the label, what does it promote and what releases do you have in the works?
AE Productions was established back in 1999 between 6 of us. Myself, Truck and Gee Swift were Beat Route 38 and with Gee’s cousin Supreme Shar (of Def Defiance) along with DJ Krome and IDS who at the time were a duo called Twin Physics, got together as Alien Earth to record an EP to learn the process of manufacturing and distributing a vinyl release with only plans to release our own music. After the EP Shar and IDS didn’t really continue with music at the same level although Shar did record a guest verse on the 2nd BR38 12″. DJ Krome moved to Bristol from Devon a while later and joined BR38 and due to a typo in a magazine review changed his name to ‘Dr Krome’ as we thought it fitted as a kind of sparing partner for Mr Fantastic and also then none of us in BR38 had an ‘MC’ or ‘DJ’ in our names. After the 2nd BR38 12″ – our 3rd release we all got busy with other projects and disbanded as BR38 as far as recording but kept working together. Truck worked on Folk Hip Hop project Race The Bus with a guitarist and also produced the soundtrack for a Snowboarding DVD. Gee Swift worked with our good friend Rola (of the Numskullz and Def Defiance) and formed The Konfectionists with Project Cee (of Def Defiance/B-Line Recordings) and later The Journeymen alongside Coherent (later in S.O.E with myself) releasing albums on Ruztik records and with Dr Krome handling turntable duties for a ton of Ruztik releases. I joined Hundred Strong as DJ and got busy with recording and a couple UK tours but also started working on producing my ‘Harvey’s Bristol Cream’ album that was later released on Ruztik but manufactured by AE. At this point it seemed that hardly any independent Hip Hop albums were released on vinyl but a few labels such as DWG were doing limited releases so after a break of a several years I restarted AE myself. Truck has continued to help out in the background with manufacturing but Dr Krome retired from DJing focusing more on collecting rare vinyl and Gee Swift continued working with Ruztik and solo projects. One thing led to another and AE ended up releasing other artists such as the Fabreeze Brothers, Jorun PMC, Aroma, Oxygen, NiLLa and Cut Beetlez releases. I like to release projects that I think are a little different to what other labels are releasing so that at least we’re not all just doing the same thing. There’s an ever growing list of projects to release which has caused me to have to reject a few good projects purely as it would take me years to get around to them which wouldn’t be fair on the artists who want the projects out asap. One project that I’m working on is a compilation EP of exclusive tracks by artists that have releases on AE plus more of my own projects along with a couple new signings such as the next drop – a 12″ by New York underground legend Emskee.
My Mr Fantastic moniker came from a mildly rare skin condition that I have where it has more elasticity than normal which affects about 1 in half a million people, so I’ve read. While out at a pub many years ago someone asked me to show everyone else my rubber skin stretching thing where I stretch my face – so I obliged and someone immediately pointed out that I was ‘like the guy from the Fantastic Four’. Being a Marvel comic and specifically a Fantastic Four fan I replied with ‘you mean Mr Fantastic‘ and it stuck as these things do. People recommended that I use it as my DJ name but I didn’t really like the idea at first as I thought it sounded a bit braggadocios but as I earned the name and didn’t chose it and kind of suits me I went with it and grew to like it as I didn’t have ‘DJ’ in my name as most other DJ’s had so was a little different. I’m glad I kept it now as I think ‘Mr‘ sounds more relevant as a producer.
What would you say were the top 5 45s releases in 2020 that we should pick up and why?