Interview: Coldcut on Ninja Tune's 20th anniversary
Ninja Tune XX
Remember back in July when we brought you news of seminal electronic label Ninja Tune’s massive 20th anniversary box-set? Well the Ninja Tune XX set is now with us, and the London-based label’s birthday celebrations are well and truly under way.
To celebrate we’ve caught up with Ninja Tune founders, bosses and legendary producers in their own right Coldcut, to talk us through their ten personal highlights from the label’s expansive back catalogue.
The hip-hop/electronica duo, Jon More and Matt Black, formed Ninja Tune back in 1990 to escape the confines of major record labels. Ten years on Ninja Tune - along with its offshoot labels Big Dada, Ntone and Counter Records - has become a cornerstone of electronic music internationally.
Scroll through our gallery to listen to the ten tracks that More and Black have picked as their personal Ninja highlights.
Ninja Tune’s anniversary celebrations continue with a season of special events around the world, check out the full listings here.
First up: Jon More picks...
Amon Tobin - 4 Ton Mantis
“Dark, scary, claustrophobic, rousing, funky and a floor filler that gets you out of your comfort zone. Amon's brooding soundscapes always deliver.
“Used in computer game soundtracks and on many television programs this jazz-techno-jungle track is in a category all of its own.”
Listen: Amon Tobin - 4 Ton Mantis
Mr Scruff - Get A Move On
“What can you say? Rush to the dance floor, it’s a stomper! One of our most popular tunes, Mr Scruff’s funky meld of Moondog and Shifty Henry samples with his own unique musical feel and skill with melodic basslines.
"This has become a Ninja classic and, for many, an introduction to our label. Mr Scruff may have trimmed his facial hair but his DJ touring schedule is impressive and we have just released his latest funk-bomb with Kirsty Almeida - Pickled Spider - a bass-bin wobbler and a future classic.”
Listen: Mr Scruff - Get A Move On
Saul Williams - Not In My Name
“We are proud to be part of the Not In My Name campaign then, now and forever. Another protest song, this diverse protest campaign against the stupidity of war was given a voice by Saul Williams. We all felt that by publishing this manifesto it would be a strong contribution to spreading the message.”
Listen: Saul Williams - Not In My Name
Funky Porcini - It's A Long Road
"Kind of epitomised a certain moment in the evolution of the scene when a lot of people taking ecstasy realised they could have an even better time just chilling out. It’s got a very lushed-up feeling to it."
Listen: Funky Porcini - It's A Long Road
Emika - Drop The Other
“The sound of young Ninja; a wonderful fusion of past, present and future. Emika brings us right up to date, with a heady fusion of slippery sounds and washes of song.
“This is a pure Ninja with abstract, wonky electronic songs and edgy content. I’m looking forward to the album; I’ve heard the future and won’t stop listening.”
Listen: Emika - Drop The Other
Steinski & Mass Media - It's Up To You
“Written about the state of the first Iraq war but still relevant to what’s going on today. Samples the wonderful film Network, which is Coldcut recommended viewing. It also features some marvellous rants against the establishments.
“Steinski is, of course, the cut-up originator who inspired Coldcut to cut-up ourselves. His eclecticism, precision and most of all sense of humour pretty much defined the frame of what we were trying to do in the early days.”
Listen: Steinski & Mass Media - It's Up To You
DJ Vadim - Your Revolution (feat Sarah Jones)
“Our Russian hip-hop revolutionary releases what is truly a great combination of architectural programming and tuff beats, with skilled and intelligent oratory from Sarah Jones.
"Your Revolutionhas roused many arguments, been banned by the FCC in America and splitsopinion to this very day -the sign of a classic protest song. Seek out the acapella and give it new life.”
Listen: DJ Vadim - Your Revolution (feat Sarah Jones)
Roots Manuva - Juggle Tings Proper
“A modern day prophet and genius commentator on the state of play in the UK and beyond; he’s the leading UK poet, let alone rapper. This track, which is a forerunner to his classic tune Witness, sets out the stall for his instantly recognizable style.”
Listen: Roots Manuva - Juggle Tings Proper
Cinematic Orchestra - Channel 1 Suite
“J. Swinscoe started as an intern at Ninja Tune, graduated to a job and learnt the business, then left and formed the Cinematic Orchestra. A really successful live unit, the Cinematic Orchestra tread a singular path, so as to fully slow down and take in the beauty.
“It is so hard to choose one release over another butChannel 1 Suitestill does me up every time I hear it -deeper than deep.”
Listen: Cinematic Orchestra - Channel 1 Suite
Coldcut & Hexstatic - Timber (Seiji remix)
"I met Seiji recently as part of the Energy Union, a project I’ve been doing about renewable energy. He came and did a gig with us in Ljubljana, where he said he was interested in doing an audiovisual show. I went round to help him in London, we had a great evening together and I showed him Timber which he hadn't seen and he loved it, it was a last minute addition to the Ninja Tune XX Box-Set.”
Listen: Coldcut & Hexstatic - Timber (Seiji remix)
The Ninja Tune XX box-set is available now. To buy or to check out the full listings of Ninja Tune's anniversary events head over to the label's site.
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