In Conversation With… Charlie Tappin

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Where did you grow up? Has music always been a big part of your life

I got into playing the piano through my sister from quite a young age. My mum plays, my nan would play, my auntie sings in choirs, so a lot of my family are musical but quite traditional. So classical and choir stuff. Got into playing the piano through my sister, and started more down the classical route, by early secondary, late primary. But I lost touch with it by the end of secondary school.

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What was your mindset going into your debut EP – Ashes to Ashes, and the ideas around the artwork?

I hadn’t made these four tunes to be part of a release, I was in Bristol at the time, and it came out of jam sessions. I had a whole load of music and then my hard drive corrupted and, I thought I had lost everything but managed to find a secret folder with some files in them.

So I used those files to make the tracks for the EP, I had good feedback from it, and so, fancied doing something with them. So, they came out of little jams and, I managed to salvage them from a corrupt hard drive, but it’s been 3-4 years since I started making them, so it has been quite a long process.

When we started talking about the release, Melting Pot asked whether I had ideas and people in mind for the artwork, and in the lead up to it I had a strong idea to have pictures of my time in Tanzania on the artwork for it.

How did your trip to Tanzania influence the project?

We went initially in 2015 and climbed Kilimanjaro, I stayed on afterwards to volunteer at a school for two months. I’ve been back to the school 2 or 3 times, so I took samples of loads of performances at the mountains, as well as, the children singing. Music is such an integral part of African life and I wanted to bring a sense of that into the release.

I had a vivid idea of what I wanted the artwork to look like and had taken a few pictures while I was out there. Then, I was drawn to the artist – Tilly through the Yazmin Lacey release and messaged her on a whim, sent her a few pictures, and I was just blown away by the first draft. It was completely how I wanted it! She incorporated all the little things of the pictures I took and made it look amazing.

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What’s your relationship like with Summers Sons, were the two involved much in the process of making it?

I’ve known them my whole life. I live with Turt now, and we lived together in Bristol for three years. We grew up together, went to same schools, we work well together, and its easy to bounce ideas off each other.

Turt was on the last tune, which was a different vibe to what he does with Slim, so it was a lot more fun to do. Like, we played around with vocals a lot more and experimented a lot more than we’re used to. I always wanted to try get them involved in the project some way, so it was nice to have Slim do a remix and have Turt involved in the last track. Obviously, I was living with Turt at the time, so in a roundabout way had an influence on the music.

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How had living in London affected your music, in comparisons to when you were living in Bristol

I guess in Bristol everything is so chilled and I think my creative flow is reflected in this EP, which was made when I was living in Bristol. I started a lot of these jams in the summer, so that influenced the release a lot. Now I’m in London, I haven’t been making as much music since I’ve been in London, I’ve been focusing on a lot of half projects which need to finish, as well as other things on the go with Summers Sons.

I suppose living in London you can get caught up in hectic pace of it but I have been seeing a lot more live music, which is why I wanted to move here.

What’s your relationship like with Melting Pot, how did you get in touch with them

Well, it’s quite relaxed, it’s not an official contract or anything. We just got a great relationship with Olski, the manager. We were always massive fans of the label, and it was really a defining label for us in Hip Hop, and it was sort of at the forefront in Germany with some huge records, so we were big fans of them. From that, we managed to make some sort of contact with Twit One, when he was playing in England. Turt went down, met him and struck a relationship with him. Then we started making some beats and sent him some stuff.

We recorded it, and he eventually just flew us out to Cologne to do a boat party. So, he introduced us to Olski, and we said we got the album Uhuru ready to go if you fancy listening to it.. he really liked it, and so the relationship built from there.

Your relationship with Melting Pot has grown your following in Germany, in particular Cologne, how does the scene compare to London’s music scene?

I really enjoy it, there’s a big scene there. It was really popping off maybe eight years ago with Hulk Hodn, Suff Daddy, Twit One, and Max Graef. It is quite similar to Bristol in a lot of ways, it’s quite small, everyone knows everyone. So, if you’re really into what’s going on in the scene already, then it’s amazing to be there.

Have you performed there?

Yeah, we’ve performed there a few times now, probably more times there than anywhere else! Because of the way that the records have been promoted, it’s mainly done in Germany, So, we’ve almost have a stronger following with Summers Sons in Germany because of our relationship with Melting Pot.

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Have you played in any other cities outside Cologne and London so far?

Yeah, we joined the Children of Zeus for three days in Hamburg, Frankfurt and Berlin. We had a really good laugh, all in the van together having a good time having some jokes they are really nice guys. It was amazing.

“They are incredible to see live; they’ve had a massive influence on us now. Watching them play live, performing three – four nights in a row definitely come out of free four nights in a row, was an amazing experience for us.”

I know you said the relationship with Melting Pot is all kind of casual but do you feel like in future, it’ll be important to release music independently?

Yeah absolutely, I think every artist really would love to do that. Part of it is about how much time and effort you want to put into that because it’s going to probably detract from the amount of time you can put into making music. So, you’ve got to have the right team around you with a similar vision.

“We’ve got our thing going with Lightworks, with me, Summers Sons, Yanis, my cousin; Ted who does Latent Clothing, and Lucienne who does graphic animation. That’s the core group of us, It’s just about the right timing. So, when everyone’s sort of ready, and that’s what’s been good about moving back to London is we’re all together now.”

I know you’re very much into your jazz at the moment, but is there anyone who you are listening to outside of that scene?

“Yeah, I’ve been listening to music from Mali in west Africa but a lot jazz at the moment to be honest. This week’s been a good week for jazz with the new Alfa Mist album, and Ezra Collective, I think those guys are incredible. It’s a live album, so you know if you go to see that live it’s going to be kicking off!”

Been listening to Yasmin Lacey a lot, she released through First Word Records as well, and then Makaya McCraven, the Universal Beings album is sick.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Hiatus Kayote as well recently, I just think the way she sings is unbelievable, and way she uses her vocals, along with the song structure is amazing. She’s also got her solo project, which is mainly her on the guitar, and its proper raw, the way she uses her vocals is insane.

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So, in a more realistic sense who would like to collaborate most with? If you were going to be on the piano and you wanted have someone sing, or rap, and play any other instruments in your track.

For drums, I’d love to get Moses Boyd involved in something, in terms vocals I’d love to get the lead singer from Hiatus Kayote because she would do something mad! In terms of UK I would love to collaborate with Nubya Garcia on the saxophone as well.

Do you follow the Grime scene or drill scene at all, any artists from their or even hip hop you would love to collaborate with to rap over a production?

Not much now, but when I was in school, I followed Kano and Dizzy but haven’t really kept up to date with it in the last few years…

Any hip hop artists..?

Well, I’ve got the Summers Sons!

I’m a bit out touch with the UK hip-hop scene, I’ve been a lot more focused on the jazz scene but from America I listen to J Cole, Kendrick but that’s about it. Anderson Paak, Mac Miller but all the sort of hip hop I listen to is the old stuff like, Black Star and Mos Def for me is one of the best, someone who can do it all… All of the Soulquarians, like D’Angelo and Erykah Badu, but that’s all the US stuff I listen to I’m not really up to date with that.

Finally, what have you got planned for the rest of the year music wise?

All stuff with summers sons at the moment but trying to get something of my own going, it’s just about finding the time. We’ll be supporting Melodiesinfonie in a couple weeks, going to Meadows in the Mountain. Couple shows in June, and then we got a friend of ours doing a festival in his garden at the end of the year, and his got Mouse Outfit performing!

Check out album below:

Author: Kofi Yeboah

I'm a Music & Culture Journalist, and DJ from London. I worked in radio, events promotions, and content production. .

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