After bursting on to the scene back in 2009 with a series of heavyweight EPs and the release of 'Secret Level', a track now synonymous with his name, Teeza is a producer ready to branch out. Speaking with reassuring maturity and infectious enthusiasm, we caught up on everything from 'Music 2000' on the PS One to trying his hand at emceeing and listening to 'The Script':
"I didn't actually drop my first instrumental release until 2009 and even then that was to just to get my name out. I've been doing music and making beats for a long time but back then I wasn't putting anything out and focused more on doing lots of radio sets and whatever. I first put the 'Morteezas' EP out and that got a couple of thousand downloads I think and from there, I put the 'EskiDubz' EP together which I built around lots of Wiley remixes I'd done. It was 'Secret Level' that did it for me though - that tune got a bit of love and my name finally got recognised, it was my way in! Since then I've just been working hard, doing lots of work with different people - I've put out my own tracks, remixed a few things and produced for emcees like Maxsta and Dot Rotten. As far as deejaying goes, I'm yet to get the chance to deejay at a rave but it's something I want to get back into - I started out as a deejay back in the day so it'd be nice!"
TEEZA - SECRET LEVEL
Despite lacking major releases, Teeza has found himself involved with music for almost ten years, after first taking to a pair of decks when he was just 14:
"Back in the day, I'd say sorta 2001 or so, my older brother was in a crew called 'Ultra Violet' and they used to record sets at this deejay's house quite a bit. I went along one day while they were recording and found myself just bubblin' to the music, watching the deejay and thinking, 'yeah that looks fun'! Don't forget it was all garage back then too so it was garage that I first started to experiment with. I ended up just asking the deejay if he could show me how everything worked and that was it, I was hooked. He had a pair of belt-drive decks so I started to practice on those and within a few hours or so, I was mixing tunes and blending things together. I was still in school at this time and few friends were starting to get into emceeing and I remember one particular day, one of the guys passed by the deejay's house where we'd always be - he saw me deejaying and was like 'raaaahhhhh!' and from there, we started 'Crisis Crew' and I started to produce too. I actually first started out on 'Music' and then 'Music 2000' on the PS One (laughs) and then yeah, it caught my interest and that was it really. I don't know how all these things came together really, I just learnt - all this music stuff seems to come to me from somewhere but I've no idea how or why! A year or so passed and after making a few beats, we all went down to do a show at Ladbroke Grove with some Sony A & R people sniffing about - they wanted to sign us apparently but we were all way too young and our parents weren't too keen. After that, it wasn't long before we all started to go our separate ways and the crew died out - I got into pirate radio around my area and back then it was just something to do, a hobby I was good at. Music was always the thing I enjoyed most when I was young though and I even tried my hand at emceeing in 2002-2003!"
As a producer, Teeza doesn't feel he needs to restrict himself to one particular genre or area of production either. With a genuine interest in utilising different sounds within his work and eclectic personal taste, he's produced for some of the biggest emcees in the scene as well as putting out instrumental remixes of the likes of Rihanna:
"I'm just a music lover, a crazy kinda music guy you know?! I don't feel i should have to stick to one thing - I listen to so much music, from stuff by Dot Rotten and Scorcher right the way along to Detroit Hip Hop and some days, it'll even be 'Muse' and 'The Script', I guess I'm a bit random really! People will see my Itunes or whatever and are like, 'What the hell are you listening to?!' but if a tune has a good melody or a certain sound I like or even decent ad-libs then I'll enjoy listening - i appreciate all the different elements and I'll try to incorporate bits of what I hear into my own production. It won't always be the same sounds or melodies but the same vibe or a similar energy or style you know? There'll be days when I'll be listening to Gangsta Rap and others where I'm kicking back to some RnB - it just depends on my mood but I pick up things from everything i listen to. To be honest, I listen to more Hip Hop than anything else but I make more Grime, basically because I always have done and it's what I'm used to. I'm well known for Grime now too and I've got a collection of beats stretching back years and years!"
Looking at the current scene today, Teeza is positive and hopeful for the future but feels more power to the producer is required in order for Grime to progress fully:
"'I've followed the scene from the day it started really. It made big progress between sorta 2002 and 2006 but then it kinda fell off a bit - raves died out, pirate radio stations started to lose their appeal with the Internet taking over and grime really did suffer, it lost its way. From that, people within the scene and even listeners started to lose interest but thankfully it's managed to recover. One of the things that's changed the most for me is the control element - it used to be the case that beats were made specifically for emcees, who in turn had all the power and influence and took the plaudits for what ever they chose to put out. Today, it's kinda shifted a bit, producers have a lot more control now - deejays can now play one hundred percent instrumental shows if they want to! To be honest, I quite like where the scene is now though - I like the fact people are starting to embrace the bubbly, bouncy side of grime again but I'm not especially keen on all the vocal stuff at the minute. Having said that, I was one of the guys who complained about people being 'washed up' for 'selling out' and making pop records so i guess it's good that more traditional grime is back on the rise. I've now got the oversight to understand why people chose to go and do different things too - I guess I was just disillusioned for a while. The instrumental 'hype' element is making a big comeback too and that's really good to see.
In order for grime to make the progress it needs to make though, I think more producers need to come to the fore. There are so many emcees around but hardly any exciting, innovative producers and it does have an impact. People attach more prestige to being an emcee but production is just as, if not more important so i think it'd be beneficial to see more people take up production. There isn't enough of an outlet on radio either - there are very few commercial deejays who'll spin grime. Logan is the obvious one and guys like MistaJam and Cameo do their bit too but even then, you can't help think that grime still remains a pretty underground, under-valued genre. I guess it's hard to say really, I do sometimes wonder what's gonna happen to the scene but I reckon it'll carry on doing as well as it is at the moment.
On a final point, I also reckon producers should start putting their own work out far more too - it'd be nice to see a few compilation albums and CDs up for sale to showcase some of the work we all do and get some recognition! I'm looking to bring together a project consisting of mainly instrumental tracks at the moment in the style of 'Burial' - the way he uses chopped up vocals here and there to enhance his production is just sick. It's hard to get everything recorded without your own studio though!"
Looking forward to next twelve months on a personal note, Teeza's main focus is to continue working in the same vain, whilst at the same time taking every opportunity that comes his way:
"I've got a few EPs lined up at the moment. The 'Bounce' EP is due out at the end of this month (February) and I've got the 'Next Crud' EP coming out on 'Boogaloo City' at some point over the next few months - I'm not sure of an exact release date yet but i anticipate it'll be March/April. I've got a track called 'The Setup' coming out on 'Triangulum Records' which DJ Cable is involved with! Besides that it's just a case of putting out lots of work, working on stuff for people's albums and making as much music as I can. It'd be good to really get into album work and play a part in making proper songs but it's hard because I make such a variety of music, I can never stay doing one thing for too long. Having said that, I've hopefully got some work for Wretch's album to do - I saw him at Maida Vale when he was recording down there for 1Xtra and we're definitely gonna get some work done. I've always wanted to work with Devlin too - he's been one of my favourite emcees for a long time so hopefully something will come of that one day. I'm hyped to work with some of the up and coming singers like Yasmin too - I basically want to work with loads of artists!
TEEZA - 'BOUNCE' EP
It'd be nice to get more radio exposure this year too! I've got a guest mix to put together for MistaJam's show over the next few weeks which is a really big look so I'm hyped to get that done - hopefully that'll help get the name out even more. I'm also working on a showcase concept with Cameo - I think I'm gonna be on his show one night to chat about music and everything that's doing well at the moment, as well as airing some of my own tracks. I also did an interview for a program called 'What's Up?' that's due to get aired on Sky 3 - it was put together by a youth project group and they managed to interview guys like Lowkey and Ed Sheeran amongst others. I want to branch out UK-wise too - I quite like a few Midlands guys like 'Romo' who's starting to get some attention and I know some emcees and producers from Manchester so it'd be good to get involved with them. Do you know what, I might even try and branch out overseas too (laughs) - optimism! That is the eventual goal though - I'd like to be known internationally for my work, not necessarily in terms of being famous, just having that recognition as an artist."
TEEZA SOUNDCLOUD - http://soundcloud.com/teezamusic
LOOK OUT FOR THE 'BOUNCE' EP + 'NEXT CRUD' EP RELEASES OVER THE NEXT FEW MONTHS!