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Sticky Blood - Grime Culture Interview

Sheffield production duo Sticky Blood come together for an exclusive Grime Culture interview, following the release of their project "Blood Is Stickier Than Water". The former Arctic Monkeys bass guitarist, Andy Nicholson, and Jamie Shield discuss how they got together, their process when producing, advice for upcoming producers, thoughts on the current Grime scene, working with Coco and Snowy, their "Blood Is Stickier Than Water" EP and more!

Grime Culture: It's nice to meet you guys! Let's get started, for those that don't know, who are Sticky Blood?

Sticky Blood (Andy Nicholson): Sticky Blood is a production duo from Sheffield, consisting of myself Andy [Nicholson] and Jamie [Shield].

GC: So how did the name come about?

Sticky Blood (Jamie Shield): The name just came cause of the internal, like conversation where someone was eating something and someone said "Oh that gives you sticky blood, that" and someone said "You should call that production thing" and we was like kinda laughing about it and when we were struggling for ideas we spoke about that, laughed again and said "Should we just call it that anyway?" and we were like "Yeah! Cause why not?". So we just did and there's not much of an exciting reason.

GC: That's crazy, so how did the group even form?

Andy: The group formed because we were working on a collaborative project with two other called Clubs & Spades and we enjoyed working together so we just carried on working together and that's it! It took off from there really, we just started doing all that. 

Jamie: And then we just carried on like kept making music with Clubs & Spades but still started working with other people, as just us two on the buttons and whatever. And then, yeah we just kept going and thought we should do something of our own. Just doing this kind of stuff instead of being limited to the sound of what we were doing with Clubs & Spades and then it just kind of developed into a couple of projects and now it's a thing that even if we don't want to do anymore, we've got to really keep going with! [Laughs]. 

GC: What would you describe your music as? What genre?

Jamie: Erm... [Laughs and looks at Andy]

Andy: [Laughs] I would describe our genre of music as... a genre-less genre! It's mainly a sonic thing so the bases are there, the drums are there, the top end fizzles there, the vocals are there and that's really it. So they all got that, rather than a tempo or a locked thing.

Jamie: It's like the production style is the type of sounds, [but] it's not really, it could be anything. One day we might wake up and want to do a Drum & Bass project, who knows? We don't wanna say "Oh we can't do that!". As long as it ticks the boxes of what we do.

GC: So you guys have a lot of past experience with Clubs & Spades and Andy with the Arctic Monkeys, would you say that's helped?

Andy: I think our past experiences have helped us.

Jamie: It just helped us being at the very beginning of learning what "music industry" is.

Andy: Yeah, we've both been around a bit and been in studios and learned how to work professionally before, so...

Jamie: 10 years before, we were doing our own thing.

Andy: And also, [we] learned instruments. Not many people that do what we do can play the instruments that they need to play, whereas we a fair few amount of instruments between us so rather than sitting and prolonging things, we're actually on real instrumentals, playing real things.

GC: What program and instruments do you guys make music on?

Both: Ableton!

Jamie: Yeah it's taken a while but we're both fully Ableton converted!

Andy: Instrument of choice? 

Jamie: I don't know? It's a bit Synthie now.

Andy: Yeah, it's probably Synthia.

Jamie: Yeah, we'll probably get the guitars back out after a bit but it's good to get away from that cause you get use to shapes that you play, whereas when you're in a different world you have to make up a new way to make music. It's just fun, sometimes you get things you wouldn't do.

Andy: Or maybe learning a new instrument.

Jamie: Maybe that'll be a good thing!

GC: So why is Ableton the choice for you guys?

Andy: Well for me, it's cause we're on Apples and I use to use Logic. Jamie use to use Logic and Jamie converted to Ableton and for years he's been trying to get me to get on it and like the past few months I've been kinda gave in and got on it and I do like it. I can just do things in there quickly.

Jamie: That's all it is.

Andy: That's all it is. All those programs are exactly the same, it's just what you feel more comfortable working in. 

Jamie: Fruity Loops is cool. 

GC: Any advice for upcoming producers and beat makers? 

Jamie: I would say be willing to give up as much as your time as you can. If you can manage without a full time job and you can just, somehow, find a way to get money and just fund your life and things you have to do then as much time as you can give to it, give to it! And, like, be sensible.

Andy: Yeah you get out what you put in and that's very true. If you're 14 and you're in your bedroom and you have no bills to pay, start learning something. Put as much time in it now cause when real life kicks in, you've got bills to pay and you've got to pay them.

GC: Would you say it's easier to make the music together or on your own?

Andy: I think it's easier to do it on your own. 

Both: Because you don't have anyone to answer to!

Andy: You don't have to wait around for anyone 

Jamie: You don't have to compromise your ideas to spare someone's feelings.

Andy: But, when working with someone else, there is something that happens that you would never do on your own. Like he might do something and I might do something else to it and he might do something else and the next thing you know, it's something completely different as to what we wanted it to be or started but it's a new direction so it's not always good working with different people. 

Jamie: It's not always the way but it's good to have that option. 

Andy: I don't think there's a better or worse but I definitely think there's a lot more freedom when you work on your own, but also because you're doing it on your own, you're your own boss. Like if we're working together, I can say we need to do this or he can say we need to do this but if we're on our own, we don't need to say that to ourselves. 

Jamie: Yeah.

GC: So I assume there's a lot of arguments then!

Both: [Laughs]

Andy: Yes, there are regular arguments but it's always striving for the best of what we can get, that's why those arguments happen. 

Jamie: Yeah, there's gonna be like [arguments]. And we work closely, and have done for years. So now it's kind of past that thing. There's nothing I can say to him or he can say to me that's overstepping the boundaries, I don't think. We've overstepped the boundaries. There's probably like the crucial 3 on either side. There's three things he can't say to me and there's three things I can't say to him, that's ultimate disrespect [laughs]. 

GC: Now I guess it's safe to say you pay attention to the Grime scene at the moment?

Jamie: We pay attention to the Grime scene don't we?

Both: [Laughs]

Andy: We're proper fans of it, that's the reason why. We pay the most attention to it because we're fan of it and we like the sound of it and like what's happening. Yeah, it's not all amazing but it's not all shit. It's alright, it's got its good stuff and bad stuff.

Jamie: I think it's in a healthy place isn't it?

GC: So why choose Coco and Snowy to get on Blood Is Stickier Than Water?

Jamie: Coco is someone what we go back with, like 6 years or something. So we've always like working with him on and off as he's been doing his thing. And for that reason we've were in London, we hadn't had the chance to work with him, cause he's recently moved here so just for the fact that we was recording in London and was like it'll be a good excuse for all to get together. And Snowy is also another guy that's coming through from Nottingham and we've got connections [to].

Andy: He was introduced to us through Redbull really, we spoke to [his management] up there, we ended up doing some songs and it's good and he's a nice guy so we got him to come back down and stuff so, yeah.

You can catch the full interview coming to the Dice Recordings TV YouTube channel.

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