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Spatts (The Criminal Minds) Interview

If you think you’re into oldskool but don’t know who The Criminal Minds are, you’re doing it wrong! These guys put out some of the best tunes to be released in oldschool’s heyday. Starting off as a hiphop act whose early releases now fetch princely sums of cash, The Criminal Minds transitioned into the rave scene and put out release after release of top-shelf b-boy influenced hardcore/jungle on labels like Whitehouse and Labello Blanco.
Thanks to Leo/DSP for collaborating on this interview, and to Spatts for doing it. Look out for future collaboration tunes between DSP and DJ Spatts!

How did Criminal Minds start? what were your primary hiphop influences?
Criminal Minds got together when most of the guys met at college. I was the exception as I’d dropped out of my A-levels and was already experimenting with tape deck mixes in the ubiquitous bedroom. I think I can speak for us all, when I say that we were strongly influenced by the “Bridge Wars”, BDP versus the Cold Chillin’ crew. That, more than anything made us get our shit together. It was the start of the golden age of hip hop. We got quite tight with Overlord X and his X-Posse, but other than that we were pretty isolated from the scene back then. This was probably a major factor in our unique sound.

The Criminal Minds – The Criminal

How did you find the rave scene?
We were introduced to the rave scene through our local record store. I heard some white labels and thought, that’s pretty cool, but it would sound better if I injected it with a major dose of hip hop fever. All the guys were involved in the metamorphosis. Halo and myself tackled the production duties and the rappers became mc’s to front the shit live. We never lost our roots and in fact we have just reformed to play a few Britcore festivals in Europe. Not just updates of the old material, but new hip hop too. Hamburg Aug 7th, watch out.

Were the hardcore/jungle Criminal Minds tracks always just you and DJ Halo, or were any other members involved in some tracks? What was your studio setup like?
It was just me and Halo on the production. The boys fronted the whole thing when we played out. Back then Halo and myself were a two-headed monster in the studio, but he did execute all of the scratching, apart from “hip hop tactician” on Urban Warfare. That was me.

All the early hip hop was put together on an Atari 1040, with an AVR 16 Sampling package, down onto a 4 track (cassette) where the cuts were added and then mixed down onto DAT. Primitive, but effective. Much later the Atari was running Cubase and we had an Akai S3000, Juno 160, EPS 16, Korg Wavestation. It was only when I was in Environmental Science that my kit list ballooned. It ended up looking like the inside of the TARDIS.

Unlike a lot of oldskool artists who used pretty standard breaks (amen and/or think break), CM seemed to have a lot more variety in your beats…any favorite under-appreciated (i.e. non-amen) breakbeats or break sources?
It was hip hop that introduced me to soul, funk and disco. Before that I was into post-punk (The Clash/Gang Of Four etc.) and a lot of synth stuff (Gary Numan/CAN/Brian Eno). These became our alternative sample sources. My favorite breaks are “Films” by Gary Numan, “Shack up” by Banbarra and “Mushroom” by CAN. Back then our naivety was our strongest weapon.

The Criminal Minds – Baptised By Dub

“Baptised By Dub” was such a massive track, any idea how many copies it sold in total between both the whitehouse and World Beat pressings? Why the release on whitehouse records in addition to the World Beat pressing? Regarding the matrix on that record… who was “John Brett” and why was he a wanker? 🙂
I don’t know how many it shifted between World Beat, Whitehouse and the numerous bootlegs. Plenty enough to keep me in sneakers, though. Whitehouse licensed the tune to give it a bigger distribution.

John Brett was a local music journalist who didn’t “get” us. He now works a police press officer and special constable. Nuff said.

How did the D’Cruze remix get hooked up? Did you ever talk to Suburban Base about releasing a full EP?
Halo was a big D’Cruze fan, so we swapped mixes. We almost went with Suburban Base, but in the end they must have not thought much to our tunes. So it didn’t happen.

“Mind Bombing” is probably my favorite Criminal Minds release.. there’s just a seemingly endless set of great samples, hooks and changeups which make the tunes a total joy to listen to. Did anything special go into production of this release, or was it written the same manner as all the EPs?
There was a lot of love in that record. Me and Halo were growing up production-wise. It was an album and I’m glad you like it. “One Way System” was my personal favorite.

The Criminal Minds – Joyrider 2
The Criminal Minds – One Way System

Was “Outlan UK” your and/or Halo’s label? I noticed the only two releases on there were by you.
It was my label. I set it up when no one else was interested (or allowed) to release my stuff. It bridged the gap until I set up Environmental Science and got involved with the so called legitimate side of the music business.

Now that it’s 15-18 years later, do you still rate much of the hardcore/jungle done back then, or do you see it as just a product of the times? What artist did you rate most back then?
For all of us back then, it was training for later times. It was just the same as when punk or hip hop first drew breath. Exciting, chaotic and not all of it worked, but to be part of it was priceless. 4 Hero’s talent stood out to me during those early years and history has proved me to be right. I really dig all of their stuff.

When did Criminal Minds officially stop working on tunes together, and what were the reasons?
In ’96, my love affair with jungle died (mostly). Like I said, We got Environmental Science together, which allowed me to get back to my roots, exploring the possibilities of beats, through trip hop, breaks and electro. Working with a new bunch of people, each with their own musical tastes and histories, gave me new life. It was the start of a golden period for me, musically and in life. I still miss the bedroom sessions with Halo, though.

After Criminal minds, you did quite a few other releases, mainly breaks and big beat. Any favorites of these? At what point did you stop producing altogether (or did you?) Are you still producing tunes? Any chance of more tunes done by you and Halo?
I’m really proud of the things on Skint and all the remixes (especially the remix of Megadeth). Also, all of the Dub Marines stuff and One Dead Jedi. I retired from the game in 2004. But now, it’s 2010 and I’m back with The Criminal Minds doing hip hop. My special project though, is Blood Sweat and Fears. It is album pulling together all of my influences, hip hop , breaks, punk, 70’s electronica, hardcore and dub. I’m working with a whole bunch of hero’s, including DSP, TCM, and a gang of live players. You should check us out on Sound Cloud:
Blood Sweat And Fears

I heard that you’re collecting classic arcade games now – any favorites you care to mention?
Yes, I was a collector. I had a Pac-man table, Strider, Scramble and Galaxians. They are long gone now, though.

Did you play any part in the post-2000 Criminal Minds hiphop EPs released on UK Rap and Vinylstore? Any idea if more of those will be done?
I wasn’t involved in that, but I’m back baby!

20 Replies to “Spatts (The Criminal Minds) Interview”

  1. What an awesome interview, stuff likes this makes this site the absolute best out there for underground old skool heads. Great depth and knowledge, I’m particularly interested in tracking down those breaks Spatts mentioned. Brilliant work.

    Also, “Running From Myself” from the Mindbombing EP is a totally underated classic, well worth picking up if you can find a copy!

  2. thanks for the great interview lads, if only they would produce hardcore breaks!! lol 😉

  3. If anyone is interested in my new project, check it out at Soundcloud, under “BloodSweatandFears” or contact me direct; Breaks and beats, the sound and syncopation of the drums, be it hip hop, hardcore or whatever, are like a martial art to me. Don’t make me kick your ass.

  4. thanks, I already posted a few of those in the above interview as well as a link to your blood sweat and fears page, however if you want me to post more of the tunes, just let me know which ones and I’ll add them above. Was tough to choose as they’re all choice 🙂

  5. Great read, nice one Pete, and big up Criminal Minds, made some of my favourite tunes =) proper ‘ardcore!

    Looking forward to checking out the new project

  6. I just thought I would let you know that a new Criminal Minds hip hop EP will be coming out on ‘Fathop’. It’s called ‘Regroup the loops’. The project mentioned in the interview as ‘Blood, Sweat and Fears’ is now retitled ‘The Secret Screens’ and is available through Itunes and CD Baby. Enjoy.

  7. Great to hear… let me know when you guys post that new music video, and I’ll link it on here!

  8. Excellent read, and big up Spatt’s 😉

    Was a World Beats regular back then, and can still remember being blown away by their second EP (Tales From the Wasteland) the first time when Picci played it in the shop – even though I was mainly buying rave/hardcore at that time, it was an instant buy upon hearing 🙂

    Not long after that of course came Inspired Generations and Baptised… Obviously the latter is the one everybody remembers as it was huge in 92, but lesser known releases like Mind Bombing are just as brilliant.

    I only picked up the Rephlex comp recently of all their early hip-hop stuff, and it still bought back amazing memories of those times!

  9. Great read, I love TCM! I would have liked to know how the reflex reissue of some early criminal minds stuff came about and how spatts felt about that. Thanks of this interview. I agree mind bombing is class and have a few copies of it – one with a big blim (or tony, if you’re from my way) burn in it that was not done by me.

  10. Great read, I love TCM! I would have liked to know how the reflex reissue of some early criminal minds stuff came about and how spatts felt about that. Thanks of this interview. I agree mind bombing is class and have a few copies of it – one with a big blim (or tony, if you’re from my way) burn in it that was not done by me. (My email addy is wrong in last comment – thus the repost)

  11. Brilliant interview , and wish it was longer -although as a pioneer of uk breakbeat styles and supporter of others and and an ambassador for all that’s creative I was surprised to read Spatts clearly credit himself for the ‘setting up’ of Outlan records ? If challenged on this I’m sure he could say that as the main artist on the label ,and so then in that respect it was his doing , idea or whatever …..but the fact is that he didn’t set it up. Obviously he may also say that readers would always assume there were people in the background doing some work towards the label , but those people did not work for Spatts and he had no input into the naming of the label , the company registering , artworks , finance and the hundred other aspects of work needed to secure any independent release.

    Spatts generously supplied the tracks but the label itself was set up by several other guys together , with the help of Jerry (now deceased) , vinyl distribution and EMI. So thought to clear this up cause it’s unfair for Spatts to appear credit himself solely for other people’s dedicated hard work . Hard work which without there would have been no Outlan Records.

    Utmost respect to Spatss – a musical genius

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