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.
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.
“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
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!