With over 10 years of professional experience under his belt already, DJ Snips is one of the UK’s most prominent prolific DJ’s and producers. A co-founder of London’s popular, preeminent and hugely respected Hip Hop night, Livin Proof – now in it’s sixth year; Snips has co-run the hosting of artists ranging from ASAP Rocky, Danny Brown, Flatbush Zombies, Hudson Mohawke and more.
Beginning at legendary London record store Deal Real, where he ran the open mic night alongside British host and comedian Doc Brown, Snips’s years there saw him DJing alongside performances from several US heavy hitters including Kanye West, Mos Def and the Black Eyed Peas.
Spending a year in various residencies across NYC, 2009 saw him spinning at world renowned venues including The Pyramid, The Delancey Lounge, The Knitting Factory, The Sputnik Lounge, Sutra and Santos Party House. Notably, Snips has also spun alongside NY legends such as Evil D, Sucio Smash, Just Blaze, Questlove and Tony Touch.
When Snips isn’t touring or on the club circuit, he’s known for churning out beats for some of the most talented MCs on both sides of the Atlantic. His production work includes tracks for several major US recording artists including M1 (Dead Prez), Shady Records recording artist Cashis, Capadonna (Wu Tang), Sean Price, Strong Arm Steady, Skyzoo and Sha Stimuli. Back home in the UK, Snips has worked with several UK heavyweights including SAS, Master Shortee, MOBO award winner Sway Desafo, Baby Blue, Stylah, Doc Brown, Skinnyman and Lowkey as well as London’s new wave artists Catch’em, Its Nate and Piff Gang.
What are your earliest memories of music?
Getting shouted at by my Dad for trying to touch his record player. My first word was “No” and that was actually a response to my Dad telling me to stop. That and being bought a 7 inch of Sophia Georges “Girlie Girlie” When I was 5 years old by Mum. First record I owned.
What first got you into DJing?
I actually wanted to be a producer first so DJing was kinda my right of passage. I used to listen to my parents records and recognise the samples and I basically just thought “I can do that”.
Who were your influences coming up?
I would say, DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Funk Flex + Tony Touch. As far as the direct influences I was checking for in London I would say Shortee Blitz, Manny Norte, DJ Swing and Pogo.
You moved from Sydney to London in the late 90’s was it hard adjusting to life over there?
Yes and no. I was born in the UK so most of family is here so adjusting to life here was no issue. Breaking into the Club/Hip Hop scene was a different story
Was it hard breaking into London’s Hip Hop scene and how did you make a name for yourself?
Yes, very hard. Literally took years to get any love here! Deal Real Records in London’s West End was definitely where I got my start and that was always a spring board for me. Going to college with Reveal was how ended up being on board with the Poisonous Poets. After moving to NYC I also made a few mutual friends with people who were around Mega and Mayhem from SAS which is what led me to a chance meeting with Mega back in London and how I ended up part of Eurogang as well.
When did you release you could make music a full time job?
I always knew it would be but it took until 2005 for it to become a reality for me.
You worked at the infamous Deal Records store how much of a help was that to your career and what were some of the highlights working there?
Deal Real is probably the most important think to happen to as far as my career is concerned. The highlight was definitely DJing for Kanye West and Mos Def
You lived and worked in New York for a year back in 2009 what did you learn the most from your time out there?
The most important thing I learned in NY was that people in NY do not care about anything outside of NY so going there and trying to infiltrate their scene is pointless. Made me realise how important it is to make a name for myself in London.
Having lived in both London and New York what are the pros and cons of trying to make a career in Hip Hop in each city?
Obviously in NY there is a lot more scope but then I feel musically London is one of the most musically progressive cities in the world. Creatively London, Financially NY.
You have produced for a host of UK & US MC’s what track is your favourite and why?
I’m always gonna say SAS as I feel their understanding of how to make non regionally biased music is something a lot of people in the UK lack. I feel like the records I’ve done for them could sit in a mix alongside whatever big US records are currently out right now
How much does production play in your life right now?
It took a back seat for a while but this year it is definitely my priority
You run Livin’ Proof one of London’s best Hip Hop club nights which recently celebrated its 6th birthday what is the secret to it’s success?
Honestly, stubbornness. Everyone said no one wanted a Hip Hop night and we stuck at it. All those people now line up to get into Livin’ Proof every month
What has been some of the most memorable nights so far?
The ASAP Rocky show was insane and Danny Brown performing and getting a hand job on stage was nuts (no pun intended) My fav night though was when Just Blaze DJed and Alchemist plus Action Bronson turned up and Bronson just jumped on and performed unannounced.
What are your thoughts on the UK Hip Hop scene and what one thing does it need right now?
It’s very stale. A whole of French Montana wannabees rapping over the same sounding production about the same topics but then to be fair that is only a mirror of the stale state of Hip Hop in the US also
What UK acts should we be looking out for?
SAS, Piffgang, ItsNate, Catch Em, CAS
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
DJ Premier being a fan of a track i produced and asking me to send him some beats
What’s been the best piece advice ever given to you?
“Failure only exists when you give up” – Was probably the most important thing anyones ever said to me
What does the future hold for DJ Snips?
A lot more production based projects. I have a 90s RnB Remix project that is close to finished so be on the lookout for that
What’s your definition of Grindin’?
Doing whats necessary to succeed without compromise
Interview by Duggs