Skool of Thought: Pronounced ‘skool uv thot’
It is one thing to name oneself after a philosophical system, or a religious belief, or even a ritual. It is an entirely different league to name oneself after that which can describe all of these simultaneously! Lloyd Seymour did exactly that when he whimsically anointed himself Skool of Thought. Rumor has it an interviewer asked Krafty Kuts, Seymour’s business partner and friend, what his particular school of thought was in production. Finding this absolutely ridiculous, Seymour entitled himself with what he found to be most ironic, most satirical and most misleading.
On the forefront lines of nu-skool breaks, Seymour received much adulation for pushing his style of breaks forward with the breaks night ‘Carnage’ back in ‘97. Since then, he has gone on to the big leagues with his genre-spanning DJ skills, his unique productions and remixing and his labels, ‘Against the Grain’ and ‘Supercharged’. Along the way, Seymour met Krafty Kuts in his record shop when he moved to Brighton and immediately hit it off, forming a long-standing business relationship and friendship. Together they run they the two labels.
Seymour and Krafty Kuts also produce together occasionally, their greatest success being with the Sound Check single. Solo, Seymour has had just as much success with productions such as Feel the Music and his immensely successful remixes of Groove Armada’s Superstylin’ and Beastie Boys’ Fight for Your Right. The reasoning behind having the two breaks labels is that they differ in status. ‘Against the Grain’ is for the more high profile releases, whilst ‘Supercharged’ is for the more underground tracks. ‘Against the Grain’ is most notably home to The Freestylers, whose single Push Up was one of the biggest songs of this year.
Quite a few tricks are hidden up Seymour’s sleeve and a few cards are to be dealt shortly. End of January will see the third release in a series called Heavyweight Breaks, which features all the artists one would expect, namely Plump DJs, Krafty Kuts, Freestylers, etc., etc. ITM’s Marquee Moon nabbed the chance to find out what School of Thought’s thoughts (!?!) are on the state of breaks, what he really thinks of The Freestylers’ latest Fabric album and what you can expect from him in the upcoming year.
ITM- The near future will see the release of Heavyweight Breaks Vol.3. Will the third installment follow in the same vein as the first two? How does this one separate itself from the others?
Seymour– It has taken a slightly different direction, still heavyweight breaks just like it says on the tin but I have injected some techie breaks in there this time. I think this reflects the direction of both the scene and my DJ sets. For the people who like the tearing bass-line breaks, there is still tons of that style too and I am confident this is the best one yet.
ITM- Will the completion of this mix album see you returning to some production? If so, what do you have in mind?
Seymour- Yes, I have got some really exciting music bubbling away at the moment and if time permits I will have my artist album finished in about 6 months. I have done a couple of tunes with Carl Faure from Black Grass, a couple with Ed Solo including a full vocal reggae tune in a breakbeat stylee, it sounds wicked!
ITM- How do you draw the line between being a DJ, being a producer, running Supercharged and Against the Grain and also all your other ventures? How do you find a balance?
Seymour- It’s incredibly difficult and I am torn between them all, as a record label manager I must make sure the careers of Krafty Kuts and the Freestylers are doing well before mine. But music is my passion, so I find time to do everything. Not sure how, but I do!
ITM- This year saw the Freestylers shoot through the stratosphere. Has the combined success between the Freestylers and Against the Grain opened up many doors for bigger releases and/or the signing of more artists?
Seymour- I’m not keen too take too many artists on and prefer to develop the artist we already have. We are now working on Krafty Kuts’ next album which is sounding awesome. We did sign one new act though, they are called Splitloop and they are fantastic. Everyone is saying they are the next Plump DJ’s, so of course we had to sign them!
ITM- Did you have any input on the Raw as F**k album, or were you strictly ‘label manager’?
Seymour- As for writing the music goes we gave them 100% freedom. I was clear on how I wanted to project their image etc so I took control of artwork, press shots and so on.
ITM- What do you think of the Freestylers Fabric album?
Seymour– It’s good, they have taken some risks on there and you have got to respect DJ’s who do that. I would even go as far to say it’s nearly as good as Heavyweight Breaks 3!
ITM- What would you say is the underlying message when the current state of breaks is a mashing up of sounds and styles from across the board, anything from techno, to funk, to acid and house?
Seymour– That’s what it’s always done. I think it proves that the breaks scene including the party-goers are a very open minded bunch of people.
ITM- Many people say that music is cyclical and is constantly looking back upon itself. Would you agree? If so, how do you see breaks moving forward when it is simultaneously looking backwards?
Seymour- Of course some songs are inspired by or sample old records but I think most producers look forward and try to think of new ways to use those elements. For example, the Plump DJ’s sample and old disco tunes quite often but does it sound like anything you have every heard before? Not at all. Freeland has been injecting rock into his music and it too sounds original. At present I am working with real instruments and new vocalists and plan to bring some new elements to the table too. Referring back to you question you could also say that about rock, jazz, hop hip and so on.
ITM- You’ve been lauded as the ‘Spartacus of Nu-Skool Breaks’ (not in those words, but…you know what I mean), especially with your involvement with Carnage a couple years back. Do you find there to be any pressure to constantly be pushing forward or pushing something new because of that?
Seymour– Not really, I’ve still been pushing forward as you say but it’s more about myself wanting to achieve new goals rather than doing it out of pressure.
ITM- How did you and Krafty Kuts first meet? What brought about the decision to work together and form the labels?
Seymour– We met in his record shop, we hit it off straight away and in no time we were talking about starting a breaks night together. A few days later we were business partners and we still didn’t even know each other properly! It’s seems crazy looking back at it now but we are both spontaneous people and tend not to hang around and just get on with it. The labels were a natural progression from the club nights although we never intended or expected music on our label to hit the charts in such a big way.
ITM- Your night, Supercharged, has seen such Australian artists as Kid Kenobi and Phil K. What do you see in Aussie breaks that distinguishes it from the breaks normally featured at the club?
Seymour- I’ve always respected the Aussie DJ’s and producers, in November Kid Kenobi, Nu Breed and Nick Thayer all played at my club and they are all some of the best acts I have ever heard. Our first release on ‘SuperCharged’ was by Echoic and Ransom and Phil K, Nu Breed and Ransom collaborated together on another ‘SuperCharged’ release. However, it’s fair to say there is not a distinctly different style from Aussie breaks to UK breaks.
ITM- You’ve found ways to incorporate a number of styles within your sets, mixing freely between music influenced by either rock or reggae or hip hop. Does this make DJing more exciting for you? How important is it to have such a broad base?
Seymour– It’s very important and that is the beauty of breaks, I find people enjoy nights which add some variation more than those which don’t.
ITM- Are you sick of lame interviewers asking you what your ‘school of thought’ is? What’s the most ridiculous answer you’ve ever given to that question?
Seymour- I’m here for a fun time and not a long time!
ITM- You’ve mentioned before about how much you love coming over to Australia and how great the scene is here. How did that love come about? When are you coming back?
Seymour– I think I developed a keen interest for Australia when I was very young learning about it at school. Then I met a crazy bastard Aussie in the UK a few years back and we’ve become really good mates. He comes to the UK every year for our summer and vice versa, he got me my first gig at Ambar in Perth about 5 years ago and I was hooked!
ITM- What does 2005 hold for you and your labels, besides the mix album release?
Seymour– Splitloop’s ‘Here on business’ album and Krafty Kuts’ new album are due for release around May \ June. And if I can pull my finger out there will be a Skool of Thought album shortly after! We are considering a fourth Freestylers album too.
Don’t miss your chance to see Skool of Thought at one of his remaining Australian tour dates:
Sun 26th Dec, Sydney – Summer Break (BUY TICKETS)
Fri 31st Dec, Perth – Ambar
Fri 7th Jan, Canberra – Holy Grail
Sat 22nd Jan, Perth – Traffic