Q&A: Fliptrix [High Focus Records]
With the most diverse and dynamic roster in British Hip-Hop, a Youtube channel boasting over 50 million views, an ongoing tour, a merch line and multiple albums coming out, LUKE BIRD spoke to Fliptrix/The Big Owl, of High Focus Records, before they tear up HiFi on Friday.
From the introspective homonymy of Edward Scissortongue to the filthy provocation of Dirty Dike, and from the conscious output of the Four Owls to the boom-bap musings of Leaf Dog, High Focus Records’ breadth in talent is enough to satisfy any Hip-Hop head. With a recent collaboration with the legendary DJ Premier, High Focus are seemingly unstoppable: “We’ve all been fans of him since we were sixteen, you know, rapping over his beats in our bedrooms. To finally work with one of our heroes, and find out he’s a fan of our music and wanted to work with us and make a track that made UK Hip-Hop history”.
And in creating Hip-Hop history, they continue to do so. Newest signing Ocean Wisdom combines pacy wit and intricate rhyme schemes with a maturity that outshines his 22 years: “He’ll be playing in Leeds. He just put out his new album, ‘Chaos 93’. That was all produced by Dirty Dike and did really well. That got to number two on the Hip-Hop charts and ten on iTunes across all genres, so for a debut artist with a debut album, that’s incredible”.
Born out of traditional boom-bap sounds of the golden era of Hip-Hop, with jazz and grime influences, High Focus have created a platform for themselves through “sheer hard-work, dedication and organization”, and with the label diversifying their output constantly, they’ve created a dedicated following.
“It definitely stands for real Hip-Hop…non-commercialized music. I think that’s why it works. A lot of people relate, and relate to the lyrics especially. I think it’s a genuine sound. I think there’s quite a conscious side as well, particularly in my music and the Four Owls stuff”.
As the founder of High Focus Records, Fliptrix has stayed far from the backseat, with a string of sell out albums, a ten-year tour schedule, and an instrumental hand in the careers of UK favourites Leaf Dog, Jam Baxter and Dirty Dike. His approach to his brainchild attests to the conscious element found in his bars: “I see High Focus as a brain and every single artist on there is one big part of the brain… it’s very fluid and fruity creatively. We never tell our artists what they should or shouldn’t do, from the writing, to the beats, from the videos to the artwork, it’s all very much the artist’s own creation, and we work together to help them and help get it out there, marketed correctly and distributed correctly”.
From “meeting our earliest signings through having parties, playing festivals and collaborating in the scene” to releasing nearly 40 projects as a label, the emphasis is still on quality music through a range of media channels. From the music to the videosUto the live shows, High Focus don’t do things by halves, and for a taste of their incredible music videos, check Onoe Caponoe’s ‘Dissapearring Jakob’.
“Luckily, we have a load of talent in the group, with video guys around us. I think that’s why High Focus works, cause we have so many talented artists and creative people tend to hang around with other creative people. Luckily, people have reached out to us, or we’ve met them, and kept ties”.
Most of High Focus’s output is available on vinyl too, an element Fliptrix understands the importance of: “I think we’ve released nearly forty records on vinyl now and for me that’s a really important thing. With the whole digital progression, people think tapes are gonna die, records are gonna die, but if you have something tangible like a record, you know it’s gonna be around forever. With Hip-Hop, you’ve always had people digging in the crates, sampling and looping, and I think producers are going back to records. It goes way back, and I think when you have that tangible product, it’s gonna last longer, and with Hip-Hop’s history of turntablism, it’s a fundamental part of Hip-Hop culture. We like to represent that with High Focus”.
Friday sees the likes of Fliptrix, Onoe Caponoe, Edward Scissortongue, Ocean Wisdom, Defenders of Style, Molotov and Trill Mitchell hit up Hifi for a night of “electrifying, exciting, high-energy performances”. Expect crazy wordplay, signature beats and high-octane bars, as High Focus bring their show to Leeds: “I hope the crowd feel the energy. If they give us energy, we’ll give it right back”.
See the full event page HERE.