GET TO KNOW: MISTA TRICK
November 13th, 2021
Following on from the album launch of ‘You’ at The Jam Jar in Bristol, we caught up with Mista Trick to discuss the albums journey up to release date, working with the band, production habits, festivals and more
Having travelled far and wide to provide the finest fusions in electro swing and drum and bass, the time from the start up to now has been quite a wild one. Mista Trick, formally known as Richard Hale, has built a name and reputation through his remixes of vintage and vaudeville classics with his own style of down and dirty and party driven drum and bass. The sound he’s forged together has seen him across the globe, from Vienna, Grenoble, Lyon and a load more that’d be too long to list. From Music 2000 on Playstation, to pirate radio stations, running Little Pharma at Boomtown and event nights. Following the release of ‘You’, the 10 track album featuring an array of super talented artists, Mista Trick is now getting in tuned with his own sound.
Predominantly stemming from Swingin’ Together & Remixes EP by Elle and the Pocket Belles in 2015, with remixes from C@T in the H@T and Odjbox, people in the electro swing community couldn’t get enough of it: “It gave me such a massive boost at the beginning cos everyone in the electro swing scene was like, who is this guy? I was emailing all these different electro swing nights around Europe and got loads of bookings. It just exploded. Our fourth gig was at Glade Stage at Glastonbury, with like 3000 people. Some people contacted me and me contacting other people, and then every other weekend I was getting the train down to Gatwick and flying to some other country to play in some random club with some random people, it was just insane. Alicante was one of the grimiest, most hardcore nights I’ve ever played in my life, and I had the worst hangover of my life the next day. Them guys are fucking nutters. So much love. I played some Spanish drum and bass tune and they all lost their shit. I pulled it up and everyone was going crazy. It was one of those perfectly timed tracks, perfectly timed moment.”
THEM GUYS ARE FUCKING
When it comes to touring the album locally, far and wide, the nine-piece band will be accompanying him the whole way. From the sax, trumpet and trombone covering brass, one male and two female vocalists, guitar and drums. The launch party at the Jam Jar back in September had even more really sick talent to join them, with Kathika, Harriet Hayes and Gamba ACE, creating an intimate extravaganza to celebrate not just the album, but what the music represents.
The crew was formed with the inadvertent help of Elle and the Pocket Belles, from playing shows with them and their live band: “There was a bass player called Robin, who I started the album with, and then a trumpet player called Joe Rodwell. Joe was such a dream to work with and he's helped this album get finished. He wrote the brass parts and he's a producer in his own right. Joe got involved, Joe writes brass for Shy FX, he's worked with Chase and Status, Craig David - you name it and he's done it. I was really grateful to work with him."
HE CAME OFF STAGE,
HIS MIND WAS BLOWN
One beauty of the whole operation is bringing out what lies within each artist. This can be seen with Emmanuelle, a vocalist from London, coming from a corporate environment into the sporadic nature of live gigs and festivals: “His voice is incredible. A lot of these people have come from the corporate jazz world, where they'll play a wedding or a business corporate function. It’s no kind of no offence, I love jazz, but it's not got that kind of excitement. Emmanuel's been doing this and then he came to Shambala and his mind was blown. He came with just the tent, no sleeping bag, no sleeping mat. We did the gig and we were performing in front of like 2000 people, he come off stage, he lost his mind. We had some drinks backstage and he was just dancing with everyone and anyone. He was like, thank you so much. This is amazing.
“It's exactly what happened with Gambit. When I took him to BoomTown - I literally had to beg the guy to come. I ran a venue at BoomTown at the time called Little Pharma, and I put the van right in the middle of the festival. I was like, you can sleep in there and then he came and again, mind was blowed, and that's it.”
Three years ago Richard made the move to Bristol from London, seamlessly nestling into the eccentric buzz the city has. “I was so bored of London. I was there for 11 years and it got ridiculous. The vibe had died for me in music. I ran events at Passing Clouds, which was a beautiful place in Dalston that had that nice atmosphere, lots of people from all over the world. Their rent went up and they couldn't afford it. I think months before Silver Bullet got shut down in Finsbury park, then like a year before that Rhythm Factory in Old Street got shut down, and then like a month or two months after that Fabric got shut down.”
Next up on the Mista Trick musical agenda is a delve into the swing-hop realms, where works are starting to take shape: “My next album - or a side project - will be a swing hop, jazz influenced thing, with some known rappers. I'm excited. That's when you know you're on something, when people connect you with people you respect.”
His production style is raw and punchy, and is always packed with excitement and a party starting memo. We spoke software, and how the beauty of the endless sea of VSTs seems to streamline the creative processes: “I moved to Logic 9 at the beginning of this album, it started to crash and it really fucked up my creativity. I recorded the drums with 32 channels, it was fucking nuts. I was like fuck it, I’m going to Logic Pro X and it was such a dream. There's so many great things. When I was working with Joe, my co-producer, he’d teach me shit and I'd teach him shit. We were proper nerding out. We love it. We both came from Music 2000. We've got songs on these little memory cards, so we proper geeked out and he was showing me some fucking cool plugins that are out there.
“There's one called Smoothie 2 and it uses AI to work out the frequencies that are too harsh and just pulls them down. So instead of you going and learning about the sonics of everything, it's like - click - there you go. Fab Filter Pro Q 3 is such a dream, that's one of my favourite plugins, and Decapitator, it just makes everything sound more real and warmer.”
Richard has a delicate approach to song writing, where he says he wants the ears to be able to breath, giving space between sounds: “You've gotta have the light and dark. If you're doing a gig, there's nothing wrong with making it quiet for a bit. So people's ears can chill out, cos we’ve got our own natural compressors in it.
“We did a remix of Smile by Lily Allen and that’s done really well. I mastered that similar to Shy FX, Chronics and AB did with that tune, and they've got loads of side distortion, it’s all these little detailed techniques that make you join the top boys. There's some people that do take it super seriously. I have a lot of respect for the people that can go into sound design and do that stuff meticulously.”
Online videos are soon to be released too, sharing the production process of each track, bringing what happened behind the scenes to the surface. Curating the album has brought waves of lessons and obstacles, but with any great thing, the bumps are needed to hone the craft: “The journey was amazing. The one thing I learned from this album was songwriting, it’s taken it to a whole other level for me as a producer. As wanky as it sounds, it's thinking more as an artist, about songs and coming from an honest place. All the songs on the album were concepts that I came up with. For instance - In The Red - I spent my life living in my overdraft. I could never get out of it. I’m always in the red, and that’s an idea. I wrote like 50 concepts for songs. That was the beauty of it as well, it’s like, you say A, you mean B, and you make them feel C. I’d get all these ideas for songs and then said, right, this is the reference track, I want it to sound like this and this is the name of the song and the theme of the song.
“Obviously Shambala was about Shambala, and I think the reference was any old Latin drum and bass tune. It works that way because it gives someone else an idea of what we're working with, we’re not working with a blank piece of paper. Lost in a Glaze was a dedication to Glade Stage when I went to Glastonbury and accidentally ate a whole hash cookie. I thought he said they're not strong, but he actually said they are strong (laughs). I was chatting to somebody and I was just eating a cookie because I was a bit drunk and hungry and I was like, oh fuck, and then I lost the whole of Sunday at Glastonbury. I was a mess. I passed out outside Glade Stage and there you go, there’s a song.”
I PASSED OUT AT GLADE STAGE AND THERE YOU GO,
THERE'S A SONG
“What's also a good technique is give yourself 10 minutes, set yourself a timer, we’re going to give ourselves 10 minutes. So you’ve got the different concepts and you go let's write something in 10 minutes, if there's nothing, move on, and if there is something add another 10 minutes. So we had five days with me, a guy called Fraser Churchill, who’s like a Grammy nominated writer, he’s signed to Warners, then me, Ross and Robin and just watching Fraser work was amazing. From a word like Shambala, into a melody, is where the magic happens. I’m so envious of that skill, to transfer a word or a phrase or concept into a melody. To find those people is where you start writing songs instead of tracks.”
With ‘You’ finally tweaked, finished, and unleashed to the public, the look into the future is an exciting one, and going on Richard’s drive and ambition, you know the levels are only going to be set again. His motives are humble, clear and passionate: “For me, this is like an end of an era and the beginning of a new one. I kickstarted the album three years ago and raised seven grand, it wasn’t easy to finish this album but I finally got there. It’s now like right, let’s put the album out, try and get as much plays. I guess It's about firmly cementing myself as a musician that does music rather than covers and remixes, and then touring it and smashing festivals and making people lose their shit. That's the idea, the concept, and then trying to get a job out of it, to have a career.”
‘You’ is available now on all major platforms: