Chris Read first came to the wider attention of mixtape heads with the 2007 release of The Diary, a frankly ridiculous chronicle of 801 standout rap tracks from 1979 up to 2007, although already well established thanks to a 10 year DJ/Promoter residency at one of the UK’s longest running hip-hop and funk nights, Substance, a period which overlaps with a 2 year tenure on BBC 1Xtra’s mix show. He’s since built up a following for his output of mixes, the most successful of which have seen him collaborate with the likes of Delicious Vinyl, Wax Poetics, WhoSampled and Adidas Originals for celebrations of Biggie, The Pharcyde, A Tribe Called Quest, Souls Of Mischief and more. Chris is also co-founder of the Classic Material project, which is five years deep now – a collective of DJs, designers and other artists who celebrate eras in hip-hop on a regular basis through events, exhibitions and mix releases.
Fast forward to 2015 and Chris is releasing his latest album for BBE, his fifth compilation release for the label but his first entirely of his own material. Titled All Night the album feature Chris’s productions and remixes for Grammy Award winners Bilal and Algebra Blessett plus Oddisee, Pugs Atomz & BBC New Music Award winners Maylight. Its eclectic stylings, which take in hip hop, contemporary soul and electronics, are reflected in his excellent mix for Bonafide Beats.
Check the tracklist and our interview with Mr Read below, and download the mix from WeTransfer here.
1. Simbad feat Steelo – Soul Fever (Inst)
2. Chris Read – Theme #3 (Scratchapella)
3. Bugz in the Attic – Don’t Stop The Music (NSM Re-Work)
4. NSM – Don’t Say It
5. Ty feat Eska & Jason Yarde – Dreams
6. The One – Pistol Whipped (Waajeed Remix)
7. Hezekiah – Soul Music (Remix)
8. Amp Fiddler – I Believe In You (Jaylib Remix)
9. Reggie B feat B Bravo – Do You Wanna Ride
10. Colm K feat Walshy – The Attic
11. Kid Sublime feat Jneiro Jarel & Lady Alma – Lookin At Me (Extended 12″ Mix)
12. Osunlade presents Nadirah Shakoor – Touched my Soul
13. Lizz Fields – When I See Love (Ty & Drew’s Lizzie’s Children Mix)
14. NY AK – The Truth Will Find You
What are the standout tracks, those you really want people to get to know, on this comp?
Well, in terms of featured artists, I’d say Bilal is probably the biggest. He’s got a new album out on BBE the following week that features Kendrick Lamar and which is produced by Adrian Younge. Bilal featured on the Kendrick album too so there’s some hype around that, I guess. The track I did with him is a remix of The Flow from his last album and features Maylight, a band I’ve been working with for some years now. My album is also the first place to hear new music from that group – we’ll have an album out later in the year also on BBE.
Hard to pick favourite tracks as I like them all for different reasons, but I’m excited about the new stuff I’ve done with Pugs Atomz and there are a few broken beat oriented tracks toward the end of the album – a sound I’ve been kind of revisiting a lot lately.
Why is now the right time for a compilation of your remix and production work?
I guess it’s an opportunity to draw a line under a bunch of stuff I worked on over a given period and present that together in one place, but it’s also a chance to introduce some new projects. Even though it’s a retrospective of sorts, about two thirds of the material has not been released before (and the tracks that were previously released have mostly been retouched or at least remastered). There are a couple of remixes that didn’t get released at the time I did them for label related reasons and I’m glad that they get to see the light of day, but mostly I’m excited about previewing a tracks from new projects like Pugs and Maylight.
You’ve carved quite a niche for yourself in the mixtape scene – which ones remain your favourite and why?
The ones I like most are often the less popular ones – the ones that are off topic for me, because for me it’s more fun to explore music that differs from what I might typically play out. The 80s Electro mix for Classic Material was one example. The mix I did for Spine Magazine is a personal favourite too – it’s one of the few I actually still listen to quite a bit.
I think BBE15 is probably my favourite though – not just the mix itself but the presentation too – double CD, nice packaging. Arguably it’s the only one that I really think stands up to the traditional idea of a ‘mix album’ rather than just a mixtape or themed mix. I suppose I like the Classic Material breaks cassette for the same reason. I guess I’d have to mention The Diary and the Classic Material CD series too – obviously a lot of effort went into not only the music but also the packaging and presentation for those also.
What’s your relationship with Maylight? Who are they and how would you describe their sound?
I’m the producer of the group, although we’ve always had a quite democratic approach to the songwriting. So I think I’m okay in saying that, even though I’m not a songwriter, we all have some input on the direction of all the songs from outset. The band’s been together in various forms for around five years and the sound has morphed quite a bit over time. It was a lot more jazz-oriented when we first started but I think what we’ve ended up with is something that’s both soulful and electronic with a kind of underlying theme of jazz somewhere in that blend.
What other projects have you got in the pipeline?
The Maylight album (and two accompanying singles) are complete and with the label. I don’t have a firm release date yet but I think we’re aiming for September / October for the album with singles probably in the months before. I’m one track away from completing a full length album with Pugs Atomz which I think is sounding really good too. I guess that will be toward the end of the year or early next year realistically. I have a few remixes completed and due for release in the coming months for folks like Renegades of Jazz and Renegade Brass Band.
There are a couple of compilation type releases in the pipeline too plus the usual schedule of mixtape stuff – there will be one more Funky Drummers mix before the year’s out plus a couple more for WhoSampled and Wax Poetics. Last but not least, Nick (Armitage, Classic Material co-founder) and I are working on a book for Classic Material which I can’t say too much about right now, but should be something quite special if it comes together as we’ve planned!
Words: Jamie Groovement
All Night: Remixes and Productions 2010 – 2015 is out now on BBE.