To celebrate his 45th birthday. Boca 45 (Scott Hendy) today releases a new album. Titled ‘Four Five’ the album sees Hendy on top form creating his usual mixture of intelligent and soulful hip-hip / funk / soul. Simon Tucker caught up with Scott to talk about the new album, the history of Boca 45 and what the DJ/Producers plans are for the future. All photos courtesy of Tim Schnetgoeke
LTW: Hi Scott. For the sake of our readers who may not be aware of your output can you give us a bit of background on yourself. When did you first discover a love of music?
SH: Born and bred Bristolian – always lived here (there are worse places to be I suppose!). I got into music at a young age at 6 or 7, but when hip-hop broke in the mid-80s it felt like more – like something that belonged to us. Hip-hop was more to us than just music, it was a lifestyle that even into my ripe old age (of 45) I still kind of comply to some of the rules and regulations taught to us back in the day. Peace, unity, love and having fun! Early 90s came, I’d just left school and Bristol was bubbling with the release of Massive Attack’s “Blue Lines,” it made us farmer boys think “you know what, I can have a slice of this pie.” I had records so I started DJing locally, I think my first gig was at The Louisianna playing to Art Students. I then started a night called Home Cooking (there’s a track on the LP called this in its honour) with my mate Ian and we played every Thursday night in the Watershed Cafe Bar. It very quickly it became the place to go / to be seen – I suppose we were the hipster scene (LOL). Everybody stopped by from Tricky, to the Massive Attack boys, I think I might have met Geoff (Barrow) there, it was a cool start to the weekend I suppose. The Watershed had to put door staff on as it got so busy (although it was only free entry). The local promoters were impressed, and Ian and I got to warm up for most of the hip-hop / Beatz artists coming through the city. I then started working at the local hip-hop / funk store Purple Penguin on Colton St and everything started to fall into place. In 2000 I started making my own records alongside Andy Smith (as Dynamo Productions) and carried on ever since.
LTW: You’ve gained this well earned reputation as one of the best DJs out there with your cutting and scratching techniques in particular being much talked about. What first inspired you to start DJing and how did you come to develop your own unique style of cutting and scratching?
SH: DJing was my natural way of expressing myself musically. I had records, a lot of records even before I had decks so that was a start! I went to a pretty bad school so didn’t have any music lessons or anything so had to do everything off my own back. My style of DJing is from the hip-hop school – anything goes so long as it fits together. I’m happy playing a heavy new hip-hop joint next to a rare funk single then The Rolling Stones’ “Get Of My Cloud” or something. Things are quite quickfire when I DJ – some tracks only last for a verse and a chorus then they’re out moving onto the next track. I’ve always felt natural in a DJ environment – give me some records, decks and some people and I can make something happen. I don’t mean that in a big-headed way, it’s just the way it is. When I started making music it was a bit more tricky not being musically trained working out what was in tune and what went with what, arranging and producing, but eventually I realised that it all came from the same musical painting pallet.
LTW: You mix with 7″ singles which is quite unique in this day and age. What is it about the format that so appeals to you and what was the first 7″ single you bought?
SH: The first 7” single I bought was Jo Boxers’ “Boxer Beat” which I actually just listened to on YouTube and it sounds pretty good so nothing too embarrassing there! 45s work for me, they are durable, immediate, loud and immediate – a bit like my DJ sets I suppose! When I did my first all 45s set, I thought “why have i done this – it’s bloody hard work” but it’s easier now. People are still impressed to see me doing it for real on 45s and if they’re not I tend to remind them on the mic that’s what I’m doing, “Look no laptops / CDJS etc” “I’m not playing off of my phone are some of my lines!”
SH: By 2003 Andy (Smith) and I decided to give the Dynamo Productions project a bit of a rest. We’d put our all into it and had some great successes. We did particularly well in Australia which was great playing big shows and festivals and toured extensively all over the globe. We were Fabric Live residents but we found it hard getting accounted to for the sales of our album (Analogue), which is a classic music industry story. We felt a bit let down and disappointed I suppose so Andy moved into doing more DJ mix releases and I went out into my shed (actually a converted garage) and started putting together “Pitch Sounds.” Once I’d gotten it all up together, I sent it to 3 or 4 labels and ended up with 3 (small) offers to release it. G.C invited me up to Manchester to meet them and I was really impressed by their spirit and hard work for their artists. They had a whole network of club nights called “Friends Of Family” connected to the Fat City Record shop and label. I felt this would be a good home for me to launch the Boca 45 project in terms of the Grand Central connection and that certainly worked for me. I love bumping into Mark (Rae) he’s one of the genuinely funniest people I’ve met and always has me in hysterics – he did when I bumped into him at Shindig Festival recently. I thank Mark for launching Boca off!
LTW: I have been lucky to have reviewed a few of your releases over the years here at Louder Than War and what has always struck me with your own music is its sense of optimism even on the heavier cuts. Is it important for you to create music that is not only designed for the dancefloor but also inject into people a sense of light and happiness?
SH: I’m an optimist (although my wife may disagree sometimes). I like to bring that across in my musical output. I think my music is quite immediate also. I feel like a bit of a “hook” writer. Perhaps I could’ve done a job for Simon Cowell in another life (not !)..
It’s totally important for me to tread slightly different musical paths though and to not be pigeonholed into “Funky Boca” territory. I love that stuff and it’s always great on the dance floor but I think I got the shades right on Forty Five with tracks like Lonely and ALTZ to show my different styles which is important to me.
LTW: So you’re celebrating 45 years on the planet with a brilliant new album (Fourty Five). Can you tell us a bit about it? When did the idea come to you to make it?
SH: One of my pisstaking mates was always joking “what’s going to happen after you’re 45 etc” so I thought I’d not hide about my age and embrace the whole thing and make a kind of musical biography of where I’m at in the 45th year of my life. Boca has been with me since the late 90s, other projects have come and gone for various labels etc but Boca has always been consistent doing his thing and is the one that has stood the test of time. I wanted plenty of 45 references in there – initially I wanted the LP to be 45 mins, I always felt that the best albums were those which fit on one side of a C90!
LTW: This album has some wonderful guests on there including Beak>’s Geoff Barrow and Billy Fuller, film composer Ben Salisbury (whom you collaborated with on the brilliant Dolman project), MC Emskee, Kasabian’s Sergio Pizzorno plus many more. How did you approach these artists and is collaboration important to you on more than a logistical reason? Personally I think that in these rather unsettled times the art of working together for a common, positive goal is vital.
SH: Collaboration has always been important for me. I tend to try to work with people who I already have a relationship with – either musically or just as friends. I think that this way it’s a genuine thing and there’s a mutual respect for each other. You’re not just trying to get the best vocal or musical take, as everybody wants to do best by the project and to ultimately be part of the record. It’s always a gamble if you don’t have this initial relationship in my experience.
LTW: The album is coming out on the American label Mass Appeal (DJ Shadow, Nas, Run The Jewels). How did they come about hearing the album and how does it feel to be working with them on this project?
SH: That was a bit of an odd one! I had planned to release the album via my own label (B Block) but I sent it out to some music supervisors out in LA who I’ve worked with a bit in the past, they really dug the Record and said that they were trying to do a project in conjunction with Mass Appeal which is kind of a multimedia platform they make films etc. They couldn’t agree on a project but they both loved my record and asked if we could work together on it which we agreed to. They’ve been really good letting us do our own thing like allowing me do my own LTD edition vinyl copies in advance of the main release in July to my little record pool. They also let us use our own team of press / radio plugger, video director etc with no hassle. It’s early days but they seem to be working hard with it and have “Soul On Top” placed in a forthcoming Hollywood Movie so it’s all pretty good. Having Nas as your boss and DJ Shadow & Run The Jewels as label mates isn’t a bad look for a shitkicker from South Bristol!
LTW: I’ve been lucky enough to listen to the album and it really does feel like a celebration not just of your life but of music as an art form. There is a real sense of joy in the music even on the heavier tracks like White Blue & Red and The Roxy. What is it about music that so excites and inspires you?
SH: Thanks For that! I really appreciate it! As i said before I just wanted it to be an honest musical statement of where I’m at right now in my musical life at Forty Five. I genuinely still LOVE what I do and feel really lucky and grateful that I can still do this for a living. It never feels like hard work I just love it!
LTW: Will you be celebrating the albums release with any live dates?
LTW: Do you have any other projects you have lined up you can talk about? Personally I’d love to hear a new Dolman album.
SH: I’m always plotting – I’m a bit of a workaholic and never stop. I have another interesting project lined up for 2020! Unfortunately for you it’s not another Dolman album. Ben (Salisbury) is too busy with Geoff doing those pesky film scores! Ben did collaborate on Bryan Munich Theme & White, Blue & Red on Forty Five though and I’m sure that our musical swords will cross again sometime in the near future so don’t fear!
LTW: Finally, you’re coming to the end of your final ever DJ set. You’ve got one track left to play. What is it and why?
SH: Wow that’s a bit morbid and I hope that’s not happening anytime soon but I’ll go with Dionne Warwick “Walk On By” – what a tune, and what a tune to go out on!
LTW: Thanks for taking the time to speak to us Scott and good luck with what is a great album.
SH: Thanks a lot Simon – thanks so much – I look forward to seeing your review of the album – stay in touch buddy.
‘Fourty Five’ is out now: https://massappeal.lnk.to/Boca45