From Grand Central's odd hip-hop inspired chop shop comes Riton
(aka 23 year-old Henry Smithson) and his debut album of sweltering
digital funk, house, breaks and crazily diverse instrument choices
that range from the traditional to the digital cut-up editing and
Mr. Scruff style synth-lines. After tightening up his production
and DJ skills in college, Riton dropped his first two 12" for
Grand Central. His debut Take Control and Habib
were championed by Richard Dorfmeister, Andrew Weatherall, Mark
Rae and others and lead to the release of his debut Beats
Du Jour. By combining his love for hip-hop, digital funk,
and house, he creates tracks that are gritty and filled with wacked
out sound selections. On top of all that he runs his own Switch
recordings label and can whip up a slamming DJ set every time.
Tell us a little about your music background and influences.
My first serious musical influence came from listen to indie bands
such as The Smiths. As a young lad, my friend's older brother got
us in to it early on and we thought we were totally cool for listening
to this weird guy singing morbid and quite effeminate stuff. From
that I got in to the more 'laddish' Happy Mondays. When I bought
their records I found myself listening more to the B-sides with
the Balearic house mixes from Oakenfold (sorry, he was good then)
and Weatherall. This progressed me to house, which then led to breakbeats,
hip-hop soul, funk and just about anything weird that grooved.
We hear your doing quite a bit of work as a DJ. How would you
I've played pretty much (and still do) ever type of left of center
music since I started DJing at 15. I like playing loads of disco
and rare grooves and some mad off kilter house, electronic stuff
and shit with big basslines!
How did you hook up with Grand Central?
I used to DJ at a night in my home town of Newcastle and often Mark
Rae and Mr. Scruff would come and play and through that I got to
give Mark some twelve's that I put out on my label. He liked them
and asked if I wanted to come to Manchester to work in Fatcity with
view to recording for Grand Central.
Did you see yourself accomplishing so much at a young age?
I've been working with music and DJing since I was fifteen and it's
been the main focus of my life so far, so it hasn't come that quickly
Riton's view on the state of hip-hop?
Fairly uninspired by most of the independent shit that's coming
out but obviously the likes of Timberland, Neptunes etc are definitely
pushing the boundaries of pop music into a new dimension.
Tell us about Switch Recordings.
Switch Recordings was created when I was at college as a project
for my HND Music Technology studies. It was initially a platform
for me to put out my productions but over the years more artist
have come to me and I have found myself creating a spring board
for them to get started as well. Future projects include an LP from
Bamboo Soul, further releases from Alistair Colling who has recently
been signed to NY based label 'Central Park' .A really exciting
project for the label is a release from 9 piece jazz outfit 'Sasso'.
Any plans of playing the U.S.?
No plans yet, but I'm open to offers.
Why did you pick to work with Hydn Ruffley and Chris Jam?
Chris jam is an M.C. from the regular night I do in Manchester and
hyden is the lead singer song writer from bamboo soul, who have
released 3 EPs on Switch
If you could collaborate with anyone it would be?
On my last LP I wanted to do a track with Madlib, but it never worked
out, it would be nice maybe if that happen some day. But to be honest
its more easier working with some one your already friends with.
Please tell us any secret projects you may be working on or
secrets you know.
Ehmm. . . no!