Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sirvere 2001

Phil Bell with his son Ethan. Photo: Ian Ferguson

DJ Sir-vere (aka Philip Bell) interviewed by Otis Frizzell, in Pavement, Aug/Sept 2001 issue.

Papakura Papa

Fast-talking local hiphop legend Otis Frizzell talks to the quiet achiever of NZ hiphop, Philip Bell, AKA DJ Sir-vere, about the father of two's new baby – ground-breaking hiphop mix album Major Flavours.

DJ Sir-vere. Sounds imposing, eh? Don’t be fooled. Philip Bell is a humble homeboy, a businessman and, above all, a family man. The most severe aspect of this guy is his realistic views on himself, local and international hiphop and where he fits in the big picture.

He is arguably one of New Zealand’s longest running and most consistent hiphop representatives, educating the masses via television (MTV’s Wreckognise), radio (bFM’s True School Hiphop Show and Mai FM’s Late Night Hype), print (Pavement’s hiphop column) and, of course, numerous live sets. For Bell, hip- hop is a scene to be shared.

As the founder of the New Zealand ITF (International Turntablist Federation), he has been responsible for bringing the biggest names in the hiphop DJ universe to our shores. Bell is also part- owner of Beat Merchants, a specialist record shop in Auckland that supplies countless vinyl junkies with those hard- to-find gems.

Most recently, Sir-vere has just released Major Flavours on Universal Records, a devastating compilation featuring some of todays biggest hiphop superstars and a hand-picked selection of local artists, all brilliantly mixed by the man himself.

PHIL BELL: You’ve got the subdued me today. I’ve been looking after Ethan [three years old] and Reon [nine months old] so, yeah, I’m not shock rappy guy.

PAVEMENT; I was gonna ask you about that. You’re a businessman, a husband and a dad, yet all the ‘hardcore homies’ and 'badness niggahs’ are still down with you. How come?

PB: I have absolutely no idea. Hiphop’s my other family. I’m straight up with people when I do my business. I don’t go out of my way to be down. I wish I could elaborate.

P: How old were you when you knew music was going to be such a big influence on you?

PB: Fifteen, My dad was a fitter-welder but also ran discos in the weekend. We’d watch Ready to Roll, write down the tracks, then go and buy ‘em. Dad was actually making money as a DJ. He was the man! I remember at one gig, Dad needed to go to the toilet, so I stepped up to the turntables. It was my first DJ experience. I was 14. Then came Beat Street and Krush Groove. I saw Beat Street at the Civic and, bro, it was big. It totally changed me. I was about 17.

Kerry Buchanan at Rock'n’Roll Records started to lend me music. Every Friday night, Barney [Pavement editor] and I would catch the train from Papakura to town and go record shopping. We never had any money but we’d always come home with heaps of records, I can get a date on this... [Phil turns to his wall of vinyl – about 10,000 records – and pulls out Run DMC’s self-titled album] . . . Here: Electro 5, 1984. 84 was it, for me, anyway. That’s when my mind changed. It went from Frankie Goes To Hollywood to Afrika Bambaata. Now I can’t imagine having all these records and just listening to them by myself.

P: How did the ITF thing come about?

PB: ln 1997, I got a call from this guy who was bringing Roc Raida to Australia for the ITF. He contacted Manuel Bundy to see if he was interested in getting him here and Manuel passed it onto me. I didn’t really know much about the ITF but I wanted to see Roc Raida, so I took it on. It went off!

P: Coolest international DJ?

PB: Roc Raida. He’s the man. And P-Trix too.

P: How come you put so much local content on Major Flavours?

PB: The local content is like, ah, what do you call it? A Trojan horse. Sometimes people pass over local stuff for the big international stuff: Dre and Eminem, you know. This way they get both. The local artists are good quality. And people who might never hear it, kids out in the middle of nowhere, will be rocking to it now.

P: Favourite New Zealand crew?

PB: Deceptikonz. They’re talented but they’re also cool. They’re hardcase dudes, y’know?

P: Got a favourite hiphop album?

PB: Yeah. Nas’ Illmatic. Easily. Absolutely. Still play it all the time.

P: Ultimate New Zealand hiphop track?

PB: The Truth by DLT and B Ware. Also, Upper Hutt Posse’s E Tu because it kicked me into action. They were the shit!

P: What about the future of Aotearoa hiphop?

PB: Hell, I don’t know. Who can predict? But with people like Dawn Raid, others are going, ‘Why the fuck aren’t we doing that?’

P: Any last words?

PB: Recently, someone asked me, ‘Do you live hiphop’?’ Well, no. Not really. Everything I do, It’s all purely for my family’s benefit. It’s a bit of a tired old tale but I do absolutely everything for my wife and kids. Except for drinking beer and watching rugby, my life is my family! All my records are Ethan and Reon’s and when I’m finished with them and they’re old enough, they can do whatever they want with them. Play them or sell them. Fuck, bro! There’s a good deposit on their first house right there!

P: Whose house?

PB: Phil’s house!

[note: some spelling corrected from the original article, ie Roc Raider. Anything I missed, let me know.]

No comments: