Get 2 Know: Scribz Riley

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If you were told that you would have made a career from your passion that began as a keen interest in Year 6, would you have believed it ?

St Bon’s Secondary School playground and YAP Youth club saw the birth of a musical pursuit that took Scribz Riley from East London to L.A, leading on to him becoming in total a 6x Grammy nominated Producer/Artist.

With his early years finding it’s place back at church where he would play alongside his brother, singer Talay Riley, the humble mastermind has gone on to create an assortment of hits which include Cardi B Ft Kehlani’s -‘Ring’, Kendrick Lamar’s – ‘Redemption’ which sits prestigiously on the official Black Panther Soundtrack, followed by ‘Winter’ – Khalid and ‘Lights On’ by H.E.R. Additional credits include Chris Brown, Ella Mai and Young T and Bugsy. Not only was the multi skilled musician hand selected by Marvel, but also performed with Snakehips last year at Coachella.

 

 

 

Rae: You started off playing piano at church to accompany your brother who is a singer, that then  led to you developing an interest for spitting over Grime beats, a pursuit that started in secondary school and youth club. Fast forward and you’re now a signed Producer/Artist to RCA Records under Sony Music. How did you balance being a producer with being an artist ? Did you find it a challenge to let go of instrumentals that you may have wanted to keep for your own projects ?

Scribz: Yea I started off rapping there’s even some things still on Youtube, we used to mc and do all of that. That was pretty much it, I never had any thoughts of becoming a Producer, I just wanted to be an Mc. My older brother and his friends were mc’ing first, I was in Year 6 at the time, so we just used to watch and took after them. I used to be in a crew called Wolfpack, that was under like the Bow, E3 lot, we used to mc together, a lot of the guys in the crew were sick and them times Grime was really poppin. That was the dream really…and slowly I don’t know, it just transitioned into me being more interested in the production side of things. I think it was when Chip and Ice Kid did their Westwood freestyle and that was like a peak moment in Grime, all that me and my friends wanted to do was be on Westwood spitting. It’s only now that I’ve started working on my own artist project, I kinda just became a full on Producer and Songwriter, so everything that I was working on was for artists that I was working with, or just sending beats out. I was only precious with the beats in terms of which artists I was working with, only recently I would hear a beat and think, this is for me… before it was more about whoever I was working with at the time or whoever I thought would do it justice, that’s who would take priority.

Rae: You made your introduction on to the music scene in 2013 when you produced Wiley’s ‘Reload’, following that you’ve gone on to produce songs for Cardi B, H.E.R, Kendrick Lamar and Chris Brown to credit a few. From your beginnings in the U.K, how did you navigate your way through the music industry to get to the point where you are now, an 8x platinum, 5x Grammy nominated producer ?

Scribz: ‘Reload’ was the first big thing I’d done, big up Wiley. I got to do a song and handle it with him directly, he was cool and is a genuine guy. I was really uneducated when I came into the music industry and he helped me understand the business part, like the mixing and fees. It was a good introduction into the industry. The song was a top 10 song, it was my first proper U.K release, it was a blessing. From there it gave me more inspiration to keep going and see where else we can take it. It was definitely the introduction that sparked my career, I was working with Dyo, who was called Ms D at the time, she wrote the chorus to his song ‘Heatwave’ and another hook for a song featuring Skepta. Wiley was like you’ve given me two singles, now I wanna do something for you almost, she played him the song she had in mind and he thought it was cold and said he would release it and he asked her to link him up with the producer, so she introduced us. From there came the song, so it was through Ms D, she’s a family friend, she’d be at my house writing hooks and then it came out, so yea big up Dyo. Without sounding super religious, I gotta thank God, and I just think I had a lot of people around me that were in the industry, like my brother and my friend Curtis McKenzie who were just very well experienced, I was still very young at the time so I was able to learn through them. I went to L.A really early in my career, I went there and would just show face and meet people. Through the work I did with Wiley I signed a publishing deal with Sony ATV and used the money to buy equipment and travel, and from there I would go to America and meet with the Sony team, going back and forth from there and Sweden, baring in mind I’m not rich at these times, it was peak but I was making sure whatever opportunity I had to go and travel and make music I was taking it, and that was my priority. Being surrounded by the right people, collaborating, making good friends and working hard lead to this point. I know it sounds cliche but that’s all that it was. I’ve been doing the same thing since I started honestly it’s just a bigger result now. From keeping my head down to coming out, to what’s new, who has potential, who’s big… networking, from there it just spiralled into what it is now. All of which helped me to bridge that connection, it’s been a lot of years in the making, people don’t understand that, there’s been a lot of quiet years so I feel like all the ground work is slowly starting to manifest.

Rae: You’ve said that your production doesn’t have a sound and that your role is to cater to whatever you are working on, do you have an underlying formula for the beginnings of your production ?

Scribz: The vinyl sound is probably the only thing that is consistent in my beats, I feel like these days, unless you’re using live instruments, they have no life. The vinyl sound is like a distortion that used to come from doing recordings from tape machines back in the day, I always put that in there, no one probably even hears it but for me that’s for my personal satisfaction. The creative process is different every time, especially when it comes to who I’m working with. Some people wanna feel a groove and start with a drum pattern, some people just wanna hear straight beats, some people wanna start from scratch so it’s very different. I’ve never wanted to be someone that’s locked into one genre of music because I like to listen to different genres myself. I started off doing like somewhat Pop music in the beginning, I was in that world but I went back to my roots of Rap and RnB music, but I’m happy I did venture out because I still have the pop sensilbity in terms of song structure and all the things that help when making a song.

Rae: You mentioned that growing up in East London allowed you to be open to different types of music, who were the artists that inspired you and gave shape to your musical taste ?

Scribz: Everyone that knows me knows that all I used to listen to when I was younger was Dot Rotten. As soon as he came out he’s who I was listening to, also Skepta and Bon Iver, I listened to Jai Paul’s album religiously and the Sampha stuff… Just everything, I would still listen to the stuff everyone did, the Drake’s, the Rihanna’s, but when I was growing up and mc’ing, it was Dot Rotten, that was my guy.. I liked the way he had hooks, it was different for Grime at the time, he would sing on the song and have his verses.. shout out to Dot Rotten.

Rae: There are a lot of young boys that are looking to pursue music or follow the current music scene, did you ever face any pressures growing up to conform to follow a road that you shouldn’t have or were you always focused ?

Scribz: I’m from the ends and things are different now, back then what was seen as bad was friends having fun, you play knock down ginger and it’s not really a good game, but it was minor. Growing up in East London I feel like you’re raised by the ends and your friends and being outside, those are the things that create your character and teach you how to be a man. I wouldn’t say there was ever any pressure, no one was forced to do road or anything, we were all young, and all did things… but I guess I caught onto music at a very good time and steered away from most things, mainly because I was busy. I remember one summer I didn’t leave my house, I was learning how to make beats. At the end of the day kids just wanna put their energy into something and it’s not always the best thing, things are getting better, you’ve got Rap and Drill and people are able to tell their story and give off their energy in a positive way, it should allow positive things to happen.

Rae: You’re set to release your first artist project this year, what vibe is Scribz Riley and what can we expect to see from you ?

Scribz: I just saw that Headie One move in my head of its a sticky one (laughs). I’d say different vibes of good music, I know that sounds cliche but it’s not one sided at all, it’s a great representation of my musical taste and what I’m able to do musically. It’s definitely a collaboration of different genres, there are collaborations from the U.K and US. I just finished it and I’m handing it in, in 2-3 months it should be out. I look forward to that, it’s crazy how I went round on a journey to get back to the thing that started me doing music, I’m still working with artists and producing at the same time as working on my stuff. I feel like I haven’t stopped working, a lot hasn’t been able to hit me just yet, as soon as you wanna celebrate something there is always something else to do. I found out about the 5 Grammy nominations when I was in a session, so as excited as I was, the session had to continue (laughs). There’s always something to do… You can be proud of your achievements, but humility is important ..I’m grateful and thankful for everything that’s happening.