UK hip hop group Dusty Stragglers are rappers Caskie, Flabz and Sylva Grey plus producer Peter Coates - the founder of Under The Bed Productions. They aim to capture a sound reminiscent of the late 90s boom bap era with spatters of live musicianship amongst the sampling. We caught up with them to find out more about their origins, style and most recent single ‘Strange Neighbours’.
A slick, boom-bap style of production decorated with unconventional wordplay, uniquely unorthodox arrangements of flows and unpredictably diverse subject matter.
First up, tell us bit about yourselves - what led you all to forming Dusty Stragglers?
Dusty Stragglers is a real funky hip hop group residing in London. To be honest we have all been hip hop heads from an early age. Our producer UTB has been supplying beats to all emcees of the Dusty Stragglers (Sylva Grey, Caveman Caskie and Flabz) for individual solo tracks and projects since 2011, he can be seen as the mutual connection between all members in the group since around that time.
During a day in August 2017 whilst everyone was present in the studio, we spontaneously produced, wrote and recorded our first single ‘Eat Fish’ which we thought turned out surprising and very interesting just how well our styles jelled together over UTBs great production. In November, the same year we shot the music video for it and decided to start creating material for our debut EP The Strangest Neighbours which was released September 2018 (available on Spotify, iTunes, Deezer, Bandcamp). We currently have something new in the works for everyone, but you’re going to have to wait til sometime soon to hear more about that!
Who did your take inspiration from?
Everything and everyone really, we all listen to a bunch of musical genres, not just hip hop! UTB plays guitar very well and Caveman Caskie has previously had his music charted as a drummer in a band and is also a talented singer. We regularly implement live instruments into our production and melodic chorus’s to compliment our already unorthodox approaches. We gather inspiration from the genres we often tend to sample in our songs, like jazz. funk, soul, blues and any other abstract use of music.
When it comes to hip hop in particular we are more influenced by older styles and sounds from artists like Wu Tang, De La Soul, MF Doom, Pharcyde and in the UK artists such as Lewis Parker, Jehst, Klashnekoff, etc. All-in-all, WE are our main inspirations when creating Dusty material… we only really try to impress ourselves and each other, but if others seem to like it too then that’s pretty cool and we appreciate it.
Why the name ‘Dusty Stragglers’?
For a number of reasons. Firstly, were dusty because our style is old-school, two of us (Sylva and Caskie) had been relatively inactive in terms of hip hop releases over the past few years due to various reasons which gave the concept of us once being unused talent, left on the shelf to gather dust until recently. Stragglers is basically just us recognising we should have teamed up a long time ago and that we now have some work to do. Put them both together and you get Dusty Stragglers!
The name is not at all a negative description of us, but more of a humorous self-deprecating way of showing that although we do at times raise points on important topics, we don’t need to always take ourselves too seriously and forget to have fun.
How would you describe your musical style?
A slick, boom-bap style of production decorated with unconventional wordplay, uniquely unorthodox arrangements of flows and unpredictably diverse subject matter. An original new sounding flavour to a vintage style of music.
Of course we all have our own formulas and they are all authentic to each of us. In four words? DOPE for your eardrums.
If you could collaborate with any living artist or band, who would you choose?
Pete Rock for sure. His first album with him and CL came out the same year I was born. He one of the most underrated producer MCs in the game, his musical catalogue and the quality of his art and the number of artists he has collaborated with is near untouchable. That would be a cool experience for me somewhere down the line.
Tell us about your new single ‘Strange Neighbours’. What’s it about?
It’s just about the people and situations you may come across living in public housing or in a strange or rough area like London. We’re all pretty weird to be honest I won’t lie, it was fun expressing that in the video which is out now! Many of our local residents are a mixture of loud, impulsive, odd, funny, mischievous, serious with a high number of those not being law abiding citizens. We all subconsciously mentioned some of these characters briefly throughout the song and also talk about the environment you can find us and them in on a daily basis and what you might find here.
When did you write ‘Strange Neighbours’, and where did you record it?
We wrote to the song individually at different times around the beginning of 2018 and recorded it shortly after at the UTB studio. Firstly, Flabz wrote the first verse and chorus and me and Caskie then followed along attempting to match his content and imagery within the song.
How does ‘Strange Neighbours’ represent your style?
It is only one example of one of our styles. We have many layers behind our music both fun, upbeat and light, to politically conscious, realistically dark material. On this one we was able to freely have fun and present a light side of us whilst still briefly explaining our environments in detail.
What are your hopes for ‘Strange Neighbours’, and the EP it’s taken from?
For both to keep circulating and reaching more people for it to be enjoyed by as many people as possible. We will continue giving to the fans but for now why not check out our ‘Strangest Neighbours’ EP for free! Essentially, it is only a minor introduction to us as a whole, but we hope it can at least give you some idea of what we are about.
What are your plans for 2019 in terms of touring?
We are currently having discussions with promoters around the UK and some in other parts of Europe regarding our next release so stay tuned!
Finally, if you could go back in time and give yourselves one piece of advice, when would it be and what would you say?
Don’t waste time chasing girls and doing madness’s in your teens and early 20’s, and if you have a clear talent or vision in something then don’t wait until you were 26 to start university like I did, either learn and apply independently or enrol earlier to give yourself a head start. Also, don’t start university because your parents pressured you to, and don’t go uni just to do shots and black out in bushes! Peace.
Watch the video for ‘Strange Neighbours’ on YouTube below. For news and tour dates visit the Dusty Stragglers Facebook page.