Scottish hip hop legends Butterscotch and Damaged Goodz play on Friday at Mad Hatters in Inverness at a launch night for their Brothers From Another Planet album
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A Highland hip hop night was what brought together two Scottish talents – Butterscotch (Ross Carbarns from Dingwall) – maybe best-known as part of Spring Break – with Brian Jamieson who has been performing as Damaged Goodz since he spent some time growing up in Fort William before moving back down to the central belt.
The two have been busy over the last 18 months collaborating on some planned EPs as part of the Brothers From Another Planet project with music from DJ Zeeny – who was producer from the first EP. Now the duo will be selling the full set of tracks as a limited edition album.
They are delighted to make the trip to Inverness for their launch night which sees them back at Mad Hatters. The venue is a special place for the duo, having helped kickstart their work together – and this project.
Q What was the starting point for these tracks?
A DAMAGED GOODZ: During the first lockdown I asked Butterscotch if he wanted to collaborate on a project together to cure our boredom and sharpen our skills. DJ Zeeny was also firing out beats rapidly at the time, so he became the producer of the project and member of the crew. He just likes to lurk in the shadows and do the work!
BUTTERSCOTCH: Brian [Damaged Goodz] just asked me out of the blue if I’d be up for writing and recording an EP. We’d collaborated before and done loads of gigs together so it just seemed like the natural progression.
Q Remind the readers how you got to know each other?
A DG: Myself and Butterscotch have known of each other for a while. But it wasn’t until we started running the Church Street Hip Hop Night in Mad Hatters together that we became pals. We always got on well. We both have a ridiculously odd sense of humour and I think that comes across in the music as well. It’s quite fitting we are doing the launch party in Mad Hatters where it all began!
B: When I was living in Glasgow we were both active in the hip hop scene and I’d seen his name about loads. We properly got to know each other when Brian was running the Church Street Hip Hop Night as I became the resident DJ. We had many fun evenings and it always kept us on our toes as the cosmos always threw challenging situations our way. I’d collaborated with Brian on a beat that my mate I Junor made, but we properly got acquainted during the making of Brian’s Cover album.
Q How easy was it to work together in the lockdowns?
A DG: We recorded and gigged together on the Cover LP, so we knew how we worked in the studio and on stage. A lot of the process was done in video calls and through Messenger due to restrictions at the time. But I’d like to think the songs sound like they were written in the same room together.
B: It was actually a very organic and democratic process, with writing duties being evenly shared. I think we wrote the first EP in a week, going back and forth with verses on Messenger. Pretty much writing a tune a day. The second EP was slightly less rigid in the way we approached the writing. There wasn’t so much pattern and syllable-matching and the form was more loose.
Q Why did you decide to present the tracks as EPs first – and change your minds to make them an album?
A DG: We only planned to release one Brothers From Another Planet EP, but the first one did really well, so we decided to go for a second one. When the launch parties got confirmed, we thought it would be cool to press both EPs up as a limited edition LP to punt at the shows for £5. I personally love having physical copies of my work.
B: I think serendipity decided the EP format. We had a crop of excellent beats by DJ Zeeny and the first release just naturally formed an EP. I think this helped govern the second instalment being another six-track offering. The ‘album’ is really just an analogue compendium for the collectors and gig-goers.
Q What does each of you bring to this project?
A DG: DJ Zeeny makes all the music and does all the scratches. Butters and me just split songwriting duties 50/50 down the middle – and left egos at the door! As artists we are completely different entities, the only example of polar opposites I can draw for comparison is I’m like NWA, compared to Butterscotch’s De La Soul. But for some reason it really works and finds a middle ground. I could find a vibe on one track and lead the idea, then Butters would do the same on the next. When Butters sends me over his lyrics to study, it gives me a kick up the jacksy and I have to make sure I’m on point. I’ve definitely improved as an MC by being part of this collaboration and that’s all you can hope for.
B: Me and Brian are definitely embodying different styles, but that’s why it works. I’m a big fan of trying to blend abstract lyricism with expansive vocabulary. We kind of meet each other in the middle and adopt facets of each other’s approach when it comes to writing and delivery. I think our hardcore lyricism, love for the craft and collective sense of ridiculous humour helps to bind things together nicely. Plus we have a mutual love for Paul (DJ Zeeny)’s beats and taste in sampling. He’s the quiet capable guy in the background masterminding the music. I think fusion of styles and ideas is the whole point of collaboration. When artists who sound the same come together, there’s often nothing new happening.
Q Have each of you been working on other projects?
A DG: I’ve been quite lucky where I’ve always been kept busy to the point it’s the most prolific I’ve been in my life. It was either that or watch Love Island or some other rubbish. I’d rather hack my face off with a potato peeler.
B: I’m a big advocate of music for therapy, so I have written hundreds of verses during lockdown; as a coping mechanism and for the creative outlet. I have an enormous body of writing, but a relatively small amount of recorded work, so it’s good to have focus and drive towards a project where there’s equal responsibility.
Q I just picked a few of tracks to ask you about... I have pictures in my head for Tuxedo Terrorists. It sounds as if Butterscotch and Damaged Goodz are bringing anarchy to a very ‘nice’ occasion? One line goes ‘I’d rather try sobriety than high society!’ What was the inspiration for that track?
A DG: When I hear a beat I get themes in my head – I can imagine a video for the song before a word is written. For me the song was like a metaphor for flashiness in hip hop where me and Butters crashed the party, the “sobriety / high society” line sticks out to me as well. I laughed my ass off in the studio when Butters did it.
B: Brian is pretty adventurous when it comes to song themes, but when he suggested this I knew it would be pretty straightforward. I have gate-crashed plenty of parties in my time, so I wasn’t going to be short of subject matter.
b CathARTic – it sounds like the two of you sharing what music means to you?
DG: The music sounded like A Tribe Called Quest The Low End Theory time and I always think of that LP like a brain massage so I wanted to approach it that way. The chorus goes 'Your soul hits the floor, pick it up, here we go again' that's just a reminder to me about no matter how much the politics of the industry gets you down, always remember why you do it. And for me it's about getting stuff off my chest and writing raps – it's very cathartic for me.
B: When Paul sent this beat over, I listened to it on repeat grinning like an idiot. Musically this is exactly the kind of hip hop I listen to constantly, so I knew it was going to be fun to write to. And as an advocate of music for therapy, Brian’s remit was perfect for the soothing piano loops.
c Headz Inna Burach – I love the way you have the word 'burach' immortalised and sounding fantastic in a hop hop context! And I love the chorus, it's an earworm. What do you want to say about that track and the recording of it? It's also got one of my favourite lines from these tracks '... gag on my nipple sweat...'
DG: I got the word from my wife's lovely wee Granny, she used to always say "What a Burach – Gaelic for mess". I just thought it was a cool word that would sound great in a hook if it was done right. The song is just daft unrepeatable crass punchlines. It was the kinda hip hop I was obsessed with as a teen, the Soul Assassins vibe. I can't wait to do this one live.
B: This kind of early 90s Soul Assassins-type beat was a pleasure to spit over. I quite often get pigeonholed as an MC, so it was a welcome change to have something aggressive to rap over and just be abrasive with the content. This is hip hop for hip hop's sake.
d The Importance of Being Eric Idle – is he a hero for both or one of you? I love your line 'Just don't expect death like the Spanish Inquisition'!
A DG: I've watched The Life Of Brian and The Holy Grail probably over 50 times each and for years its been a source of quotables to me and my best pals. It's just silliness for the sake of it which the world needs. I was using the theme of the song as a guide to 'always look on the bright side of life' and find humour in everything.
B: I grew up with Monty Python as a great source of absurd inspiration, so I was 100% on board with this tune. Humour has got me through the darkest times of my life, so it was very therapeutic penning this track. Everyone suffers grief and loss but we have an active choice as to how we process it.
Q What do you like about working with each other – and what do you admire most in each other's work?
A DG: Learning something new, for instance after having to study Butter flows and writing for the songs it made me change the way I usually write and I switched tack for my single Pandemic:RACISM-20 and became better for it. I admire Butters' fashion sense. We are the only hip hoppers in Scotland to wear 'cords' with conviction.
B: I love Brian’s work ethic, technical expertise and sense of humour, so he’s very easy to work with. He’s also got great stage presence in a live setting and isn’t afraid to be audacious as a performer.
Q After the launch dates, what are your future plans?
A DG: Do as many shows as we can, while we can!
B: Get rich, move to the country and buy a Chihuahua.
Damaged Goodz and Butterscotch have a launch night on Friday, (February 18), from doors open 8pm, at Mad Hatters, Inverness, with DJ Zeeny and guest Tistik. Find the album at Damaged Goodz Bandcamp: damaged-goodz.bandcamp.com/album/butterscotch-damaged-goodz-brothers-from-another-planet-ep