Q & A with Dr.Syntax

Q & A with Dr.Syntax

Q&A with Dr. Syntax – written By Kacey Fox (a big Dr.Syntax fan)

a nozstock branded frame with a photo of dr.syntax featured in the middle with the name written below it.

 

You’ve been writing, performing and producing for over twenty years which makes you quite the legend in my eyes. I’ve been listening to you since before I had GCSEs! How do you think that you and the scene around you has changed since you’ve been professional? 

 

Thank you for listening all these years! 

 

The first UK rap gigs I went to were a few lads in a musty dive bar. Now some of the biggest artists in the country are rappers, headlining festivals and performing around the world. There are now generations of hip hop fans. It’s not an obscure niche sidelined by the mainstream – it is the mainstream. 

 

As for myself, I’m thankful and proud to have been a tiny part of it all, and to continue to make music and perform. I’m as excited about doing it as I ever was. 

 

You’ve shown support for smaller, independent festivals such as Balter and Big Love, which we love to see. What do you enjoy the most about small festivals? 

 

I love the impact they have on local communities. You might have a town where not much is going on musically all year round, then one weekend a year there’s a huge party in a field and everyone gets involved. As a performer you can see how much it means to the crowd. Which is why it’s so tragic that so many small festivals are shutting up shop – it’s a big loss for the communities they serve.

 

What can we expect from the fantastic Dr Syntax when you perform for us at Nozstock this year? 

 

I’ll be doing some old songs. And some new songs. Lazy journalists might call it a journey. That would make sense! 

 

How did you transition from just a Hip Hop head to a Hip Hop professional? 

 

I met Pavan from Foreign Beggars twenty years ago. He got me on their debut album ‘Asylum Speakers’ and they took me on tour. It was an incredible experience. That made me want to take it seriously and put my own music out and hone my craft. 

 

What’s the best advise that you’ve been given as an artist? 

 

Be respectful of everyone you work with. Not just other musicians – everyone. Festival staff, promoters, agents, sound engineers. If you act aloof and entitled you’ll get a bad reputation, and that will probably hold you back. I wasn’t given this advice exactly, but I’ve seen plenty of examples of how far a good or bad attitude will get you. It probably sounds pretty obvious but it’s worth saying, I think!

 

You drop some insane lyrics with well thought out punchlines. What’s your favourite lyrical one-liner? 

 

I can’t pick a line of mine! That would be a bit ‘well done me’! I like skillful, technical rhymes but I also like the low-hanging fruit that gets a cheap laugh. I think both hold equal weight.

 

Do you sing in the shower? If so, what’s your go-to banger?

 

Yes. Waylon Jennings ‘That’s what you get for loving me’. Or ‘It’s time to bum again’. Both from the ‘Leavin’ Town’ album. 

 

Your writing has a huge topic span, from the light-heartedness of ‘Cats and Dogs’, to social observations (‘Middleclass problems’) to heavier topics. How would you describe your work to an alien? 

 

That’s pretty tricky! I like to write about all sorts of stuff – there’s no overarching theme. Nowadays I tend to have a bit of humour in there, even if it’s a sort of gallows humour when talking about something serious. I could write about pets, or biscuits, or the process of dealing with bereavement. It’s all quite therapeutic for me, at this point. I try not to limit myself, and keep it varied. 

 

Do you prefer cats or dogs? This is probably the most important question here so please take your time. 

 

I couldn’t possibly choose! I don’t get that whole ‘are you a dog or cat person’ thing. It’s like asking me if I like broccoli or chocolate. I like both! 

 

You have a really good crew that I’ve noticed you bounce off with collabs; Mouse Outfit, Pete Cannon, Foreign Beggars, Dirty Dike etc. What is it about other artists that gives you energy? 

 

It’s nice to create something with other people! Most of the people I’ve worked with have been good friends, or have ended up that way. So in a perfect scenario, it’s just hanging out with your mates and doing something fun. 

 

Are there any artists that you’re currently loving and would like to give a shout out to for the readers?

 

Absolutely – Binbag Wisdom and Jamu from Bristol are great. My friend Tom Hines has recently given me some incredible beats, which I’ve found really inspiring, so look out for some new stuff from us before long.

 

You recently released a single from your album ‘Crumbs’ called ‘The Urge’, which shows you living your best life, bumbling around a festival field. Do you have a crazy memory that stands out that you can share with us from your festival times? 

 

It’s actually from a new EP with a great producer called Gotcha. We’ve got a few more coming very soon! 

 

Last year at Boomtown Fair was very special. I was part of the ’50 Years of Hip Hop’ showcase on the main stage. I felt very honoured to be included in that line up alongside some absolute legends. 

 

But I suspect that might not be what you’re after. I remember Glastonbury in 2005 when it flooded and everyone’s tents were submerged. Toilets overflowed – it was pretty apocalyptic. I remember seeing a guy with the word ‘poo’ written on his back. Presumably in poo. The horror. 

 

Should we expect to see you get involved with our Wild, Wild West theme? Cowboy Syntax is something we’d all love to see! 

 

Ha! I’m not really a dressing up guy. However, I am a bit obsessed with all things Western. So I won’t be rocking up in a Stetson and stirrups, but I might bore the shit out of you at 4am going on about the history of the Texas Rangers, or something. 

 

You’ve collaborated with so many cool artists, released an impressive amount of music which will always slap and be played all over the shop. What’s your favourite mediocre achievement so far? Can you do a cartwheel? 

 

I definitely can’t do a cartwheel. I can barely break into a light trot at this point. I did, however, put up a curtain rail in 2022, which still seems to be pretty sturdy. 

 

Lastly, what’s in store for Dr Syntax in 2024? 

 

More music! An EP with Gotcha, a few collaborations here and there, some festivals (not least the wonderful Nozstock!) and then a new album and tour with Pete Cannon in the Autumn.