Today, meet SOII, the man behind his style of boom bap, instrumental hip hop. He comes to us from down under where he continues a positive direction with his beat development. In late 2022, SOII released Fragments as the next full installment of his sound after the successful re-release of Rugged Fidelity on Kick a Dope Verse!. Each track on Fragments showcases all that is good in the genre with great sampling, solid delivery, and a complexity that proves he is never asleep behind the wheels of his MPC2000xl. We are fortunate to learn a little about his history, his other passions, and his Alaska bucket list.
SR: Where do we find Soii today as you answer some questions?
SOII: Outside at home (in the Blue Mountains Australia) enjoying the spring sun.
SR: Tell us a little of the backstory on Soii, the origin of the name, the sound, the progression? How did you find your way into Hip Hop?
SOII: The name Soii is something my sisters have called me since I was a toddler. There is no real reason or story behind it, and the name has just stuck over the years. Eventually I just used it as a nickname for my music.
In regards to the sound and progression, I was into music from a young age like a lot of kids from my generation. I grew up in the 90s where there was so much great music from different genres – Hip Hop, Electronic, Dance/Techno, Heavy metal etc. When I was 15 I got into DJing which started the hobby of collecting vinyl. I was collecting mostly hip hop and some dance music at the time to use for DJ sets at parties, pubs and clubs and even the NSW DMCs a few times. After a few years of DJing though I got the urge to start making my own music. I started collecting different genres of music went down the path of digging for samples and beat making.
SR: Recently, Monastry released Collages after a remastering of the album created a few years ago. Tell us about that collaboration, the sound, and how it may differ from Soii.
SOII: My good mate Luke (Atoribeats) and I met through a mutual friend back in 2011. We are both like minded and have similar taste in music among pretty much every other hobby so we started making beats together in addition to our own solo work. We ended up playing quite a lot of live MPC and DJ sets throughout Sydney for the years that followed under the name Monastry. Around 2014 – 2015 we decided to work on a concept album in addition to the tracks we had made for our live sets. The end result was Collages, an album that is a collection of compositions utilising hundreds (if not thousands) of vinyl samples all made entirely on the MPC2000. It’s more of a listening journey than just an instrumental hip hop beat album, and probably one of my greatest achievements musically. It’s recently been released on limited edition wax too.
SR: And, what about some of your other collaborations and projects? The past and the future…
SOII: Monastry is the only collaboration I’ve done to date. I’ve made beats over the years with a few other people but never release anything properly with them.
SR: The Chavo is consistently creating your release cover art. How did that partnership develop and are there any plans to collaborate with him?
SOII: I actually just reached out to Jazzy Chavo online to design some album artwork for me. I’m a big fan of collage art and I really like his work. The fact he is a dope producer as well means he gets it. In addition to my album artwork, he also created the back cover for the Monastry vinyl release as we only had a front cover, which was a collage by Sydney Artist (Nikita Ra) created for us back in 2019.
I haven’t discussed a collaboration with him but that would definitely be a cool project. Might have to hit him up!
SR: What does the hip hop scene look like down under? Might we expect other releases from Soii with locals from Australia?
SOII: The scene in Australia for instrumental Hip Hop and beat makers is pretty average. There used to be a good nightlife which helped the scene, but this suffered when the the government introduced ‘lockout laws’ to try and stop violence in the city. These laws completely killed the live music scene and after Covid in 2020, it’s never really bounced back. In saying that, I know quite a few local beatmakers who make quality music but there isn’t much of an outlet or following for it to grow. For upcoming releases there will definitely be some new work with Atoribeats in the near future.
SR: Tell us about your production process. What do you use and what’s the genesis? Is it a particular sample that gets you going? Or, just an idea…?
SOII: My production process is pretty simple. I collect records so just start with a sample from vinyl and basically just build on it. More often than not the sample is a loop (which I might chop slightly), but it’s always something that evokes a feeling or emotion to get the ball rolling. All of the sounds in my music come from my vinyl record collection – drums, instruments, bassline etc. and am currently using a Rossum SP1200 and MPC2000. I only really use hardware samplers and have previously had an SP1200, SP12 Turbo (which Luke gave to me), EPS16+ and S900.
SR: What are your other interests outside of your music?
SOII: I’ve got a lot of other interests outside of music but I’ll list my main ones. Firstly are my dogs – An Alabai (Central Asian Shepherd) and Caucausian Ovcharka. They are large guard dogs and a lot of hard work, but definitely worth it. Secondly would be outdoors activities – In winter its snowboarding and in summer it’s the beach. I usually get a season ski pass each year for Perisher here in Australia, that way can head down when we actually get a good dump of snow, otherwise it can be hit and miss. I also try to get to Japan for a few weeks each year, it’s cheap and not too far to fly to from Australia. I’ve been to a few places over there but keep finding myself going back to Nozawa Onsen and Myoko Kogen. Hoping to visit the European Alps, Canadian Rockies and also South America over the next few years, and back country in Alaska is definitely on my bucket list one day!
SR: And, we can’t leave without asking, what will be on your plate for dinner or in your hand later this evening?
SOII: Ha! For dinner I’ll be having fish and a salad and later on probably some ice cream and chocolate.