I heard my snare sounds and I heard my kickdrum sound on this record. But the thing was that it was more precise. It was like what I was trying to do couldn’t get to, you know? Then I heard the gated noise snare and the gated noise kick with no cymbals. It just froze me in my tracks.
-Juan Atkins on "We Are The Robots"
Martin Clark: How did the idea for the beatless “devil mixes” come about?
Wiley: Nah it’s not “devil mix” you know? I called it that because it sounded evil to me innit. But I don’t call it “devil mix” anymore because when I started calling it that I started to get lots of bad luck, if you understand. I called it that because it sounded evil but really, why didn’t I call it “god mix” then? Because I don’t believe in the devil. The more and the more you say his name, believe it or not, he’ll come closer to you. And that is the truth, I swear I am not joking. “Bass mix” I call them now, cos it’s just bass. The devil mix brought me too much luck. I was selling the devil mix of Eskimo and they were selling so fast. I bought stuff with the money, bought a car and crashed it. So it just turned me off.
Martin: So is “Ground Zero” coming on your album?
Wiley: There are two tracks on the LP that are related but “Ground Zero” is the main one, and will be on Roll Deep’s album. I made the tune on September 11th because I felt like my towers crashed down. A situation with someone caused me pain and since that day I’ve not been happy, but maybe I will when I get my advance. That song is very deep.
Martin Clark: “Ice Rink,” “Eskimo” etc. What’s the reason for the ice theme in the track names?
Wiley: I’m a winter person but the cold… sometimes I just feel cold hearted. I felt cold at that time, towards my family, towards everyone. That’s why I used those names. I was going to use “North Pole” but I didn’t even get that far. It was all things that were cold because that’s how I was feeling. There are times when I feel warm. I am a nice person but sometimes I switch off and I’m just cold. I feel angry and cold.
Martin: So where does the “cold” concept come from?
Wiley: There was a point in my life where I used to live with my Nan but she kicked me out. I was about 19. I was going on with all sorts of rubbish. Growing up basically, doing not the right thing. Police were knocking on the door, all that sort of shit. She kicked me out and I had nowhere to stay. I didn’t want to live with my mum. You know when you sit down and you think ‘I don’t like my dad for that reason. And I don’t like my mum for that reason.’ My Nan kicked me out, so obviously she didn’t love me, for that reason. All sorts of feeling sorry for your self reasons. I felt like there was no one else in the world.
So I had this girl, she let me stay in her flat. But it was a shit hole. All her stuff was everywhere, with no carpet. I stayed there three months, but the first night I stayed there was cold. I had to turn the heater on, it was like a bare room. Can you imagine that? Empty. The toilet is all shitty and horrible. But I was in there. The first night I’m thinking ‘where am I going to sleep?’ I couldn’t sleep. So I lay two towels on the floor and went to sleep.
The next day I thought ‘look how I’m having to live? No!’ So I got weed, started selling it, built myself up, started writing lyrics. But that happening to me made me think ‘no’ that I don’t want to be a loser. I don’t want to be down and out, on the street. I want to make something of me. That’s when I turned cold. That’s’ when I had the idea for all the cold names for the tunes. I really did sit down and think ‘it’s time now, to get cold.’
It’s winter as well, and my Nan kicked me out! My own Nan, who loves me to death. She didn’t kick me out because she didn’t love me, she kicked me out cos I was doing wrong. It’s karma, obviously. I felt on my own, I couldn’t turn to my mum. That point is when I got all that energy into me. I will be like that forever I think. I still feel angry towards people today. I will still not forget that she kicked me out, I love her to death without her me, my dad would not be alive but I won’t forget. Tomorrow I could be rung up and hear ‘Nanny’s not well’. I could think ‘my Nan’s not well,’ and it will hurt me. But I wont go see her, cos that’s not in my person. But I really should be going to see her but it’s still inside me. I never thought she’d kick me out, so when she did it was ‘oh my god.’ And no, my parents aren’t together either, they split when I was little.
I feel like my life has been confusion forever. But I’m here, today, to change it round. Life is confusion. All the things that send people down the hill, they’re the things I want to be protected from. I don’t want to go down the hill. Life is confusion but obviously the less the better.