Most of us have experienced a close personal loss. A friend, a family member, someone you care about deeply. It’s one of life’s few guarantees and it’s something that hurts in an almost eternal fashion, a constant, niggling presence that ebbs and flows with the motion of living, rearing its head with varying frequency and intensity but always remaining, always existing.
The loss of Andy Skopes to cancer earlier this year was a loss for the scene, of course, but it’s important to remember that it was a much bigger loss for those who knew him personally. Mr Porter is one of those people and, when he’s not running Goldfat Records with Mitekiss or injecting vocal magic into music, he is one of Andy’s close friends, having met him at a party around 2000.
Part of that friendship is their creative link-ups, their collaborations. Their most recent and, sadly, last collaboration was Where I’m From, a deeply melancholic liquid number that, in his last months, Andy found solace in producing. It’s an incredibly personal piece of music for those who knew Andy and it marks the relaunch of Goldfat Records. All proceeds from the single will be donated to Cancer Research UK.
We spoke to Mr Porter to learn more about the single and Andy himself.
Tell me about the single…
This tune started life round about five years ago, Andy did it as a free download and it was called James Bond. A couple of years later I was doing a couple of different vocal bits and he told me he’d love to go back and redo the tune and put some vocals on it, do something a bit different.
I must’ve sent it to him around the end of 2017 and then I didn’t hear from him for a while. Then, eventually, he said he was going to a collaboration with Mako on it, which I thought was wicked. So, he sent me the track as he had it at that point, he’d started re-tweaking it and chopping and changing it around, so I recorded some vocals in my home studio in Croydon, where we both live.
At this time, unbeknownst to me, he was ill. I hadn’t seen him for quite a long time, we were doing stuff back and forth over the internet and I kept saying ‘when am I going to see you?’ He did kind of say that his health wasn’t that great, but I didn’t imagine that was going to happen.
Eventually, he finally got back to me and told he’d finished the tune. He changed the keys of the bass because it was hitting a problematic frequency, he was a bit of a geek about that stuff, and so he asked me to re-sing it in a new key, which I did. Then he was still toying about whether it was going to be something he did with Mako, and I didn’t hear from him again for another couple of months, he’s ill this whole time as well, then eventually he came back and he’d finished it and he sent me two masters.
How about the Mako connection?
I asked him what he wanted to do with it, so he gave me a couple of labels that he thought were potentials. I said, ‘what about the thing with Mako’ and he said ‘well, it’s going to be like another incarnation’. So, I think at some point next year, Mako will release another version of sorts on Utopia.
Anyway, we spoke about the tune and what we wanted to do with it, then I didn’t hear from him for a few months. Then, literally, end of last year, I saw him out once and that’s when he told me he had cancer. Up until the point when I saw him in person he didn’t tell me, I don’t think he wanted to tell me over the internet. I think I bumped into him at Clashmouth and he told me he had cancer. I kind of thought he was over the worst of it, and then I just didn’t hear from him. Then in January his wife posted that he’d passed away, which was just…shocking [pause].. and sad.
Sometime after the service had happened, I did speak to his wife and told her that I’d love to put it out on Goldfat and she gave us her blessing. It was only later, after speaking to her, that she said this is one of the tunes that Andy had spent a lot of time on whilst he was really ill. It was a bit of a therapy for him.
We had a memorial in Croydon, a memorial event, which was a memorial for Andy and another guy from Croydon called Billy Denial, who ran Siren Audio and used to do nights in Brighton and stuff. We were having this memorial event a couple of weeks and as soon as the event was planned by Billy’s wife, Andy’s wife, Blackeye and Chris Inperspective, I thought let’s put the music out.
So that’s it, really. It’s obviously very emotional, I’ve known Andy since about 2000, he had dreadlocks [laughs], he looked right crusty. Then he started working at Wax City, which is a record shop in Croydon, and then I just used to speak to him from then onwards. He had an event in Croydon I used to MC at, and I used to play at Technicality with him.
So yeah, I’ve known Andy for a long time. A long time. A really talented guy, I felt like he was just on the crest of something fucking great as well. He’d just done the Headz thing and his sound was really starting to take a real polished, heavy approach. It’s such a shame really.
What does the process of releasing the music mean to you?
It means a lot. This is someone I’ve known for a long time, someone I had a great deal of respect for. Anyone that knew Andy, who spoke to him, knew he was just a humble guy, a really nice, friendly, genuine ultra-talented, beat-geek humble guy. So, it means a lot. I’m from Croydon, Andy is a famous face in Croydon as far as D&B is concerned, and we go back a long way. So, it’s a very personal thing. To be able to raise money for Cancer Research UK, my father passed away from cancer quite a few years ago, so that’s something that has great value as well.
We’re only a small label, but I hope that people take hold of this tune. It’s an emotional tune as well, it’s quite creepy when you listen to the words. Part of the words say ‘into the shadows, the dark is my friend, if I wait for tomorrow this moment can’t end.’ There are two levels of meaning to it, one part is the basic shit, where I’m from, the moon and the night, it almost sounds like dancing. The other side, and it’s only my brain that would say this, is it’s about Croydon, when I’m talking about moving in the night I guess I’m talking about gangster shit, not that Andy was like that or I’m like that, but it’s just kind of the vibe of the town a little bit, so there’s double meaning to the song.
Tell me a bit more about who Andy was.
Andy was a breaks guy, Andy loved chopping up breaks and he liked filthy basslines, and he also liked kind of harmonies and the liquid stuff a little bit. The first time I met Andy, we were at a party and we were all playing hip-hop records, and then he started playing some heavy metal records, he had big long dreadlocks, so I knew he was into hip-hop and metal. Then he pulled out this tune, I don’t remember what it was, some filthy amen tune, which caught my attention.
When he used to work at Wax City in Croydon, I was working in some offices nearby and I’d go every lunch time and just stand around, I never bought any fucking music, but I’d just stand around and chat beats. He was big into his hip-hop, so we always talked about stuff like that, or the metal, hard stuff like a Slayer or something like that. His broad tastes were reflective of the sort of productions he did as well. He was always someone who had a broad taste in music.
To be able to share all that, and knowing that he could do stuff on Seba’s label, the stuff that he did there with Mr Joseph, some tough stuff, some more musical, liquidy stuff, knowing he could do that, and knowing he could turn his hand to the styles he did on Inperspective or even Headz later, that mad amen choppy sort of stuff, or the hard breakneck sort of stuff. He had a lot of diversity, very talented guy.
How do you think the single Where I’m From encapsulates Andy’s broad palette?
It’s just one element of his sound, you know? I don’t think he had a specific sound, it’s the tougher element of the liquid thing, but it has a real melancholy vibe to it. For him, it was something that he worked on when he ill and something he found therapeutic, so it adds another dimension, at least for me personally. It makes it more meaningful to me, but that’s a personal thing, I can’t say how other people will take it.
Regardless of how people will take it, that meaning is the purpose of the single isn’t it?
Andy was great at putting emotive moments into music, with the liquidy thing where it’s got that deeper vibe, or even some of the raw amen choppage he had going on, then he’ll just have some pad that sort of washes over it all. He loved all that stuff, Photek and Source Direct and all that kind of stuff, hard as hell but still has that head in the clouds vibe. I think this song captures that element of him.
He sent out a lot of music just before he passed away, to a couple different people, some fucking awesome, mind-blowing music. I’m hoping, and I’ve been told, that it will see light on some fantastic labels that will really give him the exposure he deserves.
Rest In Peace Andy Skopes. Where I’m From is out now on Goldfat Records.