Q&A w/ Tim Fish aka GingerSlim
Tim Fish, aka Gingerslim, runs his own notorious music blog (www.gingerslim.wordpress.com) He also writes for Grown Up Rap, Blah Records, The Wire Magazine and more. Be sure to check 'The Slimtax Podcast' also, which he co-hosts with UK rapper Dr Syntax. We recently asked him questions about music, books, and varieties of pesto, see below.
W: How’s it going bro, how are you keeping during these mad times?
GS: I've actually been doing alright thanks man. I'm having a sort of reawakening with my mental health so it's been quite a surreal time on top of all the other madness. W: Good to hear bro. What’s behind the name GingerSlim?
GS: I wish I had some hilarious story I could tell you but it was literally me needing a name for the blog, back in 2011. I think I was reading a lot of Iceberg Slim novels back then, aka the famous pimp, so that might have had some influence.
W: You're based in the colourful city of Bristol, do you find the city a good source of inspiration for writing?
GS: Well the most popular thing I've ever written, self-published, is the story of me accidentally smoking spice and that was the result of wandering around Stokes Croft in the small hours, so the city definitely gives me good ammunition. And obviously the music side is always busy so that's a constant bonus.
W: In my opinion, the UKHH scene is probably the best it has ever been, with the rise of labels such as High Focus, Blah Records and many more. How would you compare the scene now compared to the early 2000’s days with Low Life etc? GS: Definitely bigger and arguably better. I think it felt a lot more energised and exciting back then but that's because I was a lot younger and that was my entry into the UK scene. But I'm also a huge fan of how things are progressing now. The sound has evolved so much and it's still being pushed forward, but with enough artists holding down the more traditional elements as well. And just the quality of it is superb. There is obviously still a lot of formulaic bullshit out there, but at the same time I literally cannot keep up with the amount of good music that's being released.
W: You’ve interviewed some big names, including Evidence, Phaorohe Monch, Slug etc - Do you have a favourite interview you’ve done? Or a top three?
GS: Monch was probably my favourite because he's a living legend and I've been a fan of his for over 20 years, so just to be able to sit down with him and ask him about making all those classics was a trip. Next would probably be Slug because he's just a genuinely nice person to talk to and he really gets into the conversation which always helps. Plus we've spoken enough now where I actually feel at ease talking to him, while with everyone else my heart is still beating a million times a minute. Then I'd go with Evidence & Alchemist which I did back when they dropped Step Brothers, but it didn't get published cos we lost the recording. But honestly I spent most of it laughing my ass off cos they were both really high and obviously really wanted to concentrate but couldn't quite find the motivation.
W: What is your favourite breed of dog?
GS: I have an eternal soft spot for Staffies but my friend Katie has also somehow got me fascinated with Shiba Inu and their oddly happy faces.
W: Your a big fan of Charles Bukowski, when did you first discover his work and do you have a favourite book of his?
GS: I first read Ham On Rye, which is one of his semi-autobiographical novels, when one of my housemates lent it to me back in maybe 2006. I'm pretty sure I've read all his stuff by now and I reckon my favourite is Pulp, because it's his only real novel and it's just a weird story, which I'm always a sucker for. It's ostensibly a pulp fiction style novel about a private detective who gets hired by Death, but it needs to be read to get the full impact. Also his poetry collection, Love is a Dog From Hell, is really good.
W: Is it okay to put pineapple on pizza?
GS: I believe it's okay, I'm a believer in freedom of expression, but if you bring that travesty near my mouth then we might have a problem.
W: If you had to pick your top three gigs you’ve attended, what would they be?
GS: The Roots at Rock City in Nottingham c. 2004. First time I saw them and it blew me away. Everyone is doing the live band thing these days, but that was the first time I'd seen it and Questlove is such a good bandleader, and just such a knowledgeable musician, as they all are, so it was just this wild, energy throughout the whole thing. I remember just being excited the whole time.
Also I saw Mark B and Blade in around 1999 at Thekla, which is/was a grimy little boat on the Bristol docks. They were supposed to come on at whatever time but there was no sign of them for what feels like hours looking back, and it turned out they'd got delayed at Zurich airport cos their DJ got caught with weed. In the end they ditched him and came to do the gig, and by the time they got the venue the crowd were going mental with frustration so when they showed up the place exploded. Blade was crowd surfing and there was a pit going. It was raucous. RiP Mark B.
Then I'd probably go with Nas at Bristol Academy in 2016. It's not the biggest venue so it was absolutely rammed that night and for an artist if his stature, he still put on a hell of a show. He did almost 90 mins and rapped a couple of verses from each track, so it was just a constant stream of classics. And he was smiling the whole time, interacting with the crowd; he just genuinely seemed to enjoy himself. Everyone else I've seen perform at his level has been a bit lacklustre in comparison.
W: Even before the lockdown, we’ve seen a lot of UK venues unfortunately close their doors, from Cardiff, to Bristol and all over. How do you think the live music scene is going look in places such as these after lockdown is eventually eased up?
GS: I mean obviously there will be a mad rush on pretty much every venue and live event cos everyone is going to be hungry for that shit, but I think a lot of places will struggle to stay afloat after all this. There are already venues closing their doors permanently in other cities around the world so I reckon it's only a matter of time before we see the same in our cities.
W: What is your favourite season of The Wire and why?
GS: Season 4. It's the most interesting season in terms of character development and also for seeing how the school system fits into it all. I think season 2 is underrated though or maybe misunderstood. On its own it's not as good as 4 and 1, but as a part of the overall storyline, it's so important.
W: Do you have a favourite Wu-Tang album?
GS: 36 Chambers. It was my starting point for their music and I'd never heard anything like that in my life. It was in a barn in Cornwall funnily enough, my mate Duncan put the tape on and I was just like what the fuck is this??! Yeah it just sounded so raw and the whole kung fu angle was a big hit with me at the time. And still now it hits the same way, still evokes the same reaction.
W: What was the first Hip Hop show you ever went to?
GS: I wish I could tell you man. My memory is so bad and I obviously didn't mark it down as a special occasion in my head, it's actually quite sad cos I wish I could remember. I guess it would've been around 1998 so Jeru was definitely one of the early ones. That was a mad gig. Same venue as Mark B and Blade. Jeru got into an altercation with the bouncers and almost didn't perform so when he did he was so worked up he just went IN lol. Good shit.
W: If you were to put on a show and you had to pick 10 acts (from anywhere) to play, who would they be?
Cult of the Damned
That would be a hell of a show.
W: A double question here, do you have a top 5 favourite authors / top five books you could recommend? GS: Authors I'd go with Graham Greene, Martin Amis, Ira Levin, JG Ballard and Raymond Chandler. Books is trickier but let's say Time's Arrow by Martin Amis, The Big Sister by Chandler, Twelve by Nick McDonell, The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton and The Whites by Harry Brandt aka Richard Price. Those are five books that stuck with me a long time after I finished them. W: If you had to pick just one person, who would you like to interview the most? GS: Probably Aesop Rock. I find him a very interesting person beyond the music but I also have a million questions I could ask him about all that as well. Plus he rarely does interviews so it'd be the ultimate. Madlib comes a close second though, for pretty much exactly the same reasons. W: Green pesto or Red pesto? GS: Red (or sun dried tomato). Funnily enough I just bought some reduced fat green pesto and it tasted like a fragrant mess. Gross. W: What is your favourite book by Hunter S. Thompson? GS: I actually really like Hell's Angels, which is his first book. It was his initial attempt at Gonzo journalism which he failed at but it's still a gripping read. And it taught me a hell of a lot about that whole scene, which I had a vague interest in anyway. It's basically Thompson embedding himself with the Angels for a long time and ultimately coming a cropper at the end of it. Brutal in parts. Also his only real novel, the Rum Diary, is really good. A lot more subdued than his other writing but a very well executed story and some great character writing. W: Who are some UK artists to watch out for in 2020? GS: The Nokia Mansion boys are definitely up there, and their respective solo stuff. CLBRKS is someone you should already be watching, he's just putting out endless gold. dylantheinfamous is killing it with his production, he's doing a lot of stuff with the Blah lot. Also Hutch. He's been quiet but I've got a feeling there's a lot coming and trust me that guy is talented beyond the average. _________________________________________________ Find Mr Fish at social links below - Twitter - https://twitter.com/GingerSlim Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/gingerslims/ Blog - https://gingerslim.wordpress.com/ Podcast w/ Dr Syntax - https://anchor.fm/slimtax