MxCx Interview#22 "KNIFEHANDCHOP"
Knifehandchop is the brainchild of Toronto native Billy Pollard. Pollard has been unleashing devastating electronic sonic warfare on the Irritant and Tigerbeat 6 labels. The all-round culture junkie plunders the vaults of every imaginable genre: gabba, hardcore, dancehall, hip hop, pop and jungle to name a few, and with a deft touch dices and splices all manner of acoustic references into dancefloor bombs. In early 2003, Irritant compiled Bling the Noize, culled from previous vinyl-only releases. His debut album, Rockstopper, followed suit on Kid 606’s Togerbeat 6 label. His first fully-fledged album of totally original work, How I Left You, hit shelves in 2004, garnering serious praise from press and public alike.
Are you from Toronto, Canada? Still living there?
Yes, I'm from Toronto and I still live here. It's my favourite city.
Knifehandchop has not released works for 10 years. Perhaps, the last activity is play live on Bangface? Why did you stop music activities?
The reason I stopped making music was because I didn't feel inspired by electronic music anymore. I didn't really listen to it or go to electronic shows so I just stopped. It seemed more honest to stop rather than keep making something just because it was my job.
Please tell me about your past. What kind of environment did you grow up in? How did you get interested in music? What was the first record you bought yourself?
I grew up in an interesting part of Toronto called Scarborough. The neighborhood I lived in had tons of immigrants and my high school was mostly Chinese people and I always loved growing up there being around people that were different from me. I think I originally got interested in music from my Dad because he would play heavy metal and rock bands like Iron Maiden and Guns N Roses. The first record I ever bought was "Jailbreak" by AC/DC. I still love that song a lot.
Please tell me the top 10 of the music that you most influenced.
My biggest influences back when I started making music were KMFDM, DJ Scud, Digital Hardcore records, Guns N Roses, video game soundtracks, hip hop producers like RZA or Timbaland and local Toronto rave DJs.
When did you first make music? What did you use to make it? Why did you decide to make music?
I first made music when I was 17. I got my mom to buy me a Windows computer for school work but I really just wanted it to try to make music. I tried to play guitar before that but I couldn't get very good at it. Electronic music is way easier than guitar but I also liked that you didn't need to be in a band. You could make the whole song by yourself. That was very appealing.
I think the influence of Gabber is very big to you. Did have Gabber's scene in Canada? Have you been affected by Canadian Gabber / Hardcore artists?
I actually did know some people in Toronto throwing gabber parties which I loved. There was also a local DJ named DJ Dominik that would play Dutch style gabber that I heard when I was 14 years old. It was the first electronic music that I loved since I mostly listened to rock and metal at the time.
How did you meet "Irritant / Pisstank"? Please tell me the process when the first release was decided.
I was still in high school and a friend of mine that I knew online just decided to send some of my earliest songs him. He wrote to me saying that they needed some work but he wanted to release an album of my music. In the end that first album still needed A LOT more work. lol
But it was really fun to have an album out during high school. It made me skip school more often to make more music.
You mixed Electro/Ghetto Tech, Dancehall, Synth Pop/8bit, Gabber and Jungle. Why did you become this style? How was the idea of mixing Ragga and Gabber born?
The style wasn't something I thought about. I just made whatever I felt like that day. Those genres were all things I would listen to so it all influenced me. The only strange one is jungle since I know I made some songs that use breakbeats and things that sound like jungle but I never really liked jungle or drum n bass music. I guess the amen breaks and cut up beats would have been early breakcore influencing me.
What scene did support your initial work? What is the response from Gabber or the underground electronic music scene?
Initially, I would say the breakcore scene liked my releases. Although in Toronto I would play at raves too. Later on it seems like a lot of scenes liked specific releases of mine since I made a lot of different sounds. It would cause some problems though if half the people came to hear me play electro and booty and the other half wanted to hear gabber. Then I would try to please everyone but sometimes ended up pleasing nobody. Although at a lot of shows, people would be ok hearing many different genres. Playing many different genres in one set was always my favourite..
What equipment did you use at the time?
I always used a Windows computer with FL Studio and either Cubase or Logic. But I also had a Roland JP-8080 synth.
Your song "Dancemix 2000" released from Irritant is very famous. How was this song born? This song was also played by famous DJs. Did this song influence your later activity?
haha that song. It got kind of big in the mashup scene of the early 2000s. I actually didn't even know that there was a genre of music like that until magazines started interviewing me about that song. That song was just a sequel to a song I made a few years earlier called Dancemix 92. I just thought it was funny and stupid sounding. Around that time I had been listening to some dance music that had a humorous side to it that Andy Irritant had sent me.. I tried to never play that song live because I thought if I did, then I would only be known for that sound. I think it was a good choice because people stopped asking for it after a year or so.
You sampling mainstream HIP HOP/POPS. Why did you use them as materials? Did you have a feeling of mischief for the mainstream music? or, Simply did you like it?
I usually just sampled stuff because I thought it sounded good. I also thought I could use full acapellas since I would never sell enough copies for anyone to ever bother suing me. I do have songs with original vocals too. I would have made more like that if I had just known more singers.
From the end of the 1990s to the beginning of 2000 a artist of the same sense as you appeared. For example, "Kid 606", "Venetian Snares", "Jason Forrest / Donna Summer", "CEX", "Mochipet", "Stunt Rock",etc. Did you sympathize with them? What do you think of the Breakcore movement at the time?
I really liked early breakcore sounding stuff. DJ Scud, Patric Catani, early kid 606 albums. I always had fun playing at breakcore parties and was friends with a lot of the artists but it wasn't a genre that I listened to very much after the first couple years.
What is the most favorite of KHC's songs? And, What is the most unforgettable memories of KHC's activities?
My favourite KHC songs are Goin Back to Scarborough, Dirty New York, Vacant Chinatown Recital and Transition Emotion. I think my favourite two memories are the first time I came to Japan and whenever I would play the Bangface parties.
Can we listen to KHC's new music?
If I ever write a new song, I'll send it to you!
Q. Finally, please give the message to readers and KHC fans.