Over three years ago Pizza Hotline reached out to me to ask if I would be down to release his album Pressing Business through my label. It started an amazing journey together and we have collaborated multiple times after that. Pizza Hotline is one of the greatest guys in the scene, so I decided to do an interview with him. Enjoy!
We have been having such a cool ride together during the years. If I remember correctly, we first talked on Instagram in 2019 or 2020 when you submitted Pressing Business. How's life in the UK?
Yeah it’s been great and Cityman has always looked after me and my music. You’ve always helped me make beautiful physical releases :) The UK is nice and warm this time of year, I love it! In terms of the music scene I’ve been to some very compelling live events in London hosted by My Pet Flamingo and Aloe City. There’s two more coming up, one called CLUB BIOS hosted by Shirobon and the other will be put on by Pure Life Records. I’ll be playing at both of them which is exciting.
You charmed people all over the world with the video game inspired Level Select album. How does it feel to produce such a successful album?
I have to say, it’s incredibly gratifying to have had such a powerful response to something I’ve made. I’ve been making music for a long time but I've never had a response like this. I still can’t believe it. Thanks to everyone who’s supported me and helped me transition into being a full time artist.
What's the most memorable comment you have got from a fan?
Somebody once messaged me and said that their 3 year old son loves one of my tunes (Level Select) and dances to it every day and begs his dad to play it when they are in the car. He also said he calls it ‘the ghost song’ for an unknown reason. Kids are so funny.
We're living in the era of social media, so unfortunately it's quite easy to spread toxic comments around the internet about someone else's music. What kind of negative comments have you faced lurking in the world wide web about your music and how do they affect you?
Thankfully most of the comments I get on my music are positive, thank you internet! However, I once received the following email which is equally hilarious and bizzare.
"Bro I'm sorry if I'm judging you but what is this music? It's a continuous loop, it has no drop, it has nothing. Man you're cued, and your genre is sheesh. I'm not judging anyone. I'm not Martin Garrix but at least my music has drop, not a continuous loop that costs 5 bucks."
Pressing Business will be re-released on various formats on June 16th via Cityman Productions. What was your vision behind the album?
Pressing Business was one of my first steps in the shoes of Pizza Hotline. The vision was to create a concept album about a vigilante pizza delivery boy who’s a bit like a hitman but instead of killing people, he delivers pizzas to them over and over with weird toppings to terrorize them. The concept is a little half baked, and I’m not entirely sure I achieved what I set out to do. Ultimately the whole thing was just for fun. Thinking back, it was a really weird idea, but I’m glad it materialized. All the skits are original and all the voice acting was done by me and my partner, I played both Michael Sylviera and Pizza Hotline and she played Shelly, the secretary. I’ve got good memories of us recording the voice overs and having fun. I’ll always be fond of this album.
What kind of a sound were you trying to achieve with Pressing Business?
The sound of this album is very specific. It’s my own fruity and slow motion interpretation of Chicago House. I’ve always been obsessed with the classic track Mr Fingers - Can You Feel It. The bass line and pads are pure perfection. I took a lot of inspiration from that track but put my own spin on it. Every track on the album was sequenced at around 120 BPM then bounced to tape (sometimes cassette, sometimes reel to reel) and slowed down, then re-recorded back in. This brought all the tracks to around the 100 BPM mark. There’s something so beautiful about slowing something down on tape, you get this amazing sludgey, grimey feeling compared to the digital domain where you can sometimes get artifacts when you pitch stuff down. Have you ever played a 45 RPM record at 33 RPM and preferred it? Me and my friends used to do that all the time when we were kids, I guess that’s where I got the idea.
As for the gear and tools used to make the album, Pressing Business was made mostly with hardware synthesizers and tape machines. I made it back in 2019 when I was very much into using hardware. Things are different now, but those were good times. From memory here’s a list of gear that I used: Tesla B-100 Reel to reel tape machine, Roland Juno-60, Roland JX-3P, Yamaha PSR-36, Roland TR-8, Alesis MIDIVerb 1, Elektron Octatrack & Zoom 1201.
There're hilarious skits on Pressing Business and they make me laugh every single time. Why did you decide to include the skits on the album and how were they done?
I used to listen to a lot of hip-hop albums when I was younger that often had skits. I loved the idea of having small contextual soap opera style clips between tracks to help convey a narrative. It’s something that’s not as common these days. In all honesty, listening back now I think they’re quite cringeworthy. Here’s one of my favorites from an Eminem album. I've never understood any of it but it still cracks me up every time.
The original Pressing Business cassette included the super funny O-card with the toppings checkboxes like "walnut", "codeine", "durian", "diazepam" etc. Everyone who bought the tape could pick their three favorite toppings when ordering the tape and I ticked the boxes using a black marker. How big a role does cover artwork play in the whole in your opinion?
Yeah that was a quite a fun inclusion. I can’t take all the credit, Tony (cityman) was the brains there :)
Honestly, I personally feel like album artwork is now more important than ever. Our lives are saturated by choice and we are constantly bombarded by music throughout our days. It’s quite often that I’ll choose to listen to something based on the album artwork. A successful album cover conveys how the album sounds. Gendema is a master at this, he does all my artwork.
My favorite toppings for a Pizza Hotline pizza are triple codeine with a pinch of diazepam. What's your favorite topping combo?
Providing I’m not operating any heavy machinery it would have to be Triple Cheeses and Diazepam.
Last but definitely not least, what would you like to say to your fans?
Stay cheesy. And thank you a thousand times for the support!