Interview: Non-Thespian

Words: Jared Wilson
Wednesday 21 July 2004
reading time: min, words

"Some people might go and see a doctor or whatever, but I'll just knock beats up and afterwards I'll feel better. It's kind of like therapy."

Non Thespian are veterans of the Nottingham hiphop scene. Recently a friend pulled out a flyer for Detonate's first Birthday bash, five whole years ago. Their name was on the line-up, representing...

The core of the band are Stanley King (vocals) and Dwyz (production), who have been working together since 1996. During this time they have been through a number of different guises, but with these two firmly at the helm. In the last few years, rapper Lethargy has also come into the fold from the Tuskan Coalition crew.

At the end of last year they supported GZA at Rock City. This was a big step for the local boys and further offers of work appear to be coming in. At the moment they are in the studio, working on an EP (out soon), with the album due for release at the beginning of next year.

I met up with Stanley, Dwyz and Lethargy at a bar in the city centre, one early summers evening...

What have you got against Thespians?

Stan (laughs): "It's a way of saying we keep it real. At the time that we were forming there were a lot of rappers who it just didn't seem were being who they really were People shouldn't be trying to sell a story that isn't their own. These are our trials and tribulations. It's there attached as a metaphor to everything that we do..."

So where did you all meet up?

Stanley: "I went to Dwyz's place in 1996 and he played me one of the beats he had done for another rapper. Straight away I told him he had to do some beats for me. Within a few weeks he rung me up and was playing a new track down the phone . I wrote the lyrics within a couple of days and we recorded it. The rest, as they say, is history..."

Lethargy: "I was doing a bit with these guys in a thing called Lyricist Hobos. Eventually we got to a point where we were like `What are we going to do now?' Then they asked if I wanted to join Non-Thespian and I got bought back into the fold. That's where I stand now, back in Nottingham and still rocking with these guys."

When did you all first start making hiphop?

Stanley: "I started bedroom rapping after being inspired by Public Enemy back in 1986. I first got in the mix and in studios with a band called Positive Noise in the late 1980's. It was a sort of mash of Jazz, Dance and hiphop. We did a few big shows, mainly at anti-facist gigs. We also supported The Shamen on their Synergy tour."

"Creatively that eventually fizzled out. My thing has always been that I want to make bread and butter hiphop beats, so I spent a long time working with a number of different acts and lending them hiphop flavours before we started Non Thespian."

Dwyz: "I always liked hiphop, but when I was younger I didn't know many rappers so I started out doing dance stuff. It's only after a few years that I became more into the Nottingham scene and worked with lyricists. I think I've kept an element of that and incorporated it into my music. I just produce for myself. I've got this angst inside my head. It's kind of like therapy. Some people might go and see a doctor or whatever, but I'll just knock beats up and afterwards I'll just feel better about life and stuff in general."

Lethargy: "I started out in the Tuskan Coalition, with my good friend Johnny Morrow and a guy called Diverse. We started doing that at a local studio called Thong, which was promoting local rock bands at the time like Black Rock, Dial O, Iron Monkey and a few other things."

"Unfortunately the Tuskan Coalition are now defunct, due to the demise of Johnny Morrow. It kind of left me in a bit of limbo, so I went back down to London and lived in Hackney for about a year."

I heard about Johnny Morrow, but I never met him. I heard he was a big lover of the Nottingham music scene..

"He had two loves, he had hardcore and he had hiphop. He was always interested in doing a hiphop group and trying to take a different avenue with the music he was making at the time."

How did it feel to be on the same stage as GZA?

Lethargy: "To be honest I didn't ever think I'd be standing up on the same stage as GZA, I didn't think that any of this would happen, but as Gangstarr said back in the day, we've paid our dues and now it's our time."

Stan: "Because we're such an unknown quantity there was a little bit of heckling when we got onstage. The only way I can respond to that, because I'm not a stand-up comedian, is to battle them with the beats."

"It was a really good show in the end though and a nice bit of exposure for us. As we speak there is the possibility of another tour, a whole UK tour with a couple of members of the Wu Tang Clan. But that's still all up in the air at the minute."

It'll be great for the local music scene if that happens..

Dwyz: "It's a brilliant opportunity. Bascially we've been doing gigs for so many years. A lot of hiphop bands tend to just stay in the studio, but when I met Stanley he was really into it, so we've made sure it's always been 50/50 on the studio and live stuff. Over the years we've worked so hard that the promoters began to believe in us and the latest culmination was doing the GZA gig. It's so important when you're independent to get yourself out there because you've got no money to promote yourselves in other ways."

Leth: "The most important thing for people out there who might look at us and think we've got it good is to realize it took years of hard work. You've got to just keep pushing and pushing. You get so many things that will stop you and fences in the way."

What other music are you feeling from Nottingham?

Dwyz: "In terms of Notts hiphop Cappo, Scorzayzee and the P Brothers are doing it for me."

Stan: "I think that there's a lot to be said about the quality of music that comes out of Nottingham, both hiphop and other genres."

Lethargy: "There's a definite scene in Nottingham that needs to be appreciated. I was sitting back with Dwyz before we came here and listened to a new track by Sophie Johnson Hill. We definitely make darker stuff than that, but it's something that people should hear. Also I should mention a crew called Blu Monkey. They're lazy, but if they ever get it together they could have something good going on..."

Tell us about Dealmaker Records...

Dwyz: "Dealmaker has been set up by this guy called Fat Ste, who believes in the Nottingham scene - not just hiphop, but all of Nottingham music. We've hooked up with them because we appreciate what they're doing. We're not officially signed to them, but we're working together. It's more just a group of like-minded people that are helping each other to succeed."

Non-Thespian - 'The Art Of Conflict' EP is out soon on Dealmaker Records

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