On Ninja Tune
If you followed the "underground" hip-hop movement in North America during the late 90's, you probably have seen his name on a couple of the records, and you most likely saw him on stage ripping it at many shows around that time. Buck 65, Sebutones, 1200 Hobos, Sage Francis, Peace (Freestyle Fellowship), L'ronius, Haltown Projex, The Goods, and various Anticon members all have a place in the story. It's a very long story... one that stretches 14 years... from the teen years spent in a van on rap tours, to the international travel of full grown man with a mastery of craft... all there in recorded form if you wish to unearth the past. It's all relevant to what Sixtoo is doing today, but neither him nor any of the aforementioned people tend to dwell on the past.
Early 2000 is when it all really started coming together for Sixtoo the producer. Just before leaving Halifax, he released Duration, a record that, for the first time, took him away from the mic, and put him solely behind the sampler. The results were heralded as an instrumental hip-hop classic, and things started looking up, way up, for Sixtoo.
The following year saw him freshly re-located to Montreal, and signing on with UK based Vertical Form Records. The relationship with Vertical Form saw the release of "Antagonist Survival Kit", a sinister synth-based sample record that showcased both sides of his skills: on the mic for half of it, and hitting the SP buttons for the 2nd half. It was signature Sixtoo production and rhymes, but one also got the sense that spending some time holed up in the North-end of Montreal during a cold ass winter was starting to bring something different to the mix.
By the time 2003 rolled around, while burning through numerous live sets and college radio spins, Sixtoo had come to the attention of the Montreal Ninja Tune office. He found himself with a fresh new contract, and a turning point on which to really assess his work up to that point and to decide on how he wanted to proceed. All the releases up to that point had reached some type of notoriety, but also were hinting at another level of untapped potential.
So when it came time to record what would become his Ninja debut, "Chewing On Glass & Other Miracle Cures", a completely new style was employed. Not content to make another record based on mining wax for samples, he set about tapping into various live musicians to get the source material that would ultimately be chopped up and re-arranged for this record. Taking the basic idea of sample-based hip-hop music but building the samples from live sources, and in some cases just letting the live elements take over. All in all...it was something else. Can's Damo Suzuki, Norsola and Thierry from Godspeed You Black Emperor, Matt Kelly, Eric Craven from The Hanged Up, and many more could all be heard programmed and chopped in the signature Sixtoo dark/sinister way. All brought together to create what was essentially a psyche rock/jazz masterpiece as made by a long time hip-hop producer, and established him as one of the heavy hitters in the international electronic beats community.
"Chewing On Glass..." was followed up the "Body Ache Summer" EP and a relentless worldwide touring schedule with Blockhead & DJ Signify. All culminating into capping off the campaign underneath some palm trees in a hot tub after killing it with drum machine fury at Coachella (also capping off the campaign was tour facial hair of a Greg Norton level of awesomeness). The shows themselves having become rumor status amongst producers and fans.
Since that point Big Six has kept himself busy with a string of single releases on Bully Records, covering himself with tattoo's, getting busted for graffiti in numerous countries, destroying club sound-systems with his dancefloor-heater 'Megazoid' project (a live remix collaboration with Hadji Bakara from Wolf Parade), and finishing up his Ninja Tune follow up "Jackals and Vipers In Envy of Man" (to be released August 07).
For this new record Sixtoo has delved further into the solo electronics realm. Surrounded by a stack of machines in his studio space he set-out to make a record that was compiled off Sixtoo live sets in various places and times.... he then stitched them together as a tape-edit record. The previously-referenced signature drum machine fury was combined with dark melodic electronics/synths to create some film-noir style paranoia, all of which has been pieced together into one suite with many different parts, but that uses the live experience as the backbone for the LP. These are the Sixtoo official edits from his live work compiled since Chewing on Glass. They sound as you would expect.... aggressive and deep and complex and spatial, and more importantly, tough as nails.
Look for Sixtoo back on the road again later this year both under his own name and various other guises supporting this record and a forthcoming follow up singles-based EP with some vocal takes on new the albums dense sound.