Stereo MC’s Rob Birch in conversation with Fred Everything


With a hugely anticipated brand new album, Love, Care, Kindness, and Hope, on the way Fred Everything is on an roll right now. The album lands in it’s entirety on 3rd May and you can grab it HERE. Ahead of the album’s release Fred has already given us a flavour of what to expect with three delicious singles having landed over the last couple of months. Never features house legend Robert Owens, Breathe is a collab with the crazy talented James Alexander Bright and now Soul Love featuring none other than Rob Birch from UK electronic legends the Stereo MC’s has just landed and it’s very special indeed. We premiered it a couple of days ago HERE and you can check it below.

To celebrate the release of the single Fred spoke with Rob about his career, the single and his label Connected which specialises in the deeper edges of house music. Having just seen them live at the Barrowlands in Glasgow I can wholeheartedly confirm that the Stereo MC’s are still an incredible live band.

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Hello Rob!

How are you? Where are you based these days and what has kept you busy musically recently?

Hey Fred, how goes man? I’m in good shape, on the road. A few years ago I moved to the south-east coast of UK near Margate. It’s a trip for me to be beside the sea after living most of my life in the city (South London). I do some work helping Nick run our label (Connected) and I have a studio in my kitchen where I play loud and a music room where I compose and do vocals. My life has been about music since my parents bought me a guitar, a Stratocaster copy (Watkins rapier) for my 12th birthday. I have been working on many ideas that I hope to be included in a new LP. We also made some music for a TV show called Snakes in the City and I DJ regularly on the local radio station (Margate Radio).

We have a collaboration out right now, Soul Love, can you tell people more about the song, especially the lyrics and what inspired you?

I like to capture vocal atmosphere’s before my thought process kicks in so the first time I listened to the rhythm track I sang into my phone and recorded my instinctive response. It was a feeling that I was looking for that I could develop. I liked the way the chords suggested forgiveness, yet the groove was strident, hard and energetic. The contrast echoed elements of our lives at that time, full of energy but unable to physically touch due to lockdown. It made me think of how we sometimes sleepwalk through life, numbed by the overstimulation, walking through the streets in my mind and waking up, reach for the soul don’t be scared to try. The lyrics also carry a feeling for me of my own life experience at that time, reflecting a troubled period that had come to an end. The enforced solitude meant there were no distractions and I had to live with the consequences of this period of my life, come to terms with it, before I could move on.

We often associate Stereo MC’s with a more soul & hip hop background, but what a lot of people are not aware is that you are still very active in the dance world today with your label Connected and collaborations with people like Adam Port (and the great Jimpster Remix). What keeps you motived and inspired in today’s musical landscape?

Discovering music and artists and visual things that are new to me. There is so much information out there it can be intimidating so I try to limit the amount of time I spend as a spectator and focus on refining myself as an instrument. I find new and old music opens doors and widens my imagination of what can be done and how I can grow. Being part of the electronic music scene focusing on Afro House with our label keeps a constant stream of young artists and new ways of thinking. I like the organic rawness and mixture of real instruments and electronics, the dirt in the sound of samples and the new ways of singing and music culture that this genre has been introducing and changing the game. Working in the studio means I spend many hours in the same space so it’s important for me to keep myself fresh and bring something fresh in my energy each time I come to put a shift in.

Swimming, walking, life disciplines, keeping calm, eating decent food….Being happy and collaborating all helps to balance things and take inspiration from the past as well as the present.

Did Acid House inform your sound or at least your attitude towards music when you it first came out? How important was it to the Stereo MC’s sound?

It was formed in the melting pot that we all came from. Part of the atmosphere, the air and the energy and was a signpost of the times for how the elements were evolving. The attitude and growth of rave culture along with the music had a rebel dystopian love vibe which fed everyone finding their path in music for the dancehall, so yeah, for sure, it was inevitably in the water. We made an acid tune called Sex Under LSD but I no longer have the cassette. In the studio we built at Gee St records, our first label formed with Jon Baker and Ritchie Rich, Nick recorded sessions with DS Building Contractors who became The Orb and guy’s like Bam Bam used to record and I’d give them lifts to the station in my little Mini. Cesare, our DJ, also used to play a lot of raves. Hip hop, acid, electro, house, dub, reggae, rare groove, funk…they all played from the same dj booth in those days.

This is why I was always drawn to the UK scene. Such a great diversity of music.

What else can we look forward to musically from you in the next year? Any solo material or collaborations?

Yes 🙂 when we get home there are many ideas we are working on for an LP. There is also a collaboration waiting in the wings which I recorded some time ago called Mind and Movement but I have to wait and see what will happen with that. I hope to collaborate much more in the future.

You still tour a fair amount. Do you still enjoy it as much? Where can we find you playing live next?

At this very moment I am on the road to Sheffield on the fifth leg of a UK tour opening for the Happy Mondays and Inspiral Carpets. A lot of shows we have played in some very nice old theatres. I’m grateful for these opportunities still to be knocking at our door so I keep fit as part of my work and life path and for the good health of our future music. The older I get the wiser I must use my energy and experience . In honesty, it’s a love / fear relationship 🙂 Showtime is the potential climax but the run up is nervous and must be handled with discipline.
We play some festivals and European gigs later in the year but this tour will be our main live excursion in 24.

Happy Mondays and Inspiral Carpets, you got my attention! The last one is not a question but rather an expression of gratitude. I want to thank you for accepting my invitation to collaborate. It was not only a pleasure but an honour to work with you. We had a lovely meeting on Zoom during the pandemic, but I hope we get to meet in person one day! Thanks Rob!

The funny thing is I also had knowledge of your tunes before this collaboration and was very happy for this chance, so thanks Fred. You also pushed me to refine the idea which I appreciate. That’s the beauty of music… See you bro.

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