These are the transcripts of an interview with McEnroe. The interview was conducted by Neoteric, mid 2001.
MVRemix: So tell me about your hip hop history…
Well, it started in Brandon Manitoba, in about '90, I guess. As far as getting into hip hop, about '89,'88. Not that early. I was always into music. I always wanted to make music. Then I got into hip hop as sort of a casual listener, but I listened to a lot of punk rock and pseudo alternative rock and all that Indy rock sort of thing and hip hop sort of crept into my consciousness with Public Enemy, De La Soul, Tribe Called Quest, you know, all the usual white boy "my first rap tapes", and from there I had 2 friends Tyler and Pat who liked hip hop alot more then me. Pat lived, slept, and dreamed rap music and he played himself every day dressing like dudes in video and stuff. He was a big influence... he really pushed for me to get into it and brought me more obscure tapes and stuff rather then the usual De La and Tribe, and sure enough their work paid off because they got me into it pretty big. In '92 I started making beats as a trio, and we didn't have a name at that point but we just got started by screwing around with a turntable my dad had that had pitch control, looking for drums and stuff, and it went from there, but most of it started with the parents record collection
MVRemix: Why did you decide to do Billy's vision?
I was approached by Andrew Hunter who is an artist I had actually met here in Vancouver when he was with the Vancouver Art Gallery. He was given this opportunity to do this project and he wanted to do a soundtrack and he liked what I was doing, and we went from there. It wasn't just like I sat down one day and decided to do it. He approached me and commissioned me to do it and offered to pay me and we worked out all the details and he gave me some information about the Billy character, including some previous works with the character and I just went to work between the months of Oct and Dec of '99, and it was interesting because I had such a deadline. I had to have it done by the end of December, so as a result there are some short things that I might not have used if I didn't have a deadline
MVRemix: What kind of reception is it getting from the art community?
Well, I'm not getting much. I might get better feedback if I had my email or something on the packaging. The packaging is very subtle and says 'soundtrack by McEnroe ' that's all it says, so you kinda have to work to find me, if you didn't already know who I was. So I didn't get much feedback really, the only feedback I got was the opening night of the exhibit and all the people from that art gallery itself were all over me saying that they really liked it and stuff, so that was good. Since then I have only had feedback from my circles, the hip-hop circles, and that's been very positive
MVRemix: What do you say to production purists who shun the computer as a production tool?
I just laugh…I don't care. I think the reason why it's shunned is because there's lots of kids that just get started, make their first beat and think that's all there is to it, and they never really learn any real production techniques. I mean, I've been making beats for 10-11 years now, so it's not like I started yesterday with Acid or something. I started with pause tapes. Then I got an 8 second Gemini. Then I got an Akai s01 and I did 7 albums with it, playing it by hand, so I've got a good feel for beats and I had 15 seconds of samlping time to make 7 albums. So I don't care. Then, when I got a computer I realized that instead of having 15 seconds, I had 15 hours. Or a day. It broadens what I can do so I just laugh at that because it's absurd.
MVRemix: Anything particular about the hip hop industry that frustrates you, or have you pretty much adapted to the bullshit that comes with being an independent artist?
Yeah, I've definitely adapted. My frustrations these days are not at a nameless, faceless industry. It's more like as I progress I see little roadblocks and things that come up in everyday life, like not getting paid by distributors and things like that. More real things that come from experience. Not like "Hey I'm dope I should have been signed a long time ago, you know. It's like more of a real frustration of "Hey, you owe me 800 bucks. cough it up," so I've definitely adapted and am over that phase of my songwriting, that's for sure.
MVRemix: Do you have any music related regrets?
Not really. I mean its all been good. I certainly have some things I would have done differently, and some people that I have worked with that I look back on and think maybe I didn't make some good decisions, but it's all water under the bridge. I've worked with artists that have gone down very different paths then myself and I kind of wonder what I was thinking, and I've made some decisions out of friendship rather then sitting down and saying "are the really the best people I could be working with from a music standpoint?", so sometimes I let friendship get in the way as far as trying to please everyone, but no, I don't really have any regrets.
MVRemix: What's the ultimate goal of Peanuts and Corn? Do you have any goals set? Or is it more like" lets see where this takes us"?
I don't try and set goals, like "I want to sell this many units by…" or " I want to be distributed by Capitol Records by next year" or whatever. I guess it's important to have goals, but on the flipside, if you get caught up on goals, then you don't enjoy what you're doing for its own sake. I think that if I stop making music tomorrow I'd say that I've had 14 great records that I'm very proud of. That itself is an achievement and accomplishment, so I try not to get caught up. I'm certainly motivated and driven, but I'm taking things as they come because there are a lot of twists and turns and having some sort of a concrete goal could be disappointing.
MVRemix: What do your parents think of your music?
They like it a lot. They don't listen to it, but they respect it I think they have a great deal of respect for it. They watched the whole thing, so they've been very supportive and they got me started with a bit of dough, so they've definitely been positive about the whole thing. They have always been wary of me quitting the day job and taking it on full time.
MVRemix: You've just released Pip Skid and Birdapres and Moves. What else can we expect?
John Smith's solo record was just released, Blunderbus or In Transit, he was here in Vancouver to record it late last November and Dec. I'm also doing beats for Gruff the Druid, from Fermented Reptile, so he'll probably be after that. I'm also working on a split 12" and a CD to accompany it. There will be everything on the 12", plus some bonus stuff and multimedia stuff. Those are the front running projects that I'm trying to get done within the next three to four months. I'm working on a solo EP and another artist by the name of Spoof, who was on the Ethics EP, and was in Frek Sho. He's working on a solo album that will be incredible, because as far as concepts, he's unbelievable. Everything's conceptual. I'm also working on a compilation with a whole bunch of artists based on their favourite books. They pick a book and rap as a character from the book, or narrate the book, or summarize the book, and the trick is they pick the book, I read the book, then make a beat and they write the song, so it's a long process and I'll have to do a lot of reading which I don't have much time for. But right now I have alot of great people that want to work on it, I'm pretty excited. Josh Martinez, Governor Bolts are down. Sixtoo's down. Sage Francis is down, but we'll see, he's a pretty busy guy. All my Winnipeg friends are down so it'll be a pretty fun thing. I'm also going to try to get some non-rap on there too, some poetry or singing, just to liven it up and not have a bunch of avant-garde pseudo alternative boys with the same sort of perspective. It'll be fun though.
MVRemix: Is there anything you want to talk about or say, any rumours you want to kill?
I don't know, are there any rumours floating around?
MVRemix: You know about those McEnroe rumours spreading like diseases over the internet. (Laughter)
Nah, everything is pretty love now, pretty fun. Hopefully I won't overextend myself. I've talked about all these releases that I want to do and I'm going to have to step up and make a lot of beats, which is a bit of a concern for me. I've never done more then 2 or 3 albums a year, so to try and step-up and make 7 or 8 is going to be insane. I don't want to pull a RZA and fall off. I'm not going to do it if I can't. I'm not going to rush anything. Hopefully it'll all happen, but it will all be contingent on having time and having that creative energy to make it so I love it. So that's the plan. I'm enjoying it definitely.