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Award winning Hip Hop trio return to The Music Barn!

The Scribes are a multi-award winning Hip Hop three piece based in the South West consisting of lyricist/producer Ill Literate, rapper Jonny Steele and beatbox maestro Lacey. The group’s unique talents have combined to make a trademark sound unlike any other, featuring a seamless blend of live instrumentation and sampling set against a block rocking backdrop of booming bass and boom bap breaks.

Known for critically acclaimed performances full of energy, beatboxing and off the cuff freestyling, The Scribes have become festival favourites across the UK, regularly gracing the stage at Glastonbury Festival, Wilderness Festival, Boomtown Fair, Urban In Ibiza, Shambala Festival, Bearded Theory, Leopallooza and many more.

We caught up with Shaun (AKA Ill Literate) ahead of their return to the Music Barn festival in June 2022.

Hey guys - thanks for linking up with us amidst your busy schedule of work, performances and travel. From the outside it looks as though you have the dream job, writing music and performing in front of crowds and at festivals across the UK. How did you start your career?

S: It’s definitely an amazing job and we feel very blessed to be able to do it!

When we first started out it certainly wasn’t with a career in mind, us and some friends had some very basic music production software and I managed to rig up a recording set up using a karaoke machine, plastic microphone and two tape decks that we’d make music on just for fun.

That progressed to doing some hosting/rapping duties at hip hop nights which gave us the chance to eventually do a last minute fill in set performing our original music.

We loved the buzz of that so it then became “Maybe we can get our name on a flyer one day” to “Maybe we could be top of the flyer one day” to “Maybe we could get some drinks for performing one day” and from there onto paid gigs and proper vinyl releases that eventually, after many years, became a wonderful way to get by! As I say, we feel very fortunate to be able to do what we love around the country and share it with so many dope people!

What’s been your most memorable career moment to date?

S: Other than being compared to Gareth Bale on the Music Barn Instagram (Not sure Gareth would be chuffed with that comparison to be honest)?!

Man there’s so many! And they keep coming, so this answer probably changes every month or so! We signed with Stimulus Management at the start of the year, and just seeing our name on the same roster as Wu Tang Clan, Nas, Snoop and other legends that we’ve all listened to for so long is still a bit mind blowing to me, so that’s definitely the current career moment that stands out!

You guys really get the crowd jumping; is there a formula you use, or do you just go with the flow?

S: We definitely like to keep things loose to an extent and involve enough freestyle and variety that each show’s a different experience, but there’s also set tracks/crowd participation bits that we can bring out when the vibe’s right, and the odd run of 2-3 tracks that we like to play back to back as we feel they make a bit of a journey together. Each show’s different though, so it’ll often depend on the crowd/environment!

You are embarking on a tour this year. What music do you guys enjoy listening to while touring the country?

S: We used to just take it in turns to play any song we wanted while we’re traveling, but nowadays we tend to set a theme like “Songs from the 80s” or “Movie songs” and take it in turns ​to pick from within that theme. We’re going to start opening up the themed track choices to suggestions from anyone as we travel via our Instagram stories @thescribes so be sure to give us a follow if you’ve got some bangers we should know about!

Festivals and music venues have taken a massive kick over the past two years. Has the scene changed much in the wake of the pandemic?

S: I’m really surprised and pleased about how normal things seem to be again now! So many venues and festivals had a massively hard time just continuing to exist over the past few years so it’s been absolutely amazing to see them back and doing so well. It’s really shown how much support and demand there is out there for live music, and now everyone’s able to do so again it’s great seeing crowds out and just having a damn good time.

Where do you love to spend time when you’re not on stage? / How do you like to relax when you’re not working?

S: I’m a bit of a homebody, so apart from working on new bits in the studio, I tend to be doing things there. I read a lot of books and comics and I’m utterly obsessed with Japanese Pro Wrestling (NJPW to be precise!) so I watch a lot of that on their version of Netflix called “NJPW World”. It’s amazing.

I’m also far too into elaborately complicated board games, so I play a lot of those too. Luckily a lot of them have one player options so I don’t have to drag any of the guys into playing them with me.

You guys are based in the Bristol area. What is the live music scene like in the City? Where is the best place to go out for the night?

S: Bristol’s an AWESOME place for live music! On any given night, whatever you want, it’ll be happening somewhere and happening well! Personal recommendations for a night out in Bristol are The Attic, Mr Wolfs, The Canteen, The Golden Lion and The Old Market Assembly. Basically all the places we play, but everything they all put on is great!

This will be the second time you have played at the Music Barn festival. Who are you looking forward to watching at the event?

S: We met The Hoosiers for the first time last year and they were not only lovely guys but put on one hell of a show, so I’ll definitely be looking forward to catching them live again! Highly recommended!

Who’s your biggest musical influence?

S: Damon Albarn, without question. Love pretty much everything he’s ever done.

Marmite or Marmalade?

S: Marmalade. Though every now and then, if offered, I’ll got a for a thin spread of Marmite on buttery toast. In fact, now you’ve put it in my head, I’m going to see if we’ve got any Marmite in...

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