The Mouse Outfit interview: Escape Music

We revisit our chat with the Mancunian hip hop collective ahead of their performance at Skiddle's 16th birthday party.

Henry Lewis

Last updated: 3rd May 2017.
Originally published: 24th Aug 2016

Image: The Mouse Outfit

A hip hop collective hailing from Manchester, The Mouse Outfit have been repping for the North West long before a certain Bugzy Malone put 'Manny on the map'. Their 2013 debut album Escape Music won Wordplay Magazine's UK hip hop album of the year on account of its laid back jams and instant head nodders.

As a collective, TMO are nine strong with a rotating roster of emcees that predominantly sees Doctor Syntax and Sparkz bringing fast flows and insightful lyrics to the table. Their hook up with Truthos Mufasa and Black Josh was the catalyst for the group's most notable track, 'Sit Back' (listen below) and it's this variation in personnel that makes them so intriguing to listen to.

Their onstage performances blur the lines of funk, classic hip hop and breaks while a slew of support slots for the likes of The Sugarhill Gang and Souls of Mischief have heightened their profile.

The festival circuit is arguably where they are most at home and last year conquered the likes of Boomtown, Secret Garden Party and Edinburgh Jazz Festival

We looked back at our chat with the group ahead of a show at Skiddle's 16th Birthday which hits Sound Control on Thursday 18th May

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Your music is made for festivals, how did it go down last season? Any highlights in particular?

I think people enjoy seeing the live band and we've played to some great crowds last summer. Boomtown is always a bit special for us and this time we played as part of a Manchester takeover with loads of bands we know so that was amazing. The biggest highlight was probably our gig at the Lambeth Country Show which was probably the biggest crowd we've ever played to.

Who are your favourite Mancunian MCs or rappers?

We have worked with several Manchester MCs ...Fox, Sparkz, Truthos Mufasa, Black Josh, Dubbul O, Tman and Lyricalligraphy. We're also enjoying some new artists such as Children of Zeus, Cul de Sac, Layfullstop and Iamddb as well as established Manchester artists like Jenna G and DRS who both have amazing live bands.

We'd also like to mention Stockport born DJ and producer Mr Scruff who has been an inspiration to us for many years.

Hip hop is all about messages, what are you trying to get across with your music?

The lyrics are all written by the featured rappers but they know what sort of vibe we want when they work with us. I think the title of our first album 'Escape Music' sums up the subject matter of many of our tracks.

Describe the creative process behind your remixes album came out last October

Chini, The Mouse Outfit founder and producer, did most of the organisation for the album. He approached a number of producers and asked if they were interested in remixing one of our tracks.

For some we had a particular track in mind that we felt would suit that artist and for others, we asked them to choose a track from one of our two albums 'Escape Music' or 'Step Steadier' We then sent them the individual parts to work with. It was all conducted online with us giving feedback to the remixers on how we felt things sounded. It took about a year to get the compilation together

Did you work with a lot of different artists to make it?

Yes. For the album so we worked with 12 different remixers. It was great to be able to collaborate with a number of friends and also some artists we hadn't met before, but were just big fans of.

For some it took a long time to get a remix we liked and others sorted it in a couple of weeks. It's not a project we've done before so it was great to see how other producers might reinterpret our material.

All of the remixes were unheard. We thought it would be nice to release a package of all new music rather than just compiling previously released material.

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