The Mitchell Brothers

When this interview took place the Mitchell Brother's were taking part in an MTV Spanking New show for MTV Base highlighting the best of new British Urban Music. With the exception of MIA's cockney patois they were the only act out there not trying to emulate their successful American counterparts. Signed up by Mike Skinner to his Beats Label, Tony and Teddy Mitchell have broken through with the tracks "Routine Check" and "Harvey Nicks" and have just unleashed their "A Breathe Of Fresh Attire" album. As the duo go out on a UK tour they look back at being the only British act to join Mase, Mobb Deep and MOP on 50 Cents recent tour and ask will the Real Great Britain please step forward!!!

Q: You've played with some eclectic acts - MIA, 50 Cent, Roll Deep - yet it's all tagged under the one banner of Urban music. Where do Mitchell Brothers fit in?
Teddy: The way we try and make out music isn't to fit in with anybody. Roll Deep, MIA and 50 Cent are different acts all together man. That's the beauty of it - different strokes for different folks!

Q: The tour that broke you through was the 10 Rounds tour with The Streets and Kano?
Teddy: People were showing a lot of love out there bro, considering they'd never heard any of our songs apart from "Routine Check". We've been doing for a while tho and people that don't know us probably thing we just started when we hooked up with Mike Skinner

Tony: We're family. We've known each other through relatives really. We're cousins, grew up together and were kinda into the same things. The obvious thing being music and we just started it as a hobby messing around in the studio and then it started getting more serious, cos we started in like 1998 and it wasn't until 2000 that we started taking it seriously.

Q: And the cheeky twist is your not bros, but cousins. Where did you come up with the idea for the name the Mitchell Brothers?
Tony: Like I said, cos we've known each other for so long and we were messing around as kids and everything. We must have bumped into one of his cousins called Michael and he was like "You guys make me laugh all the time man, you remind me of the Mitchell Brothers". We took it as a joke at first, but I mean we didn't have a name at the time so we thought run with it.

I look at the Mitchell Brothers in the bigger scale, it really stands for the UK. That name, everyone in the UK is gonna appeal to it whether you're white, black or Asian. Obviously people are gonna tag us with the whole Phil and Grant thing, but I see past that - our music speaks for itself

Q: Is it important to you guys that you're seen as a uniquely British act?
Teddy: Of course. You have to embrace your Britishness man. Your audience is gonna embrace you so it's important to be as British as you can be.

Tony: For us it's the most natural thing you can do, because there's no point in trying to be something that you're not. You're not gonna find us chatting about gangsters and bitches. America has a big influence on us, but what we should do as British people is learn from them and create our own thing. A lot of people do try to copy the Americans, which is another way to go, but if we want to move this British music forward you're gonna have to be yourself.

Q: How do you feel this Britishness will come across when you go out to Europe and the States?
Teddy: I think it should be good. American's are open-minded to British films and British Culture...but at the same time we'll be introducing something they've never heard so it will be more interesting to them....rather than us chatting about what they're chatting about which is "I sell this amount of drugs, I sleep with this amount of girls and I drive this car" - the same old type of lifestyle which is bullshit to be honest.

Tony: The American's do the whole image thing so well. They can put out their New York clothing and caps. It's not rubbish, but for us to have our own identity like football. They watch Basketball, we watch football. They wear Airforce 1, I wear Reebok classics. That's why I keep saying we need to embrace our Britishness because you almost have to turn a blind eye to all that American stuff.

If I go to America, because of the way I talk and because of the way I dress they're going to be interested in it. If I go in a Philadelphia 76 top and bottoms with matching Airforce 1 they're gonna say it's British, but it's not different. Trust me it's all about embracing your Britishness cos at the end of the day your fans are gonna be British.

Q: Who did you listen to musically and how did you put you're stamp on it?
Tony: I listened to a lot of people, but if you're asking who did we listen to that has influenced our music i'd say Outkast, Coldplay, Oasis, Jay Z, Biggie. People might see it as a bit mad that we listen to Oasis and Coldplay, but I don't see that as mad. It's good music. The only way you're gonna come out with something new is by listening to lots of different music. From jungle to ragga. From ragga to hip-hop. From hip-hop to indie.

Q: Do you think the UK urban, UK hip-hop, whatever scene you wanna call it is coming up strong now?
Teddy: Slowly but surely. You've got Sway, Dizzee Rascal. Artists are now trying to explore and attempt different things and are crossing the boundaries.

Q: Talk us through "Routine Check", you're first single?
Teddy: We didn't take it on as a political issue, we just took something that has existed in our lives and just zoomed on it. It's something that everybody can relate to, simply because everyone's been in that situation will be able to feel something about. For us it's about rapping outside the box and trying to be different, don't try and be American cos it's been done and there's just no room for it. The general British public can't get to grips with that type of lifestyle because there are bad areas, but there ain't no ghetto's here. There's no Blood and Crips here.

Q: How do you feel about a British film such as "Bullet Boy" then?
Tony: At the end of the day there is gun culture in this country. To represent that isn't a bad thing, but it's not the only thing. When you start to gloat about it, it just becomes boring.

Q: We've been talking about Britishness, but how are the Mitchell Brothers gonna put their stamp on things because a lot of people do see you as "the mates of Mike Skinner"
Tony: The music speaks for itself. "Routine Check" doesn't sound like Mike Skinner.  "Harvey Nicks" doesn't sound like Mike Skinner. We're not trying to hang on Mike's back cos he's done his thing and he's still doing his thing. It's up for us to establish ourselves and although we'll always be affiliated with him when it comes to the music it's just the 2 of us.

Q: To just sum up the Mitchell Brothers it's brandy's and golfers tops all the way?
Teddy: I don't want people to think we're like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels or a pair of golfers. The fact is people where Lacoste and Fred Perry. I don't think people should look at it as if they've been oblivious to it all this time.

The Mitchell Brothers tour the UK in October and Europe in November
The album "A Breathe Of Fresh Attire" is out now
For more information

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