- Fri, 2009-10-16 12:18
Honed from years of spitting licks, cutting beats and tearing apart dancefloors, Foreign Beggars bring a wealth of experience to their form of expertly produced, lyrically unique, cutting edge hip hop.
They've performed on stage and opened for Snoop Dogg, Public Enemy, Femi Kuti, Roni Size, Wu Tang Clan and many more, travelled the globe and worked with countless artists from Noisia, Guilty Simpson, Dr Syntax, Devlin and Rednaz. Now they release their third, much anticipated album United Colours of Beggatron.
I Like Music caught up with Orifice Vulgatron, MC Metropolis and DJ Nonames for a chat about the new album, music they're into, how they like to work, hooking up with new producers, the Beggattron eye-patch, goon-step and much, much more.
"I Like Music because… it’s the best shit. Fuck everything else.” Orifice Vulgatron, Foreign Beggars
"I Like Music because… it takes me to my happy place.” Metropolis, Foreign Beggars
"I Like Music because… I get to play at Fabric tonight with my mates and get paid for it.” DJ Nonames, Foreign Beggars
ILM: You’ve just been out in Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu. How was that?
Orifice Vulgatron: It’s different over there. It’s really interesting. They’re fresh out of communism. We were there for the 60th anniversary of socialist independence from the communist government. Our show in Beijing was cancelled because of all the festivities. The ceremonies were about four or five times the size of the Olympics. It was crazy! We all love travelling. We got to see a lot more this time around.
ILM: What can we expect from your current live show?
Orifice Vulgatron: It’s a lively hyped show. We really try and push the boundaries with the hip hop skills, the lyrics, the beats, the presentation. At the same time we embrace different types of underground dance music, like DnB and dubstep, and just try and get shit jumping. There’s a lot of freestyle. Nonames will cut up old jazz records, he’ll loop up, we’ll improvise, we work with beatboxers. I grew up listening to metal, I try and bring that energy, we’ll start a fucking mosh pit. We’ll play metal shit, mix it into dubstep shit, we just wanna make people go crazy.
ILM: How do you prepare your live shows?
Orifice Vulgatron: The show we do now is an evolution from the first show we ever did. We add in new songs, new bits. So many times new bits just come from a conversation half an hour before we’ve gone on stage! We know the set, we know where the freestyle is and where the musical boundaries are.
ILM: What can we expect from new album United Colours of Beggattron?
Orifice Vulgatron: Progressive, electronic, banging rap music with a light hearted twist!
Metropolis: It’s an album that will appeal to a lot of people. People into newer forms of hip hop production will be satisfied because we’ve got dope production from guys like Noisia and DJ 2tall. People into traditional rap stars will be satisfied because we’ve got guys like Guilty Simpson. People into grime will be mad into the track with Devlin on there. There’s something there for everyone, whether you’re a traditional hip hop head, you’re looking for something new or you just want to party.
ILM: How did it all come together? Has your way of working changed much since you first started?
Orifice Vulgatron: Yeah! A lot of the earlier stuff was just done with producer Dagnabbit. We were living together as well, so he’d be making beats and we’d be sat there writing at the same time.
Metropolis: He’d finish and we’d go in and record. Everything was done on the spot. Nowadays we’ve been in studios for about two or three years.
Orifice Vulgatron: Living in studios! We’ve been collecting music and wanting to collaborate with producers from all over the world. The way we make music is like a work in progress. Some things on the album are three and a half years old. We have about three hundred songs on our hard drive that we’re always making and changing. We just select and pick bits that we like and think are right for whichever project.
ILM: So how does the thought process and structure for the album develop? With so many songs, beats and ideas, how do you settle on certain songs? How do you keep check of the flow of the album as a whole? Both with beats and lyrical content...
Orifice Vulgatron: Lyrical content develops over time depending on our influences, what’s going on in the world and the kind of people that we’re with. It was especially hard with this album because we decided to work with so many different producers with different styles from all around the world. In terms of lyrics, there’s not necessarily a consistency in terms of narrative, but there is consistency in terms of tone of voice and the angle we approach things from. When you’ve decided on all the songs, picking the track order takes about three weeks. It’s hard when you’ve heard it so much, trying to listen to it with fresh ears.
ILM: Do you recruit the fresh ears of friends or family?
Metropolis: We love playing our stuff to our friends. But at the end of the day we have to have the final say. No one else can share the same vision as us, we've been here since the beginning. If we gave the album to people in several different orders I think most of them would just say “Yeah, it’s wicked man!”
ILM: You’ve collaborated and worked with so many people from around the globe. Which have been some of the most inspiring collaborations?
Metropolis: Working with Noisia was incredible. They’re a drum and bass outfit from Holland that we’ve been feeling for a long time. They were in France being driven to a show and someone played them our first album on tape and they liked it! We bumped into them backstage at Glastonbury, got chatting and after a few emails we worked on one of their tracks. In the end we didn’t use that track, we just made loads of new stuff. It was a really interesting experience. We were there with them from the beginning, building the beat from scratch.
Orifice Vulgatron: Everyone worked on everything. We had input into the beats, the sounds and the composition. They had input into the lyrics and the flow. They’d be like “No. I don’t like that.”
Metropolis: Which is rare. If someone tells me how to do my job I usually tell them to shut up! In this case it worked, we were all trying to make a dope track.
Orifice Vulgatron: It was wicked. They were experimenting with a bunch of music they don’t make and we were experimenting with a bunch of music we don’t make.
ILM: Sounds like a musical collaboration in its truest form?
Orifice Vulgatron: Yeah. There have been other collaborations that have just happened over email. We’ll send them the beat, they’ll record their part and just send it back. Like the thing we did with Frank n Dank.
Metropolis: Yeah. That wasn’t even sent direct, that was sent via their manager!
ILM: Talking of collaboration, I’ve heard there’s a remix album on the way...
Metropolis: Yeeeeaaaaaaaaaahhhh! It’s going to be sick! We wanted to branch out in terms of production as previously it was just Dagnabbit. Hip hop production has been moving forward a lot. There are so many new producers that have different sounds, plus with the whole dubstep thing blowing up. We did one track with this guy called MachineDrum from New York. He did a true remix, he’s flipped it in such a level we’re going to stick that on the next single.
ILM: I have to mention the single Contact...it’s an absolute stormer!
Metropolis: Hahaha! Dope!
Orifice Vulgatron: We took a big risk with that! We’ve never really done a proper video before, I think that held us back.
ILM: The video is mental!
Orifice Vulgatron: I had a broken rib doing that video!
ILM: What? But you’re jumping around like a mad man in most of it?!
Orifice Vulgatron: I know! Exactly! We were at Secret Garden party a couple of days before filming. The show was so hyped I decided to stage dive. So I did. I came back on, saw the 10ft speaker stack and was just like “Right. I’m gonna do that!” I’ve jumped off that height before, but this time there was a banner, so people couldn’t see me that well. I jumped and about three kids put their hands up. I just went down.
DJ Nonames: He landed on some bald headed dude. I just looked up to see him coming back to the stage with this pained look on his face...
Orifice Vulgatron: There were a lot of people working on that music video though. The team were fucking incredible.
ILM: When you look back over your career so far, what have been some of the biggest highlights?
DJ Nonames: Everytime we jump on a plane, go to a new place and there is someone there to meet us that is a fan, looks after us and then we smash another show. I just think how lucky we are to do this.
Metropolis:Absolutely man. We’ve met so many incredible people doing this. We’ve been to so many incredible places. Going to places like China and making people feel our music....it’s what it’s all about.
ILM: What’s your advice to anyone who would like to pursue a career in the music industry?
Orifice Vulgatron: Stop talking about it and do it. Anyone can. People admit defeat because it’s easier. If you want to do it no one can stop you. Be creative. Don’t do music as a front, just be true to what you want to create. I know so many people who have been ready to release music for four or five years and just haven’t stepped out the box. It’s a shame. If you’ve got it and you want to do it, do it.
DJ Nonames: And make sure you get an eye patch.
ILM: Like a pirate?
DJ Nonames: No. For travelling.
Orifice Vulgatron: That’s a wicked idea! For merchandise! The Beggattron eye patch!
ILM: You’re all very passionate about music. Can you remember the first time music really hit you? When you realised it was what you wanted to do?
DJ Nonames: I can. I was nine years old in Kentucky. I just loved Hip Hop and black culture. Basketball, The Fat Boys, Bobby Brown, DJ Jazzy Jeff. My mum bought me He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper and I remember hearing Live at Union Square with Jazzy Jeff cutting it up. I remember thinking “Man. That’s some cool shit. That’s me. I wanna be a DJ.”
Metropolis: I was about four or something and they gave our whole class at school an instrument. They gave me a xylophone and the teachers thought I was so good they went and told my mum. She pushed me into music lessons, guitar, drums, trombone. I never really stuck with instruments. I got into hip hop and that was my main focus. I knew from a young age it was what I wanted to do, it was just a question of how.
ILM: Do you remember the first time you picked up pen and paper?
Metropolis:Yes I do actually! I was nine and I was living in Ghana. I had a cousin who played the drums, my brother played keyboard and we decided to make a rap tune. I was picked to be the rapper! So I wrote a little rhyme! That was my first one!
Orifice Vulgatron: How did it start?
Metropolis:I don’t remember that shit man! Haha! I bet it was whack too!
Orifice Vulgatron: Hahaha! When I was three or four we were in San Francisco where my mum grew up. She had this sports car. My mum was only around twenty four at the time and her brother was seventeen, so they were still partying. I remember sitting in the back of their car, cruising round San Francisco listening to heavy metal and just being amazed! I remember hearing Michael Jackson and Prince for the first time. My mum was a real rocker, she used to pump out RATT and Motley Crue all the time! RATT were the first band we all fell in love with.
ILM: What music have you been listening to recently?
Metropolis:Over the last couple of years I’ve been really getting into soul and jazz. I’ve suddenly discovered a love for deep Detroit techno too, guys like Theo Parrish. That was the last gig I went to at Plastic People. Incredible show, incredible live.
DJ Nonames: Subtrakt. He’s just remixed for Basement Jaxx. Two step, weird apocalyptic shit. The production level is incredible. A new sort of garage sound. A lot of dubstep guys are doing that. It’s spawning a whole new type of dubstep. You can’t even say dubstep anymore! There’s Dubby Dubstep, Upfront stuff, then Pub-Step, Club-Step, Goon-Step! All these kinds of fucking something-step...I mean, there’s the synth heavy Bristol sound. So many...
Orifice Vulgatron: There’s a band called Meshuggah. Which I can’t stop listening to! I’ve also been revisiting my teenage years! Lots of Soundgarden! Having not made metal for so many years, listening to it is refreshing. Meshuggah are the best band on the planet right now! I’m listening to old jungle again too. My Kenny Ken tapes and One Nation tapes. I put that on and start buzzing!
DJ Nonames: Kenny Ken has a son called Chrissy Chris...
ILM: Yeah, he has a DnB show on 1Xtra...
DJ Nonames: Yeah right. Check out his dubstep. He makes some ill dubstep...