ASM, standing for A State of Mind, are bringing back the funky, reggae, jazzy, live sounding hip-hop of the J-5s, the Pharcydes, the People Under the Stairs’s. Accompanied by an all star line up of international hip-hop artists, they have been steadily touring and are gaining popularity by the second. Platypi are rare, so I was lucky to get some good answers out of these globetrotters, real cool guys who were a pleasure to talk to. Get to know.
— Green T, one of the emcees,
— Fade the producer,
—- & I’m FP wassup!
Where are you all from?
GT: Well, we’re kinda of a mixed background. I’m Canadian, Fade, is English and FP is of German origin, but we all met at an international school in Germany. In the extended crew we’ve got Americans and French and Japanese and stuff, it’s kinda of real international type situation. A lot of us have dual nationality.
Do you rap in other languages than English?
GT: I’ve done one track in German, and we’ve done a couple of things where we kind of switch back and forth…
Tell us about the new album.
GT: It’s called Platypus Funk. It’s just come out in most places in Europe, it should be out in the UK in May. It’s our debut album featuring Wax Tailor, DJ Vadim, Sadat X from Brand Nubian, Wildchild from the Lootpack, Madik, Fredo, Kidkanevil, Bonobo. And it’s dope!
GT: Yeah its coming on vinyl and there’s a 7 inch coming out with the track with Wildchild called ‘Root To The Fruit’ and a track with Sadat X called ‘Certified Organic’ coming out in late April, early May. Release date TBC…
Fade: that’s UK exclusive, on first word records.
GT: The ‘Worldwide’ track is on the album and we’ve got a music video for that as well.
The reason for the Platypus reference in the album title is because the Platypus is like a mongrel hybrid creature, difficult to classify and we identify with that because of our international background. But also because of the musical influence, we take a lot of influence from funk and roots reggae and soul as well as old school hip-hop…
But the worldwide track is basically thematically referring to that, and also kind of a nostalgic thing about (how) we all met in school and used to write graffiti together when we we’re kids and now we’re touring together and playing all over Europe, so it talks about that… and that’s what it’s like – worldwide you know?
Are you digging for records to sample?
Fade: Yeah, the production is a mix of, I’ll be digging, find a record, reggae, jazz, soul, anything really. Sample it, make a beat with the MPC and then I usually go in the studio with a group of musicians from an English funk band called the 6ix Toys. We also tour with the trombone and saxophone player, Makie and Paulo from the 6ix Toys. And often Ill work with them around the sample, sometimes replay parts of the sample, add to the sample with the bassist, double bass, saxophone and trombone. So we do a mix of the sampled music as well as then getting the live element on top of it.
Tell me your experiences of the multilingual side of hip-hop. (Question directed at FP)
FP: Well, we’ve definitely had influences from all kinds of genres, cultures and countries. We grew up in Germany, and in the late 90’s it had that whole kind of golden era early 90’s US sound coming in and a lot of really fresh emcees in Germany, I was really digging that so….
FP: One of the illest emcees, German emcees I would say is Dendeman. He’s just sick… Eins Zwo, incredible, Freudeskreis is also dope…
Fade: From more of a live show thing, one of the first hip-hop shows I saw was Sian Supa Crew from France and the energy that they bring on stage is something we definitely took influence from. But also, not so much on the language thing but we listen to people like Nujabes, a Japanese producer who died recently, unfortunately, but one of the illest producers…
Mitsu the Beats?
FP: Yeah, Jazzy Sport.
Fade: Exactly, holding it down. The fact that we went to a school with a lot of nationalities gave us the opportunity to be given lots of different music from different places. In general if you were chilling at your homie’s house they might put on a CD from somewhere you’ve never heard of and it was dope. Definitely been touched by many different countries and types of music from different places.
GT: Our first ever release was Japan only, on MicLife recordings (who put our Asheru & Blueblack over there).
You’re big in Japan?
GT: Well, I don’t know about big but we have a record out there, and the new album will be out there too, but we’ve got some good Japanese homies. Right now, we’re trying to take it back to the cross border, transnational thing where we’re working a lot with French cats obviously, Wax Tailor, but we’ve also got a project called Fantastic Planet…
It’s four beatmakers, us two on the mic, plus a third emcee from North Carolina, our homie Mr Mattic, and a Danish Singer. For us it’s, we like to work with whoever is dope wherever they might come from.
You are quite laid back but is there a political drive behind your music?
Fade: Definitely. Maybe not purposely…
FP: There is usually a little bit of a political element or a moral to what we are trying to say to get the listener to open their eyes and ears a little bit. Because the shit on the radio nowadays has no content and isn’t about anything so it’s just sad. We always try to spread a message and there’s always something we try to express with what we write and how we make a sound.
Fade: I don’t necessarily think it is a conscious thing, but I guess to the outside it might seem like we’re more politically conscious than most, but we just talk about whatever it is we’re thinking about, whatever’s relevant.
FP: There are injustices which are very blatant in today’s society and we speak about them. We don’t just ignore them and talk about girls and the club to the bank.
GT: Back to the club.
Fade: Back to the bank…
(Everyone laughs together for a minute)
Fade: The thing for me is, it’s a misuse of the terminology. Part of the reason we called our record Platypus Funk is because we feel that the funk – funk breaks and funk culture has a lot more to do with how we live our lives and how we see the world than what most people consider ‘hip-hop’ nowadays you know…
GT: Yeah, yeah and the generation of young kids growing up now – it’s fucked up, because for us it was always about graffiti and cultural attitude, and there was always parties with breakdancers and funk DJs and obviously the whole battle thing, but that was always on a friendly vibe. The same with Jamaican sound system culture. And it’s sad you have to almost excuse yourself, I make hip-hop – but it’s not what you think to your average layman who doesn’t have the cultural background.
People think you’re gonna be a certain way because of hip-hop…
Fade: The example that we always use is, if you’re out and you meet a girl and they ask what you do, you don’t wanna say I’m a Hip-Hop musician. Then she has this weird idea that you’re some kind of heavy thug – it makes no sense but you’re almost embarrassed to say that you make Hip-Hop music because of what mainstream culture has done to it.
GT: The caricaturisation is a problem now because the stuff that we grew up listening to and that we make has very little to do with the shit you see on TV or whatever, so it’s almost too late now, but ten years ago there should have been a break in the terminology where people stopped calling it hip-hop because it’s almost an insult to our culture and the culture of a lot of people. It’s something that really means a great deal…
IBMCs has similar views on these issues – the positive side of hip-hop.
GT: We’re all about positivity really.
So, go grab the album and catch them when they pass though a town near you.
By: Esh | For international hip-hop: http://www.myspace.com/ibmcs