After their successful Mind The Rap EP Queens English have just released their debut LP ‘EQ’ and have been mad busy gigging having just had the official launch party in the Vibe bar. Find out what they are about as they spoke to Certified Banger.
Yo, who are you and what do you do? Who’s in the crew?
Queens English: We’re English Queens and we make folk-indie-pop music. Nah, we’re Queens English – a six member crew consisting of… Emcees: Sherlock, Rhymes and Mr. Chips. Singer: Source. DJ: Mr Something Else. Beatboxer: Pikey Esquire – and we make Hip Hop.
What’s your mission statement? What do you stand for?
Queens English: We stand for Hip Hop from the UK and all its genuine and honest passion, style and skill. We aim to raise the profile of Hip Hop from the UK and help it achieve the level of attention and respect it fully deserves.
How do you go about achieving that?
Queens English: Well, we believe that Hip Hop should be accessible to all but at the minute a lot of what is heard or the way it is heard isn’t connecting with the masses. Sometimes this is down to the content, sometimes – particularly with UK Hip Hop – this is down to the sound of the voice, sometimes people struggle to relate, sometimes it is just misunderstood. Music is a two way thing and it’s not always solely about the people making the music – you have to be aware that you are trying to communicate with the listener – if you are successful you will get something back as you invoke emotions, create images and generate a mood for the listener. We aim to make music that people can enjoy listening to because it has a clear message and is delivered in a way that people will want to listen.
Is your mindset a product of the way some Hip Hop has become? Is the perception of our genre a bad thing for you?
Queens English: Good question… We firmly believe that our mindset has come from within ourselves more than being a product of Hip Hop. We never set out to specifically make Hip Hop, we simply found a genre which felt right with us. Our mindset reflects our true beliefs and ambitions. However, we do believe that the mainstream perception fuels our approach towards Hip Hop …and serves as constant encouragement for us to alter it!
Do you think your stated aims will put people off? What would you say to people who think that you are being arrogant saying that your “‘aim high’ mentality is not just for sole benefit of Queens English but for the good of the whole U.K. Hip Hop scene”?
Queens English: Unfortunately you have to accept that you’re not going to please everybody. There is always the worry that your aims may be misunderstood but all we can do is encourage people to believe in us and remain true to ourselves and stay focussed on our goals.
Our mentality links in directly to UK Hip Hop as we are making Hip Hop from the UK! The genre has so many positive elements in its instrumentation and lyrical content and we strongly believe that Hip Hop from the UK should be respected as a whole and on a global scale, not just in the underground – at the minute it is not. We grew from this genre and actively support its roots and philosophy but people maybe feel threatened by our ambitions. It’s not like we want to blow up and leave UK Hip Hop struggling – we want to create a movement and build a platform for other successes to grow from.
Who are you main influences? Are you just into Hip Hop or do you listen to other kinds of music?
Queens English: As a group our main influences are Hip Hop orientated: Eminem, Foreign Beggars, Roots Manuva, The Roots, Yungun, Baron Samedi, Shurik’n, MosDef, Looptroop… However, musically, we all come from different backgrounds and our tastes are definitely not solely confined to Hip Hop, far from it in fact: Michael Jackson, Deftones, Jill Scott, Pantera, Oasis… The wide variety of music we listen to though provides many influences which help shape our music today.
What inspires you lyrically? How do you come up with subject matter?
Queens English: The music can often be the guide and allow the writing to follow like a stream of consciousness. The music can suppress or heighten particular thoughts and emotions which then somehow form as lyrics on the page. But obviously life, life is fountain of information and pictures thrown at you, it’s how you decipher it that makes it interesting.
How do the group dynamics work? Does it make things easier or more difficult?
Queens English: We’ve been together for a few years now so we understand each other and how we work. Having that understanding helps because with there being so many individually strong personalities it can be frustrating at times reaching agreement. We’ll have differences on how to do thing but in the end we’re all aiming for the same mark and having the varied input makes the final product stronger.
Tell us about your work past and present (and even future if you know yourselves!):
Queens English: Our debut EP ‘Mind The Rap’ sold out so we produced another EP using some tracks off the new album called ‘Game Over!’. This went well again, but we didn’t push it too much, it kinda warmed up to the album. And then we just dropped the album this month after a launch party in London following some really positive pre-sales. With major distribution now secured we’ve started working on our second album and there’s some individual projects from QE to look out for in 2009…
What would you say to someone who hadn’t heard ‘EQ’ yet?
Queens English: What!? …get it in the deck!
You’ve been well supported by people in high up places; tell us a bit about that:
Queens English: I dunno about high places but we’ve been fortunate with the people we’ve met and got on with. We’ve never gone out of our way to meet people; we’ve always let everything happen naturally and progressively. But we met Nu Balance who recorded, mixed and mastered our album for us at Strongrooms which obviously was massive and we were lucky enough to get a management deal with Underdogs. Since then we’ve developed massively as a group and gone from strength to strength.
Sorry I couldn’t make it to the launch party, it looked to be good! What can people expect from your live show? Is that integral to your overall vibe?
Queens English: Yeah definitely! The live show is where people get to see us face to face and we get to interact with them, its fun. The live show is different to our recorded sound though, we play with arrangements, tempos and backing tracks and it gives people something different to what they’ve heard on the record. The two are separate but completely integral to Queens English. Oh, and gutted you missed the launch man, we had free merch, dogtags, upside down crowns for everyone, VJ’s and a new live show which went off! + Hella Cholla, The IRS, Sir Smurf Lil’ all put on a good show – it was siiiick!
Thanks for doing the interview. Let’s finish off with anymore thoughts and comments you might like to air:
Queens English: It’s been really good chatting with you… so thanks. And thanks to anybody taking the time to read the interview and listen to our music.
‘Turn those crowns upside down’ and keep the dream alive.
Peace, love and lyrics…