It's unlikely that you will be familiar with much hip-hop coming out of Aotearoa, but there a few dope artists that you should be aware of and Concept is definitely one of them.
Concept: My name is Jeremy Coates, I'm 25 years old, born in the Fiji islands, I currently reside in Auckland NZ, I produce under the name Concept.
Who is Mirage and how did you make the link?
Concept: Mirage a.k.a Caleb Box is my MC, he hails from Philly P.A. We originally connected through Myspace, and collaborated on our first track in late 2007, 'Listen' which eventually turned into the 'Long Days & Long Nights EP'. Straight away we knew we had good chemistry to make music, so we've been working hard ever since. Mirage has the best work ethic I've ever come across, he is a really talented dude. He literally stays up 24/7 writing and recording lyrics. He is a poet which I feel sets him apart from most MC's. He really puts his heart and soul into his lyrics / delivery, so you can really FEEL what he's saying.
What equipment do you use to make beats? What would you use with unlimited financials?
Concept: I don't use much at all, let's just say I use some good software mixed with creativity and a lot of old records... I don't think its what you use, but how you use it.
If I had access to unlimited financials? Haha, I guess I would start my own label, buy a studio, recruit lots of up and coming hip-hop artists who have that real talent / passion for music. I'd love to shed light on all the underrated and talented musicians out there that don't get any shine because of their financial situation.
Can you take us through your process of making a beat from its inception to completion?
Concept: My beat process is quite straight forward. I usually wait for a sample that gives me that chill down my spine. I'll then chop it into 60 or so pieces and filter it all down to how I like it.
I don't like to speed up or slow down my samples usually. I just cut them to fit. I always try to create a new composition out of a sample, I'll never loop something, 'cause a hundred other producers could easily do the same thing. I think you have to really create something new and unique to stand out. If my final beat gives me that same chill down my spine that the sample gave. I know it's completed. If not, I'll scrap it.
Which emcees would you get if you could get anyone (what about local emcees)?
Concept: Oh man, too many names to mention! Although I would love to work on a track with Black Thought or Mos Def. I'm not really involved in the local scene, but willing to work with anyone who is dope, it's all about the music to me.
Are you a keen digger? What's the digging like over there?
Concept: I'll always be a keen digger, there is nothing like the feeling of vinyl and I've always loved the art work on LPs. There is a very limited digging scene over here, we have a few spots, but no real market for it. I used to only sample vinyl and spend a lot of time in crates when I first started working on music. Nowadays I'll sample from anything, I don't think it matters what media you sample, just how you use it creatively.
What's your opinion of NZ hip-hop generally?
Concept: I'm not really into the scene over here, I tend to just focus on my own work, and do my own thing. There are some dope groups coming up, but there is also a lot of garbage, due to a lot of commercial hip-hop polluting the radio waves haha. Although we do have a few commercial success stories over here.
Do you think it's important to unite the four elements?
Concept: I do think its valuable to have a solid understanding of the four elements, I have spent a lot of time with Graffiti and Turntablism and understand a bit about B-boy culture... I notice all elements share the same principle of mixing foundations with creativity, learning from the older generations and then mixing it with something fresh to keep it all moving.
Who are the other key players over there?
Concept: I wouldn't say I'm very up to date at the moment but I'd say; P-Money, Scribe, David Dallas and Homebrew are doing their thing... Sorry to the others I didn't mention I'm out of the loop.
Do you listen to Aussie or UK hip-hop?
Concept: I listen to anything that makes me vibe out, I can't say I've delved into a lot of Aussie or UK Hip-Hop, but I'm sure you can put me onto some after this interview!
What other artists (non hip-hop) would you recommend?
Concept: I love a lot of music from the late 60's to 70's, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Eddie Kendricks, Eddie Henderson, Aretha, The Meters, JB, MJ, Coltrane, Bob Marley, Donny Hathaway, Womack, Miles, Roy Ayers, Stevie, Sade, The Isley Bros... I better stop here I could go on all day...
You put some of your albums up for free download - How has the internet changed the way you relate to the music?
Concept: I think the internet is a great tool, you can spread your music to the world for free. It is a double edged blade in that aspect, because everybody and anybody can be a musician on the internet nowadays. Finding a way to stand out is tough, it's like being a needle in a haystack. I would like to continue making free releases, to me it's just about the music, I'm not particularly interested in making a lot of money out of this, just making dope hip hop that will be heard.
I do miss when music was more physical, in the way you went and looked in a store, checked out the amazing artwork. Digital releases are dope but it's nothing like a physical album.
Do you get involved with politics at all? What are some of your opinions regarding the current state of the world?
Concept: I stay out of it mostly, I like to know what's going on in the world, but it's sad that the media is always focused on the negatives. People don't want to hear about good things, just tragedy and drama...
What forthcoming projects can we expect from Concept?
Concept: You can expect another Mirage and Concept project coming very soon, we are in fact working on it now. I also have a solo project in the works, which I hope to release in 2011.
Concept: Shout outs to Caleb, J Perfect and Lee Lee, to my all family and friends, my mother especially for keeping me on the right path.
Thanks to IBMCs for including me on the mixtape!
By: Esh | For international hip-hop: http://www.myspace.com/ibmcs