Interview with Emzee A

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Emzee A is a new Irish hip hop artist currently residing in Navan. He recently released his excellent single ‘Lucid Dreaming’ and was also one of two artists to briefly perform alongside Jay Electronica at his Whelans show. We got to that chance to talk to Emzee A about that once in a lifetime experience and what the future holds for him.

First off, how was the experience of performing alongside Jay Electronica in Whelans? That’s something you dream of before going to a gig as an upcoming rapper.

“That will always be an experience I will never forget. The way it happened, the concert itself in its entirety and the fact that Jay Electronica has been hands down one of the best rappers to come out in the last 10 years and is definitely one of my favourite rappers of all time. You can imagine how incredible that feeling was for me performing on the same stage with him. I was also proud of how well I handled the whole situation and how he got everyone to sing along to my song. It was all too good to be true at the time and I also want to use this opportunity to thank Paul Moore from Joe.ie for writing about it which made it go a bit viral and all that.”

Can you explain the concept behind your latest single Lucid Dreaming?

“Great question. Lucid dreaming came into my life about a year ago after my best friend experienced sleep paralysis. I also wrote a song about that titled Demon-strate, you can check that out on my YouTube channel. I took a big interest on how the mind works in a dream state, with the help of the book Dreams by Carl Gustav Jung and countless amounts of research and watching lucid dreaming videos haha. I came up with the concept and I advise everyone to definitely try it out, it’s worth it.”

What is your main objective as an artist?

“My main objective as an artist is to show people that great hip hop music is being made here in Ireland. I have a lot of respect for artists like Rejjie Snow, Lethal Dialect, DAH JEVU and also Simi Crowns. They are all doing good things and laying, the platform for new acts like myself giving us something to work on. Collectively we can all put Ireland fully on the map in a couple of year’s time.”

Where do you get inspiration from?

“I am inspired by real life experiences and also listening to a wide range of music. I am really into the creative process of making a song and if a song sounds good to me, I am always motivated to come up with my own. Also, getting to vibe with my musical peers like Natural B, Ditch, Jack Noir, Innate and Ted, who are all incredible at what they do, is always motivating when everyone is in their zone.”

Do you have an EP or album in the works?
 

“Yes, I am currently working on my Second E.P titled #UNXPCTD (pronounced UNEXPECTED). That is set for release end of the summer, hopefully if everything goes to plan. I am really excited about this one; some of my personal favourite songs are going to be on it, so look out for that.”

Any gigs coming up?

“I was only performing at the Tribe of Nomads show hosted by Simi Crowns couple of weeks ago. It was such a humbling experience and a night I will never forget. In terms of other upcoming shows, I will be performing at the Apollo Sessions next Sunday. Right now, it’s all about doing open mics and stuff. The competition is really fierce when it comes to performing at shows I will tell you that much, but I’m only getting started so I have to wait my turn. I love being on stage.”

What has been the defining moment for you as an artist? Jay Electronica aside…

“Lots of great defining moments, but I will have to say it was when a song I co-wrote and featured on with The Hijackers & Sadbh O’Donnell, titled ‘Lose Your Mind’, got to number 9 on the Irish official chart in 2010. I was still in college at the time and the whole experience kind of took me by surprise, but it’s pretty cool and humbling to have that on my resume. Not a lot of artists can say that!”

What’s been your favourite album of 2015 so far? We’ve had a lot of good ones!

“Yeah 2015 is looking great musically. I will have to go with Earl Sweatshirt’s ‘I Don’t like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside’ album. He is ridiculously good. ‘If Your Reading This It’s too Late’ by Drake is a good shout too and obviously Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly.”

If you could open for one artist who would it be?

“That’s a tough one but I would have to say Childish Gambino. He is one of my favourite rappers of all time and I highly look up to him. It would be a dream come true to share a stage with him.”

If you could choose three albums to bring on holiday, what would they be?

“It would have to be The Documentary by Game, CAMP by Childish Gambino and Section 80 by Kendrick Lamar.”

-Ross Logan

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Interview with Auxiliary Phoenix

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One half of High Elders, Auxiliary Phoenix is a young producer from Carlow Ireland. He has a particularly unique style and approach to making music and it results in some intriguing and compelling material that can’t be tied down to any one genre. We got the chance to catch up with him to ask a few questions:

-How long have you been making music?

“I’ve been making music since 2004 I think? That was the year I got my first turntables, which I had up until I upgraded this year, haha. From learning how to scratch I got into remixing, which in turn got me into producing, so yeah, 2004-2005. I joined a bunch of bands too, from 2006-2010, before getting into making Auxiliary Phoenix music, so I got to learn music theory and structure in that manner too.”

-Who are your musical influences?

Back when I started out making Auxiliary Phoenix tunes I was very inspired by El-P’s Cannibal Ox style beats. Beastie Boys played a big role in what I do (their DJ Mix Master Mike got me into scratching). Some names from the beats & the wonky scene have definitely inspired me the most – Busy, Mono/Poly, Dorian Concept, Cid Rim, The Clonious – and lately I’ve been very inspired by classic jazz fusion artists like Return to Forever, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Jean Luc Ponty, etc. along with the artists who are bringing jazz fusion to mainstream attention again – The Mars Volta, Robert Glasper Experiment, Flying Lotus, Thundercat.”

-How did you start working with Gentle Jones?

“I knew Gentle and his music for years through my father, who was a friend of his online. When I started making music as Auxiliary Phoenix back in 2011-2012, I hit up Gentle Jones as soon as I had something I thought was good enough. I offered to mix some tracks he was working on for his solo record (which was his first rap record in 7 years) and put some cuts down on them, and eventually we were working on so many tracks together that we decided to do something entirely with just the two of us.”

-How long did it take to make Forest of Pencils?

“Forest of Pencils took around a year to make. We got tracks done whenever we could, sending ideas back and forth. Generally, it would take me a couple hours to make an instrumental, and as soon as I got the vocals back from Gentle it would be another couple of hours before the track is done.”

-Do you plan to record more with him in the future?

“Yeah definitely – we’re already starting work on album 2. I’ve got the majority of the beats done, and a lot of varied material – hoping to combine math rock styles with rap and hip hop on some tracks with this record. Should be some really exciting stuff!”

-What’s your favourite beat you’ve made?

“My favourite beats I’ve made haven’t come out yet… But in terms of what I have out there, I would have to say my favourite is probably a toss up between European Space Museum and Ill At Will.”

-If you could make a beat for anyone who would it be?

I’ve been fantasising about producing a tune for Lupe Fiasco for the past 2 years so I’ve gotta say him. Or Aesop Rock, El-P, M.I.A., Bjork…

-Who are your (hip hop) Top 5 of all time?

“I don’t think I can put this in order at all, and it’s definitely not in keeping with who the classics are but:

Beastie Boys, Lupe Fiasco, El-P, Flying Lotus, Sage Francis.”

What’s your favourite film?

“It used to be Fight Club, I used to watch that movie like 3 times a week, every week, haha. But I’ve seen so many good movies since then. Cloud Atlas was outstanding, I have no idea why it got such mixed reviews. Scott Pilgrim was also a major highlight. Hot Fuzz & Shaun of the Dead… I;m sorry, I don’t think there’s any way I can play favourites!”

-Have you got any releases in the works?

“I’m currently working on an EP called Camelopardalids. I’m using live instrumentation as the basis for the record, with live drums, fretless / 5-string bass and guitar mixed with electronic beats and synthesisers. It’s definitely the most cohesive piece of work I’ve made, and I feel like it’s the strongest, most unique thing I’ve come up with in my lifetime as a musician, so I can’t wait to get it done and put it out.”

Auxiliary Phoenix will be performing at SCAVENGER launch at the Grand Social, Dublin. Tickets €6.

-Ross Logan

Artist of the Month: Bishop Nehru

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17 year old New York native Bishop Nehru is the definition of a prodigy. After starting to produce and rap at the age of 13, he released two mixtapes. Nehruvia showed us the ear that he has for old school hip hop by rapping over Madlib, MF DOOM & DJ Premier beats. StrictlyFlowz showcased his incredible rhyming ability throughout.

After making a huge impression on the likes of Nas & Kendrick Lamar, he shocked a lot of people by announcing that his next project would be a collaborative album with the elusive MF DOOM, titled NehruvianDOOM, which will be released September 23rd.

With a lot of pressure and expectations resting on his shoulders, an album with DOOM will not only push him further into the limelight but also gives him a chance to learn from one of the best rapper/producers of all time. If that isn’t enough to win you over here’s a quote from DOOM on Nehru: “Emcees are born. You can’t make an emcee out of somebody who has never been born to do this. It’s innate talent. I can’t really give advice to another young master.”

Artist of the Month: Ez Craven

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Hailing from Limerick, rapper Ez Craven and his brother Paulie PunchEz together make Brotherz Grimm. Two of the few Irish hip hop artists who sound like they belong in Wu Tang Clan rather than Blazin Squad. Ez together with his brother who produces all the music, have created a grimy, classic Irish hip hop sound. Check out his latest video ‘Disgusting and Despicable’:

The two artists have completed their solo albums (Ez- Class A Narcotics, Paulie – Kaos of the Brain) and are just waiting for artwork to be finished before they release them. With a double album also in the works, it’s clear that neither artist is afraid of a bit of hard work and are set to take take the Irish hip hop scene over with a nostalgic yet refreshing sound.

While we wait for the album releases, check out Brotherz Grimm album, ‘Death Collectors’ here:  http://brotherzgrimm.bandcamp.com/album/death-collectorz