When the term hip-hop comes to mind, you might think of the countless commercial sounds you hear all over the droning radio airwaves, but when good hip-hop comes to mind, you would most likely stumble across The Niceguys, who are the Tunecore artists featured in this week's COREnered spotlight. The hip-hop group includes 4 dudes straight outta Houston: MC (Yves 'Easy Yves Saint' Ozoude), DJ (Lucien 'DJ Candlestick' Barton) and producers (Todd 'Christolph' Louis and Winfrey 'Free' Oribhabor). They have an eclectic musical background and therefore know how to blend alternative jazz/rock sounds with their delectable beats and fluid rhyme schemes. Feast your eyes on the band's Q&A below to see what they had to say about inspiration, recording and good music.
- Without using the words "alternative" or "hip-hop," describe your music's sound.
Our sound is progressive, our debut album “The Show” is a mixture of soul, rock, jazz, blues, and rap music all in one album. Of course at the end of the day its all hip hop (even though I can't use that word) but it's hip hop with a mixture of a lot of different elements. Progressive hip hop is what I classify it as, but I don't really care for genres/subgenres or any of that stuff, at the end of the day it's just really good music.
- What or whom do you go to for musical inspiration?
We really don't go anywhere for inspiration, we kind of just let it come to us. Some of the best things we've done came from completely out of nowhere, and I think it works out the best that way. Of course, me and Christolph as producers, listen to certain sounds and certain records when we put our beats together; I play a lot of jazz, progressive rock and soul when I'm getting in the zone for my beats. Besides that, we just let the inspiration come naturally and don't necessarily seek it.
- You've had some recent shows, in Houston with Talib Kweli, Smoke DZA, Curren$y and at New York's CMJ. How do you deal with time management, missing friends and family, work schedule (aside from music), etc?
We made the decision about 2 years ago to fully dedicate our lives to music. All of our families are aware, friends are aware, and we don't really work regular jobs anyway so work schedule doesn't mean much. The best thing about our situation is that no one is tripping, our loved ones all understand that this is our dream and it's going to require a lot of time away from them, but they support us and our careers so it's never an issue when we go on the road or when we're in the studio all day. Everyone is cool.
- Describe your ideal studio environment (in home? professional studio?)
Our ideal studio environment is our current studio environment. Our good friend, super-engineer/musician, James Kelley, owns a studio called Wire Road, and that's where we do all of our music. It's a house with a studio in it basically, so its always an at home feeling when we're at the studio, which is perfect for us. Lots of beer, lots of Jack Daniels, and lots of pizza. That's how we get down! ha
- How often do you guys try to put in studio time?
Whenever we feel like it really, which is usually every day. Our engineer is available whenever we need to record, so we do it whenever we get inspired to start working on a record. If I could give a rough estimate, I'd say probably about 4-5 days a week.
- What kind of studio equipment do you use to record?
Haha, good question, you'd have to ask our engineer about that. It's a whole lot of equipment, all I know is Pro Tools.
- How do you approach recording a song?
Well, Christolph and I come up with a beat, we play it for Yves, come up with some ideas, Yves starts freestyling random lyrics, we get down a concrete idea and chorus, and Yves writes his verses, then the magic happens.
- What do you do if you're trying to record and it's just not working for you?
We find something else to do, one of our rules is to never force music, ever.
- How do you know when it's right?
It's just a feeling; you record, and after you record, you mix, and after you mix, you master. Mastering is a tedious process, but you listen, listen, and listen all over again, then we collectively discuss the record, see how we feel. If we all love it, the song is done, and it's on to the next.