US-based artist Braille on aptly named, and wickedly fresh, new collaborative album ‘4 Days in Geneva’….
Q. How long between having the idea for ‘4 Days in Geneva’ and making it happen?
“The European tour we were doing was only like three weeks long. The four free days happened towards end of the tour, (it was) very sporadic. There was about a week between having the idea, and actually being in the studio. The booking agent had a friend we could stay with and we asked ‘does he have any equipment?’ - expecting a mic in a bedroom, but he had a studio! We all expected to lay some tracks, make a few homemade copies and sell them through the website… In the end, we sat on it for a year, got it mixed by Ohmega – released it exclusively in Japan first, then Australia, I mean, it’s not even released in the States yet.
We were feeling it so we knew it was good, but we didn´t know how good it would be once it was mixed…. We had it for like seven months before getting it mixed in 2006. I had a baby daughter after the record was made, which kept me pretty busy, and when we listened back to it & realised this is some good stuff… We decided to mix it and go from there….
It´s about finding the people who enjoy & appreciate it as it is – people can get tired, they don´t wanna always listen to commercial music, you can get tired of club songs & R n’ B – we wanted to make music for everyone, but we wanted to take it back to the roots and make some good old fashioned hop hip!”
Q. What did u want to achieve by making music in such a different way?
“The record just happened – we didn’t worry about all the things that go down when you normally make a record… no stress, no sample constraints. As independent artists we have to worry about what’s sampled, getting studio musicians, and the whole process that has to happen to make a record. We wanted to take it back to making records for fun, just like when we were kids. Obviously, we have developed our talents since then! Back when we were kids, on the weekend with Ohmega, it was simple, we´d just go to the library and get some CD´s and just make songs through love of creating. Just jamming in the studio – doing what naturally comes out. That’s what we did with this album, revisiting when we were kids, just having a good time. That’s why it’s so enjoyable, not being held back artistically – and that´s what we really got out of it, taking it back to the roots, making it fun, and you can hear that on the record.
As artists, we have to worry about clearing samples and clearing loops. We picked up loads of local samples, it’s not like Bob James & the Crusaders! We didn’t worry so much about clearing them, and most of the samples were really obscure. It’s like this - I was honoured to play with the late James Brown in 20 shows. I got to see an artist close up who has been doing his thing for years, a legend. He was heavily sampled in the early stages, and he got absolutely no credit for it. So I understand how this could be frustrating in hindsight, but it´s good to go back to ignorance. We just wanna’ grab some records & make some hip hop. It’s not easy to do that anymore, and it’s not as exciting with all these regularly, really heavily used samples. It was really good to just take totally new beats and make something totally new out of it.”
Q. Where did the 16th Century castle come into it?!
“Yeah, the castle! That was in France, when we were crossing the border to Switzerland. This place was like, tall but not wide. So you’d go in and have Ohmega on the bottom floor, mixing up beats. You go up a flight and there’s someone writing lyrics, you go up again, and there’s someone watching T.V…. We’d record all day in the studio, and come home to the castle and write new songs when we were supposed to be sleeping – it was a unique situation to be in!”
Q. What did that experience give you as an artist\s?
“We get those ‘moments’ a lot – you know with live shows, or just hanging out - but we were on a hip hop vacation! We all love it everyday and have these moments, but this was a separation, outside the normal environment. We could have done something else in those four days, just gone sightseeing or clubbing for four days off – but we decided that we wanted to make some hip hop. Hip hop not as a career, but as recreation. We could take money out the equation. It didn’t matter if it didn’t go anywhere. We made it for the love.
It also boosted confidence for all of us. Like, Ohmega can make beats whenever he wants, but he could take really obscure stuff and just do it & have a good time – there’s often the trying so hard to make a classic, to make it dope. It’s great to develop those talents and let it out, don’t second guess yourself, just let it out. It’s good, like now I can catch other types of inspiration, like I’m maybe listening to some 60’s rock, and I can just try it and see how it works… This album could have failed, it wouldn’t have been that big a deal as the pressure was off, we can try stuff like this and see what happens.. I can be inspired creatively, keep it a secret, and if it doesn’t work out then it doesn’t.”
Q. Are you going to be able to support the album with a tour?
“Ohmega’s going out to Australia in November with his new album ‘Watts Happening’. We’d love to tour off the record, but Surreal is at College in film school, I’m married with baby girl… it’s hard to bring it together, but I hope the opportunity comes to tour together one day soon. Till then we’ll try to tour individually. This October with Theory Hazit, I’m touring Europe again. It’s a different combination, and it should be good. I’d like to maybe get a different producer involved, let Ohmega just rap – project with a bunch of producers in Europe, collect beats & make a different album….
After touring Europe in October – and after holidays with family, I’m going to start touring the US heavier than I’ve toured in the past. I want to help make the record successful, as I have great distribution in the US, I wanna do my part & work hard to support the record. I hope to tour Australia, Japan, Europe, the States, and hopefully South America too. We even have a gig in Africa, so it’s all on! Taking it one by one, I’m filling out the passport and learning the geography as I go! I started travelling young with the music, and had no knowledge of geography at school, as a kid discovering new places… I was walking around with a camera strapped around my neck taking pictures!
The thing for me is to go all the way out there and try a new place, and make the most of the experience. I define a place by the people, down to the bare root. I love new people, and new cultures, and not trying to put each other in a box – I can have the opportunity to represent myself and let them represent themselves as an individual – this is the real me, stereotypes & history aside, just flesh & bones.”
Will you be working with Fdel on his next album?
“Hmmm.. It’s probably very likely. I want to work with as many people as I can generally. I’ve worked with Australian artists before, and it’s funny because there are so may different sections on the (hip hop) scene – I worked with Flow Dynamics, Weapon X (producer), M-Phrazes (producer), Figg Kid - whole different sections of the hip hop culture out there. You find different ways to connect – Figg Kid, just had a daughter as well, and wanted to work on something together about that. Then he sent me a hard rock beat! I was expecting something different ‘cause of the subject we’d discussed, but I really liked the newness and I like that song we worked on – he’s a callabo guy. If it’s 10pm and I don’t have to go to bed till 2, I’ll just make a song & have some fun.”
Q. Is there anything you want to say that you haven’t gotten across?
“Hip Hop Is Music (the label), is partnering with Creative Vibes to bring the album over to Australia. The label started in 2004, at first we were with Shogun distribution. I found a lot of the records were not making it to Australia. Distribution is one thing, but Creative Vibes is also helping with the promotion and everything.
As far as the label goes, touring the states, I’m meeting artists where music is not a career for them. They’re maybe 30 plus, making home made albums. They’ve never been able to make a record that reflects their full potential. I figured I may as well promote these guys as well…find talented artists that I believe in & help them make the record of their dreams. I want them to be able to say ‘that’s my favourite hip hop record I ever heard. And its my own!’ I have creative & artistic trust in them as an artist, and they trust me as a label. It has to be that good – if you use no gimicks to sell, you just have to use quality. I can see many records ahead of us. You don’t know what the future holds, and tomorrow is never promised, but there’s plenty more stuff coming, and our best records are ahead of us…... “
The album is out now and is being aired by the likes of Straightup and Triple J. Keep your ears well-cleared to pick up on the future by Braille and his cohorts…
Interview by Lady KMD.