Interview: ArtOfficial

Interview: ArtOfficial

ArtOfficial already took a step into the Hip Hop/Jazz-scene in Japan with their release ‘Fist Fights and Foot Races’, but there are more plans for the near future. Together with Kevin Nottingham and Illroots they are working on a mixtape, have a brand new album in the making and are still intensively on tour. We talked to Logics about all of this, ArtOfficial in general and of course, their music.

We did this interview together with AboveGround Magazine. Check them out as well.

ArtOfficial already took a step into the Hip Hop/Jazz-scene in Japan with their release ‘Fist Fights and Foot Races’, but there are more plans for the near future. Together with Kevin Nottingham and Illroots they are working on a mixtape, have a brand new album in the making and are still intensively on tour. We talked to Logics about all of this, ArtOfficial in general and of course, their music.

Preview: ArtOfficial – Big City, Bright Lights

The live-element is very important for your music.
What do you think of this era where lots of Hip Hop is made by computers, technology and electronic gear?

I have no qualms about all the technology being used to make music. Hip Hop was born because of this technology, because of turntables and samplers. I’m all for making music that is soulful, that has that human element to it. I do think some of the music being made today is soul-less and lacking emotion and depth.

Speaking of turntables, all I miss is a DJ. There are keys, vocals, drums, bass, saxophone… Why is there no DJ?

Why isn’t there a DJ in ArtOfficial? I can’t say that we have a specific reason for that. I guess we’re pretty protective of the chemistry the six of us have built. It’s hard to let an outsider into that at this point. Something we haven’t explored yet is bringing outsiders like DJ’s and guitar players, etc. into a recording environment with us. That’s probably something you’ll see more of in our future recordings.

Why did the two bands (Defoncé and SoulWhat) decide to merge into one back then: ArtOfficial?

The choice was obvious. Both bands had no direction and were bound to break apart at any moment. The fact that we met each other at the time we did was coincidence. We had a pretty instant chemistry and the songs we made those first few days were something we enjoyed and thought the masses would too.

Fist Fights and Foot Races is released in Japan and, according to your Myspace, it’s a “hot seller since 2008”. Why do you think jazz-influenced Hip Hop is so popular in Japan, compared to in example the US?

I wish i knew.. Haha. I can only assume, but your guess is as good as mine. I’m just happy that we have a fan base that extends past our neighborhood, haha, past state and country borders. 

What factors went into the decision to release Foot Races in Japan rather than the United States?

Of course we would like to release every album we make on a worldwide scale, it just happens that a company from Japan took the risk on breaking a new artists in their home country. If a German, Swiss, or Canadian label had approached us first, and the terms were right, then our first release would have come out in those countries. We had no say in the matter really. Just a little luck and some negotiating skills.

Personally I can’t name other jazz-orientated Hip Hop artists from Miami. How’s the scene over there?

The scene is great. There aren’t many bands that sound alike over here. I’m sure it has something to do with Miami being such a melting pot of people and cultures. Everything gets mashed up and the end result is all these types of musical hybrids. We’re a bit confused in Miami, but that’s a good thing. We’ll make our own roads and find our own way.

Preview: ArtOfficial – Clockwork 

What unique situations or circumstances arise from dealing with a live band rather than a recorded track?

It’s great playing with 5 other people because no show is ever the same and no song ever comes out the same way twice. It’s that human element that i was talking about earlier. Plus, everything sounds better when a band is playing it! Why do you think all these rappers are touring with live bands? Recording music is a different story. Getting 6 people to be happy with their parts is no easy or quick task.

What special attributes does the live band aspect add to the music? Does it change based on whether it’s live or recorded?

In a live environment it adds spontaneity and unpredictability to something that otherwise would be predictable.  For recordings, the music has a different feel and texture to it, since what you’re hearing is an instrument recorded through a microphone instead of a sample that’s been chopped up, maybe pitch shifted and looped.

For people who have never seen you live, how can you describe a live-show by ArtOfficial?

From my experience i can tell you that generally there are 2 types of people at our shows. The people who are dancing, going ape-shit and the people who are watching with a smirk on their face trying not to go ape

We put alot of energy into our shows, our musicians are top notch, and we can go from quiet and reflective to airborne pretty quickly. Like any performer, we vibe off the crowd, so when the crowd is feeling it, we’re there giving it 110% and if the crowd isn’t feeling it, we’ll give it 120%.

I did read something about a collaboration with Illroots and Kevin Nottingham, what can you tell us about that? What can we expect?

We’re working with Illroots and Kevin Nottingham to bring music to the people. In this case, we’re working on a mixtape which consists of original material as well as ArtOfficial versions of classic well known songs. It’s something i think the people will vibe with and also something that is a little different for a band to attempt since most mixtapes are usually rappers over beats. We’re doing the rappers over beats thing, but without limiting ourselves to the hip hop genre and we’re doing it all live!

As far as I know you are also working on your first US-release as well. Will that be similar to the Japanese 2008-release of ‘Fist Fights and Foot Races’, or is that a completely different project?

Since very few people outside of Japan have heard the album, the US release will have some tracks off of Fist Fights, though very very few.  The vast majority of tracks will be new stuff that we’ve been playing live, but no one has heard recorded yet.

Any other future projects, plans and/or collaborations we should know about?

Well, we got the mixtape and the album and if the world treats us nice enough, the live album. Shows, shows and more shows! We got the new website up so people can peep that at Last but not least, we might be linking up with Jeru the Damaja for some live hip hop touring action, though 101 things have to get sorted out before that happens. I’m just putting that out into the universe to see what we get thrown back at us.

Words by: Danny & Tyler
More info: Myspace
News: Here

Just an ordinary guy always on the hunt for extraordinary music. Not just as the founder of The Find Magazine & Rucksack Records, but also as a freelance music journalist (bylines at Tracklib, Bandcamp, Wax Poetics, DIG Mag, among others) and—above all—out of love for all kinds of good music.