Don’t sleep on The Update. Their music speaks for itself, get familiar.
Introduce each other…
JR: PH7 is a really good friend of mine, a great musician and a huge soccer fan. I really like his stupid humor but if you don’t know him sometimes you might think, he did not just say that, did he? The only thing I dislike about him is that he regulary kicks my butt in FIFA11 all the time.
PH7: JR is a nice guy but he’s eating way too much healthy stuff. We call him the human compost.
Did you both grow up where you reside today?
JR: No. I grew up in a city called Krefeld, Germany. I moved to Cologne when I went to college and lived there for 6 years. Just now in January 2011 I started a new job up in Copenhagen, Denmark. So that’s where I’m at now. I’ve been up here before for studying and I love the city.
PH7: Originally I’m from Augsburg in the south of Germany but I’ve been living and studying in Cologne for a couple of years now.
What is life for German youth like?
JR: I’d say pretty much like for everybody else in Europe. I think one major difference from the US is the fact that you get introduced to alcohol way earlier. School was ok for me but when I was growing up I was only interested in sports, especially Basketball and then later music.
What did your parents do, what did they listen to at home?
JR: My parents were teachers. They actually both retired last year and enjoying life a little bit more now, not having to deal with all the kids. My dad was never really into music big time but my mom mostly played music from the popular 60-70s around the house, a lot of Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel and that kind of stuff.
How were you introduced to music?
JR: Well, my parents thought it was really important for their kids to get a musical education. I always loved the saxophone and fortunately my parents could afford to buy one for me and paid for lessons. I played the sax for like 7 years, I was never a great player but still liked it a lot. Later when I was introduced to HipHop and got my first turntables and later sampler I was hooked and somewhat I lost interest in the sax. I’ll pick it back up one day
When did making music become an inspiration?
JR: Well, when I was introduced to HipHop in the mid to late 90s one of the things I loved about it was that you can be part of the culture and express yourself creatively in any of the elements. Back then I was rhyming with a kid from my neighbourhood and then at some point I formed a group with 2 DJ friends and another mc from my hometown who was already getting his name out a little bit. We did a lot of shows, mostly based on freestyles and then came the day when we decided we want to release something and we put out a tape with 10 songs. It sounded shitty and we weren’t that good but back then it was huge for us haha.
PH7: Long time a go I was rhyming as well for a short period of time, nothing seriously. Since we didn’t know anybody who made beats I decided to give it a shot and eventually got hooked on it and developed my talent.
Is there a large German rap scene?
JR: I’d say yes and no. There is a lot of bullshit rap music out here just like anywhere else. I personally only listen to a few German artists that I believe are dope and these have been the same artists for years, so I think there is a lack of dope new guys coming up. German rap doesn’t really happen in my circle of friends and the people I know but there is, at least in Cologne quite a big scene that listens to dope hiphop and everything left and right from it. There a re a lot of really good hiphop/funk/electronica parties and shows as well as interesting artists out here and it’s really a blessing to have that in your city. However, I’m up in Copenhagen now and don’t know too much about the scene out here yet.
How has hiphop culture developed in Germany?
PH7: It’s the biggest youth culture out here right now but most of it is just straight wack. Honestly it’s come so far that often when I tell somebody, that we are doing hiphop music, I have to justify myself and tell him that it’s not about the bullshit that’s on tv or what most of the kid are listening too on their speaker phones in the trains. If I said well, we do electronica, everybody would be like: oh yeah that’s cool. But it’s all good haha.
What was the first beat you placed?
JR: The first beat I placed was a remix on a 12” by Travis Blaque from the UK on Unique Records back in 2004 or 2005. I was working there at the time.
PH7: My first placement was for the German group 4zuEins with the track “Nicht viel”. I can’t even remember the year haha.
How did the connections with so many US emcees develop?
PH7: JR did an internship at Sevenheads Records in NYC back in 2003 and that’s kind of where it all started. He was able to make some connections there and from there on the network just grew. We also know a lot of promoters, bookers etc in Germany and through them it was actually pretty easy to connect with a lot of artists. Having some decent beats helps as well of course .
Do you make beats together or each draft things and then swap and bounce and tweak the others ideas?
JR: We do both. A lot of times I start a beat sketch on my mpc and then send it to Pete and he puts his touch on it. Sometimes we also sit together and start something but this will be tough in the future given that I moved to Denmark. A lot of times I find the samples while Pete is the one responsible for mixing everything.
Do you guys do beats with a specific emcee in mind or do the rappers select the beat they want to use?
PH7: Well, we make beats and when they are done we think about who could be sounding well on it. Most of the time we give emcees one or two beats and that are the ones they also end up liking. We put in a lot of thought into every song and a whole album so it is coherent and does not sound like just a lot of rappers on random beats you know.
Are you guys shopping beats for placements on artists albums? Is this more about you guys doing full albums?
JR: I really don’t like shopping beats that much because as I’ve experienced you put in a lot of work and get little out of it, even when you have good beats. So I think for now we put out our own albums and side projects like EPs and 7inches and I like the fact that we have the control of everything. We’re definitely not opposed to work with and for other artists and if someone whose music we like approaches us we’re down to work. We believe attraction is better than promotion and don’t feel like we have to chase a rapper to place a beat on a project that might not end up being released, is not paying anything etc etc. Too much headaches involved in that at least for right now.
What’s your creative process like given that you both have regular jobs?
PH7: Well, there is definitely a lot of time management involved in order to make it all happen. But in general we just do music when we feel like it you know, no big pressures involved. We’re definitely cool with the fact that none of us actually has to pay their rent through music because this way it allows us to do whatever we feel like and when we feel like it. Of course it’s nice that some money is coming in but in general we’re happy that it all works out and we’re able to continue to release music that quite a lot of people seem to like.
JR: Personally, I get inspired by samples but that’s because everything I do is sample-based. PH7 is the one who adds a lot of live instruments etc and needless to say that he’s really great at that.
One artist that people from the US should know about in your country?
JR: Wow that’s a tough one. I’d probably say the early Kraftwerk since they basically changed music big time. If you don’t know them then you definitely have to do the history. Not just HipHop, just music history.
You guys familiar with any Seattle hiphop?
PH7: Honestly I don’t know too much about Seattle HipHop. I know Jake One is from up there, right? I think he’s an ill producer. I also like the last D.Black album a lot but that’s about it I must confess.
JR: Same here, there is only Jake One and D.Black that I can think of right now
What’s on deck for 2011?
PH7: Since we both have some big stuff going on besides music, with JR starting a new job and I’m finishing school, so we’ll take it a little easier. We have an Ep in the works and will also do a remix and b-sides album release. Besides those two records we’ll start working on our third full-length album. This should keep us busy enough .
Last words, rants, shout outs, words of wisdom?
PH7: Thanks to all the people that have supported us in any way on our journey. We’re just thankful that we can continue do what we do and for all the love we receive from across the globe. Hit us up facebook.com/jrandph7 ,youtube.com/jrandph7or follow us on twitter (@jrandph7) and let us know what you think of our stuff, good or bad. Thanks!
JR: Keep your eyes open for fresh new artists, there is a lot of great music being released these days from artists all over the world. Just turn off the radio and dig a little deeper.