On the back of ‘The Struggle EP’ Simon Price caught up with MynameisjOhn and God Knows for a run through tings.
Ireland is going through a fertile time for music at the minute. How are you finding it?
MynameisjOhn: Yup, its all pretty lovely right now. I think Ireland goes through a lot of cultural shifts in terms of music, with certain genres getting more shine or having really productive, inspiring eras. Definitely right now there’s a lot of interesting artists doing stuff – I’d be equally as excited about what all the Working Class lads are doing, as I am about hearing some of the noise acts in Cork or the fresh traditional coming out of Clare. A lot of the music around right now seems to be of a really high standard, but then it did 5 years ago as well.
God Knows: I feel that now is a good time in Ireland for music, because the people out there are really making music for themselves, rather than following a path that everyone has already been down. It’s like they took their time to really find who they are and what it is they want to do, instead of just fitting the usual stereotypes. For me, I think someone like Lethal Dialect is the kind of guy who isn’t afraid to have a bit of fun with his music, but still take it serious. There’s more freedom in the discipline now. I can only mention the guys i know in hiphop though, cause I ain’t following the trad and noise scene too much.
That freedom in the discipline. Is there is a confidence in hip hop allowing deviation from all the usual expectations?
God Knows: From my perspective, yes because of the new generation of Hip Hop are more comfortable in their skin and are willing to do a lot more with their talent which allows a little more room to not conform to “the norm”. In my opinion there is a lot more passion coming from a lot of us which can only grow as the scene develops.
mynameisjOhn: Yeah definitely. I think the old stigma of ‘Irish people shouldn’t rap is slowly disintegrating. Again, people are now making music that’s of a real high standard, not just a high standard in Ireland. I do think that there’s still a lot of work to be done in terms of live shows – a lot of dudes I meet through work are just interested in rapping and have no real concept of how to make the music bang in a live context, or really take ownership of the production or whatever. But, that said, I get more hyped about some of the Irish stuff getting released than say the new Danny Brown. And I quite like Danny Brown. It’s exciting for sure.
Live is key in challenging those perceptions. Stevie G has also talked about the necessity of getting into the studio. He’s seen so many come and go with very little record of their best. Tell us about Ennis and Random Acts of Kindness. How important do to you think it is for people to build up something for themselves in that environment across most Irish towns?
mynameisjOhn: I’m from Ennis originally and have a lot of pride in the home county. Like any town in Ireland, the recession hit it pretty hard and suddenly you’re left with an urban area that’s just a series of closed down businesses. But there’s some cool younger heads out there who are doing their thing and trying to change the cultural view of the town. Things won’t change too much until someone closes down those lowest common denominator nightclubs though. In relation to building your own scene, it’s the most important thing. For yourself, for your friends, for the next generation. Music can change society, or at least the cultural landscape of a small town.
God Knows: Random Acts of Kindness is a label, and in my opinion, a movement that I started because I felt there was nothing for us. Myself and my friends had a rap group called True Blood Soldierz when we were teenagers and then it felt like it was time to move and build something new. I started RAOK, transforming it from just a rap group into a collective of talented graphic designers, videographers, producers, singer/songwriters, and rappers. We creating a movement that’s not just my friends that are involved – my brothers and a bunch of youth from around the way are all a part. I believe we are creating a scene rather than waiting for people to make one, like Stevie G said – not enough heads recording. Well, we’re taking advantage of every right opportunity; you gotta play the game to change the game.
Lots of interesting stuff happening in the 80/160 soup at the minute including your new EP. West of Ireland is the original fastchat. Was there any particular approach you took and what kind stuff are ye drawing on at the moment?
mynameisjOhn: The 80/160bpm stuff came about from DJing, and just hanging out with Graeme S, to be honest. Graeme is a boss, a producer who can turn his hand to anything and always stays up to date with what’s going on in electronic music. We both felt that there was a lot of potential to switch the tempo from half-time to double time, and we knew God Knows was the only MC around who would really do it justice. And, as a trio, we just all gel real well. Hanging out and making music is fun and we spend a lot of time laughing and drinking, which you just don’t get all the time in collaborations. But we’re all keen to do our own thing and work on separate projects, and we still know that the bond is there, ready to bash out new stuff when the time is right.
Trying to stay as open as possible. I’ve been listening to less electronic stuff over the last couple of months, and just searching for other exciting sounds. So far today, the stereo has been banging out Costello, Woven Skull, BBNG, Tod Dockstader and myself and God Knows are now literally bouncing around my kitchen to that DJ EZ mix from last year.
God Knows: I wanted to address a few issues in Ireland that were on my mind and The Struggle EP was the right feel that let me channel into the state of mind and express myself.
At the moment I am still listening to Pusha T’s My Name Is My Name & Danny Brown’s Old. Everything else is in house: I am listening to mostly my team’s music.
Shout out to all animals, minerals and vegetables out there. Stay energized.
AND OUR MUMS.
‘The Struggle EP’ by Graeme S, MynameisjOhn and God Knows is available to purchase on Bandcamp.