New wave's post-apartheid genre-bender and serial Dazed favourite, Spoek Mathambo releases the first mix from his new project as a free download this Friday via his personal page. His latest offering sees him working alongside soldier-turned-Brooklyn rapper and designer, Shamon Cassette. Wavecrusher sees the musical power-couple sampling and reworking everything from Flume to The Pixies in what they describe as a “love letter to the original adventurous spirit of hip-hop”.
Ahead of Spoek's European tour we caught up with the pair during London rehearsals to talk pioneer mentalities, taking on a Pixies rework and putting the songwriter back in the driver's seat.
DD: What were the main inspirations behind this mix?
Spoek: It's not a mix at all...I look at the project as a mini-album where we focussed on having fun rapping, sampled some of the most exciting new artists alongside classics with little skits in between. It's a rap album in the broadest sense of the term.
In August, I invited Shamon to come through to my apartment in Malmo and we just turned it into the maddest music bootcamp, complete with missions to see boundary breaking acts like Mykki Blanco, Public Enemy and Wu Tang for inspiration.
I wanted to make a rap project after all the producing and singing-focussed songwriting I've been doing. A fun summer project, where I could get back to my enthusiasm for writing rap bars. I've been rapping since I was 10...and I know Shamon's been rapping for a similar amount of time, so that's about 40 years between us of being embroiled in the music and culture.
It's not a love letter to rap/hip hop as such, but more a love letter to the adventurous spirit that has always attracted me to the music...which I feel isn't explored enough. It's always been a field influenced and made up of so many styles and flavours...but greater than the sum of influences.
Shamon: The main influences I have to say are culture, pride, black surf iconography. Bridging a seamless gap between South Africa and Brooklyn using music a viable outlet of meaningful expression.
DD: What is your Wave Crusher project all about?
Spoek: Shamon's the homie, we linked during the myspace wave in 2007...through mutual musical respect and we started making tunes. I guess the concept for Wave Crusher is both aggressive and motivated...to smash open and have fun with what's become quite a rigid rap landscape. Mind you, this is a great time for MCing and so many dope rappers have come out in the last couple of years...I love being back in that mindframe.
Shamon: We've been working together on numerous collaboration projects and singles since about 2007. After building up the catalogue we decided to officially unify on the project as Wave Crusher and really begin to focus on writing songs as opposed to kicking random raps.
Spoek: Yeah, Shamon and I have been working across the diginets for a while, then I visited him in NYC, we travelled together, worked in LA, he came through to South Africa, we've linked in Europe. We're basically good friends making music together.
DD: How do you think your sound has changed with this new project?
Spoek: For me, the sonic pallette is as forward thinking as I always love to keep it, my mind was dead-set on upping my skills as a rapper, coming back into that zone which is quite far from the two albums I've released on BBE and Sub Pop.
Shamon: We're really putting the songwriter's perspective in the driver's seat. The focus was driven toward relevant issues of the past and present, creating the perfect compromise of fashion, fun and political awareness. Its a bit more surfy, Beach House, instrumentation-driven than our previous collaborative works.
Spoek: It's still about keeping it really fun and interesting and busting different worlds open. We've always had pioneer mentalities, and this is an extension of that. Working to find interesting new spaces in a musical space that's turning 40.
DD: Tell us about the Pixies track, 'My Mind Is In The Clouds'? Have you always wanted to rework one of their tracks?
Spoek: Pixies are easily my favourite band ever and to be honest doing "Where Is My Mind" is very, very, very bait and something I wouldn't regularly do - just too obvious. But I found a dope edit by Bassnectar and found it fun to rap on. Really as simple as that.
Shamon: My take on "Mind In The Clouds" was an expression of the plights of a past mentally abusive relationship. Dealing with PTSD symptoms from the iraq war and turning to alcoholism and substance abuse to remedy - learning to live with the challenges that life presents.
DD: Do you have a favourite track from the album?
Spoek: "Fire & Smoke" and "Joaquina Beach" are my favourites, they're songs I built from scratch that I have the closest connection with. Also "Bicycle" is great, I've been wanting to rework Queen's "Bicycle" for a long time, did a sloppy ass job lol!
Shamon: "The Atom Strikes" is my fave track on the tape. It adresses issues about psyciatric drugs unlawfuly prescribed to the youth and party drugs that adults become dependant upon. Its a very visual record and really relevent to yesterday's society and today. Charlie XCX has the most amazing voice.
DD: Any underground acts Dazed should keep an eye out for?
Spoek: What the fuck is "underground" in 2013...who knows? But I love Gnucci, Seinabo Sey, Beatrice Eli, Aero Manyelo...hmm and Josiah Wise!
Shamon: Robbie Darko, Rat King, Ken Rebel and Wavy Spice.
1. Wave Crusher" (original Mr. Carmack Hopscotch)
2. "Joaquina Beach" (original production from Spoek)
3. "Game Extrapulation. Match Point" (original Fu*k Buttons The Red Wing)
4. "My Mind Is In The Clouds" (original Pixies Where Is My Mind)
5. "Go On Dance" (original Flume Star Eyes)
6. "Bicycle" (original Unknown Mortal Orchestra From The Sun & Queen Bicycle)
7. "Cardboard Castle" (original Inc. The Place)
8. "The Atom Strikes" (original Charli XCX Nuclear Season & Peter Tosh Nuclear War)
9. "Fire & Smoke" (original production from Halp & Acre)
Get Wave Crusher for free from this Friday.
Spoek will also headline the following European dates, which include his only London show of the year:
25th Oct – Biko, Milan
26th Oct – Gaite Lyrique, Paris
18th Nov – XOYO, London
Follow Sian Dolding on Twitter here @SianDolding