Carhartt WIP proudly presents three live dates of Los Angeles and New York City based collective that consist of Daniel Pineda and Asma Maroof of Nguzunguzu, producer Fatima Al Qadiri, who already gained global fame with her latest solo album Asiatisch and J-Cush, man behind the highly demanded Lit City Trax label and notorious New York City party organizer. Their self-titled album features a wide range of styles from US rap mutations to UK grime, dancehall and reggaeton. All futuristic instrumentals are peppered by the haunting voices of guests like upcoming Chicago based singer Tink, spicy New York voice Maluca, Dancehall queen Timberlee, experimental R&B one-off-a-kind Kelela or the deeply moving rap and beyond vocalist 3D Na’Tee from New Orleans. Together with their vocal power Future Brown manage to catalyse a cosmopolitan, experimental approach to contemporary urban music. To accompany their live dates Future Brown prepared a Carhartt WIP Radio tour special and answered some questions about their foundation, music and more.
(from left to right: Daniel Pineda, Fatima Al Qadiri, J-Cush and Asma Maroof; photo: Christelle de Castro)
Hello Future Brown, can you tell to our readers and us how you four met and where?
Daniel Pineda: Well me and Asma met like ten years ago in Chicago and founded Nguzunguzu.
J-Cush: Fatima and I met 2010 on the street in New York City. And then Nguzunguzu where playing at the GHE20G0TH1K parties quite frequently as I did. And that is how we ended up playing parties together. That is also where we saw that we have a kindred musical interest. And the same with Fatima. She was at these parties and we all realized how much we had in common. It started when Fatima and Asma came up with the idea that we all should work together. That is where the band started to be forged. And then we all end up in the studio. The first session we did was on the 23th of January 2013. We do not really try to work remote on our stuff. We try to be together in the studio.
Fatima Al Qadiri: The first recording of the music was in Los Angeles. We had not recorded music together as four people before that. That was the first time. For one month we recorded almost all instrumentals you find on our album.
How was the experience to record for the first time with others?
J-Cush: We where mixing a lot of different spices and flavours. It was fun.
Daniel Pineda: You can build things a little bit faster. You have four heads contributing to a larger idea. Someone is holding down different parts of something and it just builds faster. When you have an idea of one part, another has an idea of another part.
Asma Maroof: Especially it is really fun finding sounds together. It is like an „Uhh“ party. When you find something good you hear a chorus of „Uhh“ in the background. And then you kind have known: that is the one!
J-Cush: You know it is exiting for everyone to be able to bounce of on another. Things end up moving quite on a high pace. As soon as someone is done two or three other people are ready to get on.
And after you finished your instrumentals how did you choose the vocalists?
J-Cush: That was also a group decision. For some tracks we had a vocalist in mind when we where making the beat. Sometimes we waited until the beat was done. It was a different experience with every track. And it is different with everyone. But we are fans of everyone we worked with from Tink to Maluca and 3D Na’Tee. Me I wanted to work with everyone we have on the record. Certain singers might mean a little bit more as we grow up listening to them but at large each one is special to us. Just doing this project with vocalists was a big dream for all of us.
And who wrote the lyrics?
J-Cush: With every vocalist it is different.
Daniel Pineda: On the Malucka track Fatima worked on the lyrics but for the most part the vocalists wrote their own lyrics.
J-Cush: We like the lyrics of each vocalist anyhow. That is why we approached them. But as with each process in songwriting sometimes you do minor revisions. Or you might request a different option to something. Whether it is like the delivery or the cadence. So sometimes you have to make changes. But generally speaking they wrote their own lyrics. We liked to be in the studio when they record so we could give feedback right away.
And why did you choose people rapping? Also traditional singing would have worked with your instrumentals.
J-Cush: We do have a little singing. Tink is singing in some parts.
Fatima Al Qadiri: And there is a traditional song.
Daniel Pineda: But foremost: rap is pretty traditional today.
J-Cush: That’s a good point. And when you sing with autotune when you are rapping is that not singing? But we are not doing traditional pop music in a typical sense. But maybe in the future we do some more singing stuff. Who knows? We just haven’t had the chance yet.
You all live in big cities like New York or Los Angeles. How much are these places reflected in your sound?
Fatima Al Qadiri: I think it is an important factor because you know if I was still living in Kuwait I probably would not been influenced by half of the genres I know by know. So definitely the place plays a big part. Sometimes you can’t be curios about something when you do not know that it even exists. For instance my knowledge of Grime was very basic before I met Jamie (J-Cush). He introduced me to a whole new world. The deeper side of Grime. I didn’t realize that there are all these MCs and producers. And also with other genres. Had I not met him I wouldn’t have the knowledge I have now. And that is one effect of living in a big city.
Asma Maroof: I can say we live in Los Angeles, we have been djing here and playing, but there is no real influence from the city to what we do.
J-Cush: I agree with that. I have always lived in cities and I am spoiled by it. I mean like living in New York or London and as much as it does rip off on me I might not realize it. You know I just do my thing and that is where I get inspiration from not from what is happening around me.
Daniel Pineda: I am definitely inspired by living in a city like Los Angeles. But I do not know how it comes out in the music. I mean living here – I started djing since I move here and if I would not be in a big city I just wouldn’t have that kind of outlet to work with music like I do have now. It is not possible in so many other cities.
J-Cush: Yeah – it should be told that if I had not lived in these places I would not do what I do.
Daniel Pineda: I’ve been exposed to a lot of great music here in Los Angeles and I am definitely inspired by that. And I like working in Los Angeles a lot more than in other cities.
(photo: Benjamin Alexander Huseby)
How did you get in touch with your record company WARP? How did you managed to get your debut released on such a high profiled label?
J-Cush: They have been aware of the project since it started. Trough our investor who been an A&R for WARP.
Fatima Al Qadiri: Our friend Charles Damga invested in the project from the beginning because the project wouldn’t have been possible to really happen. If there wasn’t his investment we wouldn’t have been able to pay the vocalists, we wouldn’t have been able to afford studio time etc. etc.
J-Cush: Yeah, we where really fortunate that he shared the vision of what we wanted to do. Fatima had already a really great experience working with him. He was just somebody who wanted to cater to our vision. And we where lucky because it is not a traditional model for music to have like an investor. So in that sense it is really crazy. But any project on this scheme of things will take a significant amount of finances. So it has to come from somewhere rather it is a label or illegal activity or whatever it is. The money has to come from somewhere.
And now that you have released the Future Brown debut album: will your solo works sleep for the rest of the year and you only tour around as a group?
J-Cush: No not at all. We are now more inspired to push ahead everything because this project gave us a lot of new energy. More work, less sleep. That will be 2015!
Fatima Al Qadiri: Also working with WARP as a label that is all about creative freedom gives you new perspectives. That is why we where happy to go and sign a deal with them. Also the bigger the label the more control they want over you as a commodity. They want to be able to do things with you to make money or whatever, you know. So I feel that WARP is probably one the biggest labels you can work with before you become an object to be traded. All artists that have signed with them in the nineties still work with them. Not a lot of labels have that kind of reputation or that kind of family. I feel like once you singed to them they are very generous with you as far as creative freedom is concerned.
What do you expect from you upcoming Europe live dates?
J-Cush: We just want to keep pushing forward and developing new ideas for our live show. Being able to work with vocalist you can bring a lot of ideas to the table and so we play more around together. I think there will be a lot of freestyling and performing the tracks we have done together. Or even taking lyrics from other songs and playing them over our beats or other peoples beats and bring them in a new context. Just been able to reshape the music we like. Flip, remix and transform it into a unique live experience.
And what can the people anticipate from your show?
J-Cush: We like to play as much Future Brown material as possible. But we do not sit down and plan the exact track list. About what we play there might be moments that we discuss. Just to make things flow more easily with the vocalists.
Fatima Al Qadiri: It is also challenging to have four people djing simultaneously. Back to back.
J-Cush: Yeah it is a real challenge.
Fatima Al Qadiri: Nobody is playing a live machine. The only live aspect is the vocalist on stage.
J-Cush: Yeah but we are really there mixing the tracks live.
Fatima Al Qadiri: The main vocalist that we bring with us on the three European dates will be 3D Na’Tee.
J-Cush: Who is from New Orleans and we are really really really exited to be working with her live. She is so good. Her presence and her lyrical capability are unique. Also she is a real writer and her lyrics really blow us away every time. I never heard something from her that I didn’t like. I am always really really really impressed. Just to have such a powerful voice and persona with us to command the crowd is really valuable to us.
Fatima Al Qadiri: It is also her first performance in Europe ever.
J-Cush: And it will be really cool to do this in these types of clubs we going to play as well.
And you will rehearse before coming to Europe?
J-Cush: Yeah we got our show ready in the moment we speak right now. We look forward to see Europe and present it over there!
Carhartt WIP presents Future Brown European Tour
19/02/2015 - ICA - London - UK
21/02/2015 - La Machine Du Mouline Rouge - Paris - FR
28/02/2015 - Kantine Am Berghain - Berlin - DE