2009’s ‘Contact’ taken from their third album saw them combine furious London-fueled flows with Noisia’s crunching electro backbone – the start of what has become Foreign Beggars new obsession; fusing hip hop with dance music. Foreign Beggars more recent output has been a genre-defying blend of their former machinations and speaker-busting, floor rumbling dance music produced by the hottest artists around, delivering a succession of incredible collaborations. While each release seems to bring greater success and critical acclaim; the incredible ‘Beggatron’ Remixed album which featured the likes of Plastician, Bar9, Noisia and more, the Beatport chart topping ‘Scatta’ with Skrillex, the anthem that is Lines In Wax with Flux Pavilion and the recent team up with Vato Gonzalez ‘Badman Riddim’ is finally seeing the group crossover into the mainstream, receiving heavyweight radio support and reaching No.6 in the official UK charts. Their legendary live show has left crowds fevered and frenzied as the group seamlessly blend grime, dubstep, drum and bass and rap music together with the a ferocity more akin to heavy metal than a hip hop show. This year sees the Beggars releasing The Harder They Fall EP, the first in a three part series produced by some of the most in-demand artists on the planet. Featuring six Foreign Beggars collaborations with Alix Perez, Mensah, Lazer Sword, Medison, Ruckspin, Black Sun Empire and Skrillex, their debut Never Say Die EP hits the 140bpm tempo straight between the eyes, offering a range of styles and flavours that could loosely be described as dubstep, without the superfluous connotations that the mere name of the genre now evokes. Beware, this is not a drill. Dan Prince finally tracks the boys down…
Orifice, Metropolis, Dag and DJ Nonames welcome to the DMC world. DMC has just smashed the O2Indigo at The World Finals – you were up on stage a few years ago for us…do you follow the competition, are you fans, do any of your friends enter?
NN – “Big up. Yeah we came through for the UK Finals and the Worlds a few years ago. We brought Declaim and Wild Child with us, Nonames was a judge. We’re tight with Blakey, 2tall, (Om Unit) Scratch Perverts, Mixologists (when they were about), Disablists, DJ Woody, Daredevil, DJ Troubl, Captain Crunch, Switch and Manipulate.”
You are embarking on a huge national tour in October kicking off in Bristol and concluding in Brighton. The UK Burnout Tour is your first trip on the road since the Running With Wolves Tour with The Prodigy. What can we expect from the live shows…
NN – “Yeh its the first UK tour since supporting Prodigy at the start of 2010, since then we’re been all over the world. UK Burnout 2011 sees us showcasing a lot of the newer more uptempo collaborations, a lot of the dubstep stuff. We’re still gonna be doing a bunch of stuff from Asylum Speakers, Bukkake and Stray Point, along with the new material including collabs with Noisia, Flux Pavillion, Skrillex, Lazer Sword, Alex Perez and Skizm. The show put together is very much from a DJ angle; intro, cuts, back n’ forth stuff, quick mixes, plus freestyles and beatbox action from Zani and The Petebox. From that point of view its still a hip-hop show, but the styles of music go beyond what people tend to associate with hip-hop.”
You have just completed a whirlwind US Tour – your first Stateside – what was that like?
OV -” Wow, that shit was too fun. The best shows were Philly, Jersey, New Orleans, DC, Raleigh, VA got down, San Antonio…the whole shit was insane really. There was barely a moment when it wssn’t full on! Between Nadastrom, us, Steve Duda, Dillon Francis, 12th Planet and Skrillex, a big fat cross-section of dance and rap music was represented. The Skrillex machine is something else – bass music has taken off in a massive way over there, and to be a part of that tour was amazing, we were there for 15 shows, Skrils doing 60 in the U.S and Canada alone! Seeing kids in Texas that know all the words.. that shit crayy (as they say down there).”
I interviewed Vato a couple of weeks back, we obviously were all over the ‘Badman Riddim’ track. How did your involvement happen – were you aware of the tune doing the rounds last year before you layed your vocals on it?
OV – “Yeah we heard the track a couple times, but never thought to flip on it since it had already been released. But Ministry of Sound got in touch and asked us to demo it, and subsequently loved what we did and blew the track up.”
Mr Gonzales said that the video (hilarious) was unbelievable to film in the blistering hot Spanish sun, he said…”I laughed my chops off on the set but even though the Foreign Beggar boys were sweating like pigs, they handled it like pros.” – was it that bad?!?
OV – “Yeah it was fuckin rago. Early morning shoot, 6am call after 3 days of touring in Spain, but was all good. The team from RSA and the ground crew were more than a dream to work with and everything down to the last zipper and drop of suncream was accounted for, and we did get bits of time to chill in the sun on the couch while others were working harder than us. I would do it all again tomorrow.”
I find it remarkable how you have all ended up together. OV and Dag, you met in Dubai whilst playing in metal and grunge bands – how did you end up there?
OV- was born there. Dag was born in Colombia and moved to Dubai when he was 4 from Iraq, and we met in school.”
Dag you moved to Norway in 1998 – who has the better girls, Norway or the UK?
Dag – “Girls are amazing errwerr, but my girl is Italian so I’d say italian girls are the best!”
No Names and Metropolis you met at Uni – what did you think of each other when you first met and what were you studying at Uni?
NN: “Yeah we met in the second year, I was studying Biology and Metropolis was doing Politics. When we first met I approached him cause I thought he was somebody else, this other rapper I’d heard about. There was just me and one other kid (Kevlar aka Kevikev) with turntables in our room (where there should have been a desk!), either way he turned out to be a pretty good rapper, then he met Pav and Dag and got some verses on the first album.”
How do you feel when you see big grime artists like Tinchy Stryder on daytime TV being interviewed by Lorraine Kelly earning big money. Would you ever go down that route?
OV – “It makes me really happy to see that shit. It wouldn’t really be happening a few years ago. Although I personally wouldn’t go down that route and make the music that Tinchy’s made, those are the steps that have opened up our genre of music up to the masses making it possible for rap and grime tunes from dudes like Wiley, Pro Green, Wretch 32 and even ourselves to get mainstream media coverage and hit the charts.”
What was the highlight of the tour with The Prodigy? And the worst?
“Literally just doing the tour, everything about it. By the time we managed to drag our asses to the next city the whole team had already arrived and set up 4 trucks worth of staging and sound equipment. Also chilling with the guys and watching each others sets. The challenge of playing to a whole cross-section of England and Prodigy fans who may not have heard of our shit before.”
NN – “The stupidest thing that happened was us getting stuck on one of the last drives back from up north, tried turning round in this field and got stuck in the mud and had to wait about 5 hours for the AA to come pull us out. The worst thing was the last hting Pav said…’Jim, don’t do it’…”
Who is an absolute nightmare on the Foreign Beggars tour bus? Who has the worst habits?
NN – “We’re not the most punctual – one of us is late 98% of the time. Aside from that we are all pretty chill. We’ve been doing this shit for about 10 years so we’ve kind of developed some etiquette. Our mate D-pipz is usually the wild card.”
The aim of the game in Hip Hop is to stand out and be different. What makes you lot different?
OV – “We never really did the conventional rap thing. We are from all over the world. London and hip hop is what has brought us all together. Every time a release comes out it generally does so from leftfield and isn’t generally what people expect. It takes fans some time to come around but they do in the end. We don’t really give a fuck about what the industry thinks and know how to flip loads of current trends in music on their head unlike other hip hop groups. We draw inspiration from all aspects of youth and music culture regardless of genre and whether its acceptable to the rest of the hip hop community.”
Whilst giving an interview with a magazine once in a pub, some dude starting pissing on the floor next to your table off his head. Crazy shit must happen to you of the time. What has been the craziest story from this year that has happened to you?
OV – “Yeah, the insanity is never far behind us. The wall of death has been a pretty mental addition to the show, and at one of our biggest shows in Spain a dude whipped his dick out and started pissing on the people on the other side. Crazy mother-fuckers jumping off all kinds of things. Nonames managed to get on the wrong boat party at Outlook festival and they had to turn the boat around, he nearly had to swim across. Playing after Faith No More, Busta Rhymes, Slayer was pretty crazy. There have been some dubious after party situations. Seen somebody with a foreign beggars tattoo the other day. Being banned from the UK for 14 months was a mad one too.”
How do you sit with the whole downloading issue?
OV – “It is what it is. Its a double edge sword. Although you don’t make money on sales your music spreads 20 times farther, opening doors for bands to go touring all over the world in places where previously they may not have been able to get distribution deals.”
What are the big 10 tunes you are all into right now?
Strategy/Broken English Costa del Salford Juicy J – I Zip And I Double Cup Juicy J – Geeked up off them bars Hudson Mohawk The whole new Rustie album Africa Hitech – Up In The Streets Anything by Marger Noisia – Programme Labrynth – Earthquake (Noisia Remix) Alex Claire – Up All Night (Nadastrom remix)
Right let’s see how brave you are. What are all of your ‘guilty pleasures’ tunes, records you love you haven’t admitted to each other before…
“Anything by T-Pain and Rick Astley is fairly embarrassing to like cuz that is a bait one.”
You come from all over the globe, give us a handful of the collective Foreign Beggars musical influences you all grew up listening to that pointed you in our direction…
“Company Flow, Fat Boys, NWA, Pantera, Mobb Deep, Portishead, Redman, Wu Tang, Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, Task Force, Jehst, Roots Manuva, Stevie Hyper D, MF Doom, Pharoahe monch.”
Many people say that over the last decade you have changed the face of UK Hip Hop – thoughts on that?
“I wouldn’t say we’ve changed the face of hip hop, its nice of you to say that Dan. We’ve just not given ourselves a boom bap boundary, and rap music in the UK has evolved tremendously over the last 10 years with the development of Drum n Bass, Garage, the birth of Grime and Dubstep simultaneously, and different style of rappers coming out from Giggs and Sneakbo to Ghetts or Sonny Jim.”
Who else on our scene do you give props to?
“Everyone who’s ever done anything.”
Metrolpolis – how many laguages can you really speak?
“Four – English, French, Italian, Phanti.”
Best club in London at the moment?
“XOYO, Fabric, Koko, Plastic People.”
Favourite Hip Hop live artist ever?
OV and Nonames – you worked on the stage version of Wizard of Oz – how long did it take you to get seriously sick of the show?
OV – “It was actually Nonames who was doing the sound and was doing so with a copy of the Wizard of Oz on vinyl, a vestax mixer and a 1210 so was having a great time. Doing the lighting was wack though.”
The tour hits Koko in London on November 3rd, a real home coming gig for you all – is London your favourite place to perform?
“We can’t wait to perform there, we’ve never done Koko before. We love playing in London and its always a challenge but its special because a lot of people from out of town come to see the show and the shit goes off.”
And finally, what has 2012 got in store for us all from the Beggars studio and beyond…
“Completed an album with Noisia due for release around March/April time. A couple tracks with Starkey. A cheeky collab with Sway. Something with Blue Daisy and Nolay, have completed a four track EP with Kid Kanevil featuring Dorian Concept. Something with Funkace and hopefully some stuff for Skrillex’s Owsla label. Some stuff with 12th Planet, Dillon Francis, 16 bit, Son of Kick, and hopefully a full length album by the end of summer.”