When my man Polarity approached me back in 2005 about doing a blog together, I already knew he was a producer and had a group. He had sent me a disc of some of his beats prior to that. I was impressed with his production and knew he had talent. We started WYDU together in October of that year after meeting on mastaace.com. Since then, while he doesn’t post much anymore, I still consider him the co-founder and the reason this blog even started. And I’ve always enjoyed his music. I enjoyed his group’s first opus, Magnasound. Together with Gentleman Gene, the two make up Low Budget. They reside in Melbourne, Australia and have opened for any major hip hop artist that comes through the town, most recently EPMD last Friday night. The dropped the excellent Laserdisc recently, which is among my favorite albums released so far this year. And it has nothing to do with knowing him, and everything to do with the fun party vibe that’s found on the album. It was only natural we featured Gene and Po on a spotlight, so here it is…..
WYDU: What’s good gentlemen, let’s get the generic BS out of the way first and get your names, bank account numbers, and credit card numbers from you guys….don’t worry, it’s a “secure interview”…..or just introduce yourself if you aren’t comfortable with that, we can discuss the interview price privately.
Debonair P: There’s two of us in the group – Gentleman Gene on the vocals and myself on everything else – production, DJ’ing, choreography etc.
W: So is it Debonair P and Gentleman Gene now? Really?
Debonair: Yeah, you know we’d been using those old names for a while (since high school I think) so it was definitely time for a change…
W: Shine a little light on your individual backgrounds, how y’all got into the game…up until you became “Low Budget”.
Debonair: We were good friends at high school and had fairly similar interests in music, as well as both being into skating, the Toxic Avenger etc. I’d begun DJ’ing and buying records in around ’95 and Gene got into writing a couple years later. As time went by, we gradually got better at what we did and we started recording some demos in about 2003. After a lot of practice we finally started playing some live shows in 2005 and released our first album Magnasound in 2006.
W: Po, you and I go back a little ways, and I’ve been fortunate enough to see how you’ve grown as a producer. We’ll get to the new sound found on “Laser disc” soon enough, but how would you describe your growth as from 04 or so when we first started talking to the current times?
Debonair: I can’t say how much I’ve grown as a producer over the years, or even if I have. More than anything, I’ve spent the past five years trying to educate myself on, and acquire, as many records as possible – hip hop and otherwise. Being a very sample-based producer, I guess that’s come through in the music I make.
W: Magnasound dropped back in ’06, how was that learning experience for you guys, what were some important lessons you might have taken from that release? How do you view the success of it?
Debonair: All the reviews and feedback we got on Magnasound were really positive, but at the same time I’m not sure if we were entirely confident about pushing the album ourselves. By the time the record came out, some of the beats and verses on there had been kicking around for a long time so it didn’t feel like a totally accurate representation of where we were at in 2006. But the whole experience of recording and releasing it definitely schooled us to a lot of things which made the process with Laserdisc a lot smoother and trouble-free, and hopefully resulted in a better final product.
W: The new album, Laser Disc just dropped, what can a new listener to Low Budget expect to find on the album?
Debonair: Ideally, new listeners can expect a cohesive album on which they don’t have to hit the skip button too many times. We tried to incorporate a lot of funk and humour into the record that seems to be missing from many current releases, so hopefully people have a good time listening to it.
W: Obviously, I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Po in person, but just on the internet, the dude can be a real wanker and antagonist. How do you guys work together, what’s the formula behind it (ie, beats first, or lyrics first….work around hooks? ect)
Debonair: Haha… There’s no real formula to it. Usually it’s just a case of us putting together beats and rhymes individually and then figuring out which verses work best on each track. We usually have a pretty good idea of how we want the song to come out before we go to the studio, but sometimes we’ve tried things on the spot which
have ended up coming out well too.
Gene: Because we have been good friends for a long time, we are very honest with each other when it comes to any criticism or feedback. So we work very well together. We don’t really work to a formula, but with the more concept-orientated tracks like ‘2082’ and ‘Knock Out Performance’ we had a clear idea of what we wanted to achieve because the concept gave us some direction.
W: And while we are on the topic….Laser Disc seems to have preconceived set sound, all the beats seem to form a cohesive effort that makes the whole album have vibe. How did that all come to be before you set work on the album? Was it planned, or did it just happen?
Debonair: It was pretty much preconceived, as we’d been playing some of the songs (that ended up on Laserdisc) live since around the time Magnasound was released. They’d been getting a really good response live which kind of helped steer us in that direction. We were a bit wary initially about how the average hip hop listener would respond to some of the disco and boogie influences in the beats, but at some point I think we pretty much stopped caring what people would think and it all came together fairly easily.
W: Po, the sound was almost a 180 turn from your previous sounds, was this new production scheme a challenge? Is it something you are going to expand on in the future?
Debonair: It wasn’t so much a challenge as a nice change, production-wise – I had a lot of fun producing the album. I was listening to a lot of Trackmasters and Howie Tee production around 05/06 and was thinking to myself, “I want to make some uptempo funky shit…” I was using all the same equipment I used on Magnasound so technically I was doing very similar things behind the boards. If anything, it was probably more of a challenge for Gene to rap to some of the faster beats than it was for me to put them together.
W: Gene, how do you view your growth as an MC on the new album? To me, you seemed more sure of yourself and you did an excellent job of complimenting the beats Po gave you on this one….is that a fair assessment?
Gene: When we recorded Magnasound, I didn’t really have much of an idea of what I was doing, and was still learning. I developed and improved heaps once we started playing live shows. With a live show you can’t do retakes and you have to be on point with the beat. I also gained a lot of confidence from the crowd response and feedback. I did have some troubles with writing to the production style on Laserdisc – I had to strip back my verses and cut any unnecessary words out. But I think this made my verses more on point and made me more confident with spiting them.
W: How do you think Laserdisc will fit in the “International” aka US market? Is that something you guys are aiming for, or are you concentrating more on the Australian market?
Debonair: I can’t say it wouldn’t be nice, but realistically it isn’t going to happen. The market is so crowded that I’m sure it’s hard enough for US artists to be heard over there, let alone trying to break through with unfamiliar accents etc. I think we’d probably have a better chance with the Japanese and European markets although I honestly haven’t investigated that as thoroughly as I should have.
W: I’ve heard about the countless shows the two of you are doing, opening for everyone from Ugly Duckling, to J-Live, to Atmosphere…First, how is the live scene in the land down under? Next, any good dirt you can dish on some of the cats you’ve worked with? Any rappers dressing in woman’s clothing or anything?
Debonair: Man, I wish I had some exciting stories for you, but honestly everyone we’ve met/supported has been really professional. The scene down here is relatively young – it’s only been in the past 7/8 years that a lot of international acts have begun touring here, and it’s kind of been good timing that we’ve been able to support a lot of people that we respect when they come to Melbourne.
W: What are your views on the current state of Australian hip hop and the hip hop in general? How does the Australian scene differ from what you perceive the US scene to be?
Debonair: I’m not feeling a lot of the production that’s out at the moment – it feels like a lot of the music being released currently is going to date really badly. It’s kind of a strange time for hip hop – there are more MC’s and producers than ever before, but it seems like there are less and less actual albums being released.
Gene: It seems that there is more importance on individual tracks rather than on complete albums. A lot of people are trying to make that one big hit, and to do this they copy whatever is popular at the time, instead of trying to give the listeners something new.
W: What does the future hold for the two of you? Po, I know you’ve worked with former Spotlight Aritist Lex (and the tracks I’ve heard are nothing short of incredible) any chance of working with some State side artists in the future? How about you Gene, are you going to play Guru and release your own version of Jazzmatazz or something without Polarity?
Debonair: The Lex album is all I’ve got lined up for the near future – I just got the mastered CD back a couple of weeks ago so am looking forward to getting that out, as it’s been something Lex and I have been working on since 2005. I’m also dabbling with putting out an instrumental record using some of my beats that have gone unused over the years – probably as a vin
yl-only thing. I’d like to do some more US work, but it would have to be something where I’m producing the whole album instead of just tracks.
Gene: One of my friends has just set up a studio with a lot of old valve equipment, synths and tape machines. He’s a nice producer too. We are just going to record some tracks more for ourselves, and to test out the studio. It’s important for me to do some music that is not geared towards a release date and just concentrate on having some fun. I’m definitely keen to record some more Low Budget tracks, but I think we both need a little air.
W: So, Gene, help Po and I settle a little long going debate we’ve had….Erick Sermon’s “No Pressure” or “Double or Nothing”?
Gene: “Double or Nothing”, is that even a question?
W: Baaaaahhh….And honestly, who gets the most groupies?
Gene: Oh we both get plenty of groupies, but the problem is most of them seem to be guys! We both have girlfriends so it’s not really as issue…
Debonair: Though it’s always nice seeing girls dancing up the front when we play shows.
W: Any last words for the Reptilians, David Icke and Red Hot Lover Tone and anyone else that maybe reading this charade of an interview?
Debonair: If you’re reading Wake Your Daughter Up you’re probably an upstanding open-minded individual, so please check our music out at www.myspace.com/lowbudgetmusic – both our albums are also available on iTunes and have been bootlegged widely so go listen to them. Thanks Travis for the interview!
W: Thanks guys!