To say this WYDU Spotlight is a long time coming is a huge understatement. Both in the fact it’s been well over a year since we’ve conducted a spotlight around these parts and the fact of who it’s with.
Way back in 2007, when I was still a bright eyed and bushy tailed blogger living in the Mile High city of Denver, Colorado, still gave a rats ass about hip hop blogs and my little blog Wake Your Daughter Up, was starting to make some noise on the blogging scene. That meant I was starting to get promo materials from labels and promo companies. It would later turn into a gift and a curse as these days my email is virtual avalanche of music and material being passed off as music (not to mention videos, video shoots, events, listening parties and a variety of other mostly pointless things). But back in those days I listened to ANYTHING that somebody sent me. One of my very first physical submissions was from a label from Connecticut by the name of Dekagon Records. They were releasing an album from a hip hop group out of Lawrence, Kansas by the name of Archetype. I still remember sitting down in my little cramped apartment one afternoon, throwing in the CD to my computer/stereo, picking up the sticks to play some Madden and by thirty seconds into the intro, I had stopped with the Madden and concentrated on the album. Archtype’s Bleed For Them would end up being one of my favorite albums of the year (#3 album for 2007) and the decade (I listed it in my top 5 for Passion of the Weiss’ Top Albums of the Decade, everyone scratched their heads). I even got my blog partner, Eric C. on board of my Archetype fanboy-ism tour…
CONTINUED ON THE JUMP
The group would then re-release Bleed For Them in Japan on Goon Trax as Unfolding, proving that WYDU was a big taste maker in Japan as well (I kid, I kid…). Unfortunately though, they didn’t break out as I, their label, or iD and Nezbeats of Archetype thought and expected them to.
Flash forward to 2012 and after some sightings of Nez and iD on other projects, myself and the rest of the world were blessed with a NEW and FINAL Archetype album in the form of Red Wedding last month. The new album doesn’t disappoint as both Nez and iD haven’t lost a step and are probably even more polished. The beats, some of which are accompanied with live instrumentation, are still just as melodic albeit a bit darker and iD is still one of the more poetical emcees out there doing it. As of right now, Red Wedding is my favorite release of 2012, plain and simple.
Pick Up Red Wedding AND Bleed For Them for only $8.00 and that’s including shipping. That’s cheaper than a 12 pack of crap beer (I should know)
Buy HERE: Archetype Bandcamp
Bloggerhouse: What’s good gentlemen, can we get a quick introduction of who you are and your roles in the group?
Nezbeat: What up, Jeremy Nesbitt aka Nezbeat aka Nezly Crunc. I write the beats and do some rhyming and singing too.
iD: MC and vocals.
BH: Red Wedding is album number three, so you guys have been around for a bit. Can you shine a little light on the history of Archetype?
Nezbeat: We started writing songs together in a basement in a small college town called Manhattan, KS in the early/mid 90s when we were in middle school/high school experimenting with what we had–a drum machine, a mixer and a tape deck. From there it just progressed to 4 tracks, then 8 tracks, experimenting with sampling, etc. We’ve known each other pretty much our whole lives and come from totally different artistic backgrounds. Isaac’s always been a writer since I can remember and I’ve always been into playing drums and making beats.
iD: We officially started performing as archetype in 2000. We played about once a month for the first couple years and wrote nearly entirely new sets for every show, keeping the cream of the crop and tossing the rest. That’s how we compiled what became our first album Freehand Formula in 2002. Between then and now we both collaborated on various projects with countless area artists, continued performing, did several small tours and somewhere in there managed to drop Bleed For Them. I think that was ’05. That album led to our affiliation with Dekagon. Anyways, then we stopped playing out as much and worked on Red Wedding between our other main projects: Nez’s Good Hair project with Joe Good, and iD and Sleeper.
BH: I’ve always thought you guys had a very unique sound unlike pretty much anyone else out there. How would you guys describe your sound to someone who has never heard your music before?
iD: I’d tell em to just listen to it. But if I had to I’d say, it’s reminiscent of 90s backpack rap but with more instrumentation, creative arrangements and uncommon lyrical themes.
Nezbeat: Just listen. It’s tasteful, poetic, golden era inspired hip hop that has a lot of everything else mixed in. We are just sound scientists doing our best to make music better.
BH: I’m not always the best at picking out samples, but the ones I have picked out aren’t your usual hip hop sources, how do you choose samples you work with?
Nezbeat: It’s all based on a feeling at the time and figuring out how to make it sound like our own–original ways of flipping old sounds, weaving in and out of different styles with fluidity. A lot of the beats I write a melody on the keys first and then chop samples to fit the mood like in “Winding Mind” or “Last Time”. I will sample any record or movie as long as there is a cool sound on it somewhere. I used to be like, “I will only sample it if it’s older than so and so,” but now I feel much less restricted. So there is no rhyme or reason so to speak, I make a bunch of beats and then iD picks out his favorite stuff and we bounce it back and forth between us and the band, arranging as we go. On Bleed for Them, the “You See” song was based on an Of Montreal sample from one of their early records. I like looking where a lot of producers may not. Sometimes I’ll hear a sample years after I made the original beat that will fit and change the whole feel of it. For example, in the end of “Same Ol Tears” how it flips into the soulful orchestral ending, that sample was found in the final recording process and added in way later, I don’t even think iD knew it ended like that until he heard the final product, hahaha. We are on the same page so sometimes changes occur without even speaking and he’ll like the end result better.
BH: iD, your rhyme style seems more poetic than the “average” emcee, how do you write and what are some of your influences?
iD: My influences are all over the place, I’m a student of song craft more than anything. If it seems more poetic that’s because its how I approach it. I’m not interested in punchlines or playground antics in music. Battling isn’t musical to me. The poetic aspect is what got me into hip hop. I want the words to vocalize what I think the music is saying.
BH: I’ve long hailed Bleed For Them as one of the best albums of the last decade, describe how that album came together creatively and musically…
Nezbeat: Yeah thanks, that’s sweet. I was listening to a lot of Shuggie Otis at the time, a lot of old soul, a lot of new rock music, and watching a lot of soul searching documentaries and french artsy movies. Haha, I don’t know, that’s what I remember. Isaac picked out all of those beats, which were definitely the best ones of that era. Some of the other ones that we ended up not using may have even ended up on Red Wedding. We have a pretty large pot of beats to pick from of all different styles when going into the actual song writing process. He’ll pick out the beats and then write to it based on a vocal sample or he’d write a chorus and then we’d both write verses based on that idea. We usually have some really out there songs that may not make the cut. A lot of reworking, Isaac never really spits a verse the same way twice, it’s always new and reworded and changed around. I love that about him, but also it can be frustrating as a producer if you don’t record it the one way you heard him spit it before so nicely. In his defense, it always comes out fressshh as hell!
iD: Wow, that’s a huge compliment. Like I said, we wrote that album during a busy time amid several outside projects so it’s hard to remember exactly–maybe that’s why it’s so dynamic. Between Freehand Formula and Bleed For Them, I did the first iD and Sleeper album Displacement, and a project with Miles Bonny called The Find, as well as a bunch of features on other artists’ albums. Nez did a solo producer album From The Huge Silence, an EP with Mac Lethal, and dropped beats for countless others. So the outcome of us both experimenting with these widely disparate styles on those projects and then coming back together for Bleed For Them was like the new improved Archetype.
BH: Then Bleed For Them basically transformed into the Japanese release, Unfolding, how did that Goon Trax deal came about? How did it feel to being able to drop an album in Japan where they seem to appreciate quality hip hop a lot more?
iD: Goontrax was a new label at the time and they were basically conducting a worldwide talent search. We just happened to fit the bill. Obviously it’s awesome to know that people on the other side of the world who speak a different language are identifying with your music. And it was our first vinyl release so that was like a cherry on the cake.
Nezbeat: From what I remember, they contacted us on Myspace or something. Isaac was in contact with them, not me. It was really cool to have an official release over there, I really feel like we could have thrived over there if we would have had more label support. But that’s how it goes, they are a subsidiary company of a huge corporation that owns a lot of labels and shit–they make pokemon for god sakes, haha! So yeah, needless to say, it could have gone a lot better for us with a little more love, but they pressed vinyl and promoted us well, so I’m not complaining.
BH: How would you say “Red Wedding” is different than past Archetype projects, especially “Bleed For Them”?
Nezbeat: Well the first record was totally DIY, we recorded it on a digi 8 track, but also had million dollar studio access for some of the songs, so it has an interesting sound–really gritty, but somehow it all works perfectly together, still some of our favorite stuff is on Freehand Formula, which is out of print. Bleed For Them and Red Wedding are much more similar I would say, updated techniques but still rockin the same formula–iD is the lead vocalist, I write the music, and rap when I feel like it. Also, we have had the common theme of Ryan Wurtz’ virtuoso guitar on every album in some form. On the new one, it’s all Isaac on the raps and we are both singing more. Red Wedding is darker more like Freehand…, but some of the beats are from the same era as Bleed…, so yeah I guess it’s all the same to me, hahaha–just a progression of original sound.
iD: It’s maybe a little darker and contemplative overall than Bleed…. Also, it’s the first album that incorporates full live band instrumentation, although we had been playing shows with the band for a while.
BH: There was a little bit of a hiatus between the last two albums. Nez, I know you did the project with Joe Good last year and iD did an album with Sleeper, what else kept the two of you busy?
iD: Actually I did two albums with Sleeper in that time. Our second album With Fixed Hands and Sleeper’s solo album The Crawlspace which features vocals on about half of the tracks. Other than that, I released my first solo album Avatar Hotel, and continued to collab with anyone who wanted me to contribute to their projects.
Nezbeat: Well Good Hair took a lot of my time, it ended up being a free download. You can get it here: http://nezbeat.bandcamp.com/. I worked on freelance stuff, remixes, did beats for Dri’s album Smoke Rings (on Rangelife Records. engineered by Jim Vollentine of Austin, Texas) which is some of my most proud work outside of Archetype. I did some pimp ass beats for Spero from Northern State. I wrote a bunch of solo albums, two in particular that I’m singing over my beats, With Flying Colors and Cool Fire Control that will be out this year hopefully. Just a lot of beats, rhymes, love, losing love, and movement. I want to put out 12 projects this year, that is my goal, we’ll see. Off to a good start anyway with Red Wedding…
BH: With the live instrumentation found on this album, why did you choose to go that route this time around? It seems like a lot of the live sounds were made to sound almost sample like, was that the intention?
Nezbeat: It was just the natural progression, but yeah we didn’t want it to sound like a Roots album or something. Our friends are all bad asses and we had already been playing shows with the live band so it
just fit. The sound that came out of it had a lot to do with our drummer Jerrett Fulton being able to help me record and mix the drums to our liking, making it all meld with the sample collage stuff wasn’t really that hard because we have all been friends playing together in some form for years.
iD: We wanted to incorporate the band cause we’d been doing shows that way for so long it just seemed natural.
BH: What was the working/recording environment for Red Wedding? How did you guys come up with song concepts, choose beats and the such?
Nezbeat: Again, Isaac would pick the beats out, we would get drunk and do scratch vocals at my house, then take it to Mixtape Studio in Lawrence to refine, mix, record live shit and do the real vocals. A lot of drinking, a lot of late nights in the studio, countless hours mixing with plenty of ganja filling the air. Isaac can speak more on the conceptual side of it.
iD: We recorded most of it at Mixtape Soundlab here in Lawrence with our drummer Jerret Fulton (also the owner of the studio) and our friend Aaron Miller sharing engineering duties. I basically made a list of song titles based on a group of beats collected from Nez’s ever-expanding treasure trove of a catalog. Then I wrote the songs around the themes I thought those titles and beats were suggesting. I guess that’s what makes this album more conceptual over all.
BH: I heard some awful rumor that this would be your last album? What is next for the two of you then?
iD: This is our last album as Archetype, but Nez and I have been working together forever, so I doubt that will ever end completely. We’re both gonna keep doing our thing and go wherever that takes us. But don’t be surprised to see us link up again in the future. Can’t stop, won’t stop, haha.
Nezbeat: Yeah it is. But we will always be making music together in some way. I’m living in the Bay Area now, just pushin Red Wedding, collaborating with a lot of the Esl family, specifically the Afrolicious/Pleasure Maker guys–those are my boys, really just as many collaborations as possible! I feel it’s the easiest way to learn and build. I just recorded a record with Nomsa Mazwai, a sick sultry singer from South Africa. Been doing all kinds of beats from down tempo, chill pumpy shit to upbeat dancey shit. I want to score movies and play more shows. Put another band together at some point where I can sing and rap and do whatever I want is another goal. I just want to be free to make music as I please to fight against the evils in the world, and inspire more people to create and do the same.
BH: In a perfect world where people weren’t focused on sales and instead on good music, what would you want to accomplish with Red Wedding?
Nezbeat: Get the band back together and tour the world because I feel like we haven’t gotten our recognition yet. All in all, I just want more people to hear our music because I feel like it is special and full of good energy. Then we get rich, hahaha.
iD: I think any album is an accomplishment in itself–just to have another piece of music out. I guess if that were the case more people would be exposed to it, and that would be cool. But everybody who’s up on Archetype is hella enthusiastic about it, which is even cooler.
BH: Any last words for the readers here?
Nezbeat: Yeah you can get my new shit here: http://nezbeat.bandcamp.com/ and here: http://soundcloud.com/nezbeats
iD: Much love and thanks to everybody who’s reading this and everybody out there who has kept up with us. Peace.