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Late Bloomers explain the hard work behind easy-going music
words Sven Carlsson / images Press
As one group fades away, another arises, eager to make an impact on the US hip-hop scene. North Carolina trio-cum-duo Little Brother just released their final album as a group while Late Bloomers, a trio out of Southern California, are plotting how to make a mark on the scene. These LB’s share a few things with those LB’s; they are hungry and independent college boys set to make an impact, and the diary of their journey is the music.Late Bloomers: Never Don't Grow
The differences, though, are also notable. Late Bloomers consists of two producers, Ahh:zel and Giant Squid, who supply a soothing dose of electronica to accompany their samples, slightly adrift from the 1990′s East Coast hip-hop influences of Little Brother. On the mic for Late Bloomers are Ahh:zel and Non-Stop, and that would be another similarity: like Big Pooh and Phonte of Little Brother, these two MC’s garnish the digitized soulfulness they are handed with clarity and earnestness.
Of course, Ahh:zel, Non-Stop and Giant Squid have a lot to say for themselves without being pidgeonholed by someone all day. Beatnik caught up with the trio on a sunny California afternoon—it must have been, right?—to be able to introduce the group to our readers. At the end of the interview, have a listen to their unreleased track ‘Never Don’t Grow’, to get a sense of where Late Bloomers are headed next. And don’t forget the streams in the feature: ‘Best ENT’ and ‘Burnt Daze’ from the group’s net release EP Growth Series 2 are impressive songs.
Beatnik: Explain the name ’Late Bloomers’.
Ahh:zel: It came from the idea that we kidn of came into the scene late, just sort of fell into it. And we’ve come this far, this fast.
B: Is Growth Series 2 a cohesive release or just a demo?
Giant Squid: It’s a little EP. The sound is sort of all over the place, it’s just what we’ve recorded over the past year. We just wanted to put something out and make a little bit of noise. It’s actually our third project. Growth Series was recorded in one month. Then there was HHHH, which is more our individual things. So my beats, Ahh:zel’s beats and some solo Non-Stop stuff. With that, we wanted to show that we’re not just a group, we’re also individual solo artists who come together to make this trio.
B: How do you guys complement each other character-wise. Who drags the others to the studio and who is determined to stay?
A: We have a chemistry that really works. Giant Squid and I put the beats together and add things to each other’s sound.
GS: Yeah, it’s a really organic process. I can say to Non-Stop or Ahh:zel that they need to sharpen their lyrics. Or if I know that Ahh:zel is on a creative slump, I might send him some beats to inspire him to get back on it.
B: You only formed last year as a group, but from the skits on Growth Series 2, it seems you have had to deal with a fair amount of bullshit in the music industry already.
Non-Stop: The stories on the skits are 100% true. People push wack cd’s on you at gas stations.
GS: This dude was trying to slide me his CD while pumping gas. As far as the promoters go… we’re always trying to book shows, so we deal with them all the time.
Tell us about your song ’Burnt Daze’ from Growth Series 2.Late Bloomers: Burnt Daze
GS: I think I was on a creative slump for a while. When I do, I’ll just stare at my MPC and I can’t come up with anything that I think is dope. With that one, I layed out this drum track and I found this single tone sample. I put a bass line to it, and then I asked a homie of mine in my jazz band and he played some keys over it. He really killed it. So I sent it to Ahh:zel and Non-Stop and they wanted to do it.
B: Who does the singing at the end?
GS: That was me [laughs].
B: What did you grow up listening to, what music inspired you then and now?
A: In high school I got really really into Little Brother. Maybe too muh [laughs]. And the whole beats scene in LA is amazing right now. Flying Lotus, Samiyam, Ras G. They make some crazy shit.
NS: For me, it’s been a lot of west coast MC’s. A lot of Mack 10, WC. That’s basically because 92.3 FM out here plays a lot of hip-hop and that’s where I’d get my fix. Nas, Murs, Mos Def. People who can take a concept to the next level.
B: You seem to have a similar base of sample and hip-hop based production that is more and more testing electronic sounds and experimentation, much like the LA beat scene and FlyLo’s Brainfeeder label is going. In your production, how much do you sample and how much do you play yourselves?
GS: Lately, I’ve not been sampling as much, just playing my own things with my computer and keyboards. I started off sampling, and then… since I was in elementary school I’ve been playing trumpet, and I was in a jazz band in college. So eventually I started messing around with just playing some of my own stuff.
A: I want to keep sampling, but lately I just haven’t been able to make a sample beat. As hard as I try, I’ll always end up taking the sample out and then just playing it myself.
B: Tell us about your song ’Best ENT’ from Growth Series 2—there is a definite sample there.Late Bloomers: Best ENT
GS: Usually, Ahh:zel and I make a beat on our own, and if we’re feeling it then we end up recording to it. But for that one, we were just messing around in the studio and I picked up that record. Ahh:zel and Non-Stop told me to flip the sample, so I did and we made the track really fast.
B: When I listen to your record, it seems that the songs were created on some sunny days in Cali. Is that intentional?
NS: That’s just the way it turned out, I think.
A: I remember I emailed you guys saying that we should keep the tone positive.
GS: We try to keep a positive vibe. With this next project, maybe it will be a bit more Emo since we’ve been going through a bunch of bullshit. Like we’re living in Washington or something [laughs].
B: Your own Minstrel Show, right? What kind of trials have you been going through?
A: It’s mostly been personal things. And with the music industry, in general, when you meet people behind the scenes, you know… not everyone is sunshine and flowers, you know? A lot of people are… well,
NS: [interjects] Assholes. A lot of people are assholes.
GS: And just like in The Minstrel Show, in one of the skits, when they said something about supporting your own…
NS: Support your own! [Little Brother] talk about acts leaving their state and getting love that they wouldn’t get at home.
GS: I guess we just wish we’d get a bit more attention where we’re based. The kind of attention we’re getting from people like you.
B: What do you have coming up? Solo stuff, group projects or both?
A: we’re trying to figure out whcih route to take next. In the future, our grand plan is to release a debut album. But we’re trying to figure out the right route to take. As for right now, we’re doing a lot of beat stuff aside from Late Bloomers that’s coming out soon. Once we work out the plan for our takeover [laughs], we will launch the album project.
GS: What we’ve found is that we can drop something on the internet and hope that people download it. But lately we’ve been trying to conjure up a plan to execute that would really bring us to the next level. Aside from the sound, this involves marketing and how we will release the record too.
B: Will you go independent?
GS: We have some things happening that we need to lock down before speaking on it. We don’t want to jinx ourselves. We have some things in mind that seem positive for us.
Download the Late Bloomers net release Growth Series 2 here.
Late Bloomers MySpace.