(New Exclusive Interview) WukonbatzXII Talks Working With MC Lars And New Project |

WukonbatzXII Talks Working With MC Lars And New Project

WukonbatzXII Talks Working With MC Lars And New Project

1. WukonbatzXII, how long have you been doing music?

JP#12 here, on behalf of the collective WukonbatzXII from Lausanne, Switzerland. As WukonbatzXII, we started back in 2010 but we were playing together before in another band from 1996 to 2004; it was then more alt rock with some rap flavor a back then. Now we reversed the script doing alt rock flavored hip-hop. Personally I could even go further down the memory lane to the first song I ever wrote in the early 90ies, a dinosaur-rap over a cheap Casio beat... Not many people, are aware of this one, I was a very young kid back then :-)

2. WukonbatzXII, how does creating music make you feel and do you feel it brings the best out of you?

Each guy in the collective would have different answers to this one, but I can clearly say that music has been holding a huge place in our lives for many many years... To me, I would see two distinct parts or levels. There is the musical, the beat producing part which I approach like Lego building: playing mad scientist creating monsters is a lot of fun to me (I like it when it sounds weird or raw, not taking ourselves too seriously there); the other guys are all great musicians and keep me in check when I go outta control :-). 

But there is also another level which is lyrics writing: this part is holy to me and I cannot choose if I am in the right state of mind to write. Inspiration can strike at any time and this is an almost mystical feeling when entering the zone and the words starts to flow. I don't freestyle but, over the years, my writing approach as evolved into something like "stream of consciousness Impressionism", painting mental images that are for the listener's imagination to interpret.

3. WukonbatzXII, breakdown the type of music that you create and what made you pick that type of music to create?

I would not say that we consciously pick a type of music, we follow our instincts and try to have fun along the way. Each "record" has a theme and we try to make sure that the music tells the same story. Perhaps our first record was deliberately "dark-chill abstract hip-hop" with limited guitars and a lot of sonic experimentations to make a clear cut with what we were doing with our previous band, but since then it have become more balanced and natural between between programming, live instruments and samples. We call it nowadays post-punk rap, but some songs could qualify as nerdcore, other are still pretty abstract hip-hoppish and you can hear the funk, blues, indie rap, grunge or electro influences of the guys in the collective; kinda depending on who's playing on the track..
Now, looking at the lyrics, I don't know if we can link them to a specific genre: as said before the lyrics are between Impressionism and surrealistic storytelling, dealing with themes such as the subjectivity of reality, the relativity of death, the mystics of quantum physics or machines that dream...

4. WukonbatzXII, what was the hardest thing in life you had to overcome and how did you overcome it?

Difficult topic... We are all in our 30ies so we have all been confronted to death and illness, to varying extents and closeness... Personally, an interesting story could be when, at 16, I almost drowned in a freezing lake after the boat I was on sank... Why interesting and eventually positive? Music helped me deal with it, channel the emotions in the lyrics (I'm not the most emotionally extroverted guy :-)) and great song came out of it. It took a while but I think this whole process made me grow up... I'm always an optimistic guy: a drop of water and I see the glass half full; pun intended!

5. WukonbatzXII, what are the pro's and con's of being a bilingual rapper?

I don't know if I really consider myself a bilingual rapper? There are actually few songs where I rap in English (and no recent ones). 

I'd say that the pros of being multilingual is that it open vastly perspective and allows to enrich my lyrics with broad perspectives, cultural influences and in a sense innovate. For instance there are no such thing as French Nerdcore hip hop: having a US frame of reference allowed me to define more clearly this aspect in what it is and what it isn't rather than having to go by try and error. Same thing with the Providence school of alternative hip-hop: to be tongue-in-cheekily provocative, it is inspiring to see that nowadays, hip-hop could be more punk than many punk rock bands. I will not make friends by saying that :-) All that to say that these are perspectives and influences I would not have if I wasn't going deep in lyrics that are not in my mother tongue; it's a question of relateability.

Now the cons are the reasons why I don't rap in English anymore: accent and precision. Accent as obviously I speak English with a French accent and it sounds weird (at least to me, might sound sexy and I could revisit my judgement :-)). Precision is on two level: do I express in English exactly what I have in mind or do I miss a nuance? The other level is actually the opposite: sometimes learnt languages sound too textbookish and not natural. All in all, I love bilingual songs (and I did several and not only in English but also with Brazilian artists) but I currently prefer to stick to French for my parts. ...but that was not always the case and I might change my mind again in the future 

6. WukonbatzXII, you had the chance to work with MC Lars. How was that is how did that record come about?

It started on Google! When thinking of using "post-punk rap" to define our sound, I googled the term and came across this Oakland MC doing post-punk laptop rap! I listened to a couple of his tracks, was hooked and bought his whole discography. Seeing that we had a couple of things in common (age, interests, background etc) I sent him a note via soundcloud to tell him how much I liked his music. To my surprise he replied and we discussed a potential collab. We are used to working remotely so that part was easy, but nailing down the concept took a bit longer and was impacted by the events that shook up Europe and the US over the Summer 16. Initially it was supposed to be a lighthearted track and it came up to be much darker (watching Rome burn), about the questions we must all ask ourselves these days: how close to the sun are we willing to go and see the light? Are we willing to accept to burn our wings in the process? Are we willing to sacrifice our liberties for security? Are we actually in 1984? 

I was impressed by Lars' work: he understood immediately where we were headed and, despite the bilingual aspect of the song, managed to create bridges with with the first verse, pushing me to raise the bar and do the same with the third. He was also working so fast: bang bang verse written, recorded, nailed it! Outstanding artist and really nice guy to work with!
To continue with the good fortune with this track we had then our friends from then French Indie label HumanShape that offered to take care of mixing the track and make it sound amazing: we are so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with all these talented artists!

7. WukonbatzXII, where do you see your band and career in the next 5 years?

Good question, no idea... Hopefully working on record 8 or 9: we still have 7 to go to complete our 12 records arc so I hope we have moved forward. I'd like us to go back on stage, I miss it and, if we do, it will influence a lot our future direction. I'd like also to increase our international collaborations, look back and say that we have moved forward artistically and met great people along the way!
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