featured interview

DJ Illegal (Snowgoons) We Keep Hip-Hop Alive While other producers dream about making a record with their favorite MC, German producer trio the Snowgoons just do it like Nike does. Next week, their collab with Philadelphia's own Reef The Lost Cauze 'Your Favorite MC' will hit shelves, followed by albums with M.O.P., AG and Virtuoso. DJ Illegal talks about hooking up with them, Goonism and American football...

Is Reef The Lost Cauze your favorite MC?

Literally he is! I'm a big fan since I heard the first Reef song. And I think I speak for all the Goons.

What makes an MC your fav MC?

For me individually there are two kinds of artists. The first one I see from a fan's perspective. I respect an artist for his music and image. Like Nas is one of my favorites. But I never met him or know him personally. The second kind is artists I know personally. And now I respect them even more because I'm still a big fan of their work. That's people like PMD, Edo G, Ill Bill, Everlast just to name a few.

You've worked with many artists, what's so unique about making beats for Reef?

As far as work ethic and creativity we on point with Reef and the other way around. He just knows what to do when he gets a Snowgoons beat. Also personally we connected really fast. Our relationship goes further than just the music. I think all these circumstances manifest this special bond between Reef and The Goons!

You mentioned PMD. How's the Goondox album coming about, with PMD and Sean Strange?

We still recording songs. Since there is no release date set, we are good to work without any pressure. Sean Strange hooked it all up. The idea to record a couple of songs on the road during the European tour turned out to inspire everybody on the project. Now we're talkin about a full length album of which we are really excited about. Everybody brings something new to the table. PMD is a legend in this game, Sean Strange is hungry and upcoming and we're just doing our 'thang'!

Tell us some more about the collabo albums with M.O.P., Virtuoso and A.G.?

Currently we're working hard on the M.O.P. album. As a matter of fact the album is done and just needs to get finalized. I can tell y'all it's banging hip-hop, straight in your face! That's how you wanna hear MOP! Virtuoso already started to record on a couple songs but we all take it easy for now. Same with AG. AG picked a couple of beats and we go step by step. It all takes time to create good music. We can't and don't wanna rush it.

That's how you wanna hear M.O.P. you say, Danze and Fame also said this will be their 'best project in ten years', it must be a great feeling to accomplish that...

Of course that's a good feeling. We are very proud. But on the other side it verifies we are a stong team right now. Det, Sicknature, J.S. Kuster and me. We're pulling all on one string and we want to establish the brand Snowgoons in this game. We want to be a trademark for real hip-hop.

How did you convince them to work with you?

We tried last year to work with MOP but timewise it didn't worked out. This time Chuck Wilson wanted to help us out and he had the final idea to do a whole album. Danze and Fame both liked our production right away and the rest is history.

What's the secret of convincing all those artists?

I had the privilege to tour with almost all the artists we worked with so far and once you connect on the road, it's way easier to set something up. Plus I think our work speaks for itself. Now we get hit up from all angles to do albums or songs.

On the Snowgoons' Facebook page though, you posted a message 'Who should we feature on the next Snowgoons album?' Are you runnin out of inspiration?

Not at all. It's always important for us to keep the fans included in our work. At the end of the day we are all hip-hop fans too. So we keep it real.

And it don't stop right? In such a short timespan you issued plenty of records. Where are all these beats coming from?

I have to admit I'm a workaholic. I got constantly ideas and I need to transform every sound to a beat. On the other side we are four people now in the crew. Sicknature is a workaholic too. The amount of beats we're doing allows us to pick out just the premium beats. Even better: when Sick sends a beat to Det or Kuster or me and the other way around, we criticize each other to make it better. We have some kind of a in-house competition on a healthy level. My job is the music now and beside that I'm a tour manager and DJ for other artists.

Elsewhere you mention Snowgoons and Sicknature separately but we can gather he is now an official, full-time Snowgoons member right?

Correct. Det and me thought it would be easier to let Sick be separate since he got his trademark sound and all but now we work so close and all goes hand in hand. It's just natural process and we all wanna push the Snowgoons. Same with J.S. Kuster. He is workin with us since the 'Black Snow' album and always submit keys and additional stuff. Now we decide to finally add him to the team. Kuster is dope on the keyboard and now we expand our options to replay samples and be more creative.

Sicknature, who's from Denmark, said the following about why European producers are attracted to work with US MC's: 'The most important reason is that not so many people listen to the hard hip-hop here. So reachin out to the rest of the world, and not only Denmark, makes more sense.' Was that the same motivation for you?

We had a similar experience here in Germany. Also we just hardly influenced by the old school and 90's boom-bap era. So it's normal to get back to that source where it originally came from!

What's the essence of Goonism?

We about our business! And I'm not talkin money! We went a hard way in the beginning and we made it all up to here. Just sayin for people that never heard of the Goons before but we came a long way producing since the late 90's! We keep hip-hop alive!

Exactly. One of your early works was with West coast veteran Donald D...

Yeah, around 2002/03 we did a couple of songs with Donald D on this EP called 'Return of the Culture' that got set up by the label we was working with. We're always going back to our roots and that's real music. I'm a Zulu Nation member myself. It's important to keep the culture alive.

You've posted blog entries with some tips about using the Internet...you also consider yourself a Internet pro...where did the idea to do this come from?

I've spend quit a time on the Internet but also as an almost perfectionist I'm just meticulous about what I'm doing. It all started with songs on Youtube. I just can't handle it if kids put up songs with just the song title! I mean put some work in and add the artists name maybe the producer and then some more info's in the info box. Also it's more professional if you present yourself on the web the right way. It doesn't take much to do it right so why not!

Untill just recently you didn't have a Snowgoons Twitter account though?

I'm not a big fan of Twitter. It's a light version of Facebook. I think Facebook is the strongest promotion tool at the moment. So I rather roll with the full version.

Do you remember some songs you played on your first party as a DJ in 1992?

Hell yeah! Everything that was out at this time like Cypress Hill, House Of Pain, Run DMC, Public Enemy, Gang Starr and so on. I think I played half of those albums song after song! No joke!

You also had a hip-hop shop, what do you remember from that experience?

It was a good time when I was running my hip-hop store from '98 to 2003. I learned a lot about the business behind the distro's and pressing companies.

What's on your iPod right now?

I got all new music from Blaq Poet, Apathy, Outerspace and of course I'm bumpin the new Reef and also M.O.P. rough mixes.

Germany won over Belgium last week...are you a soccer fan?

Oh honestly I'm not into soccer at all! I'm not a big sports fan in general. I like a bit of American Football. I was playing it when I was younger and my real brother runs a team right now in my hometown. But overall I don't have time for sports. I like more movies and TV-shows from the Internet. That's pretty much all I do beside the music and I'm happy with that.

What's next for DJ Illegal?

There is no DJ Illegal for me. I always wanna push my team, my crew Snowgoons. All ideas and all my blood is going into this and I just love what I'm doing as much as I love the music itself!

 

POSTED 10|18|2011
conducted by cpf

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