featured interview

Now On Live for the now, on to the future The future is now, the future is September 30d. The trio of Now On, aka Haircut (aka Mayer Hawthorne), IX Lives and Jackson, will release their sophomore album ‘Tomorrow Already’ on A-Side Worldwide, following their debut ‘Eye Level’, the compilation ‘Don’t Call It A Mixtape’ and the recently released EP ‘The Willows’ (only available in Japan), an album that promises a ‘fun loving culmination of magnetic rhythms, melodically driven hooks, and lyrics that entertain and captivate listeners’. The ideal opportunity for us to get deeper into their discography, their philosophy and their history…or should we stick with the future?

Ok, so let’s talk about the album first of all, what's the idea behind the 3 covers? Does it come in a hologram like the Juggaknots album or is it a collectors thing...?

Haircut: we wanted to do something fun and creative for everyone who has supported us. We came up with the idea for the cover, but we couldn’t figure out how to get all three of us in it – so we did three different covers. There’s a lot of symbols in each cover if you look closely.

There are - if I recall the butts right - 3 different models on each cover. How did you decide which lady went with who?

H: we didn’t choose the models, the models chose us.

The album will be released on A-Side Worldwide, what role do they play in your careers and how important is this creative surrounding?

Jackson: A-Side Worldwide plays an enormous role in our careers. A-Side is our management and marketing team. We’re also partners in the company as well. A-Side is innovation incubator, the creators of ‘The New Model’, the reason we are successful. The specific combination of individuals who are involved in A-Side are extremely important. This team, this ‘creative surrounding’ is crucial in our ascension.

It seems like the Lab Techs will finally get the props they deserve (the 'Buff1' and Now On release). How elementary are the Lab Techs in the success of the group?

J: The Lab Technicians: DJ Haircut, 14KT, Forekast, and Vaughan T are the greatest. They are extremely important in helping define and mould the Now On sound. From the beginning The Lab Techs have been like our ‘band’. They are our musicians. They are the engineers of the A-Side sound too. The Lab Techs produce 90% of all the music we put out.

So why did you decide to work with producers instead of using a full range of live instrumentation?

J: IX Lives and I were in a live group called Funktelligence for 8 years or so. We put out 2 albums with live instrumentation. We dig the live band energy, and may decide to go back to it again – especially in the live show. We love working with The Lab Techs though, and one of The Lab Techs happens to be in Now On (laughs). So for now it’s the sound we’re sticking with. The beats on ‘Tomorrow Already’ moved us. They inspired creativity. We liked the music we received from The Lab Techs just the way it was and saw no need to recreate it with live instruments this time around.

The first video for the new album is ‘The Willows’, could you explain us the metaphor of that song?

H: Hearing the wind in the willows is the sound of creeping danger. It’s a warning to other artists, look out because we’re about to take your spot.

Your debut album 'Eye Level' received props in some circuits and sold quite well, but stayed unnoticed or missed a lot of listeners. Are you planning on giving the previous album a re-launch if the new one seems to work well?

H: ‘Eye Level’ was a great stepping-stone for us, but we don’t like to ‘take it back’. We’re always trying to move forward and do something new. We are already working on the next project.

What did you do to reach more listeners with this new album?

IX Lives: Well from a business standpoint, the creation of A-Side Worldwide has allowed us to focus more attention and resources toward getting our music out to the people. Musically speaking, we really challenged ourselves to grow, as artists. Each step along the creative process from song-writing and production to the inclusion of more melodic hooks, drove us to advance in a different direction, something new, more fun, with a broader appeal.

In the press release you say ‘we really discovered the Now On sound’, could you give us a few parameters of that sound?

IX: The Now On sound is a fun loving culmination of magnetic rhythms, melodically driven hooks, and lyrics that entertain and captivate listeners.

So what will we find on 'Tomorrow Again' that wasn't on 'Eye Level'?

IX: ‘Eye Level’ was our first full length album, and for Jackson and me, it was our first recording experience without a full band. The creative process away form a band was totally different and it took some getting used to. With ‘Tomorrow Already’, we all knew what to expect logistically, and had more time to build with each other on a common vision that expressed where we all were artistically at that moment. We made a conscious effort not to quell any of our influences, and instead embrace them to see what happened.

On the previous album you had Phat Kat and Speech of Arrested Development, now we got more people that are closer to the band, a conscious move?

H: We always choose our guests very carefully and consciously. Whenever we collaborate with another artist, we like to make them do something they don’t normally do. There aren’t many guests on this album though, because we really wanted to focus on developing the Now On sound.

How did you get down with Speech?

IX: Well, the band that Jackson and I originally a part of (Funktellligence) had met Speech on tour in California. Coincidentally, we ended up playing together at the Temple Bar in Los Angeles, and from that point on we were cool. Speech brought us to Atlanta to record, and he brought us on tour to Japan which was incredible. Big SHOUT to Speech and his Fam.

‘The Willows EP’ issued in Japan…

Now On loves Japan!

The first record was with Kajmere Records, how did that come together?

IX: One of the factors that help us to decide to migrate to Los Angeles was a weekly event called The Root Down. Jackson and I went to Root Down while being out here on tour (same trip as the Speech encounter). It’s an amazing night where you can go hear dope mix of hip-hop, soul, funk, reggae, and Latin. One of our first goals when we moved out to L.A. was to perform at the event. We got that opportunity, and everyone showed us mad love. The promoters/ DJ’s were affiliated with Kajmere, and passed our music along to the label. The rest is history.

Are you all living in LA nowadays?

IX: Now On, as well as most of the A-Side Worldwide crew now resides in L.A. I think we were drawn to L.A. because it was so open minded and filled with opportunity. Every time we performed in Los Angeles, we had an experience that directly benefited our careers. Plus, it doesn't snow in here. A move to Los Angeles felt like the next logical step for our growth.

How would you compare the LA music scene to the Michigan/Detroit scene?

H: the LA scene is really poppin right now. There’s a lot of support and unity and people really come out to events. Detroit produces the best and most talented artists in the world, but there is very little industry there to support them. The economy is also really bad in Michigan right now. That’s why so many Michigan artists move to California to further their careers.

Indeed, J Dilla worked with Stones Throw, Guilty Simpson signed with Stones Throw, Phat Kat is on Look Records…

H: Cali has always shown a lot of love for Detroit artists. I think there’s just something about the lifestyle that is similar. New York is very fast-paced. Detroit definitely has that hustler mentality but it’s also Midwest so it’s a little more laid back like California. Plus Michigan has really cold weather, so that LA sunshine feels extra good!

As for the hip-hop fan: how do people in LA look at it?

IX: Los Angeles is very supportive of the Detroit sound. I can’t stress enough how much we appreciate that. I feel like in a lot of situations, fans, and even artists of a certain scene won’t show any support to people who aren’t from their scene or city. Los Angeles has been warm and welcoming to us, as well as many Detroit artists.

You just toured Europe together with Aloe Blacc, how was that experience?

IX: Touring with Aloe, Nelson, and his band was a blast. We had a great time. Although the many of the audiences hadn’t heard of Now On, they were super receptive, and kept it live for us. That tour was such a life-changing experience. Shout out to all the dope friends we met during that tour. Shout out to them Euros…(laughs).

Besides Aloe Blacc what’s your link with Stones Throw/Now Again Records?

H: I’m currently working on a doo-wop/soul record for Stones Throw under the name Mayer Hawthorne. The album should be dropping mid next year. We have a great relationship with Stones Throw.

Are any of you guys still listening to the Dramatics?

IX: I know we all still listen to the Dramatics. It’s classic music. I know we are influenced by their live performances and how much work they used to put into a show. My dad (IX Lives’ dad is a member of The Dramatics, ed.) still always says to me, ‘you’re only as good as your last gig’. Musically, the presence of the Detroit soul sound can be heard in our melodies. It's a big part of who we are.

'Live for the Now, On to the future!', but what about the past?

J: The past is the road in the rear view mirror. There is nothing to do in the past; there are only things to do ‘Now’ and the things we do ‘Now’ move us into the future. Yes, I definitely get nostalgic, although I’m learning and practicing everyday to get rid of nostalgia in my experience, and to fully step into the power of the words in our motto ‘Live for the Now, On to the future’. Nostalgia has the ability to hold you back, and to live completely in the present moment is extremely powerful. The reason ‘the Now’ is so powerful is because when you break it down, right Now is the ONLY moment. There is only right now. The next moment might not come, and all the past moments don’t really matter because they are over, never to be experienced again. All that matters is right now. There is power in that because if you can fully step into this awareness, then you are completely open to all the beauty and perfection that exists everywhere. The only place that fear exists is in the future, since fear is ‘the anticipation of pain’. The only places where worry, doubt, lack, limitation, and negation exist are in the past or in the future. If you fully step into ‘the Now’ then you see how perfect and good things are, you see how fully you are supported, and how all of your needs are met. Also, if you’re always focusing on the past or the future, then you never remember things, and you never really experience anything because you’re never present.

And what about ‘the old school’?

J: If you’re referring to ‘old school music’, then yes it plays a HUGE roll in our music now. We draw influence from music of the past. We grew up on it, and it’s helped shape us into the people we are today. All of that ‘old school’ music exists in the present, it’s immortal to a certain extent, and it’s still important. We don’t ‘take it back’, but we use what other great artists have given the world and take it even further into the future. We keep moving it forward. That’s our job, use what we’ve been given and move it forward. We hope that in doing so, we’re also giving people something important and significant in the same way that these ‘old school’-artists have given to us.

Now, if you’re referring to ‘the old school’ in general...I mean....the old school was then and this is now. The old school is what it was, much respect to everything from our past, it has gotten us to where we are now. But, it’s time to move it forward. ‘If you keep looking behind you, you’re gonna crash’.

What’s the first rap records you bought?

J: The Fat Boys – ‘The Fat Boys Are Back’.

IX: The first rap album I bought was Run Dmc- ‘Raising Hell’.

H: LL Cool J - ‘Bigger and Deafer’.

Jackson, since you came up with a quote two questions before, we got to seize the opportunity to ask you to comment on some other quotes:

'To worry about tomorrow is to be unhappy today'.

J: It’s all about living in the present moment. When we start thinking about tomorrow or any day in the future is when we start to allow fear, worry and doubt into our awareness. ‘The day in which we live is sufficient’.

'Determination today leads to success tomorrow.'

J: You can only affect the present moment. You can’t do anything in the past or in the future; you can only physically ‘take action ‘now, in this present day, therefore if you are determined in this day (and your determination is focused and organized), then it will lead to success tomorrow.

'Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week' (Spanish proverb)

J: To me this sounds like a saying for procrastinators who say ‘oh, I’ll do that tomorrow’ or ‘let’s start tomorrow’. Nah, I start today. I don’t subscribe to this proverb. Today is the busiest day, and the best day of the week.

'An artist's career always begins tomorrow.' (James Whistler)

J: Again, this sounds like James Whistler is saying that artists are generally procrastinators. Might be true of most artists, I’m not sure, but it’s not true about these artists. Our career starts today.

’Today is the shadow of tomorrow (Quasimoto)

J: I honestly don’ t know what Madlib was trying to convey in that one. I personally think he was just trying to be weird with that verse. I love it.

There have been dozens of song titles with 'Tomorrow', from Brandy to Bad Religion over Salif Keita, with whom of the mentioned artists would you wanna/would've work with?

J: (laughs) Shit, I’ll work with just about anyone as long as it doesn’t fuck with our integrity. Integrity is everything. If we can respect them as artists and vice versa, then we’ll work with them. Of the artists that you mentioned, I don’t necessarily have an immediate burning desire to work with any of them, but I respect them and they all have made some great music at one point in their careers, so I’m sure we could make some sounds with them that would be worth sharing.

The 'Don't Call It A Mixtape' was offered (remember Radiohead) for as much as you like to pay, would you consider that paying method with a studio album?

J: Yes, why not. In our humble opinion ‘Don’t Call It A Mixtape’ was strong enough to be considered a ‘studio album’. Where do we draw the line between a ‘studio album’ and a project that is not a ‘studio album’? All projects hold pretty much the same wait in this day-and-age (in my personal opinion). I would definitely consider using that sales method. Shit, I would consider giving it away.

So what will the music industry will be like tomorrow?

J: Free. Subscription based, like your cable TV. No copyright law, everyone collaborates whether they want to or not. Musicians primarily make money by travelling and performing live, like they did in the very beginning before recorded music. Music will be about the experience, the live experience and recordings will be disposable to most people. Music will be collected by few individuals like baseball cards, but will be experienced in greater volumes than ever before. That’s one part of it. I also think there are ways in which the music and entertainment industries will change that no one will be able to predict. New ways of experiencing and distributing music will emerge. The future is so wide open and unpredictable that there’s almost no use in trying to predict it. It’s better to just focus on what we have now.

Could you for once and for all explain to all our readers the importance of breakfast?

IX: It's the most important meal of the day, and pretty freaking tasty too.

What did you have for breakfast this morning?

J: I had a toasted everything bagel with jalapeno cream cheese, tomatoes, capers and red onions. It was slamming.. Tomorrow I’m hittin them eggs and hash browns though, please believe

H: I had 2 eggs (over easy) with home-fried potatoes and a short-stack of pancakes - delicious. Don’t skip breakfast!

What does tomorrow have in store for you guys? Shout-outs?

H: We’re always dropping new shit – look out for 14KT’s new album ‘The Golden Hour’ and that Mayer Hawthorne! Buff1 is also recording an album with DJ Rhettmatic. Shout out to the Sky Children fam! Obama or yo momma!



POSTED 09|01|2008
conducted by cpf

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