Interview with

Homecut

Homecut is the brainchild of Hip-Hop emcee/producer Testament. Conscious lyricism, live instrumentation and mix of Soul, Hip-Hop and sonic experimentation mark out Homecut as a fresh sound on the UK land scape. The critically acclaimed debut album “No Freedom without sacrifice“ was released in 2009 and features collaborations with Grammy winner Corinne Bailey Rae, Mercury Prize nominee Soweto Kinch, US rap legend J-Live, cutting edge soul siren Andreya Triana and members of the Cinematic Orchesta to name but a few. Look out for the ‘No Freedom’ remixes album coming later in 2010 as well as a beatbox EP and album #2.

Facts

1: I lived in Zimbabwe for three years in the 1980s. At the time it was fairly peaceful and the President was called President Banana.

2: I was just talking to my friend and he told me scientists are discovering that our hearts may actually be a kind of conscience affecting the intuitive thoughts and feelings we experience. The actual physical heart sends the brain extensive emotional and intuitive signals. Neurological impulses by the heart’s nervous system are sent from the heart to the brain through some kind of pathways. And these signals get to the brain where they influence our perception and decision making as well as other moral type questions. Crazy.

3: Bruce Lee taught Steve McQueen Kung Fu.  When I found that out, they both got even MORE cool in my head.

Questions

What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
That is a difficult question. Musically, the soul jazz experimentation of the 1970s resonates with me and the ‚Golden age‘ Hip-Hop era in the early 1990s are huge influences on how I express myself. But that’s just how it comes out. What comes out is inspired by life; God, social justice, love, frustrations, inner struggles…. Y’know, life… I just try and give an honest portrayal of what is inspiring me and hope that it inspires others.

How and when did you get into making music?
Well, I never thought I’d end up in music. Though I am grateful very I am. I started writing rhymes when I was 14 and heard the music coming from my big brother’s room. He was listening to De La Soul. „De La Soul Is Dead“  was the album, it was on an old cassette which I ended up ‚borrowing‘ for a decade or so. I read an interview with Mos Def once, who said it was his favourite album of all time. It’s definitely up there. A few years later I came across a little known group called Freedom of Soul from California. I found the new sounds I heard really innovative, funny, moving and deep. So inspired, I started writing rhymes. Around the the same time I started to teach myself the blues on an old piano during my lunchbreaks at school and trying to work out my own chords and stuff. So by the time I went to University I had already written the music and rhymes to two songs. There I met a musician (an actual trained musician)  and we started a live Hip-Hop band called Homecut Directive. After that finished in 2001, it just became me, Homecut. Then I begun the jounry of  learning how to produce. And that’s a whole other part of making music.

What are your 5 favourite albums of all time?
Hmm, that’s a hard one. Changes all the time. But for now, in no particular order:
1. Marvin Gaye –  What’s Going On?
2. A Tribe Called Quest –   The Low End Theory
3. John Coltrane – A Love Supreme
4. Arvo Pärt – I Am The True Vine
5. Roberta Flack – First Take

What do you associate with Berlin?
A lot of friends have been to Berlin, but I haven’t yet! I’m very excited about going and would love to play there. I know Sneaky (the double bass player from Fingathing) who I did a gig with once lives there now. The immediate thing I think of is a great music scene, a great jazz scene and lots and lots of amazing art. Looking forward to seeing it, for real.

What’s your favourite place in your town?
My favourite place is a club called The Hi-Fi Club in Leeds where I live. Every Sunday night they have live music. Its a great night with a real mix of people all getting down to soul/jazz type acts. Great DJs too. Lovely vibe.

If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
If there was no music in the world???? I’m really not sure. Something creative. Write I guess. I write (poems, short stories) a little already.

What was the last record you bought?
Nu Amerykah Part 2. Erykah Badu’s last joint. I just buy everything she does. Stand ard. She’s one of the few big names in her genre that is still pushing the boundaries.

Who would you most like to collaborate with?
I’d love to work with British soul singer Omar. American singer/songwriter Sufjan Stevens too. There’s also a incredible Scottish guy called John McCallum who’s on tour with Corinne Bailey Rae right now who I think has an incredible voice and great musicianship. I’m very grateful to have collabed with Corinne twice already otherwise she’d be up there too! She’s got an serious musical brain and her last album is a classic in my opinion.

What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
There’s been a few. One of the most significant for me was seeing Gil Scott-Heron in 1996 in Manchester at a very intimate venue. Its was so hypnotic. His presence was amazing.  I can remember he performed a song called „Other Side“ and you could feel his struggles coming through, it was emotional.  We (the audience) felt like were battling through too. It was a spiritual experience. An overused expression, but it was for me. …Also, it was deeply funky. I was around 18 years old and after that I bought as many of his albums as I could.

How important is technology to your creative process?
It very important. We live in an exciting time. Two days ago I was in the shower and had a creative idea for a tune. I went downstairs (dried off) and just sung and beatboxed the idea into my laptop mic. The idea was stored. I can build on it later. I can bring in more musicians in at my own convenience and they can play the ideas. Now a studio can be a laptop. On my debut album I recorded brass sections in church halls, gospel choirs in my parents from room, trumpet players at the top of a block of flats all into my old Mac laptop. Some of the demo ideas that I sung into the computer the first time ended up on the record. Just the portability of a studio now is incredible. Also my song with J-Live wouldn’t have been possible were we not able to discuss ideas online.

Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career?
I have one older brother. He was at my very first gig and has always been supportive. He’s proud of me. And I’m also very proud of him. We are proper brothers! Both of us have surprised each other with our journeys in life and we continue to support each other to the end. I’ve been very blessed with an amazingly positive family. My involvement with music also meant I introduced him to his wife. She’s an amazing singer-songwriter called Shaheen and in fact she does backing vocals one of the track on my album (recorded in Andreya Triana’s bedroom with a borrowed microphone). On the real, I’m going round their house tonight for dinner in about an hour.

Our Favourites: Breakdown  | I don’t even know |  Participant

Links: Facebook |  firstwordrecords.com/homecut/

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