Higher Ground: TNGHT

"It was exactly that kind of feel, that style...”
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It’s the lobby of the Red Bull Music Academy in London. TNGHT – perhaps the year’s most accelerated, velocity driven hip hop hype experience – have a short break between promo. Spotting a nearby table tennis kit, Hudson Mohawke and Lunice begin smashing the tiny white ball around the building, pelting journos and PRs in the process.

It’s obvious by their interplay, by their chemistry that Hudson Mohawke and Lunice are uniquely comfortable in each other’s company. It’s also obvious that HudMo don’t play much ping pong, with Lunice battering him across the room...

All this began a few years back. Lunice booked Hudson Mohawke to come and play in Montreal, with the pair noting certain attributes, a certain sonic approach which they seemed to share. “The first time we’d met. We’d in touch over MySpace before that...” muses the Glasgow producer, before the buoyant Lunice juts in. “I remember that time when Rustie put me on his top friends – that was like the happiest moment of my life! I was like “no way! I’m in Rustie’s top friends!” That was some hot shit back then. MySpace top friends? Dawg!”

It’s important to note just how regionalised this whole thing is. Lunice is from Montreal – not a city noted for its hip hop scene – while Hudson Mohawke hails from Glasgow. Continually looking outward, the nascent LuckyMe scene soon collided with other influences. “We were sort of doing our little thing which was sort of building organically by itself in Glasgow and in Edinburgh. We sort of realised that there was a similar little scene building in Montreal and also in LA” the Scottish beatsmith explains. “We were all doing similar things. It’s quite a niche thing, as well. Each of the different places had their own slant on it but we were all coming from a similar point of reference”.

For his part, Lunice felt an instant connection with that probing band of Caledonian hip hop experi-mentalists. “Oh yeah!” he enthuses. “I was very new and I was trying to experiment with different sounds. I was trying to figure out how I was going to bridge those two sounds together and that’s when I came across Rustie. It was like spot on the kind of idea I was coming onto, it blew my mind – I was like “woah!” This person was totally like the person I was thinking about. Ever since that day, that’s when I came across HudMo, Mike Slott and the whole crew and realised they’re all from the same label. Then I just started buying their label, picking up their records and being a straight fanboy, man. I remember sending that photo of me with the two Heralds of Chains records being like “hey HudMo! Check me out, I got your record!” And you replied: “Thanks!” I was like “Oh my God he replied!” So it was totally on that tip and my sound has just changed completely ever since then. It was exactly that kind of feel, that style...”

Keeping in touch, a cross-continent network of producers soon erupted onto instant message services. Hudson Mohawke would stay awake long into the night, exchanging drum beats for synth settings with people he barely knew. ”I’d be awake through the night on iChat or AIM and on Fruity Loops at the same time being like “I’ve just done this!” and send it to someone. Everybody was like.. you’d have 10-15 people all in random places around the world all like exchanging stuff all the time. That was how it sort of grew, everybody was checking for everybody. Everybody was open to sharing everything between everyone”. Not that he was alone, with Lunice keeping similarly anti-social hours: “That’s true. That’s the vibe I got, too. Between producers and everything. It was a really experimental process at that time, it was really pushing the sound onto how weird you could get because at that time no one was really doing that thing. It was like, who can make the biggest, weirdest banger. I remember like, working with people – not in collaboration, more like in terms of research, I would say”.

Developing their own highly idiosyncratic, highly successful solo careers Lunice and HudMo never quite lost touch. Stopping by Europe for a quick summer tour, the Canadian producer found he had a few free days and hit up his Scottish counterpart. United in London, the pair booked up minimal studio time and began hammering out material – face to face. “We just decided to try it out – see what’s up. We came out with like three songs, two out of the three songs were fully finished and will be on the record. Then continued from there” he explains. “But when we worked on those first three songs we didn’t think of it as a project, it was more like – how do we work together in the studio? Because we both use the same program to produce it makes it a lot easier in terms of getting ideas out”.

Which program is that? Laughing, Hudson Mohawke looks up from his phone and extols the virtues of simple, humble Fruity Loops. “In terms of electronic stuff.. I’m surprised by the amount of people who do use it because I’d always got the impression that it was a toy program. You can do exactly what you want and I can get every result I want out of it, but it still has that stigma of not being Logic, or whatever” he says. “Apparently deadmau5 is a Fruity Loops guy and pretty much every single one of the big rap, hip hop producers are Fruity Loops. Most of ‘Watch The Throne’ is made on Fruity Loops. Fucking everybody. Afro Jacks is Fruity Loops”.

TNGHT - EP Sampler



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Almost from the off, the collaboration worked. Debut EP ‘TNGHT’ is both simple and abstract, easy to hook into yet difficult to unravel. Straight forward club bangers, for sure, but you’d need to find a pretty Future minded club to locate something as out there as this. “It just came together” grins Lunice. “I think that’s because we work on every single layer of the song, more than like me doing one half and him doing the other, or me doing one track and him doing another track and putting it out on record. It’s more like, I start the drums then he would change the samples – he would change maybe the kick. We’d go from there. He’d add a melody, I’d add a synth – that kind of stuff. That’s what’s good about it, is that it’s a constant workflow rather than one person doing a huge chunk and then the next person doing this other chunk. It’s just like step by step, really”.

Already in the hands of guest rappers, ‘TNGHT’ was seemingly never designed to be released. “It was never designed to be an EP. We never even thought about releasing it” HudMo explained. “It was so, so nonchalant. There was no intention of it being anything. He had a few days off, so we thought “let’s do something, let’s mess around!” Then through just giving the mp3s to people – giving the mp3s to Rustie and a few other people that end up playing it, then rips ended up on YouTube and it just took off from there, basically”.

With energy building behind them, Hudson Mohawke and Lunice are now setting their sights on some pretty high places. The magpie like vision of TNGHT is settling on the mainstream, with the pair eager to work on big projects with big artists. “Everything’s so intertwined together” states Hudson Mohawke, “there’s no division between major and underground stuff. Even from like Diplo doing Usher, or how I got involved in the Kanye stuff...”

For his part, Lunice can barely contain his energy, his excitement at the new projects which lie just beyond their grasp. “We’re mostly focussing on being duo producers, making singles – just straight going in the mainstream. Like straight up, man, that’s my idea – even if Justin Beiber would hit us up I’d be like, fuck yeah my nigga let’s go! I don’t give a fuck! As long as you don’t tell me to produce something specific.. if you’re like, hey man I love your sound let’s work! I be like, fuck yeah man! I embrace it!” he smiles, cracking up into outright laughter. “I used to hit hard on mainstream. I used to be the biggest backpacker ever. But more and more I’m finding that there are actually geniuses in the whole commercial world – pop world, rap world, everything. More and more I just started to really like everything and push everything. If Beiber would hit us up, Gaga would hit us up – fuck yeah, man, throw it up! I appreciate them for even approaching us. That’s the kind of thing that makes you different, just being cool with it”.

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‘TNGHT’ is out on July 23rd.

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