Foreign Beggars: Grime headliners for ‘Synergy’

Grime, dubstep and UK hip hop DJ Nonames (Foreign Beggars) plays a headline DJ set on the the Red Bull Live stage at Synergy2013 in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Plus sends props to 340ml and Muzi and talks about the Noisia collab.

DJ NoNames of Foreign Beggars

DJ NoNames of Foreign Beggars

This interview by Evan Milton first appeared in the ‘Weekend Argus’ of 2013/11/10.

Asylum Speakers“. Mention the phrase in dubstep and hip hop circles, and it will be greeted with a sense of reverence. When UK “grime” act Foreign Beggars released the album in 2003, it was hailed as a gem of the then emerging genre and  is still referenced today. A slew of albums, EPs, remixes, collaborations and side-projects ensued – notably the group’s two MC’s, Orifice Vulgatron and Metropolis joining forces with Dutch drum ‘n bass / neurofunk trio Noisia to form I Am Legion, whose debut release in September topped the Beatport charts within three days of its release. Foreign Beggars, and the group’s DJ Nonames, have also made incursions into North America, with tracks released on Mau5trap, the label started by Canadian progressive techno producer DJ Deadmau5, who name-checked the group during his sold-out tour to South Africa in December last year.

“I’m excited and really looking forward to this trip,” says DJ Nonames who plays a headline DJ set at SynergyLive in Cape Town and Johannesburg. “The caretaker in our block, a guy called Darren, he’s from South Africa, and he’s told us a lot about your country. There’s Muzi, out here, who’s got his own take on grime or dubstep or whatever you want to call it, and we met Tumi and The Volume when they were out here, maybe eight years ago, and Tiago Paulo. Those guys rock, so we know your scene is down over there. He put me onto this band, Os Mutantes, a Brazilian psychedelic rock group that’s amazing – I still listen to that, and to his other band, 340ml. There’s tons of amazing producers all over the world, and no shortage of amazing beats out there to get stuck into. We’re looking forward to playing, and to being inspired by your music, and giving people something to dance to, but also something they can dig a little deeper into, if they want to.”

Inevitably, DJ Nonames touches on the convoluted labeling of current electronic music genres. Are Foreign Beggars hip hop? Or grime? Or dubstep? And does it even matter?

“I don’t know nutting about none ‘o that,” he says, in a mock accent. “It gets more mixed up and confusing as more people have their own interpretations of genres. You can sometimes put your finger on certain points and say, ‘That’s when hip hop started’, or ‘There’s Croydon, and that’s where dubstep started; that’s where Plastician and Skream and Benga came from’. There are untold styles and different takes on them, but I think beats have always been there, and they’ll find the scene who needs them. Any DJ who plays live is a bit of a connoisseur, trying to find the finest music to play. Foreign Beggars has never been a group that’s sedentary.”

DJ Nonames is right. The group’s 2009 album, “United Colours of Beggatron“, a collaboration with Noisia produced the track “Contact” and garnered over eight million YouTube views. On an entirely different tip, their 2012 album “The Uprising” (Mau5trap) produced tracks that were featured on the “FIFA 13” videogame soundtrack, and onto the ever-popular “Ministry of Sound” compilation, “Addicted To Bass 2013“.

We get chucked hundreds of beats and dubs and promos and proposals all the time, and we’re in the lucky position where we can choose. I grew up in America, listening to DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince and Run DMC – that’s my old school. It influences you but, fifteen or twenty or twenty-five years later, you want to be hearing something different. I’m very lucky because I’m in a rap group with two rappers who’re very good at rapping over all different kinds of music. Like me, they love the whole spectrum of this amazing music world that we’re caught up in, here in London. So I get to play a lot of whatever I want.”

This interview by Evan Milton first appeared in the ‘Weekend Argus’ of 2013/11/10.

Foreign Beggars, featuring DJ Nonames, play a DJ set on Saturday night / Sunday morning alongside Das Kapital, PH Fat, Hyphen, Jakobsnake, Grimehouse, Richard The 3rd and more on the Red Bull Live stage at SynergyLive (runs from Friday 30 November to Sunday 1 December, Theewaterskloof, Old Caledon Road, off R321/R45; tickets R550 from outlets; R590 (three day) or R500 (Saturday and Sunday) from WebTickets.co.za; R620 at gate). Strictly no under-18s. Luxury camping details at HeartbreakMotel.co.za. More on SynergyLive.co.za.

 

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