New Zealand hip hop crew Home Brew are set to hit our shores this month for the release of their self-titled album. The double-sided album, that went to the top of the charts in the land of the long white cloud, has created both uproar and pleasant surprise due to its realistic and raw lyrical content and its heavy jazz and soul-influenced sound. Kristie Nicolas posed a few questions to one third of the band – Haz Beats – on break-ups, favourite Australian artists, and the blessing and curse of being Home Brew.
MF: How are you feeling about the upcoming tour of Australia? Looking forward to it?
HB: Yeah man, for sure. I’m keen to see Perth as I’ve never personally been out to the West of Australia.
MF: What can fans and people who might not be too familiar with your sound expect from the Home Brew show?
HB: An honest in-your-face show with a full band. Our live show is different from our recorded stuff: you get the real us on stage with more energy.
MF: Are there any Australian artists you’d like to collaborate with, or that you are listening to at the moment?
HB: Been playing M-Phazes tunes since forever now and would love to work with him on a track. Seth Sentry would be dope also.
MF: You’re touring with a full band. We don’t see that much here in Aus, not sure about NZ, but most promoters here like to get more bang for their buck by bypassing the full musical experience of a band, and doing the backing track/DJ thing. Is it important to you all to tour with a band to stay true to your music, to your sound?
HB: Travelling with a full band is awesome. It brings out a better show for us when we’re on stage. I mean, our 4-man show (just the DJ/back tracks) is just as wild, but it’s more intimate with our band and it sounds like birds having sex but to a jazz-fused groove. We prefer to travel with our band and give the audience their money’s worth, I guess.
MF: What are some of Home Brew’s biggest inspirations musically: artists, bands, MCs? Anyone who’d surprise us?
HB: For myself (Haz’) it would be Nujabes and Dilla. I based my whole style and sound around both their sounds. I like banging drums like Dilla over mellow riffs/samples like Nujabes, if that makes any sense?
MF: Who would be the dream artist for home Brew to collaborate with?
HB: Probably Kendrick Lamar or Blu. The list goes on…
MF: Home Brew has caused a big stir: you’ve ruffled feathers, and been deemed a ‘burden to society’. Do you think all that has taken away or added to your music’s message? Has it overshadowed just how good your album is?
HB: All media is good media even if they do get it wrong. It hasn’t stopped us from doing what we do, and making noise just makes people’s heads turn and actually talk about us, which always generates new followers to our music. We’re clowns and love doing what we do for a laugh. Everyone likes to laugh and we like to make people laugh. It’s just us.
MF: You appeal to the youth because you don’t fit into a neat little box: you question; you’re honest, brutally so; you talk about real things – drugs, drinking, hanging at the basketball court, and young people relate to that, they see themselves in you. How do you feel about being a role model, so to speak, to young people? Is it a burden or a blessing?
HB: It’s like a gift and a curse. We talk about our surroundings, what people are doing/taking etc. We’re not trying to be the spokesperson for a pill factory. The youth just recognise what’s real in our songs and love how we’re honest about it. It’s everywhere around us and the youth are not dumb. We’re normal people with normal problems, but we address more so people can understand and know what’s going on around us.
MF: When did you all decide to do music full time? Was it a conscious decision, or did it just happen? Did you imagine back when you were starting out just how much your music would resonate with people?
HB: I came from a family that worked everyday to support the household. I gave up welding and just started making beats regardless of what my Dad was saying to me. I didn’t think I would be in this position today back when I was jobless and in my bedroom making beats. It’s been a long but cool road so far.
MF: How do you three sit down and create tracks? Is there a method to it or is it more organic?
HB: Usually we’re in different parts of Auckland. I’m from South Auckland and Tom is from West Auckland. The internet has helped us bring our sound together with file transfers. Tom and I have been doing this method for years now and it’s how we made most of our songs. We hardly ever do the traditional sit in a studio and make a song on the spot. It feels forced like you have to make something. In your own environment, you can be free and work at your own pace. We have many methods of making tracks tho’. I could go for another paragraph if I could.
MF: My fave track on the album is The Truth is Ugly from the darker side of the album, about the demise of a relationship. It’s real, the bitterness of what you’re spitting is balanced by the female vocals, and the warmth of the instruments. Which track from the album is your favourite? Which one means the most to you all personally? Which are you most looking forward to performing here in Aus?
HB: That track killed me cos I was going through a break-up and trying to mix that same song (Truth Is Ugly) at the time and Tom’s words just ate me up. It was too real and was the last song I produced on the track cos it felt so close to home for me. My favourite song has to be Dedicated To. It’s a song for everyone: haters, lovers, jocks, everybody, and it will be our opening song if we don’t change our setlist lol.
MF: Since your album went no 1 in NZ, what has been the biggest change to your life? Is it all still a hustle? Is it all girls, and parties, or is it not what you expected?
HB: Having a number 1 album in your country didn’t change us at all. We still get bombarded by girls and male groupies, but we’re still just making music every day as if we didn’t have a number 1 album. Nothing’s changed, but our home studio setup and the fact that everyone loves us. We’re still us.
MF: One thing I’ve always wondered is whether success is lonelier than it looks from the outside? What has surprised you about success? Do you consider yourself successful?
HB: Getting this album out and getting the response that we’ve had since the release was a success in its own way. Three years in the making and I was constantly mixing it every day, thinking ‘man I’m not gonna get this done’. We got it done and it’s been so dope to have something finished and that everyone loves. It can be a lonely place at times, especially when you’re away from your loved ones on tour, but at the end of the day, it’s work and we work to be successful.
MF: What advice would you have for other independent artists out there on how to get that number 1 album in a world where, unlike your album, most music is overly manufactured and doesn’t make listeners think?
HB: Just be yourself. Everyone likes honesty and things they can relate to. In my opinion, it’s made people remember lyrics. Oh yeah, make sure your beats bang.
MF: After this tour, what’s next for Home Brew?
HB: Just keep releasing more music with our other crews @Peace & Team Dynamite. The whole Young Gifted & Broke Camp will always be working on new material and touring around. Endless possibilities.
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