Tag Archives: LUKE

I approached Coolio Desgracias about doing a quick EP to keep busy in the first few weeks of lockdown. He jumped on the idea, suggesting we model it after Champion Sound – both of us working separately, spitting over each other’s beats. We immediately hooked in, a fun no-stress exercise smashing something out ahead of the long-gestating Northside Swag Unit EP (more on that next time!).

Needless to say, Coolio’s beats were awesome. For my production, I sent him a handful of beats with samples chopped from records from my last trip to Japan – consider it the latest Lion’s Mansion instalment – and some of my recent raids on new mecca Championship Vinyl. Coolio has an inherent distaste for ‘keyboard beats’ so I sent him my most Madlib-esque flips. Though my favourite track ended up being Nonsense Rhyme where I mixed 60s psychedelic rock with my own trap production, an arrangement idea I took from Pusha T’s Come Back Baby.

As a rapper, I knew I needed to put myself into a box. My rules for this project were 1. No standard hip-hop flexing, slang or ebonics, and 2. No stream of consciousness – every song had to have a story.

Firegolds, Part One is a 1920s mob vignette, about a young buck’s first day bootlegging and the bloody outcome – crime doesn’t pay, kids! The ‘part one’ is a nod to the fact the song abruptly ends at its most climatic moment. There’s definite flavours of A Prince Among Thieves, especially my roping in of Nick to play a between-verse radio announcer and Coolio to play a heavy!

Tierwater Blues saw me riffing on the first chapter of T.C. Boyle’s A Friend Of The Earth. I was so taken with the imagery and premise I started trying to turn it into a song before I finished the chapter. Consequently, both stories start in the same place and slowly deviate. The wizened voice I adopted was character-acting, reflective of Boyle’s aged, ornery protagonist. And yes trainspotters, that is an interpolation of Prince Far I’s classic Under Heavy Manners in the chorus!

Lone Wolf & Chill came about differently – I heard a flow before I had a concept. I quickly got it down on my phone, vocalising a mixture of nonsense words and broken Spanish. The Spanish felt natural as I was hearing an open vowel sound on the end of most of the lines. At first I thought I might even try writing the rhymes in Spanish, but when my thoughts turned to what other languages have similar phonotactics, Japanese came to mind. Pretty soon the couplet ‘Back in Edo / Ogami Itto’ came to me and the rest fell into place. I definitely would like to write more like this in future.

We both finished the tracks quite quickly – Coolio crushed it, listen to him go full Chali 2na on Get Your Boat On! – but getting the cover artwork delayed it somewhat. The first artist fell through and while I was organising a second one, I suggested we do one more track with both of us rapping on it to tie the project together. Day In, Day Out was the result – I provided the chop and Coolio provided that killer hook, which still gets routinely stuck in my head.

Day In Day Out was the only song to make reference to the lockdown – we saved the rest for the cover. I asked Gustavo to draw us as The Big Lebowski and Mad Max, a la:

I also suggested he draw us in the Fortress of Solitude, another reference to lockdown. And lastly, we called the EP ‘For The Good Of The Realm’:

I love Simon and this was such a free and easy project to do – can’t wait for the next one!

Behold – Faux Faux Amis’s video for our cover of Stenxh’s You Know.

The track was intended as part of a compilation of acts on Early Music covering each other. That album never eventuated, but we pushed ahead and finished our version earlier this year. Catherine suggested You Know and I loved the idea because it’s so far removed from our typical sound. We take several liberties with the arrangement – in particular, returning to our straight-ahead punk leanings on the coda. Catherine delivers a towering performance on lead vocals; however the true MVP is our multi-talented drummer Darren Atkinson. Not only is this the first recorded piece we have with Darren on the skins, but he also produced the track, arranging and performing most of the instrumentation in the blissed-out second section (and contributing some killer vocals at the end). Plus, he let me loose on the melodica – something few producers have been game to do before! I love the texture the melodica brings, lending an ethereal atmosphere to the song.

A track with such an otherworldly vibe required a matching video. There are very few ways to up your production values without spending any money, but one is to make use of any exotic locales you might come across. So far, I’ve filmed an episode of One Pot Punk Rock in New Zealand, and the Faux Faux Amis’ video Holiday Inn in Brooklyn. For this clip, I took my camera out on our first night in Marrakech, exploring Jemaa el-Fnaa square.

You Know - Faux Faux Amis

The square is surreal, a swirling carnival of snake-charmers, games of chance, musicians, monkeys, colourful characters, eateries and throngs upon throngs of revellers. Anywhere else would hold an event like this as a yearly festival, but here it happens every day. The camera was a magnet for hustlers and touts, but I just pinballed around all night, swept up in the dazzling and disorienting sights we witnessed. I double-downed on the kaleidoscopic feel by mirroring  the footage (also effective at obscuring my shaky camerawork). Between the track and the video, I feel it’s the most psychedelic thing we have done yet.

You Know - Faux Faux Amis