30 Seconds: Obscene Locals

We caught up with West London hip-hop collective Obscene Locals for a chat about their eclectic urban sound.

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 10 Oct 2012
  • min read
The collective, hailing from West London, have only been playing together for little over a year, but already have two releases under their belts and are garnering due hype from urban bloggers and DJs. They also made it into Gill Mill's Best of Myspace podcast.

Although the band bring a diverse range of influences to the creative melting pot, it was their commonalities that brought them together. A cursory listen to tracks such as LDN State of Mind or Make It will tell you that these boys have a lot to say for themselves, so we wanted to catch up with them to hear what they had to say about their sound.

How long have you been making music?
As a collective we have been making music since late 2010. In that time, lineups, outlooks, instrumentation and success has differed. The growth process in the short time we have been together has been a journey that has moulded us into what you hear today.

What inspired your new album?
Our latest release, 'Litter' came out early summer 2012. The release features 4 original tracks encompassing a range of styles including Rap, Rock, R&B and Soul. The other half of the release featured our own interpretations of existing tracks by a number of well known artists including Jay-Z, Arctic Monkeys and Rick Ross. We wanted to branch out and showcase our ability to rework popular songs into our own style. 'Litter' also gave us the opportunity to work on more production-based material and saw us team up with up and coming West London based artists J. Lynch and The Fourth Kind.

What process do you go through to create your music?
As a live band a lot of our material is developed in jam sessions and rehearsals, from there we develop it according to the ideas we have as a collective.

Matt, the rapper of the band might have a particular concept for a song based around his lyrics and we compose music that will compliment his ideas for a track. We work with a lot of singers too and occasionally their input, be it a hook or melody line, is where the creative process starts for us as songwriters.

Alternatively we sometimes compose songs in our studio, working primarily on production-based ideas before incorporating them into our live sound.

How would you describe your sound?
It's an amalgamation of styles. At the roots of our music we play hip-hop but our intention is to infuse as many different styles into our sound without overwhelming the songwriting process. We're living in a time where music is so easily accessed. People complain that music isn't what it was and that the industry has changed so we're about bringing that magic back into our sound; about celebrating the old and the new. Rap music is traditionally constructed from samples and we maintain that element in our music by fusing styles such as R&B, Jazz, Rock and newer concepts into our music. By doing so we are keeping the elements of hip-hop culture alive but also allowing for innovation and experimentation.

What would your dream collaboration be?
As a collective we each have our own dream collaborators. Greg, the guitarist takes on a lot of the production duties and people such as Eric Lau, Common and Jairus Mozee are just a few guys he'd like to get involved with in a project.

Matt, as the frontman/rapper of the band, is always keen to work with lyricists that he can find inspiration and motivation from. As the brain child behind the OL Cypher series that we produce he's always looking out for artists we can feature on upcoming episodes. At the moment we're quite keen on working with notable Rappers/MCs in the UK Urban scene including Lyricist Jinn, Reveal and Genesis Elijah. More ambitious collaborations with other established rappers would include Black Thought, Immortal Technique, Mos Def, Common and we'd even be happy to work with the 2Pac hologram to some extent.

Jim and Tuffour, who form the rhythm section, focus a lot on the groove and as such are keen to involve a wider variety of musicians within our project to enhance the music. This includes working with the remaining members of the Funk Brothers as they've always been a fan of their sound (Motown Session musicians), J Dilla for his production techniques, Kanye West for his work with various artists, Robert Glasper for his approach to composition...the list goes on.

Where can we catch you performing next?
The next live show we are playing is at Plan B in Brixton on 3rd November alongside Kings Of The City and The Dub Ratz. We're also playing at The Garage in Islington a couple of weeks later on November 13th with Marcus Explains and Eneeks.