Whether or not you've heard the music of Nash, its a pretty safe bet to say you've felt their presence before. Stephen had an impressive bow on his CV as "that DJ" on the Ali G show while Russell penned some of Shola Ama's tracks and worked with All Saints. It was during the Shola Ama days that the two hooked up together to combine some truly great songs with beats and the rest of history - Nash is born!!! Last month saw the release of an impressive debut album "The Chancer" and we caught up with the guys for the Spooks support slot earlier this month.
Q: Fill us in on how you guys hooked up together?
Stephen: Russell was working at Hit & Run music publishers and he was writing for like Shola Ama and working with Jeffrey Williams and All Saints - just writing loads of different songs. And I was the engineer there. That's how we met. We both clicked on the vibe and I liked the way he sung. One day I just played him some of my beats and said how would you feel if we did something together. And the rest is history from there!!!
Russell: As a chord / melody / lyric person you're
always striving to find someone who can balance you out on the other side.
- I.e. For me it was always someone to take care of the raw beat. To take
care of the rhythmic side of thing. I've always come from Old Skool hip-hop.
Lost my way with hip-hop for a long time. But I also grew up on big band,
swing, folk - anything that was real!!! And when I met him it was like
the missing link as someone that can bring in rhythms and my melodies and
put them into a song format.
Q: You don't look like a gang as such. How did you
find it moving from the two of you to getting the band together?
Russell: I think what tears us apart from any other bands though is what you've got with Nash is a collective of what goes on in Urban society today. 5 or 6 different people that you would never put together in sort of what we call social circles. There is not a casual. There is not a hip hop clan going on. There is not a soul clan. Its lots of people that respect each other and their musical talents and allow other people to do their thing and that's why Nash is getting quite a little stir about ourselves on the underground.
Stephen: In the music nowadays I find alot of people
just write it to make money. Yeah, we wanna make money and that's why were
so passionate about our music but for us music is a lot more important
than getting all the money. We'd rather inspire someone. Somebody puts
on our album and they get inspired.
Q: Sometimes you must feel like the underdogs though?
Russell: Were on a complete learning curve, were going to spend our life in music and that's final. But were now in a deal and were having to learn on a daily basis. We had a release and when you have a release you all think this is it "our records going to be out tomorrow and we'll have loads of money". But were facing the realities of how difficult it is for an independent sounding band to get there music onto a mainstream stage. Were enjoying the challenge of being the underdogs and eventually knowing that were going to cut our way through.
Stephen: Its frustrating because I feel with company's they always think about hit singles and with Nash were a hit band who has got a hit album. Once the hit album comes then you'll get the singles and you'll get the meaning. The way the industry is now its hard for people to get a grip of that.
Russell: The general public want that. We yearn for those great artists. Why do we love Van Morrisson? Not just because he's Van Morrisson - but because of the voice, the lifestyle and the whole thing you get from artists like that. John Lennon - you get the whole thing. you know he's a peace monger and you're buying into that. Elton John - ok, he's not my cup of tea but you get that specific thing from that specific guy. That what were about is that true artistry which we feel is lacking in today's popular music scene.
Q: You seem the type of guys that want to digest everything
you can musically speaking?
Stephen: Were our worst critics and we criticize everything that's weak, but if something that's mad touches us and hits us off we won't be scared to say wow - that's what I love about this band!!! Everybody has great musical taste but everybody has different genre's. Someone will bring in this album that I've never heard and it will mad hit me off, you know what i mean. Its that kind of vibe and its a good one.
Russell: Stephen comes from a true hip-hop culture
where he's not only listening to contemporary hip-hop, but he's pushing
the boundaries himself in trying to create from his instrument, which is
the PC, to create a new medium. And us as instrumentalists in the band
we've been able to use string quartets, clarinets ensembles, harp players
and horn sections just because we've had the funding to do it. Its also
about understanding. You find out how Al Green got that sound and how Curtis
gets that guitar sound because you are actively experimenting.
Q: What's the story behind "The Chancer"?
Russell: "The Chancer" being the name of the album is pretty much all about being the urban underdog. Being this person who holds this thing with you that believes against all commercial odds there is still away for the individual to cut through. And I think the individual is not just me but The Force (Stephen), Pete Cherry and Don Bannister. Its just an ethic I think that were trying to push through.
Were inspired by album artists. We don't listen to singles,
we listen to albums from the beginning to the end. He's got me into that
and put me onto a whole different thought path. Its made me turn this project
into an album project which means every time we present a body of work
it is an expression of what we are feeling and going through at that time.
Which all it is doing is accounting 6 people that are living now in 2001.
Q: But you all have done different things like the
Ali G show?
Stephen: Word!!! It was another avenue and it was weird how it got. the time Nash got signed was in the same weak i got that Ali G thing. Everything was like Woah!!! lets see how it goes and just ride it. Now everything is about Nash right now, but maybe we can get Sacha in a video or something.
Russell: The Ali G thing has definitely helped us. Its a credible show and there is a very now, contemporary vibe going on there. Its only helped us because people keep noticing him.
"The Chancer" is out now