Interview: Kwasi and HFNR on signing to WVS, new music and more

Coming out of Melbourne, Rapper/Producer duo Kwasi x HFNR have recently signed to new record label WVS, and now, they’re preparing to drop their first single under the label, titled Thrash Out (No Tradition).

We had a chat to the pair to talk WVS, their ‘thrash’ style, what’s to come in 2017 and much more.

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Last year, Kwasi x HFNR was officially formed, how did this come about and did your creative styles mesh together immediately? 

Kwasi: About 2-3 years ago I use to do a bunch of bar work around Melbourne and one of the guys I became friends with during a shift gave me HFNRs number as he knew I made music and was on the hunt for a DJ. We both had similar goals and taste in music and clicked after the first session. We both bring unique strengths to the table whilst still complimenting each other on a musical stylistic level. 

What has it been like creating music from the ground up with a sole producer, as opposed to getting beats sent to you etc..? 

Kwasi: The whole process is much more interesting, the best way to describe it would be, like a conversation. The process consists of us adding and refining the song until it gets to a point that we are both happy with. And the cool thing is that the beat and the vocals are specifically written for each song simultaneously. I think this is going to be something that is prevalent in the work we do together, everything is created to go together as opposed to just slapping some raps on an Internet beat. 

HFNR: On that subject, as a producer its a much more enjoyable process actually creating something on the spot with an artist in the same room. Being able to bounce ideas off each other and just vibe off each others energy brings a whole other dynamic to how the production is created that wouldnt be possible if Id just emailed Kwasi a folder of beats. Being able to sculpt the production around what Kwasi is doing vocally gives everything more depth.

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After dropping a number of huge singles together, you were announced as the newest signees to new-wave record label WVS, explain a bit about how WVS picked you guys up? 

Kwasi: In 2015 I went on tour with 360 and met his tour DJ Mat Cant, Mat kindly let me crash at his spot when we were on the road because there was a fuck around at the hotel and our room fell through. We vibed some music we were both into and seemed to have similar tastes. At that point my live show was poppin but I was still refining my music writing so I didnt try and gas myself up or anything haha. After the tour ended we stayed in contact and played a few shows together here and there.

Fast forward a couple years and I get an inbox from Mat mentioning he had just started working with a new label called WVS and they were on the hunt for some artists to feature on their upcoming compilation release to showcase the new wave of Australian hiphop. He said to send him across a track that he could put on the release. Straight away I hit up HFNR and told him we should hit The Cabin and get to work and instead of just sending him 1 track lets lock ourselves away for a week or 2 and cook up 8 tracks.

We did it, got the 8 tracks finished, and sent the folder across to Mat. The following week he hit me back to schedule a meeting, and the rest is history. 

Your unique ‘thrash’ style is in a lane of its own right now, what defines ‘thrash’ and where did this style come from? 

Kwasi: THRASH is high energy, THRASH is living in the moment, THRASH is not giving a fuck. I used to do live sound work at a spot in Thornbury called The Prague, it was an old strip club converted into a rock bar and the vibe there was wild. One night I was doing the sound for a thrash metal band and I just remember the energy being so engaging and their whole style was real sick. This really stuck with me in terms of how I wanted to present my vibe and music to the world. I grew up around a lot of metal and grunge music and always had a massive appreciation for these movements and I think working at the rock bar really reiterated that and brought it back to life for me. 

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Your live set is renowned for being wild, why do you think playing live is so important for yourselves, and any up-and-coming artists? 

Kwasi: I just remember going to a lot of Hip-Hop shows growing up and being so underwhelmed with what I saw. The second I stood on stage I had to take it up a notch to give the people something tangible. Its important as it gives us and the fans an outlet and at the same time it gives us a platform to connect with people and try out new music. I mean, live shows might not be as important for every artist as everyone is different but for us we just want to give it our all when we step on that stage. 

HFNR: All up-and-coming artists need to come see Kwasi do his thing live. He sets the benchmark for energy and crowd interaction on stage.

You’ll be playing live at WVS’ Big Swell event this Thursday (13th of April), tell us a bit about that event and what we can expect from your set? 

Kwasi: Bunch of sick acts, its going to be a huge night. Free entry, cheap drinks and thrash vibes all round. Well be dropping our new track Thrash Out (No Tradition) during our set, and Complex will be filming a clip for the song during the event. There are also some unannounced special guests that will be attending and playing, so thats going to be fun. 

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As you’ve mentioned, you’re also dropping a brand new single this week, titled ‘Thrash Out (No Tradition)’, how did the production, and song as a whole, come to life? 

Kwasi: Its what I like to call a taste tester of what to come from Kwasi x HFNR. The vibe behind the song is the idea of not following a direct tradition and going with your gut instinct. I dont want to say too much about it from a concept point of view as I want everyone to have their own experience with the song. But Ill let the bro HFNR take you down production road. 

HFNR: The actual creation of the song happened really quickly. It was during that week we locked ourselves away in the studio to come up with some music to send WVS. Id watched this documentary on this genre of Brazilian music called baille-funk the week before and downloaded a heap of different sounds those producers were using. I was just going through these baille-funk sounds with Kwasi and came across this super weird horn sound. Started building some drums around it, thrashed it out with a heavy 808 bass line, and Kwasi jumped in and recorded some melody ideas. Thats basically it.

What can we expect from Kwasi x HFNR in 2017?  

Kwasi: We are always writing music, progressing and making moves. With WVS now backing us future plans just got more exciting. No point majorly gassing anything up, just stay posted as we have some sick releases on the way. 

HFNR: Thats it! Heaps of more music and collaborations coming. We also just started working with Reiis on his upcoming project, which is getting created at The Cabin. Hes a super talented up-and-coming artist out of Melbourne that weve done a couple songs with in the past so extra hyped to be involved with this project. 


Catch Kwasi and HFNR live at the huge WVS Big Swell event on Thursday


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Written by Jarrod van der Staay

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