One of the coolest French hip-hop artists of today is coming to Hungary for the first time on the fifth of December. Guts, formerly a member of Alliance Ethnik has been pursuing a solo career playing not only hip-hop, but also downtempo, neo-soul and funk. He is coming to the A38 Ship with a live band of six outstanding musicians to present his newest album to date, Hip-Hop After All. Before his Hungarian debut, we’ve asked him about his relation to vinyls, the hip-hop subculture and his own label, Pura Vida Music.
What drew you towards hip-hop?
What led me to hip-hop is the place where I lived, a working class neighbourhood, Radio 7 with DJ Dee Nasty and an initiatory trip to New York.
How would you describe your experience with Alliance Ethnik? What are your favourite memories connected to them?
The experience with my band Alliance Ethnik was incredible, intense, magical and formative. It lasted almost ten years and has allowed us to collaborate with great names from the hip hop scene, record in major studios in Paris and New York as well as work with my mentor Bob Power. At that time production budgets were „no limit” which allowed us to compose in the best conditions. The best memory was quite surely the recording and mixing of the album Respect (Alliance Ethnik’s most well-known hit) with Bob Power in New York and also some memorable concerts including a tour in Germany.
Alliance Ethnik was active until 1999 and you released your first album as Guts only in 2007. What did you do in the time between?
Between 2000 and 2006, I composed for various French artists and produced various albums for artists such as Passi, Svinkels, Big Red, Sags Poetes de la Rue and so on.
Your solo stuff is very different from Alliance Ethnik’s, much more Jamaican- and Caribbean-music influenced. Would you agree with it? How did these influences found you?
Yes, indeed – since the beginning of 2000 and a trip to Kingston, my attraction for reggae music and the West Indies has considerably grown. And since I live on an island (Ibiza), it has only increased my passion for music from the Caribbean. For the last two years, I’ve worked with Mambo on the Beach Diggin’ compilations which totally fit with this universe …The Volume 3 is ready to come out in April 2015, we are enthralled and the label Heavenly Sweetness is delighted with the success of our compilations.
Why did you start your own label, Pura Vida Music?
I created the label Pura Vida Music primarily in order to put out in total independency my second solo album, Freedom. Today it would be useful to put out some projects which wouldn’t find any record label.
I’ve also heard that you are a big record collector. What do you think about the rise of vinyl sales?
I have much less vinyl than before because when I move to the island, I decided to sell half of my collection. I kept the essentials, but actually now I regret that. I am very pleased about the increase in vinyl sales even though one purchased vinyl out of two is never open and listened to by it’s buyer – the buyer has not turntables, it’s only to own the collectable item! I am naturally very attached to the vinyl and especially it’s analog sound. Unfortunately, most of the vinyl products pressed today don’t have the sound of vinyl, only its fomat, they sound more like MP3. Nevertheless, I am happy for indie shops and glad to see some young people tired of the virtual digital format and interested in the object and listening to music with a more active attitude.
Tell us about your newest album, Hip-Hop After All. How did you find the vocalists/rappers you’ve worked with?
About my new album „Hip-hop After All”, I chose the invited artists according to the music that i had selected. Each track inspired me a female or male voice, soft or hard hitting, dynamic, or deep. The choice was made like this and in consultation with DJ Fab. Once the list was made we contacted the artists by email and we organized recording sessions in NYC and LA according to everyone’s availability.
You’ve said that you don’t like Tarantino’s films, but you’ve reworked the soundtrack for Django Unchained – Django Remix EP. Why did you decide so, what was about that film that made you change your mind?
No, I have never said that I did not like the films of Tarantino, on the contrary, I am a fan and especially the re-make of Django, it’s a gem! And it had been years that I wanted to make a cover of the music of Django composed by Luis Enriquez Bacalov. The movie by Tarantino gave me the perfect opportunity so I got onto it – I am a fan of spaghetti western’s music.
Which are your five favourite hip-hop albums?
Nas – Illmatic
A Tribe Called Quest – Midnight Marauders
Fugees – The Score
Arrested Development – 3 years , 5 months and 2 days
Pete Rock & CL Smooth – Mecca and the soul brother