We sat down with the masterminds behind hip-hop duo HEAVY – Reem & Liam.
Aside from Hip-Hop, how would you describe your musical style?
Reem: It’s hard to say. I don’t think it’s any one particular style. I guess you could say we range from rap/hip-hop to electronic/dance. Whatever it is we like to keep it as raw and unpolished as possible.
Liam: We try our best not to overwork any ideas and hope they fall in to place. Otherwise we tend to just scrap them. Our minds drift too often to focus on a single beat for too long.
Do both of you have musical backgrounds?
R: Not musical but lyrical. I have been writing poems and spoken word since I was 12. Before I started writing my own material I would record myself rapping to Biggie, Eazy-E and Lil’ Kim.
L: I’ve only been in a few different projects but I guess my last group ‘Shadowbat’ was my first real step at any form of producing.
What’s the typical writing process for your songs? Do the beats come first or the lyrics, how does it all come together?
R: I always write raps regardless of whether we have a beat ready. Once Liam shows me what he’s working on I usually have something that will fit the vibe.
What was it like recording your debut album ‘Lock In’, did you produce it yourselves?
R: It was fun. I’m still getting used to hearing my own voice back on recordings. I guess I’m still experimenting with what I can do with it.
L: Producing is still fairly new to me so it was pretty challenging but in a way it kind of made it easier to get the ball rolling as we had nothing to compare it to.
What was it like opening for Earl Sweatshirt?
R: It was crazy. It’s always easy playing small shows to familiar faces but only a few of our friends were able to come so it was quite nerve racking playing to a crowd that had no idea who we were (and probably just wanted to see Earl straight away). Unexpectedly we received a pretty amazing reception which was overwhelming as fuck.
What do you think of the NZ Hip-Hop scene or the NZ music scene in general?
L: I don’t know how accurately I can comment on any scene as a whole but our local scene has been especially inclusive and inspiring for us. Events put on by KCB, Tubertechno and Chronophonium showcase some of the most talented individuals I’ve ever met. Lawrence Goodwin (aka Career Girls) in particular is constantly pushing the limits with his music. I feel like every time he plays he has a brand new set. That kid’s insane.
Liam, what are some of your inspirations when it comes to writing and making beats?
L: If I could be half the rapper or producer that is Jonwayne I’d be set for life. He’s the perfect example of someone who will make you hate the majority of beats and bars you create. Nothing motivates like never being satisfied with your work.
Reem, who are some of your inspirations when it comes to writing bars?
R: I’ve been watching ‘The Cypher Effect’ non-stop lately. Everyone needs to check out Lucy Camp, her bars are straight fire. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Rah Digga & Lil’ Kim. They fire me up and help me to get into the mood to rap.
Who would be your dream artist to collaborate with?
R: Andre 3000, no doubt yo.
L: I would love to produce a song with Kylie Minogue. I reckon we could make a pretty decent club banger. She needs another banger. The birth of ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’ seems like a lifetime ago.
Your album came out recently and you’ve been very busy playing a lot of shows, have you written any new music? What are your plans for the rest of the year and going forward?
R: We’ve been writing a lot of new material lately and have been playing fewer shows so we can focus on our new album. We want to release it before the end of this year, hopefully with another music video.
Interview by Chris Smith
Photography by Lauren Sharp