If you’re looking for signs of the flourishing UK hip-hop underbelly, slide your way into a Lazy Habits Collective gig and bask in the onslaught of brass and beats that is everything we love about the genre. A fluid line-up keeps each performance and studio session fresh; with the best players in the UK hip-hop game lending their talents to the cause. With an album release around the corner and a global tour underway, Lazy Habits’ unique sound is set to reach further than ever. Now is the time to get involved.
We spoke with the founding member MC Lazy, who penned some considered thoughts on where he’s come from, where he’s headed and the inevitable rate of change in his hometown, London.
What motivated you to first start writing music? Has this always been an important part of your life?
Music in general was motivation enough; it’s something I have always done for as long as I can remember. I worked in a music shop, promoted events, hosted festivals all the time whilst making music. I’ve submerged myself in it for as long as I can remember. I was kicked off music GCSE as a kid. I tried to learn cornet (brass instrument) and then drums but I was frustrated at all the theory back then… I just wanted to make noise. Looking back I could have learnt a lot more a lot earlier but I’m happy with the journey I took to get here.
You grew up in Spain, which has a healthy hip-hop following too. Has the Spanish scene influenced music you make nowadays at all – and do you think your sound would go down well there?
I have played there since and still have family and friends there. I love playing in Spain. I was there until I was about 15 or 16 and never really knew anything about Spanish hip-hop until the Foreign Beggars took me back a good ten years later, now I own a lot of Spanish hip-hop vinyl. Despite speaking Spanish pretty much fluently I still don’t think I have mastered the language enough to play with it like Spanish rappers do, or like I do with the English language. I’m content to understand and enjoy what they are saying.
Live instrumentation seems such a fantastic part of UK hip-hop at the moment. How important are live instruments to the Lazy Habits Collective sound?
It’s pretty much the whole ethos the band is built around. I came from a band background but loved hip-hop. I wanted to find a way to bring the two together that didn’t sound like other hip-hop bands that were about at the time, pushing more to a sampled sound than to a classic live sound.
Why do you think hip-hop groups are often so fluid in their line-up – like yourself, ranging from a few members to a dozen depending on the show? What’s gained by this?
Aside from music one of things I love most about hip-hop is the collaborative side. It happens in most genres to an extent I feel but in hip-hop, collabs and guests are pretty much standard. I want to make music as good as I can, and I have loads of musicians I know and look up to so it seems natural that where possible we work together. With us it’s less about filling a stage with MCs though. Our extended family is just as likely to be a string quartet, brass crew or beat boxer. For me people like Josh Whitehouse, Fjokra, BabySol, Reeps One and Hobbit are family – my stage is their stage – plus it make for a more unique and hopefully memorable show
What do you want to see when you look out to your audience at a show?
To quote REM, “Smiley Happy People”. Lots of them.
You’re Hackney based; there’s such a great underground scene in East London. Do you think East London culture is under threat by the fast rate of gentrification and resulting price hikes? Will you stay in the area no matter the changes?
I’m a Londoner, and I would like to keep an element of my roots and family here forever but that doesn’t mean I will necessarily live here forever. I spent my first 16 years in another country and perhaps the next 16 somewhere else but I will always come home to London. It’s hard to say that it’s London culture that’s at threat…. It’s such a multicultural place and change has been its culture since before I moved back here. For poor areas regeneration can be a great thing but there are downfalls to this of course. It’s something we talk about quite a lot; I met someone recently who was born in Bethnal Green but moved out to Essex with his family as they thought the area was getting too dangerous for their kids to grow up in. Having now returned to the area ten years later he feels it’s a much safer place for families now and would have been happy to stay if it had been like this back then.
What’s the next Lazy Habits project you’re buzzing about?
Our second album is out in around a month; we started touring in Asia on the 23rd of March and back to tour the UK from April 9th. It’s a really exciting time for us now. I can’t wait for people to hear the album, I’ve been so impatient waiting and now I’m trying to push my management to put like another three songs on there. We signed our first record deal yesterday, got our first proper manager a couple of weeks ago and just about everything feels fresh and new right now. We feel in a great place and ready for 2016. Oh yeah, our next music video features the new face of Burberry, Josh Whitehouse; we are dropping that in April too.
Interview by Jordan Rahila from Ticket Tannoy
Lazy Habits come to The Haunt on Fri 22 April as part of a BN1 Magazine Presents show.