2013 was a good year for you guys, getting signed to Sub Pop and recognition from several reputable publications, how does it feel?
Jonathon Snipes (Producer): It’s definitely an exciting time. We’re all adults and we have our own lives, so we haven’t put all our eggs in this basket, and we know anything could happen. But for now at least it’s a blast to be traveling the world and working with amazing people and getting to make exactly the music we want.
William Hutson (Producer): I never thought this was going to happen for us. It’s pretty weird because, for all three of us, clipping. is the strangest music we’ve ever made, and we never guessed that anybody would be interested in it. It was definitely a side project. So any recognition we get from this feels like more than we could have ever hoped for.
Daveed Diggs (MC): Yeah. Real talk, I had only left the US one time before our first clipping. tour so this has all been particularly thrilling for me to get to experience people and places and cultures I never thought I would. Even if we do only get to see airports, train stations, and night clubs.
JS: Don’t forget gas stations. We see a lot of those.
Sub Pop isn’t a label known for its rap acts, what made you make the decision of signing with them?
JS: They gave us complete control of the project, and everything we’ve asked for so far. Sub Pop is a collection of amazing people who are devoted to letting artists do whatever they want, and helping them get paid for it. It was a no brainer, really.
DD: The more time you spend in and around the music industry the more you realize how predatory it is most of the time. Sub Pop has never for a second made us feel preyed upon. In fact I’m pretty sure they let us make some choices and do some things that are not in the best interest of the label. The seem genuinely concerned with us being happy with the product we put out. And we are.
WH: Also, we’re not the only rap artists they have right now. We’re in real good company alongside Shabazz Palaces and THEESatisfaction. It’s true that Sub Pop are still mostly known for the ‘scene’ they crystallized in the late 80s and early 90s, but they’ve signed all types of artists over the years, and they’ve been kicking ass for decades.
All three of you have fairly different backgrounds, I know Daveed has delved into acting as well as releasing some solo material, and Jonathan and William have done film scores, but what first made you guys have the idea of combining forces to make musique concrete and gangsta rap?
JS: We’ve been friends for years. Daveed and Bill for many, many years. This band started as just friends hanging out messing around making tracks. The combination is an idea we’ve had for at least as long as I’ve known Bill — not necessarily for us to do it, but that someone should do it.
DD: It’s fascinating to me that we are getting attention for this thing that I think we all assumed we were the only audience for. But also deeply gratifying to be able to do good work with two of my oldest friends.
WH: It’s funny to hear that we have ‘different backgrounds’. I know exactly what you mean — and you’re correct — but I’ve known Daveed for more than twenty years, and Jonathan for more than ten. I feel like we have similar backgrounds if only ‘cause we’ve been around each other for so long. Even when I’ve done stuff seemingly on my own, these two guys were always there to help out and give me notes.
The new album features some big names, like Gangsta Boo of Three 6 Mafia and King T, how did those collaborations come about?
DD: Twitter. It’s amazing what you can make happen if you just ask. All of the features were folks we are fans of so it was a huge thrill to get to work with them. Also, they were the exact people we wanted for the songs. It wasn’t like we contacted them and after they said yes we found a song for them. We made these songs with them in mind so it was fantastic that it all worked out.
WH: Yeah. In fact, both Boo and King T were kind of embarrassed when we revealed what fans we were. I mean, I told T I had all his albums on cassette tape when I was in elementary school. It’s true, but I think he was surprised. And on top of everything, all the people we worked with on the album were fucking cool. Just fun to hang out with. They liked our songs, and they were so chill in the studio. It never felt like work, or a business relationship. I guess I wasn’t sure what to expect — I imagine meeting your heroes can be disappointing sometimes, but we just love them more now.
The new album has a much less noisy sound than midcity, what caused this change in direction?
JS: We didn’t actively decide to change our sound. If you think it’s not noisy enough, you should turn your volume UP. Ha. There are poppier elements for sure, but there are still some rough sounds in there. The challenge in making rap music with noisy influences is to not get into the rut of just making “loud” and “guns.up” over and over again. Noise isn’t always aggressive and violent, so I think we’re always trying to find a way to incorporate subtle and nuanced noise into the clipping. world.
WH: I don’t think it’s much less noisy. The new intro is the harshest track we’ve released so far. I do agree that we’ve expanded our palette of sounds significantly, including some sounds that are less aggressive than what was on midcity. But at the same time, we were careful to stay within the boundaries we’d established, and draw from the same inspirations. It’s simply that CLPPNG takes slightly less from Pulse Demon, and more from De Natura Sonorum.
Daveed, you’ve displayed some pretty raw technical ability, especially on Taking Off, what inspires you to write such dense raps?
DD: I have always gravitated towards virtuosic music. So I tend to try and push myself in that direction whenever I can. I’ve always loved rap music that continues to reveal itself more to you each time you listen. I like songs that can be enjoyed on multiple levels. Shit that I can slap in my car and nod my head to, but also geek out on when I’m listening on headphones. But really this project is all about writing things that are serving the concept and the incredible sound beds I’m getting to work with. Despite how much referencing and citation we do, Bill and Jonathan really do at times create things that there is no precedent for. Taking Off was one of those for me. It needed something that was as technically challenging as the music.
I know you have gained some festival slots for 2014, is an album tour imminent, and what are your plans for the near future?
JS: We’ve just done a remix for our friends Youth Code, and we’re working on more recordings. We’ve got a lot more shows planned for 2014 scattered around.
Your shows are renowned for being especially intimate, do you believe this will change as clipping. moves forward?
JS: Are they? I guess I’d never heard that. The second we have some money to spend on the live show, I’ve got all kinds of crazy ideas for props and lights and video. Daveed’s gonna have so many costume changes.
DD: Yeah. The clipping. dancers I’m grooming right now are really incredible.
What has been the craziest thing to happen at a show so far?
DD: Honestly, for me the craziest thing is being overseas and having people in the front row rapping along with me. It blows my mind that people who didn’t even grow up speaking the same language as me know the words to our songs. It’s humbling. But that’s not what you’re looking for. The craziest show for me thus far was the house party we played in Salt Lake City with this band Black Cum. I don’t even think I can describe most of what went on without incriminating myself and others. But it was the most irresponsible night I’ve experienced in a long time. Several people were drop kicked. I was pretty certain the house we were playing in was going to burn down. And the evening totally reshaped everything I’ve ever believed about Salt Lake. That place is no joke.
Who have you been listening to in recently and who else is going to blow up this year?
JS: Svey. Signor Benedick the Moor. Youth Code. Twin Braids.
DD: Cocc Pistol Cree, Jonathan Finlayson, and this next one there is no reason to shout out and he certainly isn’t up and coming but I can’t get enough of that new 2 Chainz mixtape.
WH: Pharmakon made my favorite record from last year. The new Hong Chulki/Ryu Hankil disc on Erstwhile rules. Other than that, it’s been a lot of rap mixtapes and harsh noise cassettes. Oh and early Detroit techno.
Finally, why did you curate a Spotify playlist of porn sounds and which was your favourite one?
WH: Because we were being bratty, I guess. But Jonathan and I are both sound designers and when I stumbled over all those recordings one day, we couldn’t help but be totally fascinated.
Cheers guys, have a good one!