Oz Hip Hop is poppin' hard right now (pause). Three dope MCs came together, put their solo stuff on hold for a second, formed a group and knocked out a fresh album that's making some serious noise. The fellas took the time to chat with me about the album and other assorted rap singer related nonsense. Peep game.
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It's not that uncommon these days to see musicians branching into the business world to acquire more income streams. However one bloke out of our hometown of Melbourne is doing a lot more than just starting a business. Chris Ferre is into so many things right now, I have no idea how he does it. We caught up with him to chat about his new bizzo, his new band and his new sport.
Not only is The Movement Fam committed to featuring artists and models, but anyone we come in contact with who is talented, creative and driven. Shane Foran, the man behind Toronto-based Vitaly Design, is exactly that. Shane took some time out of his busy day to chat with us about his company, his inspiration and his future plans. Cee: What up, man? Thanks for taking the time to chat to us.
Shane: My pleasure dude.
Cee: So break it down; tell us about Vitaly Design and how it came about.
Shane: Vitaly came about while I was backpacking around Asia. I kept having a dream about the Buddha sitting under the Bodhi Tree – this was a time in my life ruled by work - absolutely no balance. I knew little about Buddhism but thought it had something to do with balance. I knew South East Asia was a great place to explore it’s foundation and perhaps a way to level out.
I dropped everything I was doing and with my last pennies, flew there. I stayed for 3 months. I’ll be honest, I didn’t spend a ton of time exploring Buddhism, but I did spend time learning how to live.
Vitaly was born in the last month of my trip. I always loved fashion, but had never even considered doing something with it. I flew to Bali for my last month expecting to surf. A couple days in though, I checked out inland Bali, Ubud, and couldn’t leave. The people… the artisan lifestyle… the masonry… it was inspiring. A couple days in, I thought to myself, these people could make me anything I can draw – wouldn’t it be cool to have something with a taste of Bali and a taste of urban style? I drew up my first double ring. I had several people try to make it from there. A man named Ugenk, a great man who took pride in his work, had the skills I needed. When the first proto was done, I threw a message up on Facebook asking friends if they’d want one as a gift. The response was overwhelming and from that demand and a desire to produce more designs, Vitaly was born.
Cee: Amazing. Why jewellery design as opposed to any other form of creative expression?
Shane: It just found me… I will say though, as a kid, I produced a lot of music and that slipped away. That’s when my life became all about work. Vitaly has brought me back to the right side of my brain and I love it. I don’t imagine jewelry is all you’ll see from Vitaly.
Cee: You were born in Bali and spent some time there, which was clearly a huge inspiration on your designs. What in particular about Bali (and Indonesia in general) hit the creative nerve in you?
Shane: Technically I was born in Edmonton Alberta, but you could say I was born again there… I couldn’t say one thing in particular inspired me about Bali – the place is a epicenter for artists… there’s an energy there. I’m not a genius with words, so I’m not even going to try to do it justice.
Cee: Currently your range is two and three-finger rings, with very simple yet elegant designs. Do you plan on expanding from the rings into other jewellery or clothing?
Shane: Keep your eyes pealed for my next line, which should launch internationally in about 3 months. You’ll see some single finger rings, long chains and French cuff-links. My designs will always be androgynous - I hope to see some women rocking the cufflinks too.
Cee: Your work is stocked in various stores in Toronto, but also in Italy. Are you planning to expand into Europe? For some reason, Italy seems a great fit for your work.
Shane: My work was well received in Italy. Dolce (of D&G) actually took notice… as a new designer, I was pretty flattered. My plans are larger than Europe, to be honest. I’m working on an International roll-out. I really think Scandinavia in particular would receive my designs well, but I’d love to see some presence in Asia (Tokyo, Singapore and Malaysia) as well as the States, South America, etc.
Anyone reading this from NYC? Keep your eyes peeled for Vitaly in September.
Cee: Jewellery aside, what else inspires you? Specifically, do you have any artists (music, visual, etc) that really make you want to create?
Shane: This question is too big!
I could have answered this with a million names of people I worship, but I don’t think they come into play for Vitaly.
What I draw from for Vitaly… Black & White, Ying and Yang, Night and Day, Love and Hate, Time and One Life - Balance. I’ve always been interested in extremes… Vitaly is about juxtaposing extremes to find balance.
Cee: Great answer. You're planning to add a section on your site that supports local Toronto musicians. That's really dope; what is the plan behind that?
Shane: It’s simple – we’re all a team – let’s start acting like it. Being an artist is a hard gig – let’s share our networks, prop eachother up and bear-hug each other’s worlds.
The “Vitaly Family” section will be dedicated to artists in Toronto who want their art to be known and who know how powerful a good team can be. It will be musicians, painters, carvers, bloggers, designers of all kinds, etc.
Cee: If you weren't designing rings, what else would you be doing? Where else do your passions lie?
Shane: The other loves in my life are snowboarding and traveling. I work for a media company whose media exists solely at ski resorts – I absolutely love my work. In my perfect world though, I’d be designing and traveling… I’d have no ‘home’.
Cee: Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring creative individuals?
Shane: Be good to people – you don’t have to be spiritual to believe in Karma… being good to others perpetuates more good. If you’re driven / love your art (job, sport, etc) and treat all those you meet with respect, I think you’re on your way to where you want to be, because people will want to see you succeed.
Oh, and don’t be a talker, be a doer.
Cee: Where can the people see and purchase your work online? Hit us with the social media links!
My Facebook URL is weak… https://www.facebook.com/pages/Vitaly-Design/158986170792575?ref=ts Someone wanna help me fix that?
Cee: Thanks for your time, man. We wish you much success!
Shane: Thanks! – Hope I didn’t talk to much… I tend to do that.
Any Oz Hip Hop fan who seriously follows the scene will be familiar with one of the dopest crews out of Adelaide, Pagen Elypsis, whether it's through Prime and Purpose's battle record on WRC, or the various mixtapes and features the fellas have dropped over the past few years. The guys have just released their debut album, 'One Way Ticket', yesterday (August 19th), and they took some time out to chat with us about the album, their line up and their nunchuck skills.
Cee: What it does fellas? Aight, I gotta ask this one straight up. Where did the name 'Pagen Elypsis' come from?
Pagen Elypsis: Pohetikut & Motive came up with the name in about 06, walking there drunk asses home to a shack during schoolies. The name itself came from synonyms of Pohetikut + Kadowg's first group the "Skeptiks", and Purpose and Motives first group "Figures of Speech" i.e. Pagen (syn. skeptic) Elypsis (syn. figure). So it means a skeptical figure, which suits us just perfectly haha.
Cee: Break down the group for the people. Who's who, what are their skills (ie nunchuck skills, bowhunting skills etc) and why are they better than the other dudes.
Pagen Elypsis: Well the group consists 5 MC's: Purpose, Motive, Kadowg, Prime & Pohetikut. Purpose also handles production duties on a majority of the record but we ALL have equally great nunchuck skills and I feel for whoever gets to witness that first hand.
Cee: So y'all dropped the Double Or Nothing mixtape back in 07. How was that little puppy received?
Pagen Elypsis: Yeah the "007" mixtape did well and opened us up to an overseas market we never really aimed it at. About 6 months after we released it, Purpose and Prime generated a bit of a buzz through an international battle comp called the WRC battle series and it had made its way onto the internet without us knowing haha. Around home it did well, having the Battlehoggs DJs a part of it helped a lot in Australia as they were on the brink of starting their official mixtape series.
Cee: You guys took a bit of a hiatus from the group projects between then and now. What happened in between?
Pagen Elypsis: On the music front in between '07 and now there has been 3 more mixtapes/street releases; a Purpose solo tape, an Aforementioned group release (Motive & Purpose) and the Pagen Elypsis "2010" promotional tape. We were fortunate enough to play some big shows, P Money + Mystro in Melb, Funkoars in ADL, Xzibit in Middleton, Obese Block Party 2010, Obese Car Jack tour 09. A lot has been in the works but its only really becoming official now. Aside from that a lot of drinking, a lot of sex and a lot of hangovers haha.
Cee: A bunch of you blokes have quite the rep in the battle scene. For you, what's the difference between making music and battling? And why do you think so many battle MCs make terrible music?
Pagen Elypsis: Thank you, the difference is really the longevity aspect. A battle rapper is only as important as he is in the moment where he's battling. There are certainly some battle rappers who will always be respected but there are a lot more rappers known for their music who are timeless. That's more the direction we are looking to steer ourselves towards, we had our fun and enjoyed it but we prefer to spectate these days haha. I don't think 'battle MC's make terrible music', I just think some people gather so much attention through battling that they put something out before they're ready to try and capitalize on that hype. It's a genius idea if your music's good, horrible idea if you suck cause you will instantly fall into that bracket.
Cee: So tell us about the new album, One Way Ticket.
Pagen Elypsis: The new album really represents something that we're proud of and that we've been working on since we started. It's a well rounded album that shows all the different strengths of the members of the group and allows us to give people exactly what we've been preparing them for over the past few years since we came out. The production has very much the same feel of an 'Elypsis' album but with a bit more charm to it. I think we really nailed the balance on this album of bringing what people know us for, and what they would never expect from us. That's a hard task to do but we are very proud of the results.
Cee: Did you guys get many features? Seeing as there's a gang of y'all, that might be redundant.
Pagen Elypsis: The only people who feature on the album are producers and DJ Butcher haha. Five rappers is enough, the next album is the Aforementioned album and we got some crazy features lined up for that but this time around it's all Elypsis.
Cee: Who did you get on the boards?
Pagen Elypsis: Purpose kick started the production off, I think he ended up with 8 or so beats on there. We got a few joints from a cat from Brisbane by the name of Cam Bluff who's really crazy, a joint from Answer in Melb and we also worked with some overseas cats by the name of Vokab & Kela who we had used on the Red October release so some familiar faces.
Cee: What's the plans as far as promotions for the album? Will there be a nationwide tour of some description?
Pagen Elypsis: We're looking at putting together a tour for the album towards the end of the year with some shows all around the country so if you think we should come to your city hit us up on Facebook......NOW. You can keep up to date with any new gigs through the Facebook page or Twitter @pagenelypsis.
Cee: Where can the people cop the album? And where can they find you online?
Pagen Elypsis: People will be able to cop the album on iTunes, Amazon, all good independent stores and we're negotiating a JB account as we speak so you should be able to get this bad boy anywhere.
Cee: Any final message for the fans?
Pagen Elypsis: August 19th...DONMusicLtd. So neccesary.
Cee: Thanks for your time, y'all.
Pagen Elypsis: No doubt.
Aaaand we back with the first TMF Artist Feature on the new site, so it's extra fitting that we kick it off with our good homies Tokyo Cigar and Cyclops of The Plexiglass Fountain. These cats are some extremely talented and dedicated artists...but I'ma shut up and let the boys do the talking... Cee: What up fellas? Y'all are about to drop your sophomore album, is that correct? What's changed between the making of Left Of The Scenery and this joint?
Tokyo Cigar: We pretty much just stepped it up on all levels. We had more time to put the album together so it's way more potent overall. Left of the Scenery was a hard album to follow up cause we were on a straight mission when making it. This one is more relaxed but more focused in terms of cooking it up.
Cyclops: Not too much has changed in the actual making of the album. Since this is the 2nd time around, I’d say the group chemistry is pretty solid and we have a more comfortable dynamic. We both record in different spots so Tokyo just sends the beats and then we both start writing and recording and sending everything over email. Even though it’s an unconventional process it works well for the group.
Cee: It's been like a year between PGF albums, but you've both dropped numerous solo projects in the meanwhile. Tell us about those, and how the fuck y'all get so prolific!
Tokyo Cigar: haha. For me it's pretty much based on big bags of Bionic (shout out Sour Diesel). I'm addicted to music so when I finish projects up I get a little depressed so I stay working. The "Megaman Theory 2" came from a blunted convo with one of my homies who loved the first part. "Frozen Flesh, Ugly Soul" was an instrumental album I was working on for a couple of years. "The Ladies In The House" was me just wanting to work with singers and testing my production with vocalists. "The 12 Fingered Musician" happened cause keb0 got at me for beats and the EP we did was crazy.
Cyclops: I dropped my solo album 'Oceans'. That was more of a soulful, jazz infused album. It was very laid back. The album had a lot of different production including EOM, Half-Centric, Tone Spliff, Razorsharpe and Cenzo Beatz. With PGF we have a really left field sound, so with Oceans I wanted to make something more boom bap to balance that out.
Cee: Break down the new album for the people...
Tokyo Cigar: It's a lot darker and more raw. The lyrics are more personal and the cockiness factor is turned wayyyy up. Overall it's a brutal album. The beauty parts are Brutally beautiful and the Hard parts are brutally hard. We got songs that are probably gonna start fights in clubs if the DJ plays them. We also made more effort to get more guests on the album.
Cyclops: The new album is called 'Midnight Hindsight'. It’s basically the same PGF sound but elevated; we stepped up our game on every aspect of the project. The beats, lyrics, and delivery are all improved. Like the 1st album, we touch on a wide variety of topics and have a bunch of different sounds. Overall, I think the whole album is even better than the 1st.
Cee: Tokyo, were you on the beats the whole time for this LP as well?
Tokyo Cigar: Yeah. Most def. I was raised on cats like RZA, DJ MUGGS, PETE ROCK & CL SMOOTH, and GANGSTARR. So I'm more in tune with the one producer thing to give a cohesive sound to a project.
Cee: Any guests you wanna reveal?
Tokyo Cigar: Well The Movement Fam is pretty much Ghostface on Cuban Linx status haha. Cee & Bekah and Notion are on 2 joints. Da Capo who did "The Article" with K Def is on a track. Mally and Cause are on a joint and keb0 came through and blessed a track. I called up Jadakiss but he was busy haha.
Cee: You guys worked with The Movement Fam's Cee & Bekah on the single 'Carpe Diem'. Tell us how that came about and break down the song for us.
Tokyo Cigar: When i made the beat I kept on saying to myself "We NEED Cee and Bekah on this!" I just caught a crazy vision for that. Cyclops loved the beat and then I sent it to Cee and Bekah and they loved it too. I came up with the overall concept of going for your dreams with music and when everyone did they parts for it I was like "woooooooooooooooooow!" I felt it was gonna be a great track but when I actually heard it finished I damn near shit my pants. Shout out to Notion for the incredible mixdown too.
Cyclops: We’ve been cool with TMF for a while and even do a little writing for the blog so it’s only natural that the collaboration came to fruition. “Carpe Diem” is a song about coming up in the music industry and some of the experiences that are related to that. Even though it’s about music, anyone trying to make something of them selves can relate. It’s all about working hard and making moves, so it’s a pretty positive message.
Cee: I heard y'all might be doing a video for this joint, what's up with that?
Tokyo Cigar: Yeah I was building with the homie Cee and we came up with some dope ideas. We gonna try and wrap it up and give heads a crazy visual vibe for the song. Shit would be wild.
Cyclops: The video right now is in the planning stages but when TMF comes to North America it’s a wrap.
Cee: You also worked with TMF's Notion on the bangin' 'Head Trauma Scholar'. That's some wild shit. Tell us about that joint.
Tokyo Cigar: Yeah. I stay cooking beats so i just made that and I saw Notion going crazy over that. Actually I remixed a whole album of Notion's a while back. I won a spot on TMF's remix album for my remix of "New Wave" I loved dudes style and flow and charisma lyrically so I wanted to work with him for a minute. The song is straight Gorilla rap over a soulful beat so I felt he would be perfect for it. He really went in crazy on that joint. One of my favorite tracks on the album for sure.
Cyclops: The song is crazy. Notion has been helping us out with some mixing and mastering so it was long overdue that we all got on the same track. Tokyo and I had the song and we thought Notion would be a perfect fit so we just sent it over and he had an incredible verse. Basically, the song boils down to all of us spitting some crazy bars.
Cee: Do you guys plan to get some shows crackin' to support the release of the album?
Tokyo Cigar: That's the only complicated thing. We are in different states so linking up to perform is an issue. We're gonna work around it. I may go up to Jersey to link up and lace some shows. But we gonna work it out. We on some Phonte and Nicolay shit right now ha ha.
Cyclops: Because we live in different locations that’s pretty difficult but it’s definitely a possibility and something we’re working on. Shows are really important so it’s one of our goals for the near future.
Cee: So what's the plans from here? Should we expect another PGF release any time soon? Many solo projects on deck?
Tokyo Cigar: Oh yeah for sure. The crazy thing is that we are already working on our third and Fourth project. We also have a top secret project were doing that should blow some peoples minds. Cyclops also has a solo album called "When Inspiration Hits" which I produced entirely for him. We dropping that in December. That joint has some of my BEST beats ever. I'm also lacing an EP called "The Last Dragon" for my man Ra that is gonna be retarded.
Cyclops: We’re working on a few projects actually. I have a new solo album produced by Tokyo coming out in December, called “When Inspiration Hits.” We’ve been working on this album for a while and it’s definitely my magnum opus as a solo artist. Tokyo has some of his best production on that album and I have my best lyrics so the album is going to be something very serious. I also have a project coming out produced by Half-Centric. It’s a very soulful sound and is going to have collaborations with Cee and Notion. Recently, I started on another solo album that’s going to be somewhat of a sequel to Oceans. It’s tentatively titled “The Red Morning Sky.” There’s only 1 song completely finished for that project called “You Don’t Understand” produced by Razorsharpe and everyone I’ve played it for has gone nuts.
As for new PGF shit, I don’t know how much I’m supposed to talk about LOL but we are planning a bunch of different shit. We’re working on our 3rd album, which is on some take it back to 94 shit. I mean, I was only 2 then but you get the idea. We’re also planning a Trip Hop project infused with some poetry and prose. That’s not really fleshed out yet, but I’m sure it’s gonna be insane once we get the ball rolling.
Cee: Any message for the people?
Tokyo Cigar: Please support the Plexiglass click. Our motto is "Music is my Life, Life is my hobby" so we really put our heart and soul into this.
Cyclops: To everyone who supported us and listened to the music, thank you. We work hard to put out the best music possible and when people respond to that it means a lot. To everyone who hasn’t checked us out or is waiting to, please take a few minutes out of your day and listen. All of the music is available for streaming and free download so there’s no reason not to check it out.
Cee: Hit us with the science where folks can grab the music and get more info on Tokyo Cigar & Cyclops.
Tokyo Cigar: We got the website http://www.theplexiglassfountain.com/ and Bandcamp http://theplexiglassfountain.bandcamp.com/
We also got Twitter http://twitter.com/Tokyocigar http://twitter.com/CyclopsCaliberX
Anyone interested in beats get at me thought the homie Big Cee at firstname.lastname@example.org and Tokyocigartalk@gmail.com.
Cyclops: Check out http://www.theplexiglassfountain.com. Anything that we do as a group or solo gets posted there so it’s pretty much a 1 stop type thing. If you want go to http://www.theplexiglassfountain.bandcamp.com http://www.cyclops.bandcamp.com or http://www.tokyocigarmusic.bandcamp.com if you want to download our stuff.
Cee: Peace guys.
Tokyo Cigar: Peace. Thanks for the interview. AUG. 10th "Midnight Hindsight" support the album. ZOOM.
Cyclops: Good looking out on the spotlight. It’s really appreciated.