Discovery: Rizzle Kicks



It might be early in the year for such a statement, but we are pretty confident that UK hip-hop duo, Rizzle Kicks, is going to rank among our favorite discoveries of 2012. The band, made up of childhood friends Jordan Stephens and Harley Alexander-Sule, is part of a new wave of indie, throwback hip-hop along with The Cool Kids and Das Racist. Stephens and Alexander-Sule combine an early-Beastie Boys sense of fun and Q-Tip style beats with slightly more contemporary samples from The Strokes and references to our favorite Josh Schwartz primetime soaps.  For example, the duo’s single “Down with the Trumpets” opens with the lyrics “You might hear me make a racket like Wilson, because I love summer, no Rachel Bilson!” We managed to catch Jordan Stephens on the phone to chat about famous fans, plans for the New Year, and what sort of animal he’d like to be reincarnated as.

AGE: 19 (Jordan Stephens), 20 (Harley Alexander-Sule)

HOMETOWN: London and Brighton, UK

STYLE OF MUSIC: I’d probably say it’s hip-hop, but if you wanted me to build upon that, [laughs] then I’d say it was hip-hop influenced by the golden age, the days of De La Soul, The Pharcyde and A Tribe Called Quest and people like that. That’s what influenced us, I don’t know if we reflect it. The point is, it’s hip-hop from a different angle; when we both moved to Brighton, that was what was big in Brighton at the time. The hip-hop scene in Brighton is so much like that so we naturally just played in that style.

FIRST MEETING: Harley and I met when we were a lot younger, because my auntie works with his step-dad at a record label. There were two six-year gaps when we didn’t really know each other, we both moved to Brighton when we were about ten and then we both went to the same [high school] when we were about sixteen. By the time we went to the same [high school] we were quite close, and then we just started making music together.

CHILDHOOD HEROES: My childhood hero was a footballer called Ian Wright; that was the last time I remember properly idolizing someone. For Harley, as he grew older, his hero was Pete Doherty. There are a bunch of musicians; I kind of idolize Damon Albarn [of Blur and The Gorillaz] a bit, he’s just so talented it’s a joke.

GETTING SIGNED VIA A YOUTUBE VIDEO: I was at a friend’s house about a year and a half ago, and his cousin was dating a wedding photographer, Toby [Lockerbie]. We were talking to [Toby], just out of courtesy, and he showed me some videos he’d made of his family holiday, which don’t sound too much fun, but they kind of looked like adverts and I was like, “They’re beautiful!”  He set his camera up to play around with, and I said, “Do you want to do a music video?,” so we made one and we ended up getting signed off the back of it being on YouTube. [laughs] We were like, “Shit, that really worked, let’s do another one!” Ever since then we’ve just made videos with Toby; it’s just been us two and Toby. The last video, I did the direction and my uncle filmed it, because Toby was on holiday, but the other ones are all with Toby. It’s quite a relaxed environment, and I think that comes across on camera.

WEIRDEST FAME EXPERIENCE SO FAR: Oh god, there are quite a few weird things actually. We’ve been given praise by people like Stephen Fry and [television presenter] Davina McCall, just quite prominent British icons. It’s quite weird to meet people that I’ve seen on the telly and that I’ve admired on the telly and hearing them tell me that they’ve seen me on the telly. That always freaks me out a little bit. I’ve met a couple of few footballers, and football is one of my massive passions, and they actually said that they approached me rather than the other way around, which is just the most surreal thing, I see them on Match of the Day every weekend! [laughs]

ON HAVING STEPHEN FRY AS A FAN: Stephen Fry said “Unexpectedly loving the old-school hip-hop sounds of Rizzle Kicks.” We were just like “Whoa. That’s crazy!” That was amazing, I was well happy about that.

ON COLLOBORATING WITH FATBOY SLIM: He’s such a legend! We both lived in Brighton for a long time, him for a lot longer than us. [laughs] When we started recording in the studio our A&R at the label [asked us] “Who are your dream [people] to work with?” and we were like, “Q-Tip, Kanye West, Fatboy Slim…” and he was like, “All right, [Fatboy Slim] lives around here, doesn’t he?” About a month passed, and I remember having another meeting with our A&R and Norman Cook [Fatboy Slim] walked in and he was just like, “Yo!” It was sick. He [asked us] “Why do you want to work with me?” So he dug out some old beats, we had a good time in the studio, and it was a laugh, and we came up with “Mama Do the Hump.”

ON NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS:  My one is to learn a language, Brazilian Portuguese. I just love Brazil and I’ve got a bit of family who live out there, so it’d be nice to go there and be all awesome at talking to people. [laughs] Harley wants to go to the optician, because he’s actually quite bad at seeing things and he hasn’t done anything about it. [laughs]

ON REINCARNATION AND ALTERNATE LIVES: If I wasn’t me I’d be Astro, that kid on X Factor in America. Astro’s sick. If I was going to be reincarnated? That’s a hard one. I’d come back as a dog, a chocolate Labrador, I think. I reckon Harley would come back as a koala bear. Harley does sleep a lot and he is kind of mean, so… [laughs].