IMAGE COURTESY OF EVELYN ZUEL
If ever there were an R&B star’s funeral that doubled as a dance party (or a hemp fest somewhere in space with an equal appreciation of James Blake and Ciara), Supreme Cuts would surely headline the bill. The duo of young Chicago producers Mike Perry and Austin Keultjes just released their debut album Whispers In The Dark, an all-instrumental blend of reverbed rap samples, clattered snares and layered synth, best listened to while hanging out in a magical forest or before hitting up a Lil B concert in the sky. Songs like “Belly” may remind listeners of a Clams Casino beat turned inside out and infused with LSD, while “(Youngster Gone Off That) Sherm” boasts a subdued drum-n’-bass-style swagger, chopped up with what sounds like some muffled Dream ad-libs for good measure.
Interview asked the boys about how they got together, the new album and their performance at Glasslands in Brooklyn later today.
BEGINNINGS: We met in 2007 at the apartment of an older and eccentric house DJ who will remain unnamed, but for interview purposes we’ll call him Party Monster. We were going to school, but more focused on making it in other realms, because college is a twisted joke, as we all know. Mike was making house tracks and DJing, Austin was producing for random metaphysical rappers as well as a few on-the-DL vanity projects—CrazyPimp, Magical Options—as well as doing hella silly cartoon shit. We both played in a really gross band called Gruel and recorded an album, Hell Gibson, reliving our early teens. We had similar tastes in music that we discovered at this really vague but crazy throwback night we had at a bar called the Burlington for a few years. We started to kick it and bullshit about music, trade songs and whatnot—it just made sense because we were on the exact same tip musically. Then we realized we were both good at writing, recording, and making music, and it was way easier to finish a track with two sets of ears and all that shit.
INSPIRATION AND ASPIRATION: Our music is heavily inspired by the sounds—mostly music—that we have heard and latched on to throughout the course of our lives. We try and not put boundaries on that, so that might explain why it’s really hard to slap a genre on us, and will probably get increasingly tough with our future releases. That being said: Mannie Fresh, Timbaland, and The Neptunes—late ’90s super-producers, each with a distinct vision—are huge influence. Also Glass, Eno, Reich, Basinsky—forward-thinking, beautiful, completely overwhelming. And Suicide, My Bloody Valentine, and Big Black—sometimes beautiful, sometimes scary as hell, all with programed e-drums. But also so much dance music from all over the world, and the undeniable influence of great pop songs throughout history. I guess to describe our sound [would be to call it] “Rhythm and Melody.” We want to make songs that you can become completely immersed in. We want to make it an overwhelming experience if you choose to surrender to it by turning up and listening closely.
THEIR WORK WITH 16-YEAR-OLD RAPPER HALEEK MAUL: Haleek Maul is going to take over the world. For real though, the world hasn’t even seen the tip of the iceberg of what Haleek is going to do. He’s rap game Björk, and we get to be Massive Attack. Other than that, the whole Green Ova crew has our full support forever. Squadda, Mondre, Shady Blaze—Main Attrakionz’s next record is going to be raw as fuck. Also, Issue from the bay is doing some next level shit—like really, really, really next level. His song “Teaholics” is one of the most important tracks we’ve heard all year. Issue is more than a rapper—he’s an artist. Tree is a Chicago rapper we got to work with on some tracks and he is one of the most talented dudes in the game. He has a raspy melodic style that almost reminds me of when Cee-Lo was in Goodie Mobb, but way more Chicago. His hooks are game-changers, and he is a legendary producer to top it off. Also got stuff coming out with our dudes Show U Suck, Triad God, Kool AD, Deniro Farrar.
CHICAGO RAP: It’s the rawest shit on Earth right now. The beats are way more melodic, but simultaneously slap way harder than anything else out. No one has anything to lose, and everyone has everything to gain. The music is really relevant to the times here in Chicago. Rappers are so desensitized to the violence out here that all the delivery seems apathetic or unfazed while talking about some real dark shit. We’re not saying that we endorse the violence or anything—it’s just a reflection on the city at the moment. If anything, it’s honest. Also, Chicago has always leaned a little more to the melodic side of things (Do or Die, Kanye West), which is also at the core of a lot of these Chicago rap productions today.
COLLABORATION REQUIREMENTS: Integrity, honesty, talent, vision, personality. People who like music, not just the game. Haleek Maul is a perfect example—the kid is real as fuck. He remains a student and a fan, but with complete confidence in his craft. We also share a huge range of influence that spans beyond music into film, art, literature, web life, etc. You always wanna work with people who are on the same page as you. For us, that’s heavy vibes, chill attitude, fast life, music turned up 24/7.
ON THEIR DEBUT AND NEW MIXTAPE: Whispers In The Dark is our first full-length record. There are no collaborations because we wanted to see what type of journey we could take listeners on, on an instrumental tip. We made it at our old studio Club Paradise, because some dude wrote that movie there! Then Drake—accidentally?—stole the phrase, so I don’t know what we’re gonna call our new studio. Anyways, Whispers is supposed to take you on a journey when you listen to it in full. Heavy, deep vibes! All genres make an appearance throughout the course of the album. A story is being told, but we didn’t include any audible lyrics. If you want to sing along, you have to make up your own words. The album incorporates all the music that has inspired us, from age five until now. Really, we just wanted to make a record that was still engaging on the 200th listen. Chrome Lips is our first rap mixtape that comes out in August through Mishka. We joined up with Haleek Maul and created a really intense rap album. It also features Show You Suck, Kool AD, Main Attrakionz, Issue, Shady Blaze, Deniro Farrar, and Tree, among others. It s been about a year in the making, but we couldn’t be happier with the final product. It’s crazy to make an instrumental with certain vibes in mind and then get to work with vocalists who somehow magically pick up on it, and then suddenly this song is a reality, but it’s actually way cooler-sounding than what you originally imagined. It’s a great feeling and we’re so psyched to share this very dark and aggressive, but at times tender and sincere album with the world!
LIVE SHOW: We trigger the different drum loops, atmospheric sounds, bass etc., that make up our songs. Over this we play the vocal parts, rowdy drum machine stuff, live synths. We throw in field recordings and samples from the web from time to time. The whole thing has an effects processor that we control—noisy stuff. We guess the result is this trip or journey where the bass is really loud and our songs meld in and out of each other. Sometimes we play songs straightforward, but sometimes we’ll play twisted rowdy versions of the tracks at higher BPMs. Playing live is great because we can play our music really really loud, and also fuck around with it in a live realm where you don’t always know what’s gonna happen or what type of vibe the set will take on. Also, people get really sweaty and make out with each other a ton. One time a girl broke up with her boyfriend on the dance floor because she had a deep realization to one of our sets. And one time a bunch of dudes tried to fight us in Iowa because they wanted dubstep, so I did the Joey Jordison drumstick-middle-finger thing. We won them over by the end, though—inspired them to call their moms at the club and shit.
GLASSLANDS BILL, FEATURING THE-DRUM AND SICH MANG: [The-Drum and us] lose it to good dance tracks and Jean Michel Jarre, we bicker about rap, we drink and smoke a ton together. One day we’ll make music together probably. The-Drum are our dudes, so we’re really psyched to get them at Glasslands because we can hang out and everyone will lose their minds. Same for Sich Mang—Brooklyn & Earth need Sich Mang, but I don’t know how many survivors will be left after their paradigm shifting sets! Corny, I know, but we truly lose our minds to these dudes.
FOR MORE ON SUPREME CUTS, VISIT THEIR WEBSITE.