The intercontinental duo chat about moments of calm, fried chicken and Kanye
Glasgow's Ross Birchard – aka Hudson Mohawke – and Montreal's Lunice Fermin Pierre II – aka just Lunice – come from different continents but share a passion for less-is-more club music. Their joint project is TNGHT, and Kanye's already a fan. Jonny Ensall finds out more...
You're both part of the LuckyMe family of producers, which has roots in Montreal and Glasgow. Is there any other connection between the cities?
Ross: 'The only thing in particular between Glasgow and Montreal, and to some extent New York, is just how unbelievably bleak the winters are. Which means that you're thrown into saying, 'We're not going to go out. We're just going to do music.' For me, growing up in Glasgow, being age 16 or 17, rather than going out in the fucking snow, there'd just be five people sat in a room making music.'
What were you listening to at that time?
Ross: 'Around that time for, it me was probably a blend of rave stuff and New York hip hop stuff. East coast, Pete Rock, DJ Premier stuff – golden era hip hop. That's what I was into.'
Lunice: 'Producer-wise, I was really listening to Sound Providers. Hip hop jazz producers. And that branches to Madlib, Stones Throw…'
Ross: 'And Doom as well.'
Lunice: 'When I met Madlib I was surprised. He hugged me. I just wanted to say, "Hey, what's up?" And he went in for the hug. I was like, "hey no way!"'
Ross: 'What's good about them is there's no false image about them. They are just the exact people that you think they are. Doom is just a really eccentric, weird guy.'
There are lot of calm moments in your tracks, especially in your openings and build ups. How come?
Lunice: 'I just like the feeling of it. Calm down, take a moment to listen.'
Ross: 'Especially like, when you're in a big club show where you're starting your set at 2am and it's just frantic noise everywhere, with someone playing for you. Then you can be like, "Fuck that. We're going to take it back down here. Everybody deep breath. We're going to build the atmosphere back up".'
Lunice: 'I like the idea of something calm, but that makes you feel as excited as if you were listening to the peak moment of a track. You can get that feeling something really subtle, but so well made you're like, "woah".'
The TNGHT tracks came together over just a few sessions. Was that spontaneity important?
Lunice: 'It's really nothing to brag about. Because I know some people try to nerd out and be like, "Yeah I can make three tracks a day." It doesn't really matter to us. It can take a whole day, two days. It's not really a concern whether it's going to happen fast or not. It's all in the vibe. It really helps to have two minds, feedbacking, back and forth. Da-na-na-na-na. Just ideas. "Oh cool, try that." Da-na-na-na. Put it together and be like, "OK, it works".'
Ross: 'Musically it's not really anything different to what both of us have done the whole time anyway. Certainly from my point of view I always a have a tendency to keep doing things, keep working on things for a long time, whereas we just stop each other. That's how the whole thing's created. Just keeping it at three or four elements for the whole track.'
You've both been working with Kanye West. How did you find that?
Ross: 'You don't want to say too much because they're all very secretive about their in-studio processes.'
Lunice: 'To put it simply, he's a normal person… and that's it.'
Ross: 'When we were doing stuff [with him] in Hawaii I was wearing shorts every day, which was weird, because they were like done up in these French, fucking beautiful outfits.'
Lunice: 'Dude, I was surprised nobody was wearing sandals.'
And Azealia Banks as well.
Lunice: 'When I first met her it was at a LuckyMe party in New York about three years ago.'
Ross: 'That was the first time I met her. She was playing. We were like the headline people at the party. And she was playing at 9pm.'
Lunice: 'I was surprised. I didn't expect anything. Machine Drum introduced me to her because they'd known each other for a minute. And I was like, 'Oh cool. What's up?' I thought she was just a friend. Then she grabbed the mic and started rapping, and I like, "Wut?"'
Ross: 'Sh'e must have been about 17 at that point.'
Lunice: 'Yeah, she was mad young. She killed it, man. It was crazy. Every since then she's always stayed connected with our type of music.'
What do you do together in between making music?
Lunice: 'We eat amazing fried chicken. Shout out to Tesco! Maybe I shouldn't shout out to Tesco. People'll be getting mad, like, "why the fuck's he shouting out to Tesco?"'
Ross: 'We've got a particular BBQ sauce we like.'
Lunice: 'It's got this really olden time due on the bottle. It's very nice.'