Artist Of The Week - Bop Alloy
Substantial was one of my original Artists Of The Week when I started this feature back in 2006. Since then he’s gotten married, moved from Brooklyn back to his original home of Maryland, release a couple albums, and had a child. The one thing I don’t think he’s done is sleep, because even with all that going on he still found the time to link up with Seattle producer Marcus D to create Bop Alloy. This week I caught up with both Substantial and Marcus D to find out more about the Bop Alloy project, including how they came together for it, the musical direction it goes in that will have longtime Substantial fans cheering, and why they’re so big in Japan.
Adam Bernard: How did a Maryland emcee and Seattle producer link up? Is this a story that involves the glory of the internet?
Substantial: Internet FTW (for the win)! Specifically, MySpace about three years ago.
Adam Bernard: What originally attracted you to each other’s work?
Marcus D: I gained my passion for hip-hop through listening to Substantial's music before I had even started creating it. He and a Japanese producer named Nujabes were a pillar of the type of music I wanted to create and they helped mold my sound.
Substantial: His production style reminded me of Nujabes' earlier work on my first album, but with a more modern approach; harder percussion, more layers, etc. I was amazed at how much potential he had considering he was only 17 or 18 when we first began working together.
Adam Bernard: Why do you think you work so well together?
Substantial: Both of us work at a quick pace and have similar interest and taste. Although our schedules are fairly hectic, the process never really feels like work, and Marcus is one of those producers that genuinely seems excited about the music we're making, which is inspiring.
Adam Bernard: What do you feel the Bop Alloy project brings out of each of you musically that audiences haven’t heard from either of you before?
Substantial: Over the years I've moved away - a little, but not completely - from the jazzy hip-hop, AKA “Jazz Hop” people are use to hearing me rhyme over. Our sound is what a lot of old fans, and some of my new fans, have been waiting for, but it isn't an attempt to meet their expectations, it is our goal to surpass them.
Marcus D: Being more known as a battle producer in Seattle, this project allowed me to showcase my versatility and ability to produce a musically cohesive album, not to mention where my passion for hip-hop actually lies.
Adam Bernard: To make things even more far reaching, you’re promoting this project heavily in Japan. What makes Japan the right audience for the debut of Bop Alloy?
Substantial: Japan has been a long time consumer/producer of Jazz Hop, so needless to say it was much easier to find a large audience there and a label to back our project.
Adam Bernard: What are some of your favorite aspects of the Japanese hip-hop scene that you’d love to see adopted by America’s?
Marcus D: The atmosphere. It's a broad statement, but to fully understand it you have to experience it. The crowds appreciate good music, and it's apparent. They're attentive, involved, and definitely there to enjoy themselves. Not to mention they actually buy CDs/vinyl still, which is always a plus.
Adam Bernard: What do you have in store for American audiences?
Substantial: We dropped the digital deluxe edition of Substantial & Marcus D are Bop Alloy via BopAlloy.Bandcamp.com on September 7th, and the regular digital album is also available worldwide, on sites like iTunes and Amazon, to name a few.
Adam Bernard: Finally, how’d you come up with the name Bop Alloy. Please tell me it isn’t a combination of the two famous tween brands.
Substantial: That's exactly it. No, seriously, I just came up with a few ideas based on our sound. I ran them by Marcus and we both agreed that it was the most unique and the best fit. It simply means jazz fusion.