ASTROID BOYS INTERVEIW WITH MAJOR magazine of death
BOYS ENVISION CHRISTMAS COLLISION
Having already made quite a name for themselves and their first album on the way, the future of ASTROID BOYS looks very promising.
The Cardiff group consists of rap vocalists Philipe Constantinou and Benjamin Kendal, DJ Richard Bancroft, and producer Elliot Brussels, otherwise known as ‘Traxx’, ‘Benji’, ‘DJ Comfort’, and ‘Dell’ respectively.
They have considered themselves a band since the release of their first single ‘Welcome to the Zoo’ about 15 months ago.
Traxx is quite a character, his humour and excitability paired with his relaxed and friendly temperament embodies the ethos of the band.
He describes the band as “a base for kids that ain’t rich to stage dive and act wild, it is what it is, wig out to radical music”,
this mentality is more than apparent in their online music videos and live performances. When offered the suggestion of such a raucous attitude bearing similarities to the punk movement he humorously replies, “yeah but we don’t wanna burn down buildings with people in ‘em and stuff”.
When asked to describe Astroid Boys’ sound, Traxx uses their pre-coined phrase “Gnar Kill Dubstep Punks”, he clarifies its meaning by describing themselves as gnarly energetic rappers over hip-hop/rock/grime infused dubstep. Similar acts include Foreign Beggars, Odd Future, and Dope DOD. Such a hybrid of genres is explained by the group’s various influences, which Traxx goes on to list for each member. Starting with himself, perhaps coming as a surprise to some, he says how within his wide taste for music he is particularly influenced by punk rock and hardcore, bands such as Down to Nothing and Trash Talk.
He goes on to mention rappers like Ludacris and Homeboy Sandman and explains his love for “getting shit off your chest at shows”.
Traxx then summarizes his fellow band members’ influences, describing Benji’s tastes as “all about rap”, listening to anything from Andre 3000 to Drake,
DJ Comfort drawing from raw hip-hop like Cypress Hill and ODB,
and Dell’s particularly varied influence, ignoring genre categorisation.
Traxx notes the success of Astroid Boys as being in three stages,
The first stage being the doldrums of obscurity
when they first appeared on the scene,
the second being after the release of their ‘Space Jam EP’ where they played to crowds of around 500 people, and the third stage they are still riding out.
They have played to 4000 people at the Ultimate Fighting Champions aired on Sky Sports TV, 5000 people at the Glastonbury festival, and have even appeared on Radio 1. With a track record like that who knows where their first full-length may take them.
When asked about their first EP, Traxx explains how they rushed into it because they had prioritised their live performances. Despite this the record still sold 1700 physical release copies, an impressive figure for an independent debutante in today’s economically battered music industry. Their first album however, ‘Wiggin’ Out Like Terry Chow’, has been proudly worked on with time and care. Traxx explains that Terry Chow was from his school and would “flip the fuck out at least once a week, flippin’ over tables for no reason, quoting Marilyn Manson lyrics”.
The 13 track album is ready for a Christmas release, preceded by their ‘Radvent Calendar’ where they will release tracks that did not make the album every five days running up to Christmas. The album would have had an earlier release but it was devastatingly deleted, meaning they had to re-record all over again. The album will be released on their own independent label ‘Brainjuice’, when asked about the costs of making and releasing the album, Traxx simply replies “don’t stress me out”.
Writing the album is apparently quite a communal and interactive affair, where the group will all sit together, brainstorm, and piece together the basis of a track, lyrics and all, usually in one session, which will then be perfected later on. Traxx describes how they would effectively “brainwash each other into thinking a bad idea is a good idea”, a rather strange view on teamwork. Dell, only 16 years old, is their producer, and he produced previous Astroid Boys tracks that have appeared on radio and TV at just 14, he also produces drum and bass separately and is releasing an EP in a month or so.
When asked about the band’s high points so far, Traxx replies “fuck, so many… seeing the group break through at least 10 barriers where we could have broke up”. He goes on to mention selling out shows and playing the ‘Shangri La’ stage at Glastonbury. Now they are looking to the future, Traxx jokes that they want to play Greece, Egypt, and Syria,
such politically turbulent places could somehow even suit the raucous nature of their shows. He then mentions that he aspires to tour with Bob Dylan, no sarcasm intended, Traxx quite surprisingly loves Bob Dylan’s music. Traxx then lists some more realistic aspirations, bands he would love to tour with, such as Trash Talk, Limp Bizkit, Cerebral Ballzy, Odd Future, and Hyro Da Hero, Astroid Boys are actually touring with Hyro Da Hero in February, one down, four to go! When asked about any other plans for the future, Traxx stares mischievously and replies, “none at all”.
From the Cardiff Arts Institute Newspaper….
The best music always manages to capture the spirit of the age, and for me the Astroid Boys are no exception to that. I loved watching the rise of Grime and Dubstep, for me it felt like the perfect soundtrack to the rising recession and frustration. It served as a backlash against the bland manufactured indie and pop that had dominated for so long. The generation coming up took to the raw, aggressive sound of Grime and the filthier edge of Dubstep like Alligators to Swamps but eventually even that required a backlash. Although it’s still going strong at a street level and still attracts a massive following on YouTube (mainly from the same type of kids who years ago would have been bumping Eazy E tapes… like me), many of the bigger Grime acts got fed up of the negativity surrounding the scene and opted for saccharine pop stardom, losing their edge and becoming another cog in the machine. Benji and Traxx also got fed up of a lifestyle that was not only negative but could often turn violent, a fact that both have experience of. Taking their cues from Hip-hop groups they grew up listening to such as Jurassic 5 and their old skool party approach, they set about developing a far more positive lifestyle and sound without having to sacrifice their creative energy. As Benji puts it, “The passion to make music in front of people is the same but now I feel that they want to embrace my happy thoughts instead of the angry negativity that people stuck to with Grime.”
Not that this is conscious, political, change the world material. Think new Beastie Boys rather than Public Enemy, with an agenda of parties and girls still very much high priority. This is my initial point about their relevance to the times however. As with the late 80s, times of doom and gloom eventually need a release and these boys are penning a silver lining round the clouds with a big phat magic marker.
Well versed in entertaining crowds since school, Traxx was touring the country with Hardcore Punk Bands at 14, whilst Benji was tearing down Grime shows and making a name for himself on the South Wales scene, winning various clashes in Cardiff and Newport. Traxx eventually moved into Grime, rolling with a couple of crews, quickly gaining recognition for his quick fire wit and delivery. After both their conversions from the dark side, they hooked up together and then met DJ Comfort, resident DJ at two of Cardiff’s most respected club nights, CYNT and Neuropol, through a mutual love of Basketball, Food and Trainers. Finally they discovered the youngest member of the crew, their producer Dell, of whom Traxx enthuses, “Dell’s like our secret weapon, I can’t preach enough about this guy, he’s just 15 and he’s one of the baddest producers around… he’s a hard worker, on point, switched on and knows a lot about a lot.”. Altogether they make a great family unit and if their recent shows are anything to go by they’ve definitely managed to attract a like minded audience. “The crowd that we have now is fantastic!” says Benji, “In the grime days none of the people around were your friends, they just had to stay involved in the scene so that they could know what the latest Beef was about!! These days I’m greeted by crowds of smiles & people that actually want to have as much fun as i do.”
As much Dirty Sanchez as Dirty Goodz, the boys are well known for their crazy antics and generally no show is complete without at least a touch of crowd surfing as their YouTube videos will attest to. This year they’ve performed at Bestival, Newport Festival, various club nights and been one of the few live acts to perform at Bedlam. They also managed to pack out Cardiff Arts Institute for the launch of their first single Jungle Booku. They shall be accompanying GLC for a number of dates on their UK tour and will be returning to the CAI to host their very own Christmas Party on Dec 9th. This will be their first show incorporating a live drummer and the night will also feature DJs such as Magenta and Curtamos and two of the country’s finest Beatboxers – Beatbox Fozzy and Beatbox Major (who is also a regular feature in the Astroid Boys live show). It’s been a great year so far for the boys it seems and I can’t help feel that this is just the beginning for them.
words by Kaptin / photos by Droneboy Laundry