Interview: @Peace

Last week we brought you our favourite cut (Matter, see below) from @Peace and the Plutonian Noise Symphony, the debut album from our favourite New Zealand hip-hop outfit. As promised, here is an extensive interview with @Peace wordsmith, Tom Scott, who goes in deep about the making of the new album and the NZ scene. This has been a long time in the making, so very pleased to finally bring it to you. @Peace producer Christoph El Truento will be the next guest on our Stamp Mix series, dropping very soon, so keep an eye out.

@Peace and the Plutonian Noise Symphony is out now. Stream it in full from the @Peace Bandcamp.

For those who aren’t familiar, there’s lots of activity surrounding @Peace, with affiliations with Home Brew Crew and Young, Gifted & Broke. Can you connect the dots between them all? 

@peace is a 5 piece group from Auckland NZ. We’re a part of collective called Young, Gifted and Broke. A bunch of starving artists who hang out in the same circle. We’ve all grown up together (artistically and mentally) over the years. Home Brew was a group I worked with for a while, not sure what will come of it at this stage. Lui Tuiasau (vocals) grew up in a group called Nothing To Nobody then you got our keys player Brandon Haru who works with a chick called Ladi 6, our producer Dandruff Dicky is involved with a group called Side Steps Quintet, and our dude Christoph El Truento has his own solo shit as well. We all have different things we’re involved in but the city is so small that they all overlap.

You had a session at Red Bull Studios in Aukland. How did you land that and what was it like? Did you record the whole album during those sessions?

Yeah we recorded the album there. Red Bull support a lot of up-and-coming talent in our city. They’re the only corperate structure that give a fuck. We wrote most of the album in a batch on the coast of New Zealand though. Really tranquil place. Yellow eyed penguins, seals, charmanders, all of that. Then we took about 60 skeletons to the RB studios and brought them to life.

You’ve spoken before about the first two @Peace releases very much being EPs. As a full length, did you approach Plutonian Noise Symphony any differently?

Very much so. This had to be a complete piece. It had to solidify our style. It had to summarize everything we we’re talking about on the last quarter of the 1st EP. We took a lot more time working on this cause we knew it would define our career. We all came together on this, everyone played a role. Dicky constructed it’s DNA, Truent was the executive producer moulding it’s arrangement. Brandon played almost every instrument under the sun on it, bass, guitar, keys, drums.Then myself and Lui put together the themes of the songs. We all raised this baby together and took a whole lot more pride in making it ours than anything we’ve ever created.

You’ve spoken before about previous works having a cohesive story. What was behind the album?

I think on the first look you can see a theme of cosmology. But it’s deeper than just an album about space. I think that after understanding some integral concepts of physics and basic laws like thermodynamics, for instance the idea that there is only one lot of mass, then things get more philosophical than scientific. So from there the fundamental questions of existence start taking shape, more existential stuff like ‘what’s the point? if there even is one?’, ‘are we all connected on a level higher than just the physical?’ ‘what is consciousness’? etc. So the theme I think is an existential one. I see it more like a book by Nietzsche than a movie. It explores a lot of ideas but it’s still really just one train of thought. One train of thought that derails somewhere along the way.

@Peace and Girl Songs was quite focussed on personal experience. Was the move away from this on Plutonian Noise Symphony quite a therapeutic and educational writing process?

I consciously tried to leave any personal experience out of this album. It was important I thought that the ideas in this album were not contaminated by emotion. You would rarely hear Socrates talk about a girl or a feeling, you know? I think the strongest arguments are constructed using facts, so I tried to approach the lyrics using only those. Or if not proven facts, then suggestions, like a scientific method. (not to get too nerdy on it) But yeah, I definitely wanted to keep it emotionless. Lite Year is the only exception to the rule. But even that track is really still the byproduct of a metaphysical idea. But to answer your question I would say it was more an educational process than a therapeutic one, ’cause writing about personal experience (like we did on Girl Songs) can be quite cathartic. Saves you having to talk to a therapist at least. But then again learning does the same thing I guess. I think it was both.

Most of our readers are from Europe and USA, so aren’t too familiar with the musical happenings in New Zealand. What’s some good stuff to check out in NZ from outside the Top 40? 

Check for groups like Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Connan Mockasin, Kimbra, Electric Wire Hustle and Team Dynamite. There’s a lot of good stuff (I personally think) coming out of NZ. I blame it on the isolation.

More specifically, what’s the state of NZ Hip-Hop?

I think it’s really healthy at the moment. There’s only a few of us because you either have to be serious about it and willing to be a broke ass in your mum’s basement or you get a real job. But yeah, I think it’s safe to say it’s in a good state. It’s its own monster.

You recently moved to Melbourne right? Was the state of NZ music one of the reasons for your move? Has anything positive come of the move yet?

The reason for my move was to expand. Been in NZ for the last 5 months though putting this album out n all that shit. So nothing much come from the move yet. But get at me in a year, maybe I can trick the Australians into thinking I’m one of them.

Do you still feel attached to what’s going on in NZ?

Most definitely. The music from NZ is what inspires me more than anything. I think it always will. And my heart will always be there.

Finally, what’s next now the album’s out? And are there any plans to come to Europe soon?

Yes. Got my UK passport sorted, just building the raft now. But the real question is are you gonna come down to New Zealand?

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