Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Breaks Co-op 98 styles

Breaks Co-op started out with Zane Lowe and Hamish Clark aka Hame, whipping up an album in record time in early 1997, before both shifted to London. This is an excerpt from an interview with them by Stephen Jewell, for Pavement, Feb/March 1998.

'...When the two first met, they didn’t exactly hit it off. Lowe says “I first met Hamish through a mutual friend - Manuel Bundy - who mentioned that there was this tall bloke from Christchurch who didn't like the Urban Disturbance single that was out at the time. I was very proud of that single. I took him on verbally one night at a club, and we became mates after that.

“We first started making music together when Urban Disturbance were recording our album 37 Degrees Lattitude. We said ‘Next time Urban Disturbance record a tune with MCs, we’ve got to get Hame.’ And when that occasion came around, on the track Relay, Hame got on the mic and ripped it.”

The Breaks Co-op album happened incredibly fast, driven by both Lowe and Clarke’s plans to move to the UK. Lowe says “I’d already gone into the studio because, initially, this started out as an opportunity for me to record one final album for Deepgrooves. I started working on one track, thinking Hame would pop up [from down country] in a couple of weeks and help finish off the album. Then I got this phone call: ‘I’m in Parnell. The gear’s with me and it’s set up.’ I went round and we got to work straight away

“The first thing that we did was Inject Me, the remix for the Strawpeople album called 100 Street Transistors. It came out really well. We got stuck into Roofers, the Breaks Co-op album, right away and worked exceptionally hard to finish that album before I left New Zealand, which was only three to four weeks after we started it. It was hard work but it was also incredibly fulfilling. And I think it comes through on the album.

“That whole release, it was quite intense. You're leaving our friends and family to go on a mission and you don't know when you're going to see them next. It's quite daunting. We just wanted to make a really soulful album that expressed that time and place."

That feeling is neatly encapsulated in Sound Advice, the first single off Roofers.

"It's like a postcard '' notes Clarke. "The first part is saying goodbye to hiphop and the second part is saying goodbye to our ability to do hiphop/electronic music and achieve the level that we want in New Zealand.

“Hiphop is always New Zealand to me. I listen to it in other places but I always did it in New Zealand. And Zane did as well. We just grew more and more despondent with the state of what hiphop meant to us as we grew older. We were both fed up with the messages being transmitted. This is us saying goodbye to the attitude of our youth, the bravado.''

"It's like a beautiful awakening process," adds Lowe. "I think we've definitely come to love hiphop in its purest form again. It's like a new beginning for me. Hiphop had become one big boring cliche in my mind that was not really saying anything."

Breaks Co-op aren't doing too badly in London themselves ... They initially set themselves up in a flat in Shepherds Bush, sharing with newly recruited member of the group, DJ Chris Tubbs. Lowe was working at London’s Music And Video Exchange, and Clarke was behind the counter at the NZ Store, selling Cheezels and Pineapple Lumps to homesick Kiwis.

They've already hooked up with Ballistic Brother's member Ashley Beedle and will hopefully release a tune on his Afro Art label next year. Upon arriving in London, Lowe and Clarke also took on the name of their album, Roofers.

"Breaks Co-op was a name that had been floating around," explains Lowe. "We thought it'd do for this album because, essentially, this would be a release for New Zealand only. It seemed to suggest what we were doing. We were using breaks and that was the source of our personal and musical inspiration.

“The 'Co-op' came about because we decided to include a group of really talented individuals - Manuel Bundy Nick Atkinson, Jordan Reyne... The name 'Roofers' came about because it seemed to sum up where we were in making the album. We were doing it in this place in Parnell that overlooked everything else. Whenever we take a break, we'd sit out on the balcony, which had an amazing view. It felt like we had an elevated view of what's going on around us and it influenced how some of the music came out.

"When we came to London the reality that Breaks Co-op wasn't a name we could stick with," admits Lowe. "With a name like Breaks Co-op you have to feel exceptionally proud to say it to people when they ask what you're called. And if you have any sense of doubt, you'll probably regret it for the rest of your band's life.

“Roofers felt right and it had an underlying meaning, with the whole concept that a roof is the highest point in a city, an urban environment, where you can stand and still have your feet on the ground. You can look at everything around you and down below. That really summed up how we felt about things. We wanted to rise above and take a look at everything around us."

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