Bridging The Gap: Duke01, Furious P & Producer Uncommon Nasa Speak On Upcoming Last Sons Album Chekhov's Gun (The Witzard Interview)
"So much about the duo, Last Sons, goes against the grain of what most of today's Rap fans think of when they hear a the words "Rap duo." The two most obvious deviations are the group's make-up (rapper & DJ) and where they call home, Nottingham, UK. Now I know the old heads are currently yelling at me that the only true duos are ones consisting of a DJ and a rapper—insert joke about DJ Jazzy Jeff getting thrown out by Uncle Phil—but even in many of those classic duos, the DJ was the one making the beats, but here, Furious P is manning the 1's & 2's and adding that extra oomph to the producer's musical background, handled on Chekhov's Gun by Uncommon Nasa.
As for the Nottingham aspect, many US Rap fans have constantly had some sort of hang up about English emcees, but, then, in the same breath, say they "love" Slick Rick or 21 Savage. So, let us end that issue right now: we rarely have problems with other dialects or accents. The microphone duties of Last Sons fall on Duke01, whose influences are everyone's favorite "true school" US rappers to all the underground, genre-defying emcees you can't get enough of, in other words, Duke gets on the mic and spits that hot fire. But my ramblings are meaningless, until you actually hear what Last Sons & Uncommon Nasa put together on Chekhov's Gun. Really listen to it, spend time with it, and you will not be disappointed. If you need a little more encouragement, check out this interview the guys did with The Witzard below."
- DJ Jazzpants (@djjazzpants)
I. How did you two first meet and decide to start actively recording and releasing music together?
Duke01: Back in 2013, I was looking for a DJ for live shows and a few mutual friends had suggested calling [Furious} P. We'd met a few times and performed on the same bill together with different projects over the years, but we'd never actually worked together. I called P, we hooked up and I left him with some tracks that I'd been working on with Uncommon Nasa, so that he could get a flavour of what I was doing.
Furious P: I'd been aware of Duke for a while, so I was down with the idea of working together. When I heard the music he'd made with Nasa, I knew it was something I wanted to get involved in. I've always been a fan of different sounding, interesting music, so it was a dope opportunity to be able to collaborate on something so left of centre.
II. Now, this isn't exactly your first on-record collaboration... but it is, however, your first to be attributed to "Last Sons," correct? What's your reasoning behind the collaborative name change?
Duke01: Yeah, we released an EP, Steroid Stereo (Orange Edition) together on Uncommon Records in 2014 as "Duke01 & Furious P." The name change came about in a really organic way; from the moment we started working together, we quickly realised that we were both very much on the same page with our approach and what we wanted out of our sound. We thought and acted like a group from the get-go. Once we actually realised that fact, it seemed only natural to give ourselves a name that brought us fully together as a group, rather than being seen as two solo entities. Chekhov's Gun, unlike Steroid Stereo, has been built by both of us from the ground up.
Furious P: We decided on the name change after we'd played in New York at Nasa's annual Yule Prog event. We worked so well together, it made sense to present us a group and as Duke said, that reflects in the way Chekhov's Gun was written.
III. How exactly did Uncommon Nasa initially get involved with Chekhov's Gun and what made you fellas decide to ultimately, release it on his label, Uncommon Records?
Duke01: After we'd done the first EP, it was Nasa that first suggested doing another project together, an idea I jumped at. As for releasing it on Uncommon Records, it wasn't so much a decision, as it was a dream come true! As Nasa produced the whole of Chekhov's Gun, Uncommon Records seemed like a natural home. That being said, the legacy and lineage that the label has is insane. To be able to walk in those footsteps is very humbling.
IV. Aside from, or in addition to, producing Last Sons' Chekhov's Gun, what was your overall role in the creation of the album?
Uncommon Nasa: I mean, when I'm involved as "the label"—ie: a release on Uncommon Records—it's a bit of everything. I produced it all, as you said, but, also, mixed and mastered it, arranged for the manufacturing, worked with our Art Designer (DJ Jazzpants) on the layout, I'm doing as much PR-type stuff as is possible and I've made the odd suggestion here and there. Basically, I've helped Executive Produce the project.
V. What might each of you cite as some of your greatest sources of personal inspiration and influence while recording Chekhov's Gun?
Duke01: It'd be too hard to nail down a single source for me. As an artist, it's hard to look at another artist and say that they specifically inspired or influenced you. That's almost like saying, "these are that cats that I'm biting..." haha! However, I am a Hip-Hop fan and I have been for a very long time. Everything that I hear and see inspires or influences me in some way.
Furious P: There have been many influences that have inspired me over the years: Mixmaster Mike, D-Styles, Mike Boo, Cut Master Swift, Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, Depeche Mode, the list goes on... However, that's kinda just naming people I like. When recording the album, I wasn't consciously aiming to take influence from another artist, rather, work organically and see where the music took my ideas.
VI. What might each of you cite as some of your greatest sources of personal inspiration and influence while recording Chekhov's Gun?
Uncommon Nasa: I think, the inspiration was making people stop whatever they were doing and listen. We wanted something loud and attention-getting. When I toured The UK with these guys in 2017, they were already performing a lot of the album and I could see that approach was working as we hoped. The sound of Duke's flows, P's turntablism, and my production sounded like nothing else—including the set I was doing myself. I think, we've made something fairly unique.
VII. What are you currently working on, in addition to Last Sons' material? Can we expect a proper follow-up to Def Goldblum's WE ARE THE FLY EP any time relatively soon?
Duke01: For those that don't know, Def Goldblum is a Rap-fronted Metal band that I'm a part of. We initially started the band for a one-off show, but we had so much fun that we just kept going! We've established a little following and played some amazing shows and festivals. We'll be going into the studio very soon to start work on recording a full album.
VIII. Now that Chekhov's Gun has been properly released, what are you currently working on or preparing for release, in lieu of solo material or outer-band projects?
Furious P: My long-time friend, Loop Skywalker, and I recently revived Bionic Stylus—our DJ crew from back in the day—so, I'm looking forward to doing some shows together, making a mixtape, and maybe, even entering a battle in 2019... we'll see! I've been busy in the studio recently recording The Elder Wastemen (Rap duo Dirty Joe & Rico) and I've also, recently started recording and making beats with Nottingham-based spoken word artist, Jesse Eden Freeman.
IX. What can you potentially tell us about Chekhov's Gun's imaginative cover artwork? Who was involved in designing and creating it? Honestly, it's a very interesting and truly unique image!
Duke01: Like I said earlier, things tend to work pretty organically with Last Sons. Us & Nasa did a joint UK tour a while back and on the Manchester date, we brought along the super-talented artists, LabRats AKA Infected By Design (@infectedbydesign) & HeDreamtMars (@hedreamtmars). They created that beautiful piece of art in the venue as we played. They created a visual representation of the sonics they were hearing and the energy that they were feeling at the time. So, when it came time to think of the artwork for Chekhov's Gun, it didn't take too long to come to the obvious decision that we should use it. Thankfully, LabRats were happy for us to use it.
X. Now that Chekhov's Gun has been properly released into the terribly unsuspecting world... what else can we expect to see/hear from Last Sons' during the album's release roll-out?
Duke01: We'll be rocking a hometown release party in Nottingham and then, gigging around The UK where ever will have us. If we can, we'd love to get out to Europe and even back to The States to do some shows out there, too... but that'll be some time down the line. Unless, anybody out there wants to finance a trip! We're also, working on a video for a track from the album, which should be ready really soon—it may even be out by the time you're reading this!
XI. If you could hand-select any emcees, producers, players, singers, etc. to be featured on your Chekhov's Gun follow-up, who would you choose to collaborate with and why?
Duke01: Because of the way we work, I can only really think of somehow integrating more elements of the work we do outside of Last Sons; P with his Bionic Stylus Crew and me with Def Goldblum, but we already do that to a certain extent. In terms of artists, we have our dream list of collaborators on Chekhov's Gun already. When "Champions" needed a female vocal and I suggested Barrie McLain, that's exactly who we got and she fit perfectly. In fact, she far surpassed what I thought she could add! She added exactly what the track needed. Any collaborations on future projects, will continue to be dictated by the tracks themselves.
XII. Does Uncommon Records currently have anything special planned for the physical release of Last Sons' Chekhov's Gun?
Uncommon Nasa: We pressed up the album on orange translucent vinyl, all the vinyl will come with a poster inside, as well. The posters are part of a series that we're putting in all of our foreseeable releases [within] the next year or so. We are also, pressing on CD and that CD has some alternate layouts inside. This release is also, the debut of our new official/original Uncommon Records vinyl geometric-designed vinyl label (shout-out to DJ Jazzpants!) which will be part of the CD design, too. I can't wait to see the LabRats' work in a vinyl-sized cover. The release will be out March 15th and while supplies last, we are looping in our "Uncommon Kingdom" T-shirt as a bundle during the pre-order only. Head over to UncommonNasa.com/Shop for all physical purchases.