05 July 2011
Behind the Beats: Union
First and foremost, who is Union?
Union is two guys from Paris, France, that love to hang around together and have a very similar approach with music.
How long have you guys been making music together?
It’s been two years since we made our first track together. Wow, time is running so fast!
Your press release states that your music combines elements of hiphop and 70's jazz funk. Who were your influences growing up?
In fact, OJ is more the Hiphop side of Union, Gold represents the jazz-funk side. We did the fusion pretty well cause one style is really coming from the other. So there are a lot of common points and our tastes are often similar. Oj is more into Wu-tang, GangStarr, The Roots, Busta Rhymes, Nas, Slum Village, Little Brother and a little of French Hip-hop (NTM, IAM...) Cassius, and Gold is into Herbie Hancock, Kraftwerk, Prefuse73, Miles Davis, D’Angelo, Forss, The Neptunes, Q-Tip. We have these 20th century geniuses in common: Michael Jackson, Prince, Serge Gainsbourg, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie wonder and Daft Punk.
How long did it take you guys to find your sound?
Around 2 years. We did a lot of tracks during these two years. We were searching a lot for gear. We tested a lot of different hardware and software. Often, new gear or tools are inspiring and can help with creativity. But what defines your sound is the gear that is utilized in your creative process after months of use. Now, we got our ”classics” go-to sounds, presets, mixing tricks, etc. That’s defining a personal sound. Then it’s our duty to stay aware and to not fall in routine and keep searching for new sounds.
You recently released the first single from you album Analogtronics called "Wings." "Wings" features an insanely dope guest feature from Elzhi. How did the collaboration take place? How did you guys feel when you received the vocals from Elzhi?
We caught up with Elzhi after a show he did in Paris at la Bellevilloise. Thanks to our man Him, who introduced us to El, we talked backstage and he listened to the music. He loved it and we brought him down to the studio. What was striking is how deep El is involved in the music. He started writing while listening in the car, and kept writing and practicing while in the studio. He did maybe three takes and the third one was the good one. This evening was really exciting. It was an awesome moment!
Wings feat Elzhi by Unionmusic
The track has received praise on a lot of blogs and music websites here in the States. How important is the internet in regards to helping you develop an American fanbase?
The Internet is crucial. It’s the only way to get an audience when you start from scratch like us. We’re hoping that people are gonna spread the word! Both of us are using the internet for discovering new artists. It also keeps us informed of what’s happening and we watch music videos.
Do you guys have plans to shoot a video for "Wings"?
There’s no video shoot planned for "Wings," but who knows? We actually made one for our next track, Time Leak featuring Talib Kweli and Sly Johnson, which going to be on the EP. We are still searching for great ideas, cause we believe that the videos and images are important when they are a part of the whole artistic process.
Describe the sound of Analogtronics...
Analogtronics is the combination of different worlds, Analog/Electronic, vintage stuff/digital equipment, and naturally Jazz-Funk/Soul/Hip-Hop. The details of the sound creation process gave us the ability to use the best of both digital and analog worlds. We used the comfortable modern way to record audio, DAW and computers. We were very cautious in the recording process and we tried to use the bests amps and converters as possible. We recorded synths (we’re synth geeks !), percussion, voices and sometimes guitar and horns. We mixed all of these in a small mixing desk. We also like to record through an old analog Studer A80 tape recorder that we bought a few years ago, it’s really giving some smoothness.
We tried also to give a bit of musical "freedom," like in "Wings." There are variations, improvisation and we tried to get rid of the classic scheme Intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-Outro while still telling a story. The goals revolved around taking the listener somewhere.
What other features do you have for the album and when is it set to drop?
A lot of cool rappers and singers: we got lucky enough to have MF Doom, Talib Kweli, Guilty Simpson, Moka Only, Sly Johnson, Rachel Claudio and we’re planning some other features soon.
It’s like a dream team for us, we never expected to have all these artists when we started. It was a big lesson with this project, when you dare connect with people you’d love to work with, things happen.
"Wings" should be available very soon digitally, in a beautiful fat mastered version by Dave Cooley (J-Dilla, Madvillain). The EP is coming in September in a very, very, very original package and includes some great remixes.
What keeps you guys motivated to continue to create music?
We just love grooving and jamming on beats, and that’s enough to play to death! The feedback that we receive is also very motivating.
Describe your beatmaking process. Do you guys bounce ideas back and forth?
We tried a bit, but what works better is when we just spend time together, sharing ideas and music at the same moment.
We’re addicted to this cool feeling when you come up with a cool bassline that fits well with the beat after 1 hour jamming on it, and then everything comes out easy. Once we have something cool and groovy, we often begin to think a bit more and think about some different sections. We try to avoid having the same loop running through the track.
Your top five beatmakers of all time include...
Your top five emcees of all time include...
How can the fans stay in contact with you guys?
Facebook, SoundCloud and soon the web site.
Any final thoughts?
Thanks for your interest, we’re very excited , it’s a great time we’re living in!