Introduce yourself, crew, affiliations, etc.
Hey, so yeah…my name is Tom. I am a vocalist/producer from Belgium… I got a group called Zucchini Drive with my brother Marcus Graap, play keys in the band of my friend Nomad and run a digital label called Marathon of Dope together with Pip Skid and some friends.
Marathon of Dope is just a little over a year old now, but tell me about it’s history, why did you guys decide to start the label?
In 2007, Marcus and me noticed after our second release on 2nd Rec, Shadowanimals and Hue that CD sales weren’t doing as well as they used to and people weren’t really excited to start paying for mp3s on iTunes — understandable, because its hard to grasp paying for something that is a bunch of bytes and easy to loose after cleaning up your computer. People got our music somewhere though so we were already playing with the idea for a while to change the way we were involved in the industry. Shit stopped making sense for us, plus we were always open for change when it comes to getting more people to hear our music..
In 2008, Pip and me meet here in Belgium on his Euro tour and he ended up staying for two weeks. He was already talking for a while with his roommate (at the time) Gumshoe Strut about having some sort of label that gives people the opportunity to download releases and donate whatever they want as support (cfr. Radiohead, etc…). Since we liked each others music, we decided to make the idea reality. I made the website a couple months later and that was that.
It makes a lot of sense for us after 10-15 years of struggling to get CDs pushed. It takes the whole distribution bullshit out of the way and gives us room to focus on what we love to do: play shows and make music. So with a bunch of stickers in our pockets, we even got people who don’t know us from making music, like your neighbours mom (hah!), to download our albums.
For a few years Europe was pretty much the vinyl king of the the indie rap world and then subversiv*rec shutdown in 2007 and even labels like 247 and 2nd Rec haven’t put out any hip hop records since ’07. Has European hip hop vinyl officially died?
Holy shit. I don’t know. I think i’m the wrong person to ask. subversiv and 2nd Rec always backed us up. I know 2nd Rec still does vinyl releases very now and then, but I don’t know. I have no clue what the future will bring. It’s hard to survive as a label right now, but i think that’s worldwide and not only European; it was good times though, we were all real young and hungry to put in a lot of money. subversiv and Vinyl Kingz were the best in that sense. They did good things and we all found out around the same time that its hard to survive putting out a lot of records in this sub-genre. I do think vinyl will always survive.
So what releases can we expect to see from Marathon of Dope over the next while?
Zucchini Drive “Shotgun Rules” just dropped on November 5th. Next we have a Nestor Wynrush live-cd. There’s a Pip skid & DJ Kutdown record called Skid Row (together with Foultone Records). Nuccini! (from Giardini di Miro) drops Domnei des Amantes in a couple of months. Theres a new Birdapres EP in the making. Early next year we are talking about doing an Elissa P album, a Gordski album and a Gruff the Druid album. We’re constantly talking with people so who knows what will come up.
The new Zucchini Drive album has a few unexpected guests like M. Sayyid (Antipop Consortium) and Marina Gasolina (formerly of Bonde Do Role), how did you hook those up?
We played a show in Brussels with Anti-pop and meet Sayyid a couple of times on tour with Airborn Audio. He really liked our beats, heard of us and was down to put something together. With Ryan/Kaeoflux living in Brooklyn it made things a lot easier because thats where Sayyid lives too. Then… Marina is good friends with Marcus. They both live in London and hang out with the same people. We were planning this collaboration already for a while.
Another name on Shotgun Rules, tell me about KaeoFLUX, how did a producer from Brooklyn end up making beats for your whole album?
We know Flux for a long time. He did a split 10-inch with Marcus’ former group Stacs of Stamina on 2nd Rec back in 2003, if i remember correctly. After hearing his amazing work on Pilot Balloon we had to get him to produce a couple of tracks for Being Kurtwood in 2006. I still think the song “For Kurtwood” which he produced is the best song on that album. With Goodyear Television Playhouse he ended up making a lot more tracks, I think six or seven… so we invited him to play with us here in Belgium as our deejay. We made plans to work on a full album together, and a year later he came back a second time with his band Mon.Key.Pod to tour Europe with us… amazing guys and in fact the brilliant part behind this record.
So whats up with Cavemen Speak, will there ever be another album or are you all concentrating on solos and other groups?
We haven’t really thought about it.. everything just happened naturally. Both Nomad and Danzil are working on stuff. My main focus is Zucchini Drive and now also getting Marathon of Dope going. Who knows what will happen… we are good friends, so maybe one day we’ll do something together again… I have no clue.
I noticed that shadowanimals.com now forwards to the Marathon of Dope site, are you guys planning any other record label takeovers?
You cant keep all these websites up and confuse people where to go for your music. I mean, we had our labels, shadowanimals.com, zucchinidrive.com, etc… I rather focus on one thing and right now that is Marathon of Dope, that’s where you can find our music nowadays. You can find Nomad on vlasvegas.be and all the old stuff on CD distributed by several others… plus I noticed I can’t keep this distro-thing up… it takes too much of my energy.
Can we expect to see any music videos from Shotgun Rules or the other new Marathon of Dope release you mentioned?
We are talking about making a video for “Down to the Spine” with M. Sayyid and also tossed around ideas for a posse cut that is planned on Marathon of Dope…give us some time and we will keep you definitely in the loop.
What about touring for the album, anything scheduled so far?
Well.. we just played two shows to drop this release (with k-the-i??? and Mike Ladd) and that was insane. We are looking into touring Europe and Canada next year, we don’t know yet, first want to work a bit to get this label going and reach as many people as possible…then we will definitely get out of here again.
Any last comments, shout-outs?
Well.. I hope everyone reading this takes five seconds to visit marathonofdope.com and download our new and old albums there… at least give it a moment to check out what we’re doing. You can follow us also with updates on Twitter and Facebook. As for shout-outs I wanna thank first of all Kaeoflux and Mon.Key.Pod for helping us create this album and having our back all these years. Of course my boys Marcus and Pip and everyone else on Marathon of Dope. We are a new label and we can use anyones’ help to spread the word. Last, thank you David for all the support.