Brooklyn is in the house! No, not the Brooklyn Nets – that team won’t be seeing the playoffs anytime soon. I’m talking about one of the dopest bands on the scene – Phony Ppl. A group of young guys who know about cartoons and anime in the same way that they know how to play their instruments. In a time where internet rappers, singers, and even producers reign supreme, one thing that is vacant in music today is...well...the band. I’m talking about musicians that can get down on live instrumentation and not just computer beats that we’ve all become accustom to in pop music. This Brooklyn bred band merges classic soul with contemporary Hip-Hop, sending you on a journey that not many other artists today can do. With a new project on the horizon and their 2015 release Yesterday’s Tomorrow solidifying their place in the music scene, be ready to hear much more from this talented bunch. I got a chance to sit down with a few of the members of the band where we talk about the importance of learning music and the holy grail experience of smoking with Dave Chapelle!
Y’all recently played The Roots Picnic. How’d the show go?
Elbee (vocals): The Roots Picnic was dope. From the actual performance itself to being backstage running into people. I think we kicked off the picnic with a lot of hot energy. Got some good reviews from people who saw the show too.
You guys get to smoke with Dave Chappelle?
Elbee: So I ask “Yo Dave, where the weed at?” Dave says in a straight voice “I don’t even know what weed IS!” It was pretty funny. But yeah, we did end up smoking together in the back.
Aside from crews like yourself, The Internet and The Roots, why don’t you think there aren’t as many actual bands with real musicians these days playing soulful music like you guys are doing?
Matt Byas (Drums): There’s just not a lot of people trying to learn or play instruments nowadays. I feel like today’s music doesn’t even entertain the idea of a ‘band’. We’re just doing what we like to do, make the music we like to listen to and hopefully people enjoy what we play.
Elbee: I just want to add to that list of artists. Hiatus Kaiyote is definitely is a force to be reckoned with.
What older musicians do y’all listen to and study to inspire the music you do?
Elbee: I think you can definitely get inspiration from older artists but for me it’s about less copying and more about studying musical theory in general so you can have your own way of moving through notes and putting chords together. Listening to people like Papa Jo Jones or Satchmo, what were the chess rules that they had to study. It’s like speaking. If you have a smaller vocabulary, you can only make less points.
You guys working on some new music?
Matt: Yeah, were in the middle of something right now. We don’t have a title for it yet but we got 11 dope songs that we plan on releasing sometime before the Summer. We’re about to go back to LA to finish up some mixing. Feels good, man.
Is there an artist that you wish you could be the backing band for?
Elbee: We’d be J-Dilla’s band.
You got a favorite Dilla cut?
Elbee: When you ask me something like that, my cells start falling apart. I’m gonna implode. I can’t choose one. Right now I’ll say “Detroit 98”. The crazy thing about it is that it sounds like the same loop over and over but slowly and continually the sample chops get moved over by one beat throughout the whole song. People in the room don’t even notice but the whole thing just switched up on ‘em. It’s incredible.
You reference the 90’s cartoon “Hey Arnold” in the song “HelGa”. What other cartoons were/are into to?
Matt: Things like “Dexter’s Lab”, mad things from Nickelodeon - “Rugrats”, “Fairly Oddparents”. “Dragon Ball Z”, things like that. We watch a bunch of cartoons on top of reading comic books. We keep up with our nerdiness. We got that shit on smash.
I need some movie recommendations. Seen anything dope lately?
Matt: I watched the first Lord of The Rings the other day and that movie is bomb as fuck! I mean I first saw it a long time ago but I would like to encourage everybody to go back and watch it again.
Is Grimaldi’s the best pizza in Brooklyn?
Matt: I don’t agree with that. I’ll take you to Smiling Pizza and you’d be like “Oh shit!”
Where else should I eat in Brooklyn?
Matt: Pies and Thighs. Gloria’s.
It’s Friday night in Brooklyn and I’m hanging out with Phony PPL. What the hell are we doing?
Elbee: Living life! Sippin on some sippins. Clouds in the air. Probably some video games going down. If we out, we mobbin. Hit up a party or something.
What really used to go down at Brower Park?
Elbee: You really want to know?
Matt: I don’t know if you can throw that in interview, bro.
What do you think is overrated about New York?
Elbee: The rent.
You guys into fashion, streetwear, and all that stuff?
Matt: We find a lot of cool stuff at thrift stores. If you got some funky ass button up at the thrift for $3.00, you get some props for that. We also get blessed with gear from our homies at Nothin’Special. I haven’t bought new clothes in so long. That whole side of limited drops, clothes, shoes, I stopped trying to do all that shit in high school. You gotta be on it every day, every hour. They look sick though.
You ever catch a Nets game?
Elbee: I know almost nothing about basketball.
Matt: (laughs) – I’ve been to a couple Nets games. They lost every time. They’ll be good one day.
One last thing, who are your starting 5 of cartoon characters?
Matt: Saitama from One Punch Man, Mugen from Samurai Champloo, Link from Zelda: Wind Wakers, Master Chief from Halo, and Kobe Bryant.