Austrian rapper, DJ, and producer FLIP talks to us about his extensive music career. He talks past releases plus his new instrumental album “Experiences” which dropped today June 5th.
You’re a rapper, DJ, and Producer. What artform came first?
They all kinda came at the same time. Though DJing was the craft that was more a side thing while rapping and producing became important when we created the rap group Texta in 1993. I was one of 4 rappers and did production.
Hailing from Austria what was the Hip Hop scene like there when you were growing up?
Very small if not non-existent. There was breakdancing in the early 80’s of course and the first graffiti writer Seta Roc started around the same time in Vienna. We could argue if Falco was one of the first rappers to rap in German, but he was definitely not part of the hip hop culture.
At the end of the 80’s something like a hip hop scene started around the group The Moreaus. They put out Austria’s first rap album in 1990 called “Swound Sound”, which was heavily influenced by De La Soul. It consisted of rappers RCH who later produced the Austrian rap group Aphrodelics. PM to tha K gained international fame as one part of Kruder & Dorfmeister. Sugar B still gets busy in the clubs as MC in the original sense. Then there’s DJ DSL, who was very important and influential for the Austrian DJ scene as part of the radio show “Tribe Vibes.” That started in 1989 and brought rap to a big Austrian audience as it was broadcasted throughout Austria.
It also consisted of Werner Geier aka Demon Flowers (RIP) and Katarina Weingartner who lived in NYC and brought all the brand new rap records to Austria. The same team organized a rap contest in 1991 and put out a vinyl record with the winners in 1992 called “Austrian Flavors”.
In 1993 the first hip hop record with German rap was put out by the group Schönheitsfehler called “Brod Jedan”. It was on their own label Duck Squad Records. From then on we can really start talking about a real Austrian hip hop scene that connected all over the country and further.
Back in 1993 you and 3 other rappers formed the group Texta releasing music in ’95. Tell us about how the group got together and what you released?
We formed around a famous local club called KAPU where we got together to produce a rap song for the club. The song never was finished but it was the starting point for the group. We dropped our first release, the EP “Geschmeidig” on Duck Squad Records in 1995. Our debut album “Gediegen” came out in 1997, which gained a great response in Germany and Switzerland.
Since then we’ve released 8 albums, and various EP’s. It makes us the longest continuously existing rap group in Austria. One of the most famous, too.
In 2009 TEXTA received an Austrian music award AMADEUS. Tell us about that.
Well, we don’t give too much shit on awards honestly. But it was nice to receive it then, although we had no album out around that time.
You linked up with a rapper called Average and released two albums together called Tuesday Classic Vol 1 & 2. Where you re-did US rap classics in German. These albums had a great response. How did this concept come about?
Basically, it was just a silly idea of me and Average joking around on a Tuesday. So we did the first track, a cover of “Pickin Boogers” by Biz Markie with no album plans in sight. But as we had much fun doing it, we continued to meet every Tuesday and record a new track. So most of the time the songs were done in around 2-3 hours. They always premiered on Tribe Vibes every Thursday night.
People were able to follow the making of the album in real-time. After we made 12 tracks, we pressed up 500 vinyl which sold very fast plus we played a lot of live shows.
Tell us about some of the tracks you re-did? Did any of the original artists hear the tracks? What was their reaction?
We tried to do only songs by rap duos or solo songs, that was the first rule. Just to keep it as close to the original as possible. I reproduced all the beats with original samples including the original drum breaks. I used my old hardware samplers and put lots of effort to make it sound as close as possible to the original.
I’ve played various songs to the artists and they all loved it! From Smif n Wessun (Bucktown) to Nice n Smooth (HipHop Junkies), Artifacts (Come on with the git down), Souls of Mischief (93 till infinity) and Camp Lo (Luchini).
Over the years you have produced/released music from many artists from Europe and the USA. Are there any UK artists that you have heard and would like to work with?
Sure. I did a song with Teknikal Development. I’ve been on tour with TY, whose death really hit me hard. As a show promoter, I also bring UK artists to Linz/Austria. For instance Four Owls, Foreign Beggars, the aforementioned Ty or shows with grime MC´s like Lady Leshurr.
I’m also a big fan of Rodney P, Blade, and Roots Manuva. I also dig grime cats like Wiley, Stormzy, Dizzee Rascal and, so on. Interestingly there could be more exchange between the UK and the rest of Europe. Maybe there’s a problem with the booking agencies, but honestly, it’s easier to get US acts than UK acts.
Today, June 5th you released an instrumental album titled, Experiences, which is a reflection of the artists/music that has influenced you over the past 25 years. Explain more about this release.
I’ve been thinking about releasing an instrumental album for some time. I never came to the point where I could sit down and do it. Luckily Franjo from Beat Art Department asked me if I was interested in doing an instrumental album which helped me get into it. I came up with the title Experiences first and started to look for music in my beat stash that could fit into this category.
I narrowed that down to around 25 beats. That was my starting point from where I began to edit and arrange the music plus added in some new stuff for the album. I don’t think I’m a producer with that trademark sound. I try to go in different directions with my production. For this release, I wanted a cohesive sound.
How long did the project take to put together?
Well, the final stages took me about 2-3 months of working on all the aspects of the album. From doing the vocal samples to working on details and arrangements. Then making fluid sequencing where I tried to let one song flow into the next one.
So far you have released a few singles of the album, what has the response been like?
The response has been very great! I was lucky to have been picked for some big Spotify playlists but I’m looking forward to the vinyl release. I’m a big vinyl collector myself and I think the record came out beautifully, thanks also to the artwork of my man Robert Wilhelm.
We also have a limited version available via hhv.de and Bandcamp. There’s a bonus 7 inch including a brand new track by Fokis and Sadat X. Plus an official Onyx remix off their new album “Snowmads” which was in some parts recorded in my studio.
I don´t know where you will get it in the UK but hopefully in some record stores, too. It will be digitally available everywhere.
What’s next for FLIP?
I’ve got an EP nearly that’s finished with Boston Legend EDO G. Plus one with Boston newcomer Bakari JB, and I’ve got another producer album in the making.
We’re also working on a new Texta album. This will be the first one after the death of our group member Huckey. I plan another release on my 45 vinyl label Bad Breaks this summer, plus some other stuff too. I’m staying busy.
Interview by Jai Boo
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