The first and most recognizably successful hip-hop duo to emerge from Mid-Wales, the Major Triadz have been praised for their innovative style that has received comments hailing their “lyrical, non-corrupt influence” and “dope messages” to shouts claiming that their music’s deserved of regular “radio rotation”.
Their work has resulted in being placed with line-ups supporting universally acclaimed groups and artists ranging from Afrika Bambaataa, the Stanton Warriors and Roni Size, performing at major events and festivals including Birmingham’s Drop Beats Not Bombs, Winchester’s Boomtown Fair Festival and Newquay’s Beach Break Live to name but a few. Not at all bad for two boys from the rural landscapes of Mid-Wales.
Today, the dangerous duo await their long anticipated Sophormore LP release, set for January/February 2014. In this exclusive interview with the frontman and slick lyricist of the group, Hobaps, we learn about the groups formation, their emergence, and unmissable insights into the LP release…
“We met through a mutual friend who told me of a dude with some sick turntable skills that I should meet, so I went over to his (Mix-Masta Millz) pad one day and that was that – he was mainly scratching over breaks and DnB at the time, but we quickly realised we should make some tunes together.”
“We met in mid-Wales, where we were both living at the time, and where he is still at now – a sleepy place. It’s easy to get bored, but also a place where you have to use your imagination in whatever form it might manifest.”
“I’ve been a huge fan of turntablism in Hip Hop from the word go and was extremely keen to get some cuts on the tunes I was writing at the time.”
Personal curiosity led me to ask where in fact the name Major Triadz had stemmed from…
“(Laughs) Well at the time I was making tunes with another underground Welsh emcee and producer – Gee Spoonit, so when we met Mix there was initially 3 of us – hence the ‘tri’ – also a major triad is a musical term. Major chord is a chord having a root, a major third, and a perfect fifth. When a chord has these three notes alone, it is called a major triad. We basically thought it sounded dope! None of us are Chinese gangsters though.”
“After a few gigs as a threesome – we went our separate ways with Gee, but some of his productions still feature.”
Generally speaking, I wondered what they’d both expected when they started collaborating from the scene that they’d chosen, and how this compared to the reality of it?
“We didn’t really have many expectations in the early stages – its a cliché but it was purely for the love – making abstract hip-hop in a place like Mid Wales, where there is no Hip Hop scene at all, meant that we had to begin building up an online following and then getting shows outside of the local area. We soon realised, from the feedback we were getting from our tunes online and at shows that we were onto something good, and so began to take it a bit more seriously.”
“But I’ve learned that expectation can be a pretty negative thing, and rarely correlates with reality, so we just keep doing it for ourselves – and if people are feeling it then that’s sweet in itself.”
From Mid-Wales myself, I can unquestionably vouch that at times it can seem that a music scene beyond acoustics and folk is almost non-existent. These guys have done brilliantly to have taken their unspecifiable sound drawing from a variation of influences, ranging from Country and Hip-Hop to Electro and Dub music, and gotten shows and plays on stages and networks nationwide. I asked in his own account just how difficult this was to do?
“Fucking hard!! If we had been doing Oasis covers and wailing over unmelodious guitar licks it would have been a piece of piss! Yeah, it was tricky… But slowly but surely we we’re getting gigs further and further afield – where there were peeps that were going to be receptive of our sound.”
“Saying that, the Mid-Wales festival & free-party scene were really supportive of what we were trying to do from the word go, so big up to all those heads!”
As with every emerging artist, there has to be a lot of self-belief and perseverance in the work that they’re putting out. There’s been a lot of time, money and effort put into expanding their fan base and self-promoting themselves across the nation. I had to ask – does he think that it’s paid off?
“Yeah it definitely has – we quickly broke even after the release of debut LP, although it cost next-to nothing to make – and have played shows up and down the country over the last few years.”
“We’ve always ploughed any dough we’ve made back into the group and it’s paying for the making of our Sophormore LP which will be out early next year. Saying that, if we had our way we would be performing every night of the year if we could! There is always scope to expand things.”
The Sophormore LP is the follow up the MajorTriadz debut, released back in 2012. What were the inspirations behind his writing for the LP, and where was the majority of it worked on?
“In terms of where it was written: some in Wales, when I was still living there, and the rest in Bristol, which is where I’m at now – inspiration? Fuck, well that’s a tricky one… In short, all of the shit and blessings that life throws at me. If I was to elaborate on that then I guess much of what inspires my music is the inequality I see living in the UK day-to day, and our seemingly-collective desire to forget our history and past mistakes, and to keep on making ‘em.”
“I’m also ranting on a couple of tunes about my disaffection with the UK hip-hop ‘scene’ – which often seems pretty insular and intent on following tried and tested recipes. Also there are some bars on there that reflect my mistakes made in getting into some pretty dysfunctional relationships over the last couple of years…”
“… It’s another cliché – but my writing often comes from pretty dark places and (hopefully) brings clarity and illumination on my predicament(s).”
Usually we find comparative differences between debut releases to the follow-up. From what he said I could feel that this record was definitely going to have a much more personal and direct emotion to it. Did he find any difficulties to express these themes during the writing process?
“The writing process has been pretty fluid, in the sense that each song comes pretty naturally – rather than me thinking “I’ve gotta write an album now” – it developed over a period of time – I think as I’ve got older and more experienced in writing bars I’ve become more skilled at expressing what I want to say, so I guess in that sense yeah. It’s probably some of the best material that I’ve ever written.”
So as per with musicians, he cites experience as the key to developing and bettering his abilities. What can we expect from Sophormore though? Will we hear any other persons feature?
“The overall sound is pretty varied ranging from classic sample-based hip-hop to more glichy, synth driven bass music. We wanted to make something that reflects our broad musical tastes and I think we’ve done that.”
“There are a whole host of really dope underground producers on there from all over the shop – the U.S, Austrialia, France, and of course the UK – In terms of vocals the beautiful voice of Katherine Priddy features on two tracks – a great talent and sure to go far. It’s just me on the spitting though!”
I wanted to know what he’s out to achieve from the release, alongside a personal gratification…
“Well from a personal viewpoint – it will be the best reflection of what Major Triadz are all about, and hopefully through its promotion will lead to a busy schedule of gigs, and a general widening of our support (and a Jay-Z support slot, obviously).”
So when is the Sophormore LP set to drop? Is there any shows lined up for the release?
“We’re not exactly sure when the release date is going to be yet – these things always take longer than expected – we’ve had a break after a busy Summer gigging to get into the studio and get artwork done (etc.). So when we know a bit more accurately when it’s going to drop then we’ll get some shows organised. It could be ready by the end of January, which is when we have a show in Aberystwyth – so who knows – a ‘local’ gig might end up being the album launch…”
The last words to be had from Hobaps were to shout out the people that have made the Major Triadz what they are…
“Shouts to all the peeps that have been on the Triadz vibe from day one. DJ Madds, B-Zy Brain, Gee Spoonit, Rev Dread, Jesswah, Katherine Priddy, and all the other peeps who we’ve worked with. Oh yeah, and to the guy who ran the hip-hop tent at a festival in the UK that said we were too commercial to play on his stage (laughs). Last but definitely not least to my main man Mix Masta Millz for skipping out on having to answer any of these questions! One love.”