Interview: Hjeebygheeby & Nefarious Brown From ‘ExPrince’
Last Friday Brisbane’s newest rap duo ExPrince played their first show. We caught up with Hjeebygheeby and Nefarious Brown just hours before their debut to talk inspirations, upcoming releases, and Argentinean footballers.
So first show tonight, how are you feeling?
Nef: Pretty good, we’ve been rehearsing for a while now.
Hjeeby: Quietly confident. We went through everything twice in the studio this morning.
If we go back to the beginning, where did the name ExPrince come from and how and when did you guys meet?
Hjeeby: It came from another name which we created when we didn’t actually make music. It was just ‘cool, let’s be rappers and make this group’. We met almost 3 years ago now.
Nef: No it wasn’t.
Hjeeby: Yeah it was 2013! We met in America.
And where are you guys from?
Hjeeby: My dad is from the Middle East and my mum is from England. I was born in England, lived in the Middle East, here, and England back and forth.
Nef: My parents are from Serbia, shout out to Serbia, and shout out to parents!
Hjeeby: Shout outs Amman!
Nef: But my parents moved to England before I was born which is why I sound English, but I can speak Serbian and I go there sometimes which is pretty cool. I moved to Australia about a year ago and then we started making music immediately. But before that, lived in London until I was 18.
So your first single Batistuta, which references the Argentinean footballer, came out in December last year, what was the story behind that one?
Nef: I kind of feel a bit bad about Batistuta because it’s a different track.
Hjeeby: My reasoning behind releasing that as the first joint was to release something as niche as possible. That way it has something else that is going to make it blow up on the internet other than through the music world, because we have no exposure in the music world.
Nef: Is that what it was? I never knew that.
Hjeeby: Well that’s what I thought! But I remember a friend telling me, ‘oh yeah wait to alienate half your f*cking audience straight off’ and I shrugged that off then. Now I’m like oh yeah maybe it wasn’t the best idea. But it was a good video, the concept was easy, the video could be filmed anywhere, and yeah it was fun.
So it’s not really an indication of what’s to come?
Nef: Yeah, its not.
Hjeeby: Hell no!
But at the same time, a lot people that are not that in to rap seem to enjoy it despite not knowing what any of the references were.
Hjeeby: That’s nice to hear! I think it’s pretty accessible; it’s definitely more accessible than the other sh*t!
Nef: We’ve got a lot of different tracks.
Hjeeby: It’s been an experimental process, there isn’t really one sound.
Nef: We’re more trying to showcase a bunch of stuff.
So you guys do all of the production as well?
Nef: I do most of the production and Hjeeby sits in and chimes in. I think Hjeeby is going to start producing when I leave, I’m moving away soon.
Hjeeby: To an undisclosed location.
Nef: Yeah to an undisclosed location but don’t worry about it! But I’m going to leave all my equipment here so Hjeeby can mess around with it.
Hjeeby: Yeah look out for my solo album when I ditch this motherf*cker.
You guys have joked about some of the reactions to Batistuta, but has it been mainly positive?
Hjeeby: Well, I had never really used Reddit before we posted it on there.
Nef: It was tragic.
Hjeeby: But I loved it, it was hilarious. I’m glad some people hated it because you listen to so much music everyday whether it’s on Soundcloud or Facebook or whatever that gives you absolutely nothing, no emotion. Like you don’t hate it, but it doesn’t make you feel anything and it just goes back to the f*cking bottom of the pile. I’d rather people hate it.
Nef: But none of the other stuff we’re doing is really that niche. We’re not just trying to make songs about certain sports at certain times.
Hjeeby: No, we’re going to have a basketball track, a tennis track, and a lacrosse track. Get some sponsorship deals from some active wear brand, some wavy Italian sportswear brands.
When can we expect some more releases from ExPrince?
Nef: Well we’ve got 2 tracks coming out in the next few weeks. But the full length release is going to be a bit more difficult because I’m going to be away but we’re going to try and get a recording deal.
Hjeeby: But really we’re hoping to make some waves with the next 2 tracks.
Nef: The album is already written! We have 15 tracks, it’s just got to be recorded.
So who are your main influences?
Hjeeby: I came up listening to that early 2000s New York underground stuff, Rawkus and Def Jux sh*t. Los Angeles underground stuff as well, project blowed and its affiliates
Nef: You like Das Racist.
Hjeeby: Das Racist are a particular favourite of mine. I don’t know about influences, I just make things. I used to wonder about making music, like how do you take from your influences? But you just don’t do that, well you can do that but it’s a much more rigid way of approaching music. A certain part of creativity is always going to be taking things you like and changing them. But to be honest, I’m not worried about what other people are doing except maybe the people I look up to in rap.
Who are those people?
Hjeeby: Always El-P! The master of reinvention, every new era he switches up his style and adapts. But it’s not like my style is similar to his, I just like his philosophy on rap. On my favourite rap diss track, We’re Famous by Aesop Rock featuring El-P, he has the line ‘you don’t innovate because you can’t innovate, it’s not a choice despite what you might tell your boys.’ At the same time though, innovation is not a choice in a way, you just do it and make stuff. Also, something I really like about El-P is that on that track he attacks hip-hop purists but he is a massive hip-hop purist as well! But for him hip-hop is not a sound, it’s innovation itself and changing sh*t up which I really like and I like to think we adhere to that philosophy!
Nef: It’s more about forward thinking music, you hear something and it strikes you for some reason or another. That’s what we were saying earlier about Batistuta, it’s that music that can get some sort of reaction.
Hjeeby: I don’t even care if people think our music’s good to be honest.
Nef: I do because obviously I would like to do this for a living.
Hjeeby: I mean yeah I want to quit flipping burgers! But I don’t worry about people saying it’s not good because in no f*cking way could you say it’s not original. You can’t say you’ve heard this sh*t before!
Nef: I would like people to enjoy our music though.
What are you looking forward to in the coming year? What are your plans?
Hjeeby: I’m just wondering if Despot is going to release his album.
Nef: Releasing this album and touring Australia. Hopefully we can do both of those things early in the year. And hopefully we’re just still making music at the end of it.
Hjeeby: Yeah, if we can attract a label for this first release that would be good.
Nef: The first thing is release these tracks and from there we can start making plans. I’m already keen to start making some new stuff and try something different. Try some more stripped down sounds.
Hjeeby: I’m definitely looking for a sparser sound as well.
Nef: Give ourselves some more room to manoeuvre.
Hjeeby: Sometimes we restrict ourselves too much. Recently, I have been listening to experimental music more than rap. I’ve just been looking at the different things you can do with your voice instead of just trying to fit more traditional rhyme schemes.
Nef: Hjeeby’s been writing some more weird little hooks recently.
Hjeeby: Yeah, I’ve been getting in the weird hook game. Get at me for ghost writing, strictly weird hooks!
Nef: But I’m happy with the stuff we’ve come up with, I think there is a lot of potential there.