Things have been a bit quiet in the People Under The Stairs camp for some time. It's been three years since Thes One and Double K dropped an album, not counting 2003's …Or Stay Tuned collection of outtakes and remixes. So what happened? Did they just drop off the face of the earth or what? I caught up with newlywed Thes One to talk about side projects, hiphop road trips and how to be an adult. Seriously.
Yo Thes, What up? How's things with you?
Things are good, I can't complain no doubt. After a drawn out move and a wedding I finally got a new studio built so I'm back to work after what felt like too long of a hiatus.
Ok enough with the niceties, down to business. You're just about to drop a solo 12?, 'Noonen'. What's that all about?
Well, Noonen is kind of a twofold project. I have been working on a few projects lately which have been set up by me to challenge my ability as a producer, mostly in how and what I use around me. Noonen was an attempt to create a 12" using only the music from the movie Caddyshack. I am also working on an instrumental album right now that is using only music from commercials made by this one composer in the early 70's. Anyways, so that was one part of the 12", just experimenting with limitations in construction. The other side was to try and match one of the themes of the movie, the sort of classic coming of age thing that I really could relate to at the time of making this. The reason it wasn't a P 12" is because it was something that was coming from inside me and I felt like I just had to make it on my own, I had to get out how I was feeling, you know?
Is this a one off or will we start to see more solo material in the pipeline?
No, there is definitely plenty of projects in the pipeline, solo, PUTS and with other MC's, so definitely stay tuned.
Is a Thes One solo single pretty much the same as a PUTS single without a verse from Double K, or is the intention to cover any different sonic territories?
It's the same in the sense that the production is mostly coming form the same perspective, but the topics being covered are definitely different. There is just a lot more you can address without having other MC's around to try and work out the song with. You are free to pretty much say whatever you want; at the same time there is no one around to tell you if you are coming off wack.
The track is advertised as being 'Music From The Quarter Life Crisis of Thes One', and is about your determination to haul ass out of bed and get on with your life. What's that all about? Are you a changed man? What brought that about?
That's what it's about absolutely. I got tired of looking around and seeing a bunch of grown ass men acting like high school kids you know? I had to look in the mirror and accept the fact that if I was going to make a career out of this, then it was time to really put in grown up work on it. I mean, you got dudes approaching 30 who wake up at noon and play video games all day, it's pathetic. I'm on my hustle and I got a serious appreciation for life, so I got to wake up at 8:00 am everyday (or earlier) and get on it – whatever it is, making beats, hustling business, going digging, etc. It's a song to remind me of how it is, basically accepting adulthood in all of its forms.
Tell us about your Bloquera project. Rumour has it that you and some friends headed into deepest Mexico armed with nothing more than fishing rods and recording equipment and came back with this ep. Is this like the hiphop Desert Sessions?
Yeah, that's basically what happened. We loaded up the car with the gear and the cameras and took off for a few weeks. 800 miles south we found ourselves where we needed to be, and we just set up shop from there. We lived off of the land, fished, bartered and made hip hop.
Did you have a firm idea of what you wanted to achieve musically when you recorded this, or was it a more organic process? Was much pre-written/recorded or was it all improvised during your trip?
No, there was nothing pre-recorded or conceived when we left. The songs are a documentation of all the jokes and things that happened on the way down that ended up just sticking with us. The legend of Taller Gomez, Trikki Trakes cookies, all of that stuff started out as basic road trip jokes that became songs. Then as soon as we had a song done, we would start filming the video, and that's how the project came about.
What are your thoughts on the finished project?
I'm really happy with it, I listen to it and it takes me right back to the experience. It was by far one of the greatest experiences I ever had making music. I hope people can dig it, and if anyone ever has a chance to foray into Baja California while listening to it, better yet. Check the videos at Tres Records
The Impeach the Precedent lp just dropped over here in the UK. You seemed quite involved in that project, appearing on a couple of tracks both as an emcee and producer. Was the political and charitable motivation for that record important to you?
Yes definitely. When Charles told me about the project and what it was for, I told him that I would contribute as much as they wanted, I was all for it. Though we try to keep politics out of PUTS music, I feel very strongly about what's going on here and how it affects the world. They were like impeach the precedent, I said word. Let's do this.
What's the lowdown on PUTS at the moment? Your much rumoured 4th lp proper 'Stepfather' is pencilled in for release later this year. Any news on when we might start seeing signs of that?
We're working on it. That's about all I'm at privilege to say. That and thanks to everyone for being patient.
What can fans expect from this record? Any major departures from previous PUTS releases, or are you just building on what you've already achieved?
It is more of the same. We just want to keep the formula intact and when we get together in the studio, it's always some PUTS stuff.
I know you were only over this way at the end of last year promoting your '…Or Stay Tuned' release, but we're a greedy lot. Can we expect to see you back on these shores at all in '05? Do you have plans to be at any of the summer festivals?
Hopefully. We don't want to wear out our welcome over there but I got a lot of love for the Isles and I hope to be back out there touring soon. We'll be there in 05 for sure but probably not for the festivals. I'd say fall sounds good.
At serious risk of sounding incredibly clichéd, what other artists are you feeling at the moment? Are there any acts coming up that we may not know about in the UK that you think maybe we should?
Well, there's my extended fam of artists who I have tried to help out and are all worthy of attention:
Starving Artists Crew
Crown City Rockers
The Aestetics Crew
Keep a look out for all of them And thanks again to everyone for the support throughout the years, I really appreciate it.
People Under The Stairs info at PUTS Online
The Bloquera EP is out now on Tres Records Tres Records
Impeach The Precedent is out now on Kajmere Records Kajmere Records
Thes One – Noonen 12? is out on Tres Records Tres Records
Thes Ebay web page: Piecelock70