Check out what the boys had to say on their 12" 'Oh Girl', the projects they've got coming out and their back story on where they're from and how they got together.
First up, When did you guys link up and how far back was that?
Mike: We hooked up in 2000 ish through a mutual friend.
Were either of you working on music before you came together as Hard Livin?
Mike: Yeah, I was doing beats for American MCs like Poseidun and Lord Sho Allah. Oh, and Order and ICC. Big them up.
Kalibre: I was just writing rhymes for my personal enjoyment. It's only when I hooked up with Mike that I started to realise that we can do this. Basically though, both of us were getting nowhere without each other.
Mike: We hooked up through a mutual friend (some may know him as architech). He makes beats. But we kind of bumped heads before through other things.
Where are you two based?
Mike: Medway in Kent.
Is there much of a scene going on around there?
Kalibre: To tell you the truth, there are people around here doing music but not many people achieving a lot at the moment. But it's getting there. People are starting to realise
Mike: There's a few good emcees and twice as many wack ones. There's regular hiphop nights too like at the Forum (Defcon: Natty n Dwella) and at the Tap N Tin in Chatham which holds live events. Graf used to be quite big but it just died down to taggin'. There's definitely some dope breakers still doing their thing though.
Kalibre: It aint for the weak and lazy. You gotta put in work
Mike: There is a new shop called Urban Heights. If you like hiphop get in there. Next to Chatham station. They got the Dark n Cold stuff from DVDs to mix CDs.
Kalibre: Jehst told me he's originally from Kent as well. Kent's got talent man
Have you ever felt drawn towards London like quite a few UK acts have in the past?
Mike: We do go to London for shows and hiphop film screenings but we just do our tracks down here. Don't really care about location.
Kalibre: Personally, not really. I just believe that if you're saying something that's phat or authentic, people will acknowledge you regardless where you come from. I've lived in East London and cities like Birmingham so it don't matter to me.
Do you do many live shows and which parts of the UK do they usually go on in? Got any dates you wanna plug?
Kalibre: Geez, we done shows all over man. Nottingham, Tonbridge Wells, Leicester, Essex. If there's a show we there.
Mike: We got a few dates lined up over the next few months. One of which is in a strip club and will double up as gemini's (a part of our crew) video shoot. We don't have no definite dates yet but when we do we'll let Adroit know so he can get on them websites to let people know.
What's the livest show you recall, or a place that's consistently off the hook?
Mike: The Tap N Tin was a wicked show. The place got utterly rammed out and it was a local joint for us. We were letting our friends know how we do…people we went to school with and that. We were first on too and smashed it.
Kalibre: For me Rawganics in Cambridge is heavy and I like my dinjy places like The Forum in Tonbridge Wells. You just gotta have a crowd who have got a clue about the music. You get enough dickheads turning up at shows and if the beat aint moving them they dont wanna know what's being said and they dont care.
How did you guys hook up with the Sin Nombre label?
Mike:I was doing beats for Dap-C a long while back through Universon and Dap signed with Ben at Sin Nombre. We came to Leicester to do a gig and Ben saw us and was interested. From then me and kalibre carried on working, not thinking about nothing but keep recording and finish the Hard Livin LP. Then we spoke to Ben and he wanted us on his label so we sent him 2 tracks, 'The Things We Do' and 'Oh girl'. We said to put 'Oh Girl' as a B side but he was like 'nah, I want it as an A side'. We were like 'Why? 'The Things We Do is better'. but he was like 'Ok, I'll make it a double A side'. Me and Kalibre couldn't really see the appeal of 'Oh Girl' as we only took a day to record and make the beat. But it done more- much more than we expected. So much more.
With Oh Girl getting as much love as it did, and being the first release, do you feel any expectation or pressure to follow it up?
Mike: I'm still like 'fuck, we did that in a matter of hours from nothing to a track. I do feel that way but I'm not into commercial stuff so if people like our next shit they do but if they don't I'm not bothered because I know hiphop heads will feel it.
Kalibre: Nah man, we say what's real and from the heart and we gonna continue doing that and I feel if we keep doing that there's not much people can say about it. If they do, fuck em because real know real. Plus, we got some shit that's waiting to be released and we'll just have to see.
Can you let us in on some info about the next stuff you're bringing out? When's an album gonna drop?
Mike:We don't really know about the LP date yet but we have an EP dropping in a few weeks. It's called 'A Solid Foundation'.
Kalibre: The album's all ready to be released but the label want us to hang on for now. The album will be called 'The Outlook'. Should have been out last year but it's been redone since.
You gonna drop a 12" with the EP? What are some of the lyrical and production vibes?
Mike: The EP will be the 12". The lyrics are on some conscious vibe. We're both KRS fans from way back and think that if you have a voice you may as well use it for good. Battle rhymes are cool but if your lyrics make the listener feel like you're repping his or her's life, then people will feel you more.
How do you guys work on a track. Is the beat made and then the lyrics, vice versa, or does it all sort of happen at once?
Mike: Beat first most times. I make about 5-7 beats a day. 'Oh Girl' took ten minutes.
Kalibre: Yeah, mike'll pass me a beat and if I'm feeling it I'll write something to it. Although, I write stuff sometimes and go studio and look for beats to lay shit on but I prefer writing to the beat.
Are you working on music exclusively or holding down jobs?
Kalibre: Holding jobs man. Can't live off this. We broke man.
Mike: 'Oh Girl' sample clearance is like most royalties. All we get is sales. We got fingers in pies though.
Kalibre: I was unemployed for 5 years living in a dream world, thinking I'm gonna make it in the music scene, but then realised for me to push my music I have to have cash coming in and I'm sick of getting arrested for shit. Plus, I got a kid now so I cant be doing that shit. So yeah, I got a temporary job at the moment.
Is it right there's a DVD you're putting out?
Kalibre: We putting out a DVD. It'll probably be called UK's Finest. It'll have UK's hottest artists on there.
Tell us all about Pushrap man.
Mike: It's basically a mailing list of UK hip hop listeners that will only be shared with legit UK hip hop labels and artists. I put a free CD together for people who signed up (I still got 50-60 to send out). The basic idea is for artists to hook up with artists and have a form of promotion there. Me and Kalibre are working on Pushrap 2 right now. www.pushrap.co.uk I was only expecting 30 people to sign up but a few hundred did.
Are there any people you have, or are gonna collaborate with in one form or another?
Kalibre: Yeah man. We done some stuff with a few heads that's still got to be released. We working with some of the nicest MCs from the underground. There's a track on the EP which features a shit loads of MCs. I'm also working on a project with Frisko Dan. Look out for him to release his EP. We done loads of collabos man. I don't know where to start.
Mike: I produced the whole Gemini LP.
What's the best UK hiphop record you've bought in the last year?
Mike: I'd say Skinny. I'm not feeling the skits but the tracks are hot
You got any names you wanna shout out before this wraps up?
Charlie Chopper, Abstract, frisko dan, gemini, Obi One, Universon, Blade, Dap, Beads, task force, skinnyman, wolftown, ironbridge, bury crew, troy scalpels, Natty and Dwella, Foreign Beggarz, CLG, Manage, Noz, CRf and Pressure, Eyez and A Bomb, Adroit, Armshouse, Word Perfect Hip Hop, Main Rock, Lady P, all the people that submitted to the pushrap CDs, Sin Nombre, Urban Heights and all the people that buy our shit. Rapnews, Explicit and all the people we forgot. COSM, Architech, Steve @ UGI,
Check out www.hard-livin.co.uk and www.pushrap.co.uk Be sure to vote for the 'Oh Girl' video on Channel U by texting 209 to 89800 or calling 09069 58 58 58.