Q&A featuring Teeze, Loraxx & Lechani

From Downtime Studios
Interview by Christophe Sam

Creating a unique sound nowadays is complex, with a world that’s becoming more & more mainstream, it’s refreshing to see that some young artists are still developing the craft of old but still with a touch of the new. Teeze, a young producer, from Rotterdam, Netherlands met up by pure luck at 4am in New York City, the wordsmith duo from London, UK, Loraxx & Lechani. Since then the trio have been bringing their East Coast swagger mixed with a chilled jazzy meditative UK vibe, back to Europe. 

In this Q&A, they talk to us about their first experiences in the music industry, who they are & what their vision is.  

Can you introduce yourselves and tell us about your musical background ? 

Teeze : Yoyoyo, I’m Teeze, born and raised in Rotterdam with a very musical upbringing. Since I was a youngin, my dad was playing music in the house ranging from Raphael Saadiq, to Thelonious Monk, to Q tip, to name a few. 

The music that was played ended up getting me curious to start making music myself. I picked up guitar when I was around 7, I think. Soon I was experimenting with songs I liked and started picking up piano through YouTube videos. When I turned 16, my dad gave me a Scarlett 2i2 for my birthday to pursue this music making dream. Growing up listening to a lot of HipHop and 2001 by Dre being the first album I copped, a whole new world opened up for me and I started spending way more hours in my room behind my desk. Practicing my craft, the years passed and suddenly I was in my last year of highschool. I had no clue what I was going to study for a long time, so I decided to save some money working a job at the local grocery store to spend a year in New York doing an internship at a recording studio. 

Loraxx: Wagwan, I go by the name of Loraxx, people that used to know me might call me Wali though. I was born and bred in London, with Senegalese and Beninese origins among others. I grew up listening to all kinds of music, such as Bossa Nova, Classical music (I played the piano for a long time too), Salsa, Afro beat (I mean the old afro beat) ad a lot more, but I fell in love with Hip-Hop from an early age. The first Hip-Hop Albums I remember listening to were DoggyStyle by Snoop Dogg, Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ by 50 Cent, and The Marshall Mathers LP by Eminem.

Lechani: Hey, I’m Maxime aka Lechani and I grew up with french parents in the west of London. My family was never really big on music, they had their personal favourites and never really went out of their way to discover more. From my mom, I acquired a love for eccentric characters and very theatrical artists like David Bowie. On my dad’s side, the whistles and heartwarming lyrics of Joe Dassin kindled my childhood. It was only in my adolescence that my love for music began to bloom mostly through life changing encounters, people that unknowingly opened my ears forever. Memories come to mind of a sentimental love that showed me how to transcend with notes of Pink Floyd and a cousin that taught me how to take it slow and enjoy the emotion of blues. These are only some examples of individuals that put a piece of their heart into the song that they choose to embellish moments. For them and now for me, being on aux has been a way to perfectly set the stage when I need to express my feelings or ideas. In music I’ve always looked for transcendence, songs that offer a glimpse of the sublime.

When is it that things started becoming serious and shaping themselves? 

L: The first rap I ever wrote was in Senegal actually, I think in December of 2016. It wasn’t very good, but I already knew I could do something with it if I worked my craft, and from there I was addicted to rapping. I haven’t stopped since. After that, Lechani, Noga Bedo and I used to sit on Noga’s Terrace, smoke and freestyle for hours, and from that point on I would basically find myself freestyling at all times of the day. I was thinking about rhymes in my sleep, in the classrooms, in the shower, and writing instead of doing homework.

T: I left The Netherlands on my own and entered this new world without knowing anyone. My goal was to meet a lot of new people and to finish “MediTape”. I had the idea for the album around the same time I started producing and this would be a great opportunity to make it real. Soon enough I started meeting some young kids and that’s when I met Max (Lechani) in a deli at 4am. We clicked immediately and started working on music together the next day. The day we had the first session for “Kick Back” was the same day that I properly got to meet Wali (Loraxx). Soon enough we had the song and released it as the first single for MediTape, without knowing what the rest of the album was going to look like.

Le: Now that my background check is complete, let me introduce my craft and how Hip Hop came to become a huge part of my life. As a very sociable person, I grew up surrounded by a lot of friends but my tight circle consisted of Wali aka Loraxx and Diego aka Noga Bedo. Wali had such a passion for lyricism and the works of artists like members of the Wutang Clan or Tupac Shakur that me and Diego became curious as to how these artists were able to speak their truth on the beat and have such a great impact on their generation. We decided to give it a shot and began freestyling every day after school. What started off as a hobby became a passion and eventually led us where we are now.  

How did you start opening up about your music ? Was there a moment you realized that there is true potential within you and that you should just do it?

L: The first people I opened up my music to were Lechani and Noga Bedo (picture below, third to right), but my confidence was still low at that point, because none of us were really taking it all that seriously. Still, in the back of my head, I knew I wanted to do this for real. I had a hard time accepting that for myself until I got to New York for University in August 2018, when I met Kid Lacey. This is my third day in New York, so I was out on my own exploring the city, and when I came home, my suite-mate had a bunch of people over, and a couple of them were in Clive Davis, the NYU music school. Among those people was Lacey. My roommate introduced us and told him that I was also a “rapper”. So Lacey just initiated a freestyle session. I remember he was going crazy, and I felt all of the pressure in the world come down on my shoulders. When he stopped, everybody’s eyes turned to me, and My palms started getting sweaty. I didn’t know what to do. All I remember in that moment was closing my eyes, and opening my mouth. After that, I was in a different space. I couldn’t tell you what I said at that point because I kind of zoned out for a while, it could have been for 30 seconds, it could have been for 10 minutes, I don’t remember. What I do remember is Lacey gazing at me with this awe in his eye, and telling me, “Yo that shit was cold, we gotta get to work, ASAP”. and from there I started to think maybe I am kinda nice with it. Haven’t looked back since.

Le: When I was done with High school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life so I set off on an adventure around the world. After working for a couple months in London I set off to countries like Costa Rica and Nepal in search of answers: what was it that I wanted to achieve in life? My confidence as an artist was still fragile and I could not yet imagine the musical future that laid ahead of me. After a year, I joined Wali in Ny where I began my studies. He was already creating songs and I began attending studio sessions but had yet to prove myself. I exclusively rapped in french at the time and the language barrier made it difficult to get my message across. That’s when I met Ties AKA Teeze at 4am in a Deli. We instantly clicked, he told me he was a producer looking for vocalists and encouraged me to come to his to “spit some french bars”. I went a week later and Loraxx came along. The first session that all three of us had together is probably the most legendary to date. We wrote the first verse and hook to our first collaboration and me and Ties’s first ever release: Kick Back. In a month the song was done and set to release and we had no idea that it would be received in the way it was. It dropped on the 13th off December 2019. To our surprise Spotify was recommending our music to people all around the world. Streams exploded and the waves of positive feedback enabled me to take the decision of making music my life. The success of our first single opened up the idea that it was possible to get our music out there and a seemingly impossible dream came within reach. The objective then became to work on Teeze’s dream, the album: Meditape. It ended up coming out in July 2020 with me and Loraxx being the main characters in the story. That being said, this is only the beginning and we intend to make the dream a reality in these upcoming years. Now back in London, me and Ties are working hard on an album… 

 

Tell us about your first release and first show. What were your feelings? How was it perceived by your audience?

L: My First show was an NYU talent show, in which I performed with Lacey, and we got robbed if I’m being honest. We came second to an RA that was mid at best. And I remember I was so mad because I thought we were coming second regardless, but I thought we’d lose to the person that came third. Nonetheless, we did a good job, performing one of the many songs you may never hear from us, and trust me, we got a lotta them. And if I’m being honest, I felt right at home. I wasn’t new to performing, cos I grew up dancing for a company and performing with them pretty regularly, so I was comfortable in that place. I’ve always felt at home on stage for some reason. 

The first song I released was also with Kid Lacey, so shout out to him for being mentioned so many times lmao. We made this song called Flutes on a Plane, and it was created through a psychedelic experience, and recorded through another 😛 you should go check it out, that beat is so crazy, and was provided by my G Jake Ruzow, one of the most talented kids in NYU. The people that listened to it really fuck with it, and I feel like it was a good intro track to showcase our lyrical ability.

T:  The first performance we had was a show of Loraxx and Kid Lacey (catch him on n’2. After Sunrise) somewhere in Brooklyn around February. They had a set and Lechani jumped on stage at the end of the set to perform Kick Back. It was such a surreal moment to stand there and see the process of the first song coming to life. During lockdown I was back in Rotterdam, working on MediTape, every day in my room talking to Max and Wali trying to figure this shit out. We released the album July 20th, with 20 guest performances spread out over 14 tracks, lasting about 46 minutes. The reactions to the album were generally all so amazing and I couldn’t have imagined all this happening when I just got that Scarlett 2i2. It was cool to see all the people’s different favorites on the album, with the songs differing from each other style wise quite a lot. The feeling I had with the album finally coming out was like as if we were on the moon. It felt like watching the craziest sunset all the time. Like running around in an open field without ever getting tired. That sense of freedom is something I love about creating art. The moment it gets sent into the world, it’s for everyone. It’s not just mine anymore, because now people can have their own interpretations of it.

What has inspired you and your music during your journey and what is still inspiring you now? 

T: My music is inspired by the way things go in life. I know that sounds vague but that’s because it is. So many little instances can lead up to an idea or realization and that’s what’s so beautiful about it. Life is constantly moving so it’s bound to bring some kind of dynamic along the way. We’ve been having a lot of conversations just thinking about all the crazily talented friends we have around us. I think back a lot to the days where I didn’t know anyone that was in this music thing and I was just making beats in my bedroom. Now to know that I have friends doing some wild shit, is crazy to me and super motivating. 

L: Nowadays I’m much more of a feeler than a thinker with the music I make, I gotta have that feeling for the music before the lyrical aspect comes in, as much as I love and respect being a wordsmith. I think that you feel a song before you ever listen to what a person says, and I’ve always been like that, even though I always pay very close attention to what the people say. And I think most people would agree, and that’s what draws us to music, the sound and the feeling it gives us. So I try my best to do that with the music I’m creating nowadays. I know most people haven’t heard any of my earlier shit, but it was always a very lyrical miracle, and I always felt like there was something missing there. I wanna be able to make people feel a certain way in every song I put out, but I still don’t want to have to give up good lyrics for that, if that makes any sense. But I’m also realising that good lyrics doesn’t always mean more lyrics. A lot of my inspiration stems from rappers like Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Kanye, Kendrick Lamar, but also artists such as Fela Kuti, Bonga, Skepta, Anderson .Paak, Dr Dre, Pharrell, MC Solaar, Alpha Wann Angelique Kidjo man I could go on for a long time, cos I have a lot, but you get the point. 

Le: Every session is different. I mostly write songs with Ties. We begin by making the beat and then I always start by freestyling, putting ideas up in the air. If there’s a melody that me or Ties find particularly striking, I work on finding the words to fill in the flow and we go from there. I love collaboration, the best sessions are the one where ideas are thrown around the room and we build on each other’s ideas. Ultimately, my process will completely depend on who I’m working with and the mindset I’m in when I approach a certain song.

T: My music is inspired by the way things go in life. I know that sounds vague but that’s because it is. So many little instances can lead up to an idea or realization and that’s what’s so beautiful about it. Life is constantly moving so it’s bound to bring some kind of dynamic along the way. We’ve been having a lot of conversations just thinking about all the crazily talented friends we have around us. I think back a lot to the days where I didn’t know anyone that was in this music thing and I was just making beats in my bedroom. Now to know that I have friends doing some wild shit, is crazy to me and super motivating.

How do you create, what’s your musical process like?

L: I feel like I know a lot of people, and I’m meeting a lot of new people, and new encounters inspire me. At the same time, I try to keep my circle small because I know the people that I still hold dear are really there to the end. But new perspectives and conversations can lead to beautiful things. Look at Teeze, I only met him a year ago and he’s one of my closest friends, and We created this beauty in MediTape together. So I’m never completely closed off to new encounters, I just try and be cautious with who I let into my life.

I create at all times of the day. I’m always thinking about a melody, a hook, or a bar. Everything around me inspires me. I’m lucky to be able to see different sceneries too. For example, I’m writing this to you from Senegal right now. All of it is just very inspiring to me. But it’s very simple, I think of something I write it down or record it in my voice notes. Sometimes it leads to me getting into a deep zone, sometimes it leads to nothing. But I’m constantly creating. I’ve found myself recently in a place where I feel like I can make something at any time, even though the writer’s block is real ladies and gentlemen. I just feel like at any point I wanna have a session I can come up with something crazy, and that’s the beauty of it. There’s still a lot of freedom in the way I create. 

T: My music making process changes up pretty much most of the time but in the core there is a mannerism I’ve worked on throughout the years of producing. First of all, it’s important that I’m having fun. I want to enjoy creating something, because otherwise what am I doing it for ? I don’t ever want to lose focus and forget why I started making music in the first place. With studying music production at BIMM in London right now, some time is taken to go there, which is definitely helping me understand production from a more foundational point of view. 

Relearning certain things is very helpful. Recently I was working on 10 compositions for a meditation app that will exclusively be released through their app. This was a cool music making experience and it sprouted from MediTape which is the coolest to me.

Le: Every session is different. I mostly write songs with Ties. We begin by making the beat and then I always start by freestyling, putting ideas up in the air. If there’s a melody that me or Ties find particularly striking, I work on finding the words to fill in the flow and we go from there. I love collaboration, the best sessions are the one where ideas are thrown around the room and we build on each other’s ideas. Ultimately, my process will completely depend on who I’m working with and the mindset I’m in when I approach a certain song.

 

How hard is it to find a balance between music, university, work and your social life? 

L: It’s weird man. I’m actually on a gap year this year so I can focus a lil more on music making and I’m working a job simultaneously.I feel like when I go out and hang out with friends to kick it these days, I’m always missing out on being in a creative zone, but at the same time it lets me have a life and just be, which is essential, because I don’t wanna be a prisoner of my own creation. I still end up zoning out a lot of times when I’m around people and think about music, but I try and juggle all of it together as much as I can.

Le: Sometimes it gets complicated, I have phases where I get no time to settle down and
I sometimes wish I could dedicate all of my energy to music but overall I manage my time well and my studies bring new inspirations to my writing.

What’s next? 

T: Besides all that, we’ve been working hard on a LOT of new music coming out sometime 2021 🙂  all of this is sometimes tough to balance but this is what I love and I’m extremely grateful that I get to do all this stuff with people I love. This generation of creators are bound for something. It might be the sky but the sky is just a view. We’ll let time tell the tale. 

L: Well we’re gonna be dropping “RoadRunnas” soon enough, with Teeze, Lechani and Noga Bedo, so wait on that. Other than that I’m working on my own solo EP right now. I’m really excited to finally give the world a Glimpse into the world of Loraxx, because up to now, I’ve done a lot of collaboration, but I haven’t given the world a taste of my own personal flavour, and I think that people are gonna love it. But right now I’m not worried about what people are gonna think. I’m just focused on making the best music I have made yet, and I definitely got some crazy shit on this project, so stay tuned. I think I have a name for it, but I’m not going to give it out just yet, so you’re gonna have to keep checking on me to find out!

Le: We’ve got a lot on the way, an EP dropping beginning of 2021 and an album a bit further down the road. I have been working on acquiring a new set of skills and have recently picked up guitar, bass and the keys. A dream of mine is composing my own tracks from A to Z and I’m confident I’ll be able to do so very soon.

Music wise and personally, do you feel like there is a wave of talented young artists around you? And how do you fit in to all that?

L: I think it’s a dope space I’m in right now, because I feel like the next wave of talented young artists is us right here. We got so much dope shit to give to the world, and personally, I want to make this shit huge. Not in the sense of being that next commercial mainstream success, not that I’d refute that either. But I think that we have something really special going on here, and there’s not too many people that can fuck with us, cos we’re really making dope ass shit, just out of the love that we have for it. And personally I think I don’t fit into anything, I’m just my own entity among a bunch of other insanely talented entities. I truly believe we Stand out more than we fit into anything. 

Le: I am truly witnessing the creation of a scene around me. I am blessed to collaborate with artists I have a lot of respect for like Feux, AVC, Adi, Kid Lacey, Aura, Luke just to give a couple names. I see us creating big waves in the coming years. If you’re reading this, I hope you’re ready. 2021 is the year we Bloom.

Finally who would you love to collaborate with in Music, Visual Art & Design?

L: Maaaann, I wanna work with Pharrell Williams. If I get to work with him, I know we could make some dope shit. He’s just so fucking sick. I’ve been listening to “In My Mind” a lot recently. And it’s just such immaculate production. Now just imagine my voice on top of one of those beats. I know, crazy right? There’s a lot of dope brands and artists that I’d like to talk about, but There’s only one other I’m going to, and that’s Muster, a group of two beautiful, incredibly talented and creative designers and event hosts in London. And I’m gonna be working with them a lot in the future, so a big shoutout goes to them!

T: I would love to work together on something with Raphael Saadiq or Benjamin Herman. These two artists are guys that I grew up on so being able to work together with them would be a total mindfuck. In visual art, I want to make a movie together with Cole Swanson and work on the soundtrack. He’s an insane movie director from LA and right now he’s finishing up his first directed full film called ‘baby’. I’ve always wanted to make a soundtrack for a movie and it would be really cool to work on it with a friend of my age, with the same hunger for creation. 

 

Le: I would love to work with Lausse the Cat, he’s an artist that also raps in French and English and I believe our collaboration could bear beautiful fruits. I’m also always open to collaboration so hit me up @lechat_nie.
Big up Kumo and you’ll be hearing from me real soon.
Peace and Love,
Lechani

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