Noise-rap collective Moodie Black are playing one last show as a local act this Wednesday at Pourhouse before they relocate to Los Angeles. After moving to Minneapolis from Arizona in 2008, the band has so far enjoyed a successful year, with two national tours and a debut record on Fake Four under its belt. But the local scene that drew them has since proven dissatisfying.
Gimme Noise caught up with the band to discuss the move, their future, and the rise of noise-rap in the national consciousness.
Moodie Black: For a culture that prides itself on being hard, they're so scared
Gimme Noise: What's the reasoning behind the move to Los Angeles?
K. (MC): It's the next step with what we're trying to do. This year we've done cool stuff, touring, getting out, making connections with different people, seeing how our stuff tends to do better in different places. We're trying to do stuff on a mainstream level, which sounds kind of strange, because we do weird stuff. We want to be the dark answer to pop. There's a void for that. Everything else here is pretty much done for us. For some reason it isn't resonating as well here. There's experimental and independent stuff here, but when you take the element of what we do, it's so different. We don't sound like an underground rap group all the time. The scene was different [when we arrived].
Why do you think that is?
K.: I think anybody would agree with that, talk with anybody and they'll pretty much have something to say about it. I wonder how many acts are getting attention for how good they are versus who they know. You can trace everybody that's doing well back to the same core of people. I don't think there's favoritism or anything like that, but it's still hard for someone without that connection to break in. People don't go to shows to listen to music, people go to try to make connections. Support is one thing, but when you're going just to support yourself, it's an ego thing. No one's taking chances. There are great acts out there, but for the most part, it's unmoving to me. When we tour around we see the same shit, it's not just Minneapolis. Everyone seems to be a caricature of what used to be. Everyone's identity now seems to be a lite version of what it was. It's creating inauthenticity, it's hurting music as a whole. Minneapolis is a microcosm of that, it's just a cycle over and over. When you're starting out, more people should hate it. A lot of artists haven't gone through that like I have. It's hard work, it's not easy, it's not supposed to be.
Jamee Varda (live painter and graphic designer for Moodie Black): The last year we've really changed our thinking about everything. We used to really obsess about getting the attention of local fans, local bands, local bookers, we always stayed local. But when we stopped worrying about that and broadened our scope to national, we started to get a lot more response. It's a great scene, it's a great budding area for musicians, but at the same time, you're fighting for this attention of a very low audience and you forget that there's so many other places that are way ahead of the game, looking for new things, hungry for new inspiration. We dropped the whole obsession of trying to get control here and trying to get people's attention, and things started to fall into place. It's not anything personal to Minneapolis, we just have huge ideas and dreams in mind, and we're not gonna be tied to one little scope. An international scope, not just national. The music has taken on an almost spiritual mission for the group.
K.: We're always on the outside looking in, and it was killing us for a long time. We're doing all this stuff, reaching out to people locally, no response. It'd be disheartening. That made us stronger, hungrier. I'm going to make my stuff so ridiculous that you can't ignore this anymore. We were told to tone it down, every tour. "We're kind of worried about you..." I'm the hungriest, deadliest dude alive in music right now.
You guys are sort of noise-rap pioneers, and the genre's been gaining traction over the last few years. How do you feel about the rise in public consciousness of the sound, thanks to groups like Death Grips and Blackie, and Kanye West's Yeezus album?
K.: I was always interested in Kanye West, because I love him. I love that he's a dick, I love that he's arrogant, I love that he's weird, I love that he has mental issues. He has to. But I have always related to him. We're misunderstood bad guys. We both want to make awesome artistic statements. We both have an ear. People always think I'm crazy that I compare myself to people like him. I want to work with him, I want to work with people like that. I'm ready for that. I can't wait to make those connections to get there. I see the genius that he's always had. I want to have a noise-rap song with Rick Ross on it. I think it's totally possible. More people in the independent scene should think like that. Noise-rap is just people doing their own thing. Every noise-rap group is completely distinct from one another. It's awesome. Everyone has a different sound.
David Norbert (drummer): It's pushing for pure, raw emotion that's not hindered in any sort of way. Create from there, that's your starting point.
Jamee: If you're a person that can get people to feel so strongly that they stomp to the gas station to buy a pack of cigarettes because they're so upset about it, or the opposite where they lose their shit and play it 12 times in a row, you have found the pocket. You've hit a nerve, and that's beautiful. We love that we're polarizing. We want people to either be talking about us because they hate our shit, or they love it and they've never heard anything like it. What are you doing if you're not trying to last in people's minds and make a statement?
K.: It's rare in this underground scene, it's rare in Minneapolis. There's a more immediate sound to what we're doing. It's new. What I'm doing is now, maybe it's later.
Jamee: And it's changing all the time. This [upcoming EP, dropping in October] is completely different from the last one. The other one was in your face and crazy but a little bit poppy; this one's a little melodramatic and emotional, drawn out with tons of layers, huge production, but nothing aggressive for the sake of being aggressive. We want people to zone out and lose themselves in what they're listening to.
K.: We play a lot of underground shows, but [when we were on tour with] Dark Time Sunshine, those guys keep telling us we need to play festivals and stage shows. That's where you belong.
Jamee: The energy can't be contained.
Moodie Black play their last show as Minneapolis residents Wednesday at Pourhouse, with Dem Atlas, Feavoz, Bob of Gravebomb, and Kev Sez. 21+, $5, 9 p.m.