Nov 5, 2013

Interview: Symbiz Sound

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Buddysym and ChrisImbiss, two brothers who are making some brilliant future dancehall music back home in Germany. Some excerpts from the interview:

ChrisImbiss and Buddysym
Were you always inclined to this genre?
Buddy: Until three years ago, I didn’t really listen to electronic music. I always liked more bass-oriented music like ska and reggae and Chris would hear a lot of hip-hop and dancehall. We didn’t listen to only electronica and I didn’t listen to it at all.

Chris: Our parents (Korean mother and German father) made us play the violin and piano when we were kids. So it was not always like this. We grew up around all kinds of music. When we started to work together, dubstep was a nice way of playing music. So it had a big role. Now it’s kind of something that’s less dubstep, more dancehall.

What’s the dancehall scene back home?

Buddy: It’s quite big back home. It was bigger in the 90s but it plays a big role in our music because it was the first ‘club music’ that we heard. Now, there’s a lot of global local music that’s implemented in what we do.

Chris: There are all kinds of influences. I think the beauty of this project was that we weren’t too into the scene. So we could naively do whatever we liked. We didn’t have to follow rules of what is acceptable or not acceptable in a certain genre.

Describe the chemistry between you two behind the deck and otherwise.
Chris: Depends. We can be very good brothers. We love and we hate each other. Buddy’s the more musical one – he’s good with chords and stuff and I’m more into the technical production-related stuff. As brothers, there’s crazy fighting as one would imagine. But we’re also like best friends travelling the world together. We’re very blessed to have that situation.

Buddy: I just kept playing instruments and studied bass at university. I was more into harmonics and theory but Chris is more of the visionary guy when it comes to this music. There are a lot of songs I didn’t like when he showed them to me first. Later, I started to understand what it meant. So it’s a good combination. Even though it’s really tiring sometimes and we get upset with each other, it really helps having him double-checking.

Chris: The musical conflicts aren’t so heavy. We have discussions and stuff but it’s not like we 100% disagree or are angry or anything.

Your thoughts on Bangalore?

Chris: We heard that officially dancing isn’t allowed. But we expect some rules to be broken. It has to be shut early apparently. We’ve played in four other cities and all the concerts were good. They were up for all the games we play on stage, which isn’t always the case in Europe. Games are part of the great fun for us. We say ‘Do that’ and people actually do it!

Buddy: We have a guitar on stage but we aren’t DJs. There’s production and our custom-made equipment and we really play as a small live band. A concert going good or not is measured by the direction of the audience for us. At the end of the evening, if everyone’s voice is broken and they’re sweating like crazy, that’s a good gig for us.

Best/worst memories of the India tour ?

Chris: There are things that can be very shocking in India like poverty. But this is now my fourth time here since we visited ten years ago. The big culture shock doesn’t come anymore. But you can almost see the change in musical culture. For example, NH7 Weekender was something really unthinkable 10 years. Since we saw India then and we’re seeing it last year and this, we can really see that there’s a scene that’s growing. It’s interesting and really good to see.

Buddy: The slums around Bombay are crazy and it’s shocking how polluted some places are. It’s very strange but you don’t see the poverty so much after a point. I remember the first time I was here, there was a little girl following me and asking for money and it made me cry. But now it doesn’t anymore. People who live here do not cry about this everyday. It’s not because they’re blind or don’t care anymore. But it’s a reality check to see what the world is.

What’s the next step for you guys?

Chris: Our debut album was just released in Germany in May. We have the next one planned though we’re not sure when it’s going to come out. Hopefully early next year.

What’s your process for making songs?

Buddy: It’s very different for each song. A lot of times, we work with Zhi MC, who just became a father so he couldn’t come for the tour. There’s usually an idea, which one of us finishes. And then we start putting vocals and beats on it. In the last album, we had around 12 tracks and 3 skits and on the 12 tracks, there were 11 different vocalists from 8 different countries. We’d send them the beats, they would record something and we could change the beat according to what they recorded. Sometimes we record on the spot or since we travel a lot, we try to record with them and make it part of the project.

Chris: There are no Indian collaborations yet but I’m sure that’s going to work out. We’ve always come here for a very short time but we plan to come back. The plan was to have five off days on this tour but we got just one and that wasn’t enough to record. There’s no other reason for not collaborating with someone here.

Buddy: Collaborating is the nature of this project. Travelling, finding artistes and more than that, it’s about making relationships and friendships all over the world and keeping in touch through the magic of the Internet.

The interview was published in Metrolife, Deccan Herald on October 28. Here is the link.

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