Interview: BIG NASH x Iconic sound release two singles ‘Know Thyself (Freestyle)’ & ‘Self Destruct’

Feature, Interview, Music

BIG NASH is the President & CEO of Auckland based record label and newly formed management agency Iconic Sound. This year, he’s spent most of his time building it into a foundation he can stand on for the rest of his future – not an easy task to do all at once, he just added an apparel side to the venture. Anticipating his debut EP ‘International Road Boy’ or ‘IRB’ for short, I remember interviewing a 16-year-old NASH, when he released the project ‘1st Impression’. Now just turning 23, his presence on beat is stronger. His heart is harder but so is his production. We caught up over email to talk about the first two singles ‘Know Thyself (Freestyle)’ & ‘Self Destruct’ produced alongside Next Wavez who is signed to DJ Mustard’s record label, 10 Summers. We also discuss his Instagram account and get his side on some of the controversial content he shares. On beat, NASH manages to channel his emotions, showcasing his undeniable musical abilities and flare for making a sound we actually want to hear. ‘Self Destruct’ starts and lulls you into a West Coast flex, melting over listeners’ ears with Talkbox and an R&B sound like maybe Tory Lanez was involved; when NASH’s verse comes in he bears a dark truth he says he enjoys as a lyricist: “I’ve always been a fan of dark lyricism. DMX and The Notorious B.I.G do it really well where they’re not just telling you about their pain but they’re taking you into the pit with them,” talking about ‘Self Destruct’. We might as well get into the interview:  

How did you meet Next Wavez?

N:  DontFollowSImba and Lando, Iconic Sound Senior Management members connected us one night when we were all OTP and the rest is history. The first night we met is literally the day we cooked up the instrumental for ‘Self Destruct’. It’s a familiar energy because we both have a solid work ethic which means as soon as we get in the same room laptops are being pulled out and music is being made!

What was it like connecting with Next Wavez as a person and then making music with him?

N:  It was incredible. Such an authentic person and shockingly talented at what he does. Wavez’ story about getting signed to DJ Mustard’s label 10 Summers is powerful. It really helped me see the blessings in the curse when I started giving in to self-doubt and that Tall Poppy kicked in. We live in a small country that’s so far away from the rest of the world sometimes opportunity seems mythical and knowing his dreams manifested makes me feel like the rest of ours can too.

What can people look out for from Iconic Sound in the next six months? 

N: There’s a lot in the works as far as the next six months is concerned but at the moment I can definitely promise the label’s debut group EP and expansion of the artist roster.

Describe ‘Know Thyself (Freestyle)’ & ‘Self Destruct’. What inspired these two tracks? 

N: I worked hard to be a genuine individual even to my own detriment at times, built a home I called my own and felt like I lost it all over a situation that could’ve been avoided if I wasn’t such a nice person. It’s sad to say that in 2019, you’ll probably get further in life if you have a bit of shark in you. The 2 songs were originally one track that was basically a 64 bar verse of venting and salty punchlines. Luckily Rokske Tha G talked some sense into me when I played him the first demo and I partitioned the song into a two-part story.

You mention AmmoNation in ‘Know Thyself’, why was it important for you to voice that situation? 

N: I felt like it was important because I’m a strong advocate for the spirit of truth. Everything comes to light regardless if I’m the one to shed that light or not. We’re still all men at the end of the day and no one is beyond reproach or a conversation..

What does Iconic Sound represent for NZ’s local Hip-Hop scene? 

N: A new level of quality in the sonics and production value of what’s coming out of our country. The name says it all, there’s this ‘Iconic Sound’ I’ve been chasing in my music since the first time I played the keys. A certain level of conviction in my delivery, authentic lyrics that hold weight and lastly timeless production that stands the test of time. 

Why should people get onboard with Iconic Sound?

N: They shouldn’t… They should get onboard with good music! There’s only 2 genres, good and bad music. If the people feel like we’re delivering good music then of course, they should get onboard but the day we stop keeping up our end of the bargain, I expect to be held accountable for letting them down.

Can we talk about your identity as a Kiwi, from your IG Stories? You have a very important and pivotal (albeit controversial) perspective in terms of third culture identity and progressing that for the next generation. Do you care about being labelled as radical?

N: I’m not knocking off corrupt government officials or trynna start the revolution in front of The Beehive. I’m just a guy with an Insta account like everyone else but I’m passing on game and applicable knowledge I recieved from my Mentors instead of taking photos of my food. If I’m a radical, what are we gonna call the real radicals?

Who do you look up to and why?

N: Nipsey Hussle, rest in peace to the legend, JAY Z, Rick Ross, Snoop Dogg, E-40, Master P & Russell Simmons.

How do they influence your hustle?

N: They influence my hustle and everyday character simply because they’re certified OG’s in the culture and their longevity speaks for itself. More than music but their business minds and entrepreneurship inspires a lot of young guys like myself.

The hardest truth to hear as a musician is there’s no money in selling music. The key is to build a platform with your talent then you graduate onto other lucrative ventures. I feel like the brave men mentioned above had a lot to do with this blueprint and the Self Made mentality we hold near and dear at Iconic Sound.

What situation inspired this line: “Hatin’ on these niggas and I’m hatin’ on myself, before this Kanye West shit I ain’t know about mental health, but right about now I could really use a blunt, I could really use a spliff, it might help me off this cliff…”

N: I’ll let people decipher that one for themselves but Biggie had a similar line in his song Suicidal Thoughts. 

“When I die, fuck it, I wanna go to hell.

‘Cause I’m a piece of shit, it ain’t hard to fuckin’ tell.

It don’t make sense, goin’ to heaven with the goodie-goodies.

Dressed in white, I like black Timbs and black hoodies.” – The Notorious B.I.G

DIASPORA: Meer makes waves for Arab women in rap music

Culture, Interview, Music

Rapper Meer is a young woman living in Australasia. Having just moved to Sydney from Auckland to be with the love of her life she says she appreciates a man who respects a woman going after her potential. “I want to make a mark as an Arab woman – I want people to know what an Arab is. I want Middle Eastern to be a part of the selection when you choose where you’re from,” she says.

Born in Dubai, she came to New Zealand when she was five years old. Having always used writing as an important outlet, especially when it comes to her mental health and positive well being, she says eventually making a rap song became an obvious choice. “The first time I went up on that stage I couldn’t explain it, it was something magical, that feeling I got, I couldn’t get anywhere else and I was addicted.”

Although her lyrical content can get quite heavy theme-wise she says “I want people to scream my name on that stage I want people to know my lyrics, I  want to touch people in ways that they have never..that sounds weird…I want to affect people emotionally through my music, in ways they’ve never been before.”

‘You messing with a bad bitch’ goes the hook of her most recent video release Pomegranate. But, she says “I’m not really an intense person – I’m such a kid – the person you see on stage is someone who feels powerful and wants to prove it but the person I am when I get off stage is powerful and I don’t have to prove it. Even though there’s a lot of intense content, people might think it’s too much.. Do you think?”

THREADS: VILLETTE – Talks the Powersuit & Dasha Lingerie

Music, Threads

“Our bodies are temples right? It’s crazy – our bodies are sacks of flesh holding everything together – but our spirit lives inside of us. I’ve always believed that we’re just vessels, and the way we dress ourselves is literally armour, so I think when you put something on to clothe your vessel it’s kind of like a spiritual statement whatever you wear” – Villette Dasha

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The 23-year-old singer/songwriter/producer and audio engineer has just released ‘Not In Love’ which is available on all platforms and the first single off her upcoming EP. It was produced by VILLETTE as well as mix and mastered by her and SmokeyGotBeatz . The shit is flame emojis. A lot of them. And representative of her fine attention to detail and craftsmanship in her music work. In this interview for Threads by Serum we talk about the power of the women’s suit and how clothing can be like armour; as well as her lingerie line “Dasha Lingerie”. She says “You know when you wear sexy lingerie like matching bra and knickers it’s like – dope you know. You could be wearing it just under track pants and a hoodie but you feel put together – I don’t know what it is”.
She recalls “My mum had a suit like this but it was lavender and it was so sick, she used to have these long braids as well.” Remembering a happier time from her childhood when she and her older sister Renee dressed up for their parents she says “I wore the coat and she wore the pants. We walked into the lounge in our house in Manurewa and did a little show for my parents. Whenever I see this it just reminds me to work hard”.
“Janelle Monae always wears a black and white suit – I read an interview where she was talking about the suit and how it represents how hard her parents worked – One’s a bus driver and the other a janitor. They both worked hard out 9-5 jobs and she always sticks to the black and white theme, suits and business attire to commemorate the hard work they’ve done.”

SERUM: Do you mean in terms of feeling confident and how clothing can fit on your body, like dressing for the job that you’re going to do?
VILLETTE: Yeah that’s a part of it. I think also feeling like you need to lead as well, cause I work in my home, my studio is right next to my bedroom, and that actually takes a lot of work to come from the bedroom to the studio when you could just stay in bed and watch Netflix all day. So if I know I’m working at the studio I’ll force myself to get up, have a shower and try and at least spend like 6 hours of the day in the studio.

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A dress she picked up in 2016 for her performance at Belasco Theatre in Los Angeles. Found in Santee Alley, an outdoor shopping district there.

SERUM: What would you wear to your studio?
VILLETTE: I will still dress up and wear something like a singlet with flowery pants – or I’m usually just in tracks pants and a hoodie cause that’s what’s comfortable. It really depends on how I feel cause sometimes I wanna feel empowered or I’m not having a good day or something so I’ll wear something sexy or do my hair & make up just to go to the next room.

SERUM: How does that help you create your juice – like I call it good juice – but for you, how does what you’re wearing enhance how you feel?
VILLETTE: Our bodies are temples right, I was talking about this literally last night – it’s so crazy how our bodies are sacks of flesh and we’re holding everything together but our spirit lives inside of us and that’s our vessel like I’ve always believed that. The way we dress ourselves it literally is armour so I think when you put something on to clothe your vessel it’s kind of like a spiritual statement whatever you wear and it’s just a representation of how you’re feeling and it should be armour – it can be armour and it can be also be a sword – it depends on what you wear.
This is made of cotton and it was made for me – it’s a traditional Samoan garment. I wore this to my nan’s funeral. It was from a shop in West Auckland and this just represents culture to me – it’s my armour whenever I go and do a cultural thing and if it’s really really important – for example I’m going to get my malu next year which is a traditional Samoan tattoo from here [waist] to here [lower thigh] and I would wear this to the ceremony and I’ll go get that done in Samoa. I love this but it’s not something that I would wear lightly and just wear around – it’s something I would wear at special occasions.

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Left: A Calvin Klein jacket her boyfriend Neihana thrifted in the US. Right: Traditional Samoan Garment.

SERUM: If we refer to it as like a tool box, why would you say it’s important for women to have clothes and image in that tool box like a professional repertoire or like an arsenal?
VILLETTE: I think people find their armour in different ways but for me personally, mine’s a suit – your professional wear can be like a hoodie and track pants or t-shirt or scuffs but it’s important to have something that makes you feel protected. It’s just good for your spirit I feel like as working professionals, we need even just one piece of clothing that feels like our armour, that no matter what it’s all good!

SERUM: Tell me about how you created Dasha Lingerie.
VILLETTE: I wanted to make Dasha Lingerie because I’ve loved lingerie since I was little and because I’m always wearing lingerie in sets with suits. I also wanted to make Dasha because I just wanted other people to feel how good it made me feel knowing that I don’t feel good all the time – it’s just a nice feel good item – the lingerie isn’t meant to hold your boobs up or anything, it’s literally just meant to fit over your natural curves – it’s really just a feel good piece.

SERUM: It’s really Coco Chanel that contrast.
VILLETTE: I love Chanel as well, that’s probably my favourite major brand or whatever. I don’t own anything Chanel, I just like to watch the catwalks and I love the shows and the jackets like the Chanel jacket is iconic – I’d love to own one one day but then again I don’t want to spend that much money on it. The lingerie just came along really naturally and when I go to a lingerie store I don’t wanna be paying for a bra that’s like $40 for something that’s got hardly any material but it costs so much. I don’t agree with that so I just thought $20 is good for everyone because it’s a nice sexy piece and it’s just something that’s so sweet. It can frame your body. When women feel sexy they’re unstoppable, like the whole vibe changes and you just feel it – they look bigger I’m not sure how to explain it but their presence is more intense you can feel them in the room – it’s so good.

Purchase Dasha Lingerie HERE.

Interview: Introducing KVKA — “All Black Range, Malcolm X Knew Better”

Culture, Music

Speaking about his song ‘La Musica’ produced by Tony Douglas, Hamilton resident Mukuka Simwinga aka KVKA says, “I feel very strongly about the new age slavery, it’s like where Africans and minorities have got to a place where white people and other people don’t have to put us down because it’s like self hate. So when I say [in the song], ‘where gold chains make slaves look better, all black Range Malcolm X knew better, gold chains swing just to lynch me better’, I’m saying we’re doing this to ourselves; it’s to a point where all we care about is, ‘oh yeah I got ice on my neck and I got the new whip’, and you’re not thinking about the fact that back in the day your ancestors would never wear that chain around their neck, they’d never do that because they know exactly what it means. It’s like they work so hard to get free and then we put chains back on ourselves. It’s something I have to work on as well. I say ‘nigga’ sometimes. I say all the ignorant stuff. But I think it’s something, where we need to get to the point, where we can battle it and not just sit down and say, ‘Oh yeah our ancestors helped us to get free — because we’re not free. Corporations are still above us and everyone’s not at a place where everyone’s equal yet.’

With KVKA hailing from a family of musicians and poets, he draws inspiration from his brother listening to Otis Redding, the church, and “my mum, when she’s was younger, used to write poetry as well. So it’s kind of like everyone in my family is creative. I sit down and try to absorb all the creativity around me. My sister was a big influence. She went for this poetry slam and won. She was on Drew and Shannon Live and she had an episode on Both Worlds — I realized through all that stuff that I could actually do something with it instead of it just being a closet-type hobby”.

Never having had a build up into the scene that was public, he instead worked behind the scenes until he sprang into the spotlight with his video for ‘The Zone’ which was filmed by YouTube based channel Visual Base TV. This produced a snowball effect which landed him on the doorstep of Tony Douglas’ house in Hamilton. Literally. Drenched from walking in the rain after church one Sunday, they’d arranged their first session. For now, all we can say is that he plans to continue rising up the music leader board. KVKA, who is of Zambian descent but New Zealand citizenship, has immersed himself in the influence of his family, friends, Hip Hop and most notably his own self awareness — it makes him an independent thinker and somewhat explains his impeccable lyricism, wordplay and sound. He says, ‘I don’t want to just be a rapper, I want to change the whole culture of New Zealand rap. And it’s really awesome because I’ve been sitting here and listening to all these underground rappers from New Zealand I never knew of, there’s Mikey, Third3ye, Diaz Grimm, everyone’s starting to change the [music] culture from New Zealand — and no offence to anyone, like I love Scribe, but from Scribe to be[ing] more universal with the world — but still keep our authenticity — I’m proud to be in New Zealand and be apart of what’s going to happen. Personally, I want to be right at the front, leading this new generation of underground to the world.’

WDYFILWHH had the chance to Skype KVKA and get a closer sense of who he is and what he’s about. It’s no doubt that this is 27 minutes worth listening to. While you’re at it, you can get a bit more acquainted with KVKA’s music on his SoundCloud as we patiently wait for the release of his début EP L.O.E.S, out on the 1st of November.