3OH!3 blitz Australia as part of their whirlwind tour
Usually, artists are so heavily influenced by the music scene they grow up in that they wouldn’t dare dabble in a different genre. But when it comes to 3OH!3, the Colorado duo explains the exclusivity and narrow vision of the underground hip-hop scene were key factors that pushed the pair to steer their tunes in a very different direction. Jordana Borensztajn reports.
“There were things that pushed us towards it, and things that pushed us away from it. There’s different inspirations,” one half of the pair, Sean Foreman, says at the Warner office in Melbourne just hours before their gig.
“There was a part of the underground hip-hop scene that we thought was, kind of, stagnant. There was a very fundamentalist view that things always have to be the same and that you can’t really stray from that or you’re deemed a sell-out. If you bring a different sound, it’s chastised and we didn’t like that.
“We didn’t like the close-mindedness of the scene and I think most underground scenes can be like that, whether it’s punk or hip-hop. We wanted to take something that was a fun vibe but more mainstream, so that’s the music we started creating.”
Foreman’s partner-in-crime Nathaniel Motte says it was frowned upon to like anything that was linked to pop music. “Automatically anything that was on the radio or TV was bad,” he explains. “There’s a lot of guilty pleasures but for us there are no guilty pleasures. We just the music we like and it can be so obscure that only we know of it, or it might be as popular as Taylor Swift. They’re such good songs.”
The last year has been a whirlwind for 3OH!3. They exploded on the American music scene at last year’s annual nation-wide Warped Tour and have come an incredibly long way in a very short period of time with their unique blend of electro/hip-hop/pop-rap.
Motte says they make music that sound fresh, and people are drawn to it. “People always want to make music that sounds different, that’s kind of edgy but at the same time is catchy and fun – and I think we’re able to do that. We wanted to make sure our music was inclusive and that everyone could listen to our music and not bring, really, any pretence to it or any preconceptions. Hopefully it’s worked out pretty well.”
The only issues that have plagued the boy’s music have stemmed from their own making. Their first commercial hit “Don’t Trust Me” caused quite the controversy, and while they insist it wasn’t something they thought about through the creative process, on analysis, the lyrics of the song take a good stab at women (“don’t trust a ho”), and openly criticise people with disabilities (“shush girl… do the Helen Keller and talk with your hips”).
“At the time when we made it, the scope of things wasn’t so big,” Motte says. “There were just three of us in a room making tracks. At the same time, I think most people are really hip to the fact that it’s all just poking fun. It’s funny, we get asked about how controversial it is more than people actually think it’s controversial. Most people understand it’s just poking fun. We don’t think women are hos, and we’re not digging up Helen Kellar’s grave.” “I was a rapper for a long time,” Foreman continues. “And hip-hop culture in a lot of senses is pretty misogynistic. It’s not really excusing it, but it’s within that vein. At the end of the day, there’s a sense of humor attached and it probably gets taken a lot heavier that it was intended.”
Luckily their most recent single hasn’t caused anywhere near the same level of angst. Rather, “Starstruckk” is a killer hit bouncing around the Aussie airwaves which is in demand across the country. Featuring stellar vocals by Katy Perry, the trio met at Warped Tour in ‘08. Last year Perry took 3OH!3 to Europe as her opening act and Motte says this time around there was an opportunity to return a favour.
“We always wanted to work with her and then we had an opportunity to go back and remix “Starstrukk” for radio, to make it a bigger song… We found out she was in town and it all fell together. It was awesome. She’s got an amazing voice. Sometimes it gets a little bit lost in production but she’s amazing and hearing her in the studio was crazy,” Motte says. “We have a lot of respect for each other. I think she writes great pop songs and she’s a fun chick. She’s definitely smart about her career.”
“She’s a super-hard worker and she barely gets a second,” Foreman says. “Honestly, we had such a blast when she was around. It was almost like a break for all of us to hang out.”
On their first visit Down Under, the duo managed to squeeze in a visit to Surfers Paradise as well as a koala petting into an insane calendar which packed six shows into six wild days. While they wish they had more time to hang out in Oz, the 3OH!3 boys say they’re just grateful to have enough support to be able to tour here in the first place.
“Being in Sydney and seeing 1,200 kids go crazy to a song we wrote just to have fun was pretty amazing,” Motte says.”
“We’re in Australia and we’re travelling. It’s awesome. We get to work with artists like Katy and write mixes for other artists, and write our own music. It’s pretty unbelievable. We’ve literally travelled around the world for the last year playing music. When you get a second to breathe… you realise how awesome it is.”
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