Fresh off of performing at SXSW in Austin, Texas, we sat down with The Higher Concept: three guys (Matty J, Tekst, and IB) making their way through the ever-so-competitive music industry! Through their 10 year journey they’ve shared the stage and opened up for established artists of every genre such as Nas, Kid Cudi, LMFAO, Fergie, and Sean Kingston. We sat down to talk about everything including how they got together, their journey in the music biz, what inspires them to keep going, their "Hunger Games" remix, and their experience at South by Southwest.
With SXSW becoming more and more mainstream, we asked for the insight from an upcoming artist’s point of view. THC prides themselves on their creativity, positivity, and quality lyrics and music --and that’s what makes them so relatable! Hard work, talent and drive; all qualities that could potentially result in hitting the big time one day. But for now, ‘The Higher Concept’ are just “doing it for the love!”
Read on or check out the video of the live interview below!
How long have you guys been doing this?
About 10 years, recorded our first songs together in 2003
IB: Me and Tekst grew up together and me and Matty met in college. Me and Txt have always been making music together, and introduced Matty to the mix after that.
The Higher Concept is the outcome of the 3 of you doing your thing for the love of music. Do you each play a specific role or does everybody do everything?
We each have our specialties. Musically we are all over the place, but in the business aspect of it we all play big roles. And our man J Glaze handles most of the production, and we're the 3 MCs of the group.
So you guys rap, but over the years you’ve developed into a live band, you don’t stick to one genre… What do you call your music?
It’s a little bit of this and a little of that and we just have to put a label on it. We just call it good. GOOD music!
You guys definitely stand out for your positive message and the honesty in your lyrics, where do you draw inspiration from?
Growing up with underground hip-hop influenced our positive message, and alternative rock from the '90s influenced the idea of bringing in a live band.
Tekst: We talk about our everyday life experiences we're not talking about selling drugs and getting violent… we're normal college kids, hard working, so we rap about that… hanging our, girl troubles, etc.
You guys have been doing this for a LONG time, definitely experienced a journey that most upcoming artists can relate to- in your opinion what’s the good, the bad and the ugly of breaking into and growing in the music industry?
If you look at our track record we look great, but you gotta keep going at it! We’ve performed with everybody… but ultimately there’s no stopping in sight. Do it for the love.
Matty J: it’s a dream job, were living our dream job! But people don’t recognize the job part! It's harder than a 9-5. With a 9-5 you can leave all that stuff in the office, this is non-stop.
Ib: We're doing it because we love to do it. We would be making music even if nobody was listening to it, just because WE love to do it.
Tekst: We're going to talk about what we want to talk about, which is what every artist should do… fans can see through the B.S.
What’s your creative process like in the studio?
We don’t spend a lot of time on making songs.
Most of the time goes into post production. Go with the flow is the motto.
You guys just got back from performing at SXSW, how was that?
It was so much more than I imagined…. I’ve never been to Mardi Gras but that how I picture Mardi Gras being like!
It was literally 10 by 10 blocks of music playing everywhere you go! We saw a lot of our friends down there that made there own way down there. It was great to see people we’ve grown with from NY... it was nice.
What was the best part?
The farm! We got to leave the hustle and bustle of downtown Austin and come back there instead of being cooped up in a hotel room.
We set up on a corner and played one night and got a lot of love. Everyone was just there to experience the music and be a part of it… that was a beautiful thing.
This year, Kanye came out, Big Sean, 2 chains, MC Hammer, Rick Ross etc… With SXSW getting bigger and bigger, do you think these big name artists are stealing the shine from start-up artists who perform at the festival?
It’s a fine line. As fans of these people, we want to see these people so that’s cool… but it definitely takes away from the shine of the events with the upcoming artists.
Our show was the same time as a Bruse Springstein seminar, so obviously a lot of the industry is going to be there over seeing us! We get that. [laughs]
We went down there as newbies, so we didn’t know what to expect. But we saw a lot of people standing on lines for hours… that so that does draw a lot away from the less known artists, and makes it harder for guys in our position.
IB: but it was our first time there, so we have no frame of reference as to how it was a couple years back. We hear about it but we weren’t there. But we figured it out; we just played on the street corner with a megaphone for the people! We made it happen anyway.
Matty: The big names did bring a couple more thousand people to the scene, so it’s good.
What has to be your favorite gig to date?
What does a dream colab look/sound like to THC?
Sloth from atmosphere, Black Thought from The Roots, but if were talking singers, Jesse J or Jenelle Monae or someone like B.O.B., they succeeded with what were trying to do. And they make good music, not just a dope 16… we rap, we got that covered.
How do you measure ‘success?’
Us headlining a show. Then we’ll know our music is in demand.
What’s next for ‘The Higher Concept’ in 2012?
We have our album ‘Everybody’ coming out soon, were working on 3 or 4 music videos, and we just released a remix to ‘Hunger Games’ featuring Taylor Swift.