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Introducing: Subculture Sage

Written by Matilda Buckingham / November 06, 2017

Ahead of their London headline show TOMORROW NIGHT, we caught up with emerging hip-hop duo Subculture Sage to talk live shows, their new EP and how it all started...

HEY GUYS! WHERE ARE YOU IN THE WORLD AND WHAT ARE YOU UP TO TODAY?

"We’re both in Subculture’s studio in Brixton rehearsing for our Oslo show!"


GIVE US THE STORY SO FAR OF SUBCULTURE SAGE. YOU'RE BOTH ARTISTS IN YOUR OWN RIGHT - HOW DID YOU COME TO COLLABORATE TOGETHER UNDER ONE NAME?

"We were introduced by a mutual friend around 5 years ago and starting working together on a bit of a casual one. When we started getting more excited about the music we were making together and how interestingly different our musical backgrounds were, we decided to join forces for the long haul."


WHAT DID YOU GROW UP LISTENING TO, AND WHEN YOU STARTED CUTTING TRACKS, DID YOU HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT YOU WANTED TO BE, OR ARTISTS YOU WANTED TO SOUND LIKE?

"Sage: I didn’t properly get into Hip Hop until I was in my late teens and even then it was strictly UK Hip Hop. I remember hearing a lot of funk and soul when I was a baby with memories of roots and dub reggae shortly after that but it was in my early teen years when I was introduced to drum & bass and garage that got me. At first it was all about being fast, the skippy double-time drum & bass mc’s like Fearless, Skibadee, Eksman, Funsta - these were guys I looked up to until I really got into UK Hip Hop and learnt what it was to be a technical rapper and lyricist by hearing the likes of Mystro, Yungun and Kyza just to name a few. There was no one I particularly wanted to sound like or any moment when I knew what I wanted to be, I just wanted to be better than I was the day before while always being who I am and original so no one could ever say I was catting.

"Subculture: Though Hip Hop’s been a strong force of mine since a ripe age, I actually learnt my creativity in music through the Indie and Punk bands I grew up playing in. I’d be in rehearsal rooms twice a week from the age of 13 writing non stop and my main teen obsessions were more N*E*R*D, Interpol, Radiohead and Gang of Four. I always loved collecting music though, from different eras and different continents and when I started DJing in my early 20s it was clear that my love for music would never be suffocated by one genre. Even though I love Hip Hop and follow a lot of new sounds, my record collection consists of more Miles Davis, Jorge Ben Jor and Barry White and that’s what I listen to more of these days when i’m not writing. As far as what kind of artist I’ve always dreamt of being, it’s mainly been a quest for giving the least shit I can for what people expect from me and the ‘normal’ way of doing things."


YOUR THIRD EP 'T A K E 3' HAS JUST DROPPED. WHAT'S BEEN THE FAN REACTION SO FAR? 

"The reaction’s been great, the EP has a very old school Hip Hop flavour to it which is quite similar to some of our older more popular tracks like Childhood and Chances. The EP has a bit of a summer-time in London theme also; so releasing it at the start of the summer got a great response and turned one of the lead tracks from it ‘Happy Like The Sunking’ into a bit of a summer anthem for us!"


THE EP IS ECLECTIC IN ITSELF, AND QUITE A LARGE STEP AWAY FROM THE FIRST TWO EPS. DO YOU CONSCIOUSLY TRY TO EXPAND AND EXPERIMENT ON EVERY RELEASE, OR DO YOU JUST LOVE TRYING OUT NEW THINGS AND SEEING WHAT STICKS?

"The music just happens, it’s always reflective of our mood and feelings at the time of its creation, but we’re constantly looking to grow and develop as artists and experiment with new ideas. We also have opinions of how similar a lot of music is sounding these days and it’s always been important that we come with something different."


SAGE - LYRICALLY, YOU'RE NOT AFRAID OF CHALLENGING POLITICAL ISSUES. WHAT THEMES DID YOU SET OUT TO TACKLE ON 'T A K E 3'?

"T A K E 3 was us confirming our foundation with Hip Hop (because a lot of our music is very experimental and some might say is not Hip Hop), so with that in mind I wanted to approach it loud and arrogant but Zen as what is with Subculture Sage. When writing for T A K E 3 I was remembering all the fun that goes on during the summer but also keeping in mind all the bullshit that’s been going on everywhere over the past few years. I’m a very philosophical person also, so often I’ll go to places with my words that encourage self-development and understanding, which two of the tracks heavily revolve around also."""


YOU'RE SET TO HEADLINE LONDON'S OSLO ON 7TH NOVEMBER! FOR ANYBODY WHO HASN'T SEEN YOU GUYS BEFORE, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE SUBCULTURE SAGE LIVE SHOW?

"Our live show is very different than hearing us on record. Our stage show is a very live and interactive experience and we also tend to dabble in the odd bit of ritualistic sage burning so we engage as many senses as possible."


SPEAKING OF LIVE SHOWS - WHAT'S BEEN THE MOST MEMORABLE OF YOUR CAREERS SO FAR?

"Over the years there’s been a bunch of incredible ones. Touring with and opening for The Pharcyde, Dead Prez and Pharoah Monch obviously was amazing. We also did this one show in Leeds one time when so many technical faults happened, it completely fucked everything we’d planned so we had to wing it. A bunch of crowd members came up on stage and we ended up spending half the set making music live on stage and conducting rap battles between the crowd."


WHEN YOU GET UP ON STAGE, HOW MUCH OF WHAT YOU'RE PUTTING ACROSS IS YOURSELVES, AND HOW MUCH IS A PERSONA? DO YOU FEEL LIKE SOMETHING TAKES OVER WHEN YOU GET UP IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE?

"There is this sort of trance like state that does come over us when we go onstage but it’s definitely still an extension of who we are. There’s many years of work that goes into becoming confident on stage, especially with both of us having the experience from our younger years of doing what we did."


WHAT'S THE DAILY ROUTINE FOR A GIG DAY? WALK US THROUGH IT... DO YOU HAVE ANY PRE-GIG RITUALS TO WARM YOU UP FOR A SHOW? HOW DO YOU GET PUMPED UP?

"To be honest, we actually don’t get pumped up. We go all weird and insular and end up not chatting at all for at least an hour before we go on stage!"


FINALLY, HOW BIG A VISION DO YOU BOTH HAVE FOR SUBCULTURE SAGE? DO YOU PLAY THINGS DAY-BY-DAY, OR ARE YOU THE SORT OF PEOPLE WITH A GRAND VISION YOU'LL STOP AT NOTHING TO ACHIEVE?

"Our vision for Subculture Sage is sky high and we know full well what we’re capable of and what we deserve. Life is day by day though but you gotta dream big."


Subculture Sage hit London's Oslo TOMORROW! Grab your tickets by clicking the big red button below 👇

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