Exclusive Q&A: Beans of Anti-Pop Consortium

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Anti-Pop Consortium will release Fluorescent Black , their first record in seven years this week. That’s worth talking about (Pitchfork called the electro-fused “Capricorn One” “one of the best surprises of the summer”), but it’s not what the foursome really want to discuss. Crew member Beans is already on to the next project.

Talking from a New York studio, where he’s working on a new record with jazz pianist Matthew Shipp, he’s also wrapping up his next solo record and thinking about the next Anti-Pop record — where he hopes the experimental hip-hop quartet will explore more sounds and genres. With most other experimental hip-hop catching up to Anti-Pop, Beans and co. just want to move further. “We’re still figuring it out, but we’ve had two years time to get it together, get reactivated,” he says. “We had a five year break. Break’s over.”

Win tickets to Anti-Pop Consortium’s CD release party tomorrow night at New York’s Santos Party House. Just leave a comment below and we’ll pick a winner at random at the end of the day.

“Born Electric” by Anti-Pop Consortium

“Capricorn One” by Anti-Pop Consortium

Flavorpill: You all stayed active, individually, over the five year break-up. How did you know when it was the right time to reunite?

Beans: It was an event that came during my birthday. It was initially through an ex-girlfriend — she pushed it and talked about it with them individually, and then we were like, “Yo, you know what, it’s time now.” That was in July [2007] and in August we went to Earl’s and had a meeting. We discussed the type of things we wanted to get across doing and then it just started happening. After we had announced it, we were touring immediately. Our third tour out was with Public Enemy, Edan, and Kool Keith. As we started to get reacquainted and acclimated to one another through touring, we were working on the album in-between being at home.

FP: What’s the biggest change for you all since worked together on Arrhythmia?

Beans: In five years time people mature. We’ve just accepted each others’ differences as men with responsibilities.

FP: So you’ve just gotten older?

Beans: You just become more accepting. You just say, “Well, he ain’t gonna change, so fuck it.” It’s kinda like that. We definitely get along way better right now. Big time.

FP: A lot’s changed since Arrhythmia . Mainstream hip-hop has gotten more experimental, better at playing around with sounds. Did that make you feel like coming back as a group?

Beans: How they interpret what they’re doing as experimental is different from what we’re doing in experimenting. Because there’s still certain things we have as a goal that we want to do that we haven’t done yet, and we’re not hearing that from the mainstream.

I feel that what we’re doing now is contemporary and there’s a balance to introduce newer people who may not have heard us before and an older audience that grew up listening to us or are familiar with us. This album is more of a reintroduction. But the stuff that we want to do next? I’m not as concerned about people saying we’re not as experimental because what we want to do next is pretty ambitious, without talking about it too much.

FP: Maybe people are just catching up to you all.

Beans: Exactly. That’s how I view it. Instead of being against the grain, we’re somewhat current, so people are a little more adjusted to the sound, so for us that’s a good thing because it allows us access to a broader audience. The sound is not as foreign.

FP: But Fluorescent Black still sounds packed, as if you’d be saving ideas for the five years. I think that’s goes for lyrically, as well.

Beans: It’s just a matter of making it a ride, a matter of making it a listening adventure. Plus we’re older, so to me it sounds more confident than previous efforts. But as I said before, there’s still a lot of things we’re talking about doing that haven’t been done yet. This is just the beginning.

FP: Have you changed how you put together tracks?

Beans: Usually how it works is that any one of us can come with a track, and whoever lays the verse first, the others follow that example as the style. For example, with “Timpani,” that’s [M.] Sayyid’s beat and that’s him going “Whoooooahooo.” He did the track. So what happens with that is that he did the track, Priest laid his verse. And I wasn’t too sure what I could contribute as a verse, so I contributed a chorus. The second part of the song is from a rehearsal that Priest recorded. So we took the recorded half from the rehearsal and Earle pieced it together with the first half. And that’s how that song came about.

FP: Can you point to who did what? Like the album starts with that blast of guitar soloing.

Beans: That’s Earl [Blaize]. Earl is a metalhead on the low, honestly.

FP: Are you all still very competitive as far as producing, writing…

Beans: Are we competitive with each other? I am lyrically. Those guys are good writers, so you just always gotta keep your pen to paper. You gotta be really sharp around these guys. They kept me on my toes, but they always did.