For 4 long days, thousands of music fans poured into the Gorge to check out some of their favorite bands and soak in the amazing scenery. On my final day, I was fortunate enough to sit down with Seattle hip-hop duo and Sasquatch vets, Fresh Espresso. P Smoov and Rik Rude took time out of their hectic schedules to talk about the current state of hip-hop in the northwest and the release of their new album, Bossalona, which comes out June 5th.
So let’s start at the very beginning. How did Fresh Espresso first get started?
P Smoov: I was living in LA and Rik was living in Seattle, and I stumbled across his Myspace page and thought his voice sounded dope, and I just started emailing him beats and then eventually I moved up to Seattle.
Did the move to Seattle have an effect on your music?
PS: Yeah, in LA I was working in major studios like The Village recording studio, which is Steely Dan’s recording studio and Westlake where Michael Jackson did “Thriller,” and I was basically a runner and assistant engineer for these big wigs. But I wasn’t making a ton of my own shit. So when I got to Seattle I started my own studio and started doing my own thing.
Who are some of your biggest influences musically?
Rik Rude: When I started working with P, I honestly stopped listening to a lot of outside influences because he has such a unique sound. I know that sounds cliché, but outside of our genre I mean I listen to things other than rap music like the classics or whatever. But I started hearing this dude’s production and it’s just so ahead of its time.
PS: I’m influenced by a lot of my friends too, like all of these Seattle cats that have been getting big in the last couple of years. You know, there’s just so much talent right around me like Cloud Nice and Don’t talk to the Cops, and they’re really influential to me too because they’re so close to me doing amazing things. It’s something I can reach out and touch, you know?
A lot of people tend to think of grunge and alternative music when they think of Seattle. What do you think about the current state of hip hop in the Northwest?
PS: I feel like the Seattle hip hop scene is finally starting to come into its own. Before it was very emulating, and it seemed like [artists] were just trying to obey the rules of hip hop, like “Oh I gotta respect the tradition, it’s got to be about this, it’s got to be about that, it’s got to be hip hop.” But now we can push the limit of what hip hop is.
RR: To be the devil’s advocate to my partner here, there’s a lot of people who laid the foundations and opened doors, so I always want to respect the tradition, even though the tradition is always evolving.
So tell me a little bit about the new album, “Bossalona.” Anything you guys did differently?
RR: I think in this album in particular, the growth of us not just as artists, but as human beings is huge. There’s a song on here called “Goodbye my Love,” and I think when that song hits it’s going to touch a lot of people. Just a lot of maturity and growth, but it still knocks.
So you guys are Sasquatch veterans. How many times have you been here before?
PS: This is my fourth year straight, but don’t tell the promoters or they might stop! It’s not fully just for Fresh Espresso though. I’m in another band called Mad Rad, so Mad Rad played the first year I was here, then Fresh played, then Mad Rad played again then Fresh Espresso played again. So I’m just going to keep making new bands so I can keep playing Sasquatch!
RR: Then on my end I performed with Fresh not this last year but the year before, and then I came back this year with Fresh Espresso and I’m also in another band called Metal Chocolate. So this is my second [year] but my third time playing.
What makes Sasquatch different than other music festivals?
PS: The backdrop. Yeah man, you’re out in nature. This is like the mini Grand Canyon, and the fact that it’s a mixture of famous bands and then just the cream of the crop of what we have locally.
So what does the future hold for Fresh Espresso?
PS: Off of our record we just made, we have like 8 songs that didn’t make the record so I want to maybe make a couple of more songs and put that together into something, but that’s unofficial. I haven’t even talked to Rik about that yet!