Interview Mndsgn x Ivan Ave

© Photo : Laure Chichmanov

Le producteur californien Ringgo Ancheta aka Mndsgn (Stones Throw Records) et le rappeur norvégien Ivan Ave (Jakarta Records) étaient de passage à Paris le 7 mai dernier pour un concert exceptionnel au Divan du Monde organisé par les copains de La Mamie’s . Ils posaient leurs pieds dans la capitale pour la première fois pour nous offrir leurs différents projets. Mndsgn était là pour interpréter les dernières pépites issues de son album Yawn Zen et Ivan Ave l’accompagnait ensuite pour jouer les très bonnes tracks de leur projet commun Low Jams. Le public, venu en masse ce soir là semblait apprécier leurs prouesses respectives et a même eu droit à quelques sons en exclusivité. La Mamie’s nous a offert le privilège de les rencontrer avant le concert pour leur poser nos quelques questions. On aurait pu passer des heures à discuter avec eux mais le temps nous était compté. On a donc retranscrit tout ce qui c’était dit. C’est parti.


♦ First we wanted to ask a general question about France like if you know any French rappers or producers ?

Ivan Ave : Yeah of course, I really liked Saian Supa Crew. It was during probably the best rap period in France right ?! This is the French band I used to listen to when I was younger… There were other artists I don’t remember the name but Saian Supa Crew was definitely a band I followed.

Ringgo : Man I am sorry but I kind of feel ignorant about French hiphop. But yeah Hazel is an Australian producer living in Paris who is definitely a cat to follow.

I.A : I also like Dela, he is a a producer from Paris doing jazzy hiphop music.

♦ What about Norway is there a booming hiphop scene or is it still small ?

I.A : There is a scene for Soulful music and in my circle I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by dj’s and friends who are into good shit. In term of hiphop scene there are a lot of funny stuff going on. There is a big hiphop scene like in many european countries but I don’t consider being apart of the big scene. I just feel I have my scene, where we all play boogie and soul fucking great music. We have great parties but we don’t have strictly hiphop parties. Oslo is a cool city, for its size. It’s a cool place to be in in term of nighlife but the kind of hiphop that I do is not being that big.

♦ Is it the reason why a lot of « foreigners » produce your music like SHUNGU (Belgium) and Mndsgn ?

I.A : I have also been working a lot with my man Fredfades from Oslo. Most of those collaborations come by like naturally. You know, I reached out to Ringgo, Shungu reached out to me so you know it just happens. You just have to use your ears and if the shit sounds good and if you feel you are like on the same page we try to build something great. By the way, its cool to be from a generation where it’s easy to be in contact with the world.

R : It’s the Internet man, it changed everything.

♦ Ivan, we were just wondering, as your scene in Norway is not as big as others like Los Angeles one. Could you move there to get closer from amazing producers ? Being closer to Ringgo and other great producers like Knxwledge, Iman Omari..

I.A : Well to be honest, I have been to the US a lot, I went to school to the Middle West, I lived in NY for a while and I have had some great time in America but I just feel I need to live to be closer to my family so I don’t see myself moving anywhere. I am an uncle now and in Oslo I also have great movements of music around me so for now I don’t feel like moving. But its a fucking blast to get to travel with music and hopefully I will be up in California pretty soon.

♦ So Ringgo, what’s so special in L.A and Highland Park that you can’t find anywhere in term of hiphop mood ? Where your music influenced by L.A ?

R : Well I grew up in New Jersey and I started making music there. But yeah my music definitely changed by being around all those great producers. You just can’t compare the music I was doing and the music I produce today. In L.A I just feel that the energy is so vibrant with the weather and the musical climate. Its just a crazy city to live in.


♦ We both heard a lot of Low End Theory parties occurring in L.A, is it a myth or is there really something special there. I guess you first went as an audience and then as an artist performing.

R : Well it’s always great having a show at Low End. Those parties are definitely about the community. They put on so many cats and they are so consistant, it’s every Wednesday and actually not that far from where I live. It’s always great to be there, even when I don’t perform there, it’s always great to meet people. That’s actually where I met a lot of people. And from what I remember as my personal experience I know that’s where I was going to see homies and yeah it was all about the music. That’s actually the most important aspect of those shows. I first played there in 2011.

♦ Los Angeles really seems the place to be as you also have the Boiler Room project « Breakfast with Ringgo » ? How did it come up ?

R : I have to admit that my girl Sofie who curates the US Boiler Room approached me with this format idea, she already imagined the all concept before asking me and yeah I’m glad with that. I can invite friends playing at my place. The first ones were kind of organic you know, we just played music and stuff but then we changed the approach for more performances, interviews… It is a new project so new ideas will definitely rise to build something great. Three are on the Internet and the fourth one will be published soon.

♦ And what about Stones Throw Records ? They are also based in L.A, you seem to be part of a great structure surrounded by great artists. What is your relation with them ?

R : Yeah that’s a great structure, we all support each other. My man Knxwledge just released a new album by the way its called Hud Dreams. And yeah he is a very good friend, you know we met when I was still in New Jersey, he is also from there and moved to Los Angeles so we kind of experienced the same change.

♦ We also want to talk about your last project Yawn Zen and about your influences for this album. I was surprise when I read that one of the track was influenced by Conan Mockassin’s music.

R : Yeah true. As you say this is not the same kind of music but I was listening to different music style at the time and I just get inspired by many things. I wanted to create something different and try to be out of my confort zone so yeah Conan Mockassin was one of the inspiration. He is also a great vocalist and as you noticed I use my voice on Yawn Zen. I use it on few tracks because I still want the vocals to be sparse and you know I see my voice as another instrument. I don’t want the music to be dependant on the vocals. It is not really the approach that I have. Song writing is definitely a great art and I enjoy it and I will explore it more.

♦ And what about other voices, you also seem to enjoy producing for rappers, Ivan Ave is the best example..

R : Yeah I also definitely want other vocals at the same time. Having my vocals is nice but there are other voices I also enjoy a lot like Ivan’s. I can’t tell more but more projects will come soon.That’s definitely a project but in due time. You know I just feel time is moving so fast and what I wanna do is always changing.

♦ Ivan let’s get back to you, we were wondering if Yung Lean brought something to the Scandinavian hiphop scene and if you felt it benefits to other young rappers ?

I.A : Well, that’s the thing with rap music and Scandinavia, that’s something we don’t really have. Personnaly, there is no particular style we can call Scandinavian hiphop. There are a lot of individuals style and that’s cool. I mean, you know Trap music is the dominant trend right now and yeah Yung Lean is the man for this music style. I actually respect him and respect his music but I don’t know too much about him. I have friends who are also doing really well commercially in Norway with trap music but I prefer doing my little bit shade on the side. There are a lot of trapy shit going on lately and it definitely goes to Scandinavia too. But you know that’s not my style. There are not many jazzy stuff as I do going on but I think it evolves. So I don’t know if we could say there is a proper Scandinavian style when it goes to hiphop. You know we are actually small countries so we don’t ever have a genuine movement from within, we always pick whatever we like from the U.S or from Europe and then adapt it.

♦ Do you have any new projects together ? You released a great E.P so we hope more will come.

I.A : Yeah true, Ringgo did beats for my E.P on Jakarta Records called Low Jams and I have a new record on the way, My next project is the called the Fruitful LP, with producer Fredfades and it will also be on Jakarta Records. It is like a duo piece. That’s the next step and this is planned for the summer. I will also be part of a mixtape with different cats on the beats but I don’t want to say too much about. And then for me and Ringgo, we have some more tracks coming. The track Forks is part of one of our project and more will be out soon.

♦ What about the visuals idea, we were wondering how and why you decided to have a VHS video clip for your latest songs..

I.A : The VHS idea was just something fun and low budget I have been wanting to do with my friends Moe Chakiri and Erik Treimann. Ringgo’s beat suited the look of the hi8 camera, so we went for it and messed around.

♦ Ringgo, what about your last Tour in Asia, you went to different cities like Seoul, Tokyo but also in Philipines. How did you feel back there ?

R : Wow it was so important to me you know, my ancestors are from Philippines. It was my first time there, I have family there and I hope I will play more times. It was a real chock but also amazing to see where my family is from. I will definitely go back there, it’s an amazing country.

♦ We have another general question for both of you on the actual scene, what is the last album which impressed you ?

I.A : Well I go first because there is this band Hiatus Kaiyote and the album is called Choose Your Weapon. Its an Australian band, it’s like soul but futuristic, it’s really dope.

R : For me it might be Kendrick Lamar last album To Pimp a Butterfly. The production, the message, everything is so perfect. The team with him like Terrace Martin, Flyling Lotus, Thundercat and others, that’s insane. Snoop is also featuring on the album.. It’s probably one of the best hiphop album ever. I loved the previous one but this one is by far better. For me it’s like a movie. I think in the future this album will be see as a masterpiece. And I also enjoy a lot because it’s within my head space you know thats why I like it so much. I live in L.A so it talks to me.

I.A : Yeah, I completely agree. As an outsider it really sounds as L.A, it’s a real west coast record but it’s not a retro west coast. That’s the actual hiphop and the team around him on this album is just amazing. And there is a Swedish producer Tommy Black, he produced the track Institutionnalized. So shoots out to Scandinavia.

♦ That’s a question we always ask in our interviews : in a Utopia, which artist, dead or alive, and where would you like to collaborate with ?

R : I would like to work with J Dilla and in Detroit for sure.

I.A : I would love to do a real rap album with Herbie Hancock and it would be called Herbie and Ivan Live from Japan.