Game Rebellion Talks Latest EP, SXSW, Fans, Working With J Period, And More – Part OnePublished by Krysten Hughes on Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at 9:00 am.
Brooklyn-based band, Game Rebellion, has been making noise in the Big Apple for quite some time. Not easily identified as an Afro-punk or Black rock band, but yet, a diverse mix with an eclectic sound crossing over from hip hop to metal at any given moment. Venturing outside of New York and taking over the world, one country at a time, Game Rebellion is comprised of an assortment of amazing, politically charged musicians who defy the standard, cookie cutter outline of the music industry. I was very excited to talk to some of the band mates about their music. Their experiences over the past few years are unparalleled and there is no other band that exists that possesses their skill and climatic elements. Meet Yohimbe (guitar), Emi (musician/vocals), Netic (lyrics and production) and Ahmed (bass). Aaron, the percussionist, was not available for interview. Later, check out part two for the in-person interview with Game Rebellion.
Krysten Hughes: What does your name Game Rebellion mean, and represent for you all as a group?
Yohimbe: Game Rebellion is a group of musicians that want to play their music for people all over the world. Over time we realize the only the way that’s going to happen is if we rebel. When we first started out, our name was Game, which was us first starting out in the industry. The Rebellion part was added on later, every time we wanted to go out and do our thing we had to rebel.
KH: Speaking of “Rebel”, your music has often times been described as defiant. What is your definition of defiant music?
Yohimbe: I think ultimately the music is reflective of the attitude of the band, just like the name. We aren’t comfortable with being maneuvered, and pushed around. We like to be free and self determined individuals. In all of the industries, not just the music industry there is a wave or a push to go in a certain direction. They’re just move along in their daily lives not knowing what all of these things mean that is happening in life such as the recession and the bailout. When everyone is going left, we might look to see why, but then we might decide to go right.
KH: Are all of you guys from Brooklyn? Being a Black Afro – Punk band, especially from Brooklyn is almost unheard of. What was it like first starting out and who were your audiences?
Yohimbe: The band has always been based out of Brooklyn. The members come from Brooklyn, all over New York and the world. I have lived in BK off and on since I was a kid. I’ve lived in almost all the boroughs as well as upstate, California, Maui, I could keep going. Being in New York and specifically Brooklyn has definitely shaped our sound. The band was started in a small room in Bed Stuy. Four of us lived, wrote, produced and practiced there. When we first started our audiences were mainly Brooklyn Hip Hop heads. We had a weekly gig in Manhattan. This spot allowed us to generate a Manhattan and uptown audience as well as got us a bunch of CUNY College gigs. We did a lot of gigs with the Black Rock Coalition and Afro-punk. To be honest our first audiences were our mothers, uncles and friends.
Emi: I think that people don’t expect to see us performing the way that we do. We put it all on the line at our stage shows. As far as us being an Afro-punk band, that would totally be the wrong box to stick us in. We had the opportunity to play with some great bands, and became one of the biggest draws to the Afro-punk festivals and shows, but our sound is definitely not ”Afro-punk”. No matter the venue, we put our all into our show and presentation. We constantly push ourselves to raise the levels of showmanship.At first, our crowd consisted of mainly friends and family who supported our movement and wanted to see us grow. When we were able to do bigger events and venues, we started seeing our fan base grow and grow. People really felt what we were presenting, and we kept pushing the envelope on stage. Coming from Brooklyn, we had to immediately set ourselves apart out the gate.
KH: You have a pretty large fan base, domestic and international; do you see the audiences changing at all?
Emi: Our fan base is so diverse. It is constantly changing and growing. When we go somewhere to perform, we leave making lifelong friends and fans. We relish the exchange in a new territory. Our focus is to solidify our fan base wherever we go. Building great relationships has helped to accomplish that. Our base will continue to grow.
Ahmed: Our fan base is a huge part of us. The attention we receive is quite remarkable. Our shows are all inclusive. All hands on deck. Age, race, ethnicity, religious creed, and even musical preferences are tossed aside once that first song starts. Our audience is always changing and always growing. The power of word of mouth amongst our fan base is also quite extraordinary. We love our audience and we look forward to see what it all turns into as the Game Rebellion bus keeps rolling.
KH: In 2008 you did a mixtape with DJ J Period. He is known for doing mixtapes with some of the greatest in Hip Hop like K’Naan and Lauryn Hill. What was it like working with J Period?
Netic: J is amazing. There are very few people I know that grind as hard as that dude. Plus he’s in BK so that was a no brainer. We knew we wanted to do the mixtape with a DJ who was as unique as we were. We had the records done already by the time he got involved, so at first I wasn’t even sure what or how he was going to be able to do add his stamp. But that’s what makes J special He takes great artists and puts his own stamp on them without them losing any of their greatness.
KH: Tell me about your experiences performing overseas? What was that like?
Netic: The world is an amazing place, and to be able to travel doing what you love with people you love is amazing. These are my brothers and I am always comfortable with them ‘cause they have been with me through some crazy shit all over the world. It’s always great playing overseas ‘cause people are just open and have no idea what to expect.
KH: Who are some of your music influences?
Emi: This band is made of pure musicians who are influenced by a wide range of music too numerous to list. It stretches the boundaries of classical to hard rock, blues to hip hop. Electronica to reggae. I could go on and on. I say this to say that the main reason we are able to blend different genres seamlessly is because of our musicianship. We are forever students of music itself, and are constantly learning and growing because of it.
Ahmed: Most of the music we listen to might not necessarily be expressed through our songs. Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, Stanley Clark, Metaligadeth, Prince, Bjork, Public Enemy, Bad Brains, Tupac, Jay Z, OC, The Cure, NWA, Nas, Albert King, Rage Against The Machine, BDP, Deftones, Organized Confusion, Boot Camp, Smif-n-Wessun, System Of A Down, Buddy Guy, Howlin Wolf, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Bone Thugs to name a few.
KH: Your latest EP, Sounds Like A Riot was released on January 18. On the song “2012″ the chorus goes “There’s a whole in the sky, The city’s on fire, You ain’t fly nigga, We’re all gonna die.” Tell me about that motivation behind that song.
Netic: That song is my personal favorite off the EP. I think that chorus is one of the most honest lines I’ve ever written. It speaks to our ridiculous tendency to obsess over shit that is really unimportant. I hear a lot of bravado and boasting in Hip Hop and I understand that, but the truth is “There’s a whole in the sky, The city’s on fire, You ain’t fly nigga, We’re all gonna die.” So we all can just shut the fuck up, it doesn’t matter how fly we think we are we sure as shit can’t fly so when the earth opens up and wants to swallow us there isn’t a chain or Louis bag in the world that can save us.
KH: You guys definitely have versatility because “2012” is a lot different than “Dance Girl”, which is a fun song I could hear that song in a club atmosphere. Tell me how your style varies and where you get the inspiration from.
Ahmed: Life is never just one thing. It is a crime to only investigate one side of yourself or your craft. Being a one-dimensional artist robs you of pieces of yourself and your true identity. We are trying to express all the aspects of our living conditions. So you will hear songs like “2012″, then “Dance Girl”, then “Rebel”, then “Back Down”, and by the time your done with the EP you would have fulfilled all your daily nutritional requirements.
KH: The video for “Blind” with the black and day glow paint splatter is ridiculous. I love it. How did you guys come up with the idea?
Yohimbe: We had been planning to work with BBGUN [productions] on our video. We had some ideas they had some. We had been tossing things around yet nothing stuck. One night at the close of our meeting with them they said “Oh yeah we wan to show you something we have been fooling around with” It was a very crude clip of an animated tape stick figure they had created. They explained the medium and we were with it.http://www.vimeo.com/8752180
KH: When does the full length album come out?
Netic: When the world demands it.
Are you guys going to go to South By Southwest this year?
Yohimbe: We are definitely going to SXSW. We didn’t go last year we had to focus on finishing the record and reorganizing ourselves. This year is going to be a blast.
KH: What tours, projects do you guys have coming out in 2010 that fans can look forward to?
Yohimbe: In 2010 be on he lookout for EP on iTunes and the video for Blind on our web page or YouTube. After that we have another couple videos dropping, the album, and the tour that starts after SXSW. We are coming to your town.
Stay tuned for in-person Game Rebellion interview coming soon.