I love Scarecrow since they popped out few years ago. Their music is a blend between Blues and Hip Hop and I believe it’s awesome. I took the chance to interview Slim Paul, the charismatic singer and guitarist after their gig at the Trad’in Festival in southern France.
Introduce Scarerow to our readers and tell us what drove you into Electro Blues ?
It’s not Electro Blues, it’s Blues Hip Hop ! It’s our flag, our musical concept. Our website is blueshiphop.com, you get it ?
I don’t know how it happened but it was very natural… The first guy I met is the rapper and scratcher (Antibiotic). We met in Toulouse. We were hanging with some friends by the Garonne (River in Toulouse were people love to chill out) drinking and making music. I was playing some blues and rock on the guitar and he came over and started to rap.
So that was 5 years ago right ?
Yes 5 or 6 years ago. Quickly we met Jamo, our bass player. He is also a drummer and I met him in a club during a jam session. I really had a crush on him. That’s how Jamo became our bass player !
He knew a really good drummer from his music school and brought him into the Scarecrow project.
We can feel on the stage that you guys are together as one. I really enjoyed seeing you guys performing live.
I know what you mean. Each one of us as it’s own music influences. When we’re on stage together, we do it together. We love to play the songs we create.
When you go into the studio how do you translate this jam session into records and then how do you bring it back on stage ?
It all comes from the blues. It is the starting point !
I create music with my guitar and write somes lyrics so I bring the band the main theme, the idea.
Then we get all together in the studio and share ideas.
Do you go in real studio or do you do it in your own home studio ?
Most of the time we go to Antibiotic home studio.
Your music mixes samples and live instruments, french and english, It also belongs to Hip Hop and the main ingredient is the Blues. What is the message and can it be compared to the orginal blues message ?
Of course there are many many influences, you got it mine is the blues. But I’m not trying to act like a bluesman. I’m here to play my blues because I have my own things to say and chords to play. We play our own Hip Hop, with so many influences, we mix what we want to say in two different languages. It is very interresting because Antibiotic has it’s own method and writes in French complex ideas. I write with less words in English.
Why do you sing in English ?
I tried to earlier but I couldn’t find my way en français. Weired, isn’t it ? It’s my mother tongue but I felt much confortabe with english… I had to sing in English because of my musical education. I used to listen to Otis Redding, Ray Charles, Jimi Hendrix, Robert Johnson, you know what I mean… They were like fathers to me !
About the videoclip « The Well » It takes us into a ride in Toulouse. Do you have roots in Toulouse ? Does the city inspire you ? Is it part of Scarecrow’s identity ?
It’s very important for us. We are not going to anoy everybody with it and bring out our flag everywhere, everytime. But we want to share our roots and show others where we live. That’s where we have our friends and family, where we all met and first started to play together in small bars and clubs.
Talking about roots, do you feel close to New Orleans even if you’re from France ?
We’re not americans and we are not trying to compare ourselves to them. We just play Blues and Hip Hop and even if these 2 main music genres came out in America, we play it because we just love it and we’re playing it our way… And the good news is that since last year we’re starting to travel more and more all over the world to play our music and yes it comes from Toulouse.
If you seek deeper for roots then you realise Blues is African. You know what I mean. No slavery, no blues. I’m not african and Eric Clapton neither… (laughter)
What do you think about the remix phenomena ? Everybody is a DJ, everybody is a producer and takes blues, swing, folk music from their country to remix it. That’s what is happening everywhere… Do you feel close to this or are you doing something very different ? What you think about all theis remixed music coming from everywhere ?
I don’t know… because… in a way you can say I’m remixing blues even if I use my guitar but I don’t think is a bad thing. It is bad if you don’t play with your heart, if the plan is just buzzing on the web, making big money only. But it’s fantastic from your Home to share your music to the world. Just do it with your heart and a strong will to make it work !
So is it Scarecrow’s secret? Is there’s a plan ? What is the plan ? What do you want to achieve ? Are you just doing it with no plans ?
We just live in the present and we love it. We grow up everyday. We want to play in America, Japan, Australia… We want to play all over the world ! If that’s what you call a plan, well that’s our plan…
Are there any collaboration with other musicians, producers, studios, sound ingeniors ?
We want to play in the USA next year. We have the project to trip from New Orleans to Detroit. Nothing is sure yet but I want to see Menphis and Chicago. I’ve never been there yet !!
We’re lucky to play NYC in August this year. It’s going to be the 1st time in the States and it’s really something for us all even if we’ve already been to Italy, England and Germany but you know we’re that french band that plays american music, who are diging this sound so yes it is important to play there.
About featuring, guests and production, we’re not used to play music with people we don’t know. We’re not trying to get anyone famous only to make a featuring. It doesn’t make sense to us to do this only to get more fans or likes and views on YouTube.
In case we meet Ben Harper in America I hope w can make a featuring with him (laughters)
I hope it’s going to happen for you, he’s a great songwriter and musician…
Well he’s my teacher in fact but he doesn’t know it yet (laughters)
Who are the original Blues Music artists you recommend to our readers ?
Even if he came after the first ones, I have to name Robert Johnson. If you don’t know the blues, listen to Robert motherfuckin’ Johnson. Then I’d say all the guy from the Chess music label, Muddy Waters, Hollin Wolf, Chuck Berry he’s a revolutionnary musician. He invented Rock & Roll. Chuck Berry is one of my favorite artist of all times… Listen to Ray Charles, a great blues & soul man. HE plays country music, black & white music at the same time. Jimmy Hendrix is one of my favorite of all time to ! What he gave to the world in 4 years is just amazing.
I can also name Sun House and Skip James and JB LeNoir.
Listening to you live, I will name one guy I believe your voice could be compared to : Lightin Hopkins.
Oooh ! Thank you… I couldn’t say and to be honest I don’t know his music well enough!
Some call it Blues Hip Hop, Electro Blues, Vintage Remix, Antique Beats, whatever… Are there any other live bands or similar projects to yours you like and feel close to ?
I have to say that most of the time I’m a bit disapointed. It’s really rare to find creative and original stuff comming out there. Most of the time it is the same thing I heard 10 years ago and it really breaks my heart. Nevertheless, we met some really good good bands. Some try to take risks and mix things that shouldn’t work together like Miss White and the drunken piano from Grenoble. I believe I didn’t find a contemporary band that really makes me fly ! From times to time I have a good surprise and then I go to the band to say Congratulations ! But most of the time I say nothing (laughters)
I want to thank you for tonight. That really was a great show. I loved how the stage is set with no decoration. Simple lights are doing the job. It’s quite minimal but an entire universe at the same time. Remind me in some ways Lars von Trier’s Dogville.
Last question is : Ask yourself a question and answer it.
(time goes by… laughters) Ok yes I got it !
My question is : Are you going to continue your Blues Hip Hop music ?
And my answer is : Yes, Forever !
Photos by the great mapy ;) Thanks to the Trad’in festival for inviting us to the show!!!