Collaborating with everyone from the Mars Volta to Jamie Cullum as part of the Handsome Boy Modelling School moniker, the super quirky, uber cool and just a little bit off kilter production team of 'Prince' Paul Huston and Dan 'The Automator' Nakamura or as you might know them Chest Rockwell and Nathaniel Merriweather, bring an element of handsomeness to the proceedings...
How’s everything with HBMS at the moment?
D: It’s great we’re over here looking to open up a new school…
P: we’re looking at a few locations, a few properties, some investors, so it’s been a good time. And oh yeah we’re doing some shows too…almost forgot that part.
D: We did a show yesterday and it was very nice and we’ll have fun tonight hopefully.
P: Oh yeah it should be a lot of fun and a lot of handsomeness going on
Have Chest and Nathaniel come over as well?
(Long silence then laughter)
D: What are you some weird guy or somethin? Some kinda pervert?
Where did the whole alter ego thing derive from?
D: Hey man just be yourself.
P: Yeah that’s the bottom line, people think like Chest and Nathaniel, is that something extra and it’s like no, it’s just a birth given…
D: Birth names yeah…we just try and let it all hang out…
P: Its Paul and Daniel...
D: Metaphorically speaking…
P: Paul and Daniel are just names we use for the stage. It seemed easier at the time.
Do have any opinions on the current state of U.S. hip hop?
D: Well it doesn’t compare to the Super Furry Animals (in reference to my t shirt)
P: Who knows?
D: I’m actually cool with it, I mean there’s a lot of shit right now. Maybe like 99% shit but the stuff that’s good is also the most popular stuff for the most part so… when you look at Jay Z, Nas, Outkast, Ludacris, Eminem, whatever, the guys who are on top are selling the most records, not the super pop guys, but the guys who are MC’s selling the most records, are the best MC’s out there right now and I really believe that. I’m pretty proud of it. As in the cream has really risen to the top but at the same time, there’s a lot of shit out there.
Do you think ‘protégés’ like 50 Cent have the longevity and credibility to be the future of hip hop?
D: I think they make decent records but more the guys I’m talking about are the elite of the elite
Does it compare to the golden age of hip hop?
D: I think it depends on your perspective. I think there were more interesting records being made then but the impact hip hop has on the world is much bigger right now and its good to see that impact is being made by people who are on top of their game too. Even though I personally prefer a lot of the older records.
So do you think hip hop’s becoming too commercial?
D: I don’t know. I think the era is also more attuned to hip hop at this point you know, so yes, maybe it’s become more commercial but at the same time people are more equipped to listen to hip hop than they were back when those records were being made.
Do you buy into the UK hip hop scene at all?
D: I like Dizzee Rascal. I like Mike Skinner. I like Roots Manuva and all that kinda stuff.
Any possibility with working any of the UK acts?
D: I mean if someone comes up to me and were like ‘hey do this’ and they’re doing something good I don’t see why not, you know? More English bands have come up to me for that so far.
You’ve worked with so many people any particular favourites?
P: Um, not really. I mean we all look at it as though they’re all great people to work with, nice graduates, all great songs, so you don’t put really one over the other. I mean there’s different experiences you know when you think of the wine, the women…
D: the women…
P: and the women…
D: and the women…
P: and the women, but we’ve always had a good time no matter who we worked with.
Is there any sort of selection process for the artists you work with, like a scoring system or criteria they have to meet?
D: It’s more organic than that, people come up to us when we’re working on a record and we take it from there.
Is it true you’re producing Franz Ferdinand’s next album? (Dan)
D: I wouldn’t say that’s true, but I will say this, I’ve been in the studio with Franz Ferdinand and I’ve done songs, but since there is no album, I don’t know if I’m making this or that. Ask my people, but I cant say I’m producing anything for them or not. See what happens and if it happens.
How hard is it to try and fulfil your creative ideals but retain a sense of commerciality?
D: At this point in my life I just like music and it doesn’t really have much to do with genres and specific type of stuff. If you listen to a Handsome Boy Modelling School record for example, or you listen to all the other records I’ve made in the last 10 years, it’s hard for me too say one thing or the other.
Any defining moment’s of your career or a production you’ve been especially proud of?
D: That’s two different questions I suppose, but the career defining moment was when the Dr Oktagon record came out. That’s when people got to know who I was and what I was about. There’s a lot of moments. Each record I would make I kind of like equate it to a snapshot of time, so for each moment it’s probably the proudest moment of that period, so I can’t say one thing really covers the whole gambit.
P: I think as an artist, I mean as being a part of a group it might be Stetsasonic which was in the 80’s and defining as a producer would probably have to be 3 Feet High and Rising, but I think as a full body of work 6ft Deep, Gravediggaz and as far as like the most interesting accomplishment, it would have to be Handsome Boy Modelling School. You know as my friend Chest would say…
What was the last thing you hated with a passion?
D: The last election.
P: The last thing I hated! Hate is a very strong, strong word but if I had to have hated anything I could go have bronchitis (Laughter) and I wasn’t feeling good, and I was forced to go on the road, well not forced but I had to, so that I did hate…
D: And Mike threw up on the airplane so it was kinda an odd week…
P: other than that I don’t really hate that much
Can you sum up Handsome Boy Modelling School in three words?
I feel handsome already.