Interview : VOR (Voice of Reason)
Voice of Reason, welcome to the Consciousness Lounge and thanks for blessing us with your time.
sunchild: VOR can you introduce yourselves and tell us about who you are and what you do?
VOR: Ekse yo da Mense how goes it with you all? VOR is an acronym for Voice of Reason which comprises of Moegamat Z Abrahams aka Modus Operande spelt M O ‘would you like a demo’ and Mitchan Adams aka Pinkaso DA Producer.
We are a rap duo slash two-thirds CEO of the record label Scratch beats entertainment, www.scratchbeats.com , the other third being Clint Winaar aka Fish Maestro. We are based in Jhb, South Africa.
sunchild: Tell us about the history of VOR and how the name came about?
VOR: It’s been a very long road. Back in the late 90’s, I (Pinkaso) started flowing in parking lots with friends to instrumental beats we made, using Windows sound recorder to cut loops from songs. I then took it to the next level where I actually started writing down my lyrics with solid topic matter and song structure. This passion was shared with a friend of ours, Warren Carolus(Wakes), now the CEO of C4 Events. We started writing tracks together and I started making beats on a program called Muzy.
Modus Operande and I had attended high school together and lost touch after a few years of leaving school. We met again in varsity discovering that we both had developed a passion for hip hop and writing lyrics. Modus joined Wakes and I in our writing sessions and we formed a group then known as “Trigger Happy Hippies”(THH). We recorded in my room on a P1 with a cheap Pro Sound mike using Windows sound recorder as our “cubase”. We did a mix tape of what basically was a bunch of guys getting drunk and free styling over tracks. We called it “The Bootleg”. The mix tape got a lot of play on the streets and people started feeling our flow. I started using Fruity Loops to make beats after meeting Rahim (obeats) of CloneProof. With the improved production we needed a better recording setup; enter Titus Track Productions. Titus Track had setup a home studio which pushed out good quality.
We started recording solid tracks at their home studio and pushing it out onto the street and people started feeling our music. While Mo and my skills were evolving, Wakes’s events company, C4, had started picking up and his focus had left THH. Wakes left the Group and Mo and I formed a new untitled duo. We met a group of guys who had formed a company called “Bruin Produce” and had set up a studio in the South of JHB. We went through to check it out and were messing around in the studio with a “documentary type voice” using hip hop lingo. Imagine a prim and proper Englishman saying “word up my homies, keep it gangster”.
We dubbed the voice, “The Voice of reason” and started making many skits using the voice, which eventually lead to us calling ourselves “Voice Of Reason” (VOR). We recorded our first single as VOR called “I’m A Hond” which became an anthem and earned us a name in the underground scene. Since then we recorded a few other songs at Titus Track’s home studios up until a concert was staged called “Awe-ness”. Awe-ness brought a lot of the underground rap groups together to do an open air charity rap concert in the west of JHB. After that concert we were inspired to register a record label called Scratch Beats Entertainment to release our own music as well as other peoples.
sunchild: How would you describe your style of music?
VOR: Experimental is the first word that comes to mind. Think of hip hop in the early 90’s as producers started moving away from the common hip hop drum loops and bass drops. Topic matter became very relational to everyday life and wasn’t too much about politics or ‘gangsterism’.
Cats still had that story telling content going but started picking up different ways of flowing. Now take that and put it in the digital age and you get us.
sunchild: Is there an artist or band that you can say your style is similar to?
VOR: So far we’ve been dubbed South Africa’s Red and Meth, others say we’re like Cypress Hill. We’d like to think we’re like Biggie and Pac combined or maybe Nas and Jigga as a duo.
sunchild: What are you inspired by and what is your writing process like?
VOR: We are inspired by everyday life and our own life experiences.
We would go out one day and experience some mad ish that stirs up ideas and there and then, in our intoxicated state of mind we start brainstorming.
We used to write tracks beforehand and then come to studio and record it, but lately we just have a bunch of concepts and a bunch of beats. We go through the beats and the one that grabs our ears, we pick. From there we match a concept to it and start writing.
sunchild: Do you use any gimmicks or subliminal messages in your music?
VOR: Gimmicks and subliminal messages? Hahahaha. Nah man, we do what one would call relative music. We story tell on our own experiences our random conversations guys have. Basically what the ordinary dude on the street can relate to. No gangsterism, no bling bling. No flashy cars. Just everyday life, work, party girls, beef between crews, things like that.
sunchild: How important is it to stay “real” in your line of music especially when there are so many rappers in South Africa that rap with American accents?
VOR: Hahahahahhaaaaaaa…ay bra…for us, staying real in all that you do is really important especially when it comes to music. Music is an expression of one’s self but I say to each their own.
Dudes say that rapping is like singing and there is a certain singing voice you need, we say pfffffffffffffffff.
sunchild: Do you think this phenomenon is a product of MTV or personal choice?
VOR: Well I didn’t have MTV up until I was 21. I think Channel O hit our TV screens when I was 16 or so and by then I was already fully into hip hop. I blame studio mix, zero hour zone, that music show on bop TV and P.O.C live performances.
sunchild: Are you signed to a label and how is your music sold and distributed?
VOR: Indeed we are, Scratch Beats Entertainment baby!!! Since we are the CEO’s we need to be signed under our own label. Currently we are doing the whole mix tape thing. We hand out free discs at a clubs, and performances and through our website. www.scratchbeats.com .
We are in the process of creating a fan base and then will be dropping an album in stores soon.
sunchild: Is it easy for an artist in your genre, to sell and promote music in South Africa and what is the current response and demand for your music at present, in terms of CD sales, online purchasing, and live gig attendance?
VOR: Letting people know that your music is out there is reasonably easy and distributing it as free music just for marketing purposes is easy too. The problem comes in when you want to make a profit from it. You cannot approach CD stores directly because they use an agent aka middle man, which frankly I feel they do nothing.
You take on all the costs and risks of putting the CD out and all they do is put it in the store and take a cut of the earnings. There are currently 5 agents in the country. Digital distribution is an easier way; however this gets you a fan base internationally. Locally the youth haven’t taken to e-commerce, mainly because they try to stay out of debt and do not have credit cards. Well that and the whole online fraud scare.
If locally your music isn’t getting out, your gigs will be empty, and to be honest it’s very hard to get a crowd’s attention if you are just some random artist stepping to the stage to perform. The people seem more interested in drinking and dancing to familiar music. My advice is, hand out a lot of free music to get your name and music out there, create a following, hence being more than just a random artist at shows and then start charging.
sunchild: Where can people find out more about you and purchase your music?
VOR: Well they can hit us up at www.scratchbeats.co.za or www.scratchbeats.com or on Facebook under the Scratch Beats’ group page.
Free downloads are available at the moment .
sunchild: Do you have any gigs coming up and if so what are the details?
VOR: We had one…on the 27th March at FTV café. It was a Redfin Productions event in conjunction with the launch of Vato clothing label. The event has been postponed for some or other reason, but we shall keep you posted via the website www.scratchbeats.com
sunchild: Do you have any final words or comments for the Consciousness community?
VOR: Thank you for taking the time out to learn more about VOR, we hope you guys follow through and invest your hearing into our material and some of our artists’ material and maybe even become a fan. We love getting feedback be it good or bad. Good builds our confidence and bad to improve. If you are an inspiring artist, please try blocking out monotony and push your creativity instead of recreating a sound someone else has already made commercial. I know labels look for marketable music, but that is for fly by nights and if you stay true, you’ll make it eventually with career longevity. It’s not easy, if it was, everybody would be doing it. In the words of Pinkaso; “Persistance Is Easy” copywrite.