PNC has just released his latest single, Ride, featuring P Diggs, which he says is the best indication so far of his upcoming album, ‘The Codes’, which he plans to release in early 2014. He’s been working away on the album all year, releasing various tracks, but feels like ‘Ride’, with it’s sound a mixture of Hip Hop and electronic music, fits him best. He spoke with me recently about being an independent artist now, his working partnerships with producer Matt Miller and one half of drum & bass duo ‘State of Mind’, Pat Hawkins and what we can expect from his new album.
PNC wears Stolen Girlfriends Club throughout. All images by me.
PNC : This whole year I’ve just been making a new album with Matt Miller and Pat from State of Mind. I finished up my contract at FMG (Frequency Media Group) at the end of last year, and just decided I’d have a go doing it independently. I figured that was the best move at this point. I moved back to Palmerston North for a bit and just started writing the new album.
Was leaving the record label a mutual decision?
It was sort of like, they said ‘Your contract is up and it’s up to you what you wanna do’. They weren’t like, ‘we definitely want to do a new album with you’, but they didn’t say we won’t do a new album with you. It felt like at this point it was what I wanted to do, to just take it into control myself. I wanted to have a go doing it. With Frequency we did a lot of good stuff together, and other stuff that didn’t work. I just thought it was time for a change to do it myself.
How have you found being on your own?
Both good and bad. I learnt most of the process with how you release music and how it’s done since I’ve been signed in 2005 / 2006. The best thing about doing it myself is I know what’s happening with everything, and everything is coming to me and you can make plans for what you’re gonna do and not have to go through a few people to do it. But at the same time, it means more work. But at the end of the day, it’s not ‘work’ work. You just have to put a bit more effort into different avenues, whereas before I just made the music and that was it.
Do you have an overall vision for your album yet? You’ve released quite a few songs, but I don’t feel like any of them are in the same vein.
Yeah, it’s funny because the ones we’ve released are all quite different. The album itself sounds like a cohesive package, a few people I’ve played it to say this is the most cohesive album I’ve done.
There was sort of the idea of how I released those songs up until now, was for the audiences that I wanted to hear them. ‘Kobe and Lebron’ was a straight Hip Hop thing, purely for the Hip Hop heads. ‘Love Jones’ was something that, I realized I hadn’t had anything on urban radio for awhile, and I wanted to re-establish those relationships, and those listeners. ‘Pop Somethin’ was something I just put out because I don’t think it will be on the album. I just dropped it as something free for people to download. ‘When I Fall Asleep’ was more just to do the video. The director, Sam Matthews, is moving away and I talked to him awhile ago about doing that, and doing it with Jaime Ridge, and I wanted to do that before he left. That was more Matt Miller’s classic sound.
What about your new single, ‘Ride’ featuring P Diggs?
This song is more an indication of the album, a combination of Matt’s Hip Hop sound combined with quite an electronic twist, that’s that combo of Matt Miller producing and Pat from State of Mind engineering it and co-producing songs. I think I’ve learnt this is my lane in making music, and what works for people and what I sound good on. It sort of fluctuates, the whole thing doesn’t sound like a dance album, but all the songs have that influence. It’s quite big sounding, it’s something I wanted to sound good at festivals.
Is that because that type of sound is something you got the most positive feed-back from? I noticed people really liked that ‘State Of Mind – City on Fire’ song.
I’ve never been like, ‘I want to sound like this’, whether that’s to my detriment or not, but this just fit me. If you’re looking at it from a marketing sense, it is something that I think always works for me. Songs like ‘City On Fire’, ‘Tonight’ or ‘Who Better Than This?’ they all have that edge to it. I know I have a lot of similar fans that are big fans of Dizzee Rascal or that type of person, so I’m glad with how it’s sounding because that’s my strongest suit in all aspects.
You’ve released a lot of songs, but ‘Ride’ is obviously geared towards festivals. Will you be playing a lot of new songs at your live shows?
Yeah, there will be a lot of new stuff off the album. Releasing this song, it just had to come out for summer. Everyone I played it to, said this sounds like a summer anthem.
What are you wanting people to take from your music now? I guess when you start out, you might wanna just flex your skills, but what do you want people to take from your music now?
I’m not saying anything new, I’m not trying to be like a super emcee rapper. It’s me just rapping about rapping, trying to be the best rapper I can, and talking about my life, telling stories about my life. I guess over the last year, I had more down periods, this is more on the upward turn. On ‘Under The Influence’, when it was down, it was quite down, it sounded like two different people. The whole thing was a depressed album in a lot of ways, but this one isn’t as much on that buzz, because I was out of that zone when I started making it.
How is the collaboration process with Matt Miller now, are you guys more comfortable with each other? Is it more a collaboration than before, perhaps?
Yeah, ‘Under The Influence’ was him just sending me beats randomly, with no real thought process, and me just sending him samples or types of songs and not really knowing where everyone would go with it. It’s like any working relationship, you just get more used to the way the other person works, and what’s good for them. Ideas of songs, instead of just carbon copying them, he’d make something new, and then Pat would adjust it. I wanted to mainly just work with those two because I recognize I have a good working chemistry with them and I knew I can talk to them easily about it. When making an album, that’s one of the most important things.
You’ve already mentioned it a bit already, but how has working with Pat from State of Mind influenced the finished product?
He’s recording everything that I do as well so it’s just been me and him in the studio, and it’s been cool, and because we’re such good friends it’s easy for him to tell me to do something again. He has quite a similar thought process to me, sometimes I think I will nail it on the first few takes, and I don’t wanna do it again, and the more I do it, the more it sounds worse. I can be with other engineers and they’ll make you do it over and over and it will start to become fake, and it gets lost in the mix. Whereas me and him, we work really quick, we both have the same idea, that if you’ve got it on the first take, that doesn’t matter, you don’t have to keep doing it. We have similar taste in music too.
You guys all party together as well ay? Does that help? Or does that have any kind of effect on the end product in any way?
I think a bit, because we have a party atmosphere when we’re recording, and I like that. It should be fun, it should be hard work, but it should be also a fun process when you’re making it. I think it comes through in the music, definitely. I think it works for us.
When can people start anticipating your new album?
The start of next year, like March/April I have it pencilled in. This P Diggs song is almost the first single off the album. It’s like Drake might drop heaps of songs during the year, and none of them make it to the final album. I wanted those other songs to come out, but I will try and make the album the best thing it can be, and I won’t feel pressure to put the songs I’ve already released, on it.
The way it is in New Zealand, you have to start putting out music, in order to be able to do things. You could sit on it and have the perfect plan, but then there’s the other thing where, this is my job. In New Zealand it’s real simple, you put stuff out, and you start working.
The title of my album, is going to be ‘The Codes’. There’s a song called, ‘The Codes’ on it, and I think that fits it.
And you are ‘The Code-Father’.
Yeah, ‘the codes’ is a saying that we say, made up or whatever, and it just kind of fits everything.
PNC stands for ‘Palmerston North Code-Father’ now.
(laughs) Exactly, that’s it.
Buy PNC’s new single ‘Ride’ here or listen to it below :