Fresh off a tour with Theophilus London, nine-member “collective” Phony Ppl are ready to take on their hometown — New York. Their first album, Phony Land, heard the crew of youngins fusing jazz, soul, R&B, rap and hip-hop together into melodies well beyond their years. But today, the boys – Elbee, PJ, Dymez Bass, etc – release their more hip-hop leaning output Nothing Special, available for download right here.
On the eve of the album’s release, we took 10 minutes with Phony Ppl to talk to them about their influences, their style, and why Obama is obsessed with their music.
Swagger: So how did you guys meet?
Elijah: Throughout high school and junior high school in Brookyln. [But really] the love of music.
Swagger: So, why do y’all refer to Phony Ppl as a collective rather than a band?
Elijah: Alright, we call ourselves more of a collective than a band because more than just playing instruments and creating songs as a whole–which is amazing and we love to do it—we also have our own entities in which we produce, song-write, we do a dance, whatever like, mix, we do it all, dj sets, like—more than just a band we try to cover all aspects of all music.
Ian: We’re just gonna try to take over everything.
Elijah: Yeah, we’re trynna basically take over the whole fuckin’ world.
Ian: Like we’re gonna come out, we’re gonna make our own recording studio, then people are gonna come through and be like, collab with us. But now we got a guitar player, now we got a drummer, now we got him singin’ on it—whatever you want we got it right here.
Swagger: So how do the streets and street style influence what you guys are making?
PJ: The streets definitely taught us that, you know, nothin’ comes easy, you gotta earn what you get, and you know, shit is hard out here.
Elijah: And it keeps us from bein’ corny, I feel.
Ian: We talk with the people who struggle.
PJ: And, you know, right now I have zero dollars in my pocket. Why? Because I’m hood. And I ain’t worried about how I’m getting home, I know I’m getting home though. [laughter]
Swagger: What about your style? How does that inform what you guys wear?
PJ: Our style is glossy.
Elijah: Yeah, it’s just the way we live, like, in terms of style, like clothing and just how we carry ourselves—the streets are just there, like we there every day, we pick up little things from everywhere that we go, so, just like, we kinda adapt whatever we see and whatever we like, at the end of the day it’s whatever we like, that’s what we gon’ do and that’s how we gon’ carry ourselves.
Ian: And the streets keep changing, so we gotta keep changing too.
Elijah: It’s more than the streets, it’s Brooklyn really. Like, Brooklyn is so ingrained in all of us that like, regardless of if it’s the hood part or the posh part of Brooklyn, we find influence somewhere and there’s always pretty girls.
Swagger: Yeah, I don’t even know if I have to ask this question. Who takes the longest to get ready?
Everyone [including Elbee]: Elbee!
Elbee: Only reason I would say me is because I say I’m gonna be somewhere sometimes, and I’m like way late.
Swagger: Ok, so, you guys have a before show ritual?
Elijah: Yeah, we all get in a circle, take a shot of Jameson and Red Bull—we get in a circle and we connect through each other’s brain powers—we just touch and we breathe deep before we go on stage—*singing*
Ian: I’ve never heard that before [laughs].
Swagger: What about working with Theophilus London–how was that?
Elijah: Theophilus London, which means lover of god—that guy and his team are like big brothers to us at this point, like they, uh, they’re fun to travel with, they definitely teach us a lot without tryin’, like just to learn what it’s like to be on the road with a more established situation, and they always show us mad love, and, uh, we went on tour with them, and we went to DC, and every single girl in DC came apparently, it was on the news, and apparently there was a big pregnancy outbreak. You know what I mean, they just teach us, like, to really be about love and music and um, it’s just cool to have that experience and be able to be with your homies in one situation and then further on in the music industry like what it’s like when you get a little more established and stuff like that, and you get it from a different perspective.
Swagger: What’s next for you guys?
Matthew: We got a show July 24th at SOBS.
Matthew: We’re headlining our first SOBS headliner show, it’s gon’ be real ridiculous. Uhm, and then, you know, past that we trynna really take over the world. I mean, me and Barack Obama we tight like that. Me, him and Chief Keef—we all have meetings in DC, so, you know, we just really trynna get this money.
Elijah: I heard Phony Ppl, like, I heard President Obama is like a Phony Ppl fan, so like, that’s our good luck. Both his daughters mess with us.
Bari: Phony Ppl is real, uh, and Obama approved.
Matthew: And Colin Powell approved!
Swagger: There it is; Ten minutes with Phony Ppl, we did it!
Phony Ppl: Can we have, like, an outro?
Download Nothing Special here.