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Ceebrolistics interview
by Edna Nelson
2009-11-02 07:56:32
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Ceebrolistics have been dropping beats on Finland since the early 90's and like any experimental Hip-Hop group they are pretty complicated guys, but unlike other Hip-Hop heads I've met they are pretty friendly too. Before a show in Helsinki I caught up about the band, Finland and the serious lack of competition.

celebrotics1_400Mattip, Roopek (with many names) and Michael Black Electro (formerly known as Pijall) started making music when they were 12, at that point Roopek says: “In Finland we were listening to this American west coast Hip-Hop that was all about rather than the east coast stuff people were into.” Mattip says they got access to the music through trading tapes with people from the United States, and we started ordering magazines. The music magazines where filled with these adds for artists. Then, let's say we ordered, a cassette from Artist X and he thanked like artist Y, Z, and so on... I would underline them, and write it in a notebook, then search for those names in the magazines. If I found it in an advertisement in a magazine I would send money, basically send like hard currency wraped it in some foil paper and put it in an envelope and send it to the States to order another tape and then go like: 'Wait a hold on, who's on it, who are they thanking?'” and thats how it all really started.

When they started making music Ceebrolistics were just a few guys in Finland trying to get their tape out. As Roopek describes it “When we started there was no labels putting out shit, so we put it out ourselves.” But since then a lot has changed, the group has put out a record under EMI, have been on plents of tours, had a short documentary made about them, and done projects with both major art museums in Helsinki. “Now-a-days you have the whole Internet world open, which is completely, utterly different from10 years ago, 15 years ago, 20 years ago.” explains Mattip, “Since 1999 there has been mainstream Hip-Hop in Finland. So, the young kids are used to it, it's a commodity.” which has made the game totally different today continues Michael Black Electro “The amount of work and effort now-a-days is different from when we started. There are these people with big names to look at like a mirror. We didn't have any mirrors so, we had to make everything by ourselves.”, “Our mirrors where somewhere else and we had to reflect ourselves on completely different people doing different shit, and then, then you had to sort of make you're own way with what you're feeling and with what you're doing.” continues Matti “Like there wasn't a guy who looks exactly like me with a straight cap rapper style being like 'yeah yeah yeah I'm the hottest shit around.'” Yet things haven't changed so much today, according to Roopek “If you're gonna start hyping yourself and talking about money and girls you know, even though some people really enjoy that stuff and DJ's play you know American stuff, you can't really do that here.” being a small country there are still some things that define Finland as different, “We don't relate.” Pijall explains, “You can't talk about mansions, we don't have mansions, some people have mansions, I mean of course everybody would like to give their mother a penthouse.” But, “as with anything Finland is still a 5 million persons economy like there's a market, but it's like 60 times smaller than The States and 6 times smalled than Germany for example.” adds Mattip. There isn't much money in the business, and happily for them that means fewer groupies.

Despite the slow cash flow in comparison to other pioneers in Hip-Hop being a part of a small scene does have it's benefits, “Compared to the States for example when the underground artists started becoming bigger and bigger, people started making compromises with their sound and what they were doing.” Mattip states matter of factly “At the same time in Finland there have been a whole load of people who have been doing the same thing for a long period of time and getting recognition for what their doing. For example this one guy who's really into Bob Dylan and basically does Bob Dylan Rap. All the magazines write about, you know, his Bob Dylan Rap, and it's acceptable. He puts out tapes, and thats okay. Even in other European countries that would be considered highly underground, and there would only be a small and really limited audience. In Finland you get press and people are interested in all sorts of stuff, unorthodox rap things also.” also Pijall notes “It's easier here to get into the scene if you can call that name, or get into the Genre or what ever you would represent. It's easier to know people, and from that when you know certain people they will tell their friends so things will get easier.” But unfortunately Roopek adds “people do music and they put it in the mixer and then the put it on the Internet, no one hears it. There's no more do it yourself system people don't put out shit for themselves, like release records.”

With the development of the Internet, young musicians are having a totally different experience from what the Ceebro guys experienced. Outside of the effects of the Internet the is one thing that we can all agree on, and that is that outside of Bob Dylan Rap there is a serious lack of creativity in the Finnish Hip-Hop scene. Some people blame MTV, but Roopek reflects that “I remember watching MTV, which had just started in like 1987 and MTV pushed like Run DMC, Michael Jackson and all this stuff, and I just made it my own, started doing my own music you know? Maybe the thing is, you gotta make you're own stuff. Become inspired and do you're own thing. That just doesn't happen somehow. I would love to see groups under 18 like coming up with good stuff. I know that elsewhere this is happening but I dunno why it's not happening in Finland. There are lots of people from elsewhere, not like, native Finnish people, and it would be really interesting to hear some of those people do some interesting stuff... I dunno, somehow I'm waiting, even though I'm not totally just into Hip-Hop anymore, I'm waiting for those young people to come up with good shit. Like, 'Whoa this is the next level, I wanna be on battle with this shit.' But there's none.”

If there's one thing that gets the band more excited than talking about how badly they want some good music to come out in Finland, it's God and the deeper concepts of their music. As Michael Black Electro says: “We started off as a Hip- Hop group who tried to make a message, not trying to make a money. Now a days it's only about the market it's trying to make yourself a dollar so you can live. But when we started, we had some message we wanted to cross over. And thats why we are so different.” and Mattip adds: “Our credo as a band has gone from prescriptive to descriptive. We are still talking about the same stuff. The same experience and a lot of it has to do with something lets say a bit deeper, and the sound that we're doing, even though it's danceable, and it's dance music and it's for the clubs and stuff like this. We are not shy to talk about, we've never been shy to talk about it, it's never been like Tit's and ass, and tit's and ass, even though that might be in a song or two. But then at the same time we could go like, 'I am no one, no one is I am', talking of God, in a club context, we don't see a friction between that and the surface material.” along the same lines Michael Black Electro continues “Like we don't have the god and Satan complex that people have. Like 'There is the church, for the good, and the club for the bad, and you are worshiping the devil.' we are like 'Nahh, it's all the same' it's all the same and all the other stuff their talking is bullshit because they're doing it everyday, and every way behind closets.” But, Roopek concludes: “of course you have to be open minded so that you can dig our stuff.”

Not only is this group into God, but they seem to be into just about everything else too! According to Pijall he: “'now-a-days Michael Black Electro is getting down with Red Bull doing sport and Hip-hop which is kinda nice also, I've been doing a show in Istanbul last spring in a Formula 1 after party, and it's been really funny. From this crew we can reach everybody, and it's not about money. It's about letting things happen.” and Mattip reflectively adds “there's this level of Ceebrolistics which is what we're known for when people are in for a Hip-Hop night, and our music is on the verge of it. But then we're sort of like OG in the way we're on the verge of it and people don't know what to expect from us. You can also go to like a formula one party, a Ceebro gig, you can go to like a 3.5 hr ambient show, and all of this is like the same energy, but in different elements. Half of the Ceebrolistics music is in English and Mattip states” the only difference between the Finnish audience and other audiences is that they speak Finnish, so they understand a little better.” This band is definitely worth a listen whether you understand all the lyrics or not, the feeling of listening to their music can only be described by someone Michael Black Electro knows “he said that our music is not like DMT, but you sense a feeling that, something happens in your brain. Like some element your body starts to produce when, you listen to a certain type of music.”And that type of music is; Good Music.

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