posted: 09-22-04
interview: charlie bucket
Felix is lead MC and Twinkie Jiggles is the bassists. They are the co-founders of the group.
Okay, give us some background on Heiruspecs and how you guys got together?
Twinkie Jiggles: In the fall of 1996 I came to Minnesota from Massachusetts. I met Felix on the first or second day of school at St. Paul Central. We were in a recording/performing program together. We bullshitted for a year, freestyling and whatnot, alongside ten other people doing the same. The fall of next year Felix was adamant about starting something more real.
We've had the name since October of 97. Everyone in the band went to St. Paul Central at one time or another and we met each other through music schools, community bands, talent shows and friends of friends. This lineup has been firm since 2003.
We came up in a great music scene and made early contact with hip-hop artists from around the city including Kanser, Atmosphere, Oddjobs, Truth Maze and a lot of others. We also started right as those lines started to get blurred in the Twin Cities and we got to perform with people all over the map stylistically. That cross-breed of influence can be heard from a lot of artists from Minnesota.
What made you become a hip hop band rather than another style of music or turning into a hip hop group rocking over sampled beats?
Felix: For me it was natural. No group is gonna form with me in it unless I'm rapping. I don't know how to DJ well enough, don't like singing, and can't play an instrument. When we first started I was a founder of the group. There was really no other way to go.
Twinkie Jiggles: For a lot of people born in the early 80s hip hop was one of the first art forms that could differentiate themselves from their parents. It was about the only music where I could enjoy complaints from my parents about the noise. Until they also fell into it; I dubbed "Phrenology" from my mom.
As far as going over samples: for me that wasn't the world I came from. I grew up not knowing what a sampler was and having a family where the instrument you played was dad's old classical guitar. It damn sure wasn't his nice turntable. Instruments were more accessible for me. But I tried to avoid having that dictate exclusively what type of music I wanted to make. So when I saw the opportunity to make hip-hop I wanted to use the tools I had already used.
You guys have been the backing band for Slug and others before. Are there some beats you have a hard time recreating? Are there some beats that you enjoy playing as a band?
Twinkie Jiggles: Trying to create other people's beats on live instruments always presents special challenges to us. The beats I love to play are the ones that I hated to learn. After all that struggle when it finally gets appropriate and feels good it's very pleasing.
Are there any producers beats you would like to flow over?
Felix: I have always wanted to rap over a DJ Premier beat. I don't think it counts when you rap along with a Gang Starr song. For the longest time he has been my favorite producer. I would love to work with DJ Shadow, Just Blaze, Timbaland, DJ Paul, or if possible Rick Rubin.
About how many days out of the year are you touring and playing shows?
Twinkie Jiggles: 150. It varies but that's a good indicator. Might be more this year with the new record and all.
Felix: It feels like we are out a lot more, but Twinkies right: about 150.
Do any of you have any good tour stories?
Twinkie Jiggles: Me and Peter Leggett - our drummer - got into a bloody fight in Lawrence, KS. Or the Black Eyed Peas were mistaken at Indian restaurant for us a week before we got into a town for a show. And we were on tour with Mac Lethal which is like one long story.
Felix: Mac Lethal had Twinkie thinking his dad was the Dean of Sprint. Twinkie had Mac thinking HIS dad was the president of the Ivy League.
Not really a crazy story but a pretty one: we swam in the ocean near Savanah, GA. watching a hurricane come in. Crazy waves, dolphins.... Sunset on one side and the biggest storm I've ever seen on the other.
What is the daily routine like when you are out on the road?
Twinkie Jiggles: When we're done counting all the money we made that night and kicking the Salsa band out of our hotel room, it's usually time for dinner: lobster, grits and cocaine made from Nutrasweet.
How does the process of creating a song go? Do the band members come up with a beat or do the MCs describe what kind of stuff they want and build from there?
Twinkie Jiggles: Usually beats are brought to the table in skeletal form and then coupled with existing lyrics or they are written for then. Our MCs sculpt the music with us and discuss how to change things but less often come in with a request for a mood. When we're writing we're thinking of that need for variety in moods so I think things in the right category usually arrive.
Felix: I need something to build a song off of. The bare bones that the band gives myself and Muad'dib, is usually more than enough to get things going. We usually come back to the band with the song more or less finalized lyrically. Then we flesh out the music and lyrics together. This way things lock together and it doesn't sound like a random verse or chorus over an equally random beat.
What are some of your musical influences?
Felix: I am all about DJ Shadow. He is the man. But also Three 6 Mafia, Slayer, Curtis Mayfield (RIP), RUN DMC (RIP JMJ), and back in the day Masters at Work.
Twinkie Jiggles: I am obsessed with a band from Austin, TX called Spoon. I have also been listening to Kanye West.
Tell us about the new record "A Tiger Dancing".
Twinkie Jiggles: Our new record "A Tiger Dancing" is our strongest effort to date. We made the record in September and October of last year and worked out the details with our label Razor & Tie in the new year.
Felix: This new record is the culmination of everything we have gone through since the release of our last record "Small Steps". We have lost members and changed/ matured/ dematured a lot since then and most of the material on the new record reflects that one way or another.
How is it different from your last release?
Twinkie Jiggles: This record sounds a lot less like microphones in front of a band and a record button. We made the record with Joe Mabbott, an engineer who has a lot of experience with sample-based music and instrument-based music. Using only live instruments, we worked hard to find sounds and feels that originated in sampled music. We also worked really hard on songwriting and breathing life into songs by making the music, lyrics and arrangements work closely together to tell the story or evoke the feelings they're meant to.
Felix: There are no guest rappers on the new record. We really wanted to stand on our own with this one. If you listen to a great rock record, there is no extra vocalist normally. It has become a strange thing in Hip Hop to have a guest on at least one song. There aren't many great rap albums I can think of that are just one artists/group and no guest appearances.
Our last album had guests. Now we wanted to do it the other way. Also, the new record is much more mature musically. I think we have found what we liked and decided to run with it. In the past we would do a little of everything somewhat randomly. Oh yeah, and it's bigger and better.
Minnesota seems to have a strong scene. Are there any MC, DJs or producers coming up that people outside should be checking for?
Twinkie Jiggles: Producer, there is Medium Zach from Big Quarters. As for MCs: Sims from Doomtree. These artists are just part of the groups they're from and those groups are just part of the scene they're from. There are a lot of amazing people making hip hop in Minnesota.
Felix: Also P.O.S. of Doomtree and 3SB of Twisted Linguistics.
Although we still have a few months as of today what is everyone's favorite album this year - doesn't have to be hip hop - and why?
Twinkie Jiggles: Murs "3:16". You can hum along to it, the lines get stuck in your head and it's leaps and bounds better than his record before. I also want to see the one emcee/one producer thing keep on reblossoming.
Felix: Lyrics Born "Later that Day" and Diverse "One A.M."
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