A week ago Nathan Williams from Wavves sent over an eight song demo called Sweet Valley without much explanation. It's eight songs of what sounds like dreamy/underwater hip hop beats which make use of a lot of ghostly sounding soul and garage rock samples. Then his press guy announces that he's made a remix of a song. It seems that Nathan and his younger brother Kynan are now a production duo and their remix of "Wack But Good People" by Gift of Gab is their introduction to this new facet of what Nathan is and does. I love the Williams brothers and I just know you're going to love them too.
I asked Nathan about what was up with his new project.
VICE: Are you bored of rock 'n' roll?
NATHAN WILLIAMS: Yeah I suppose so.. at times.
Is this the first time you're publicly sharing a remix you've made? How long have you been doing hip hop production?
I've been working with a friend of mine (John Hill) for a while now. The Gift of Gab remix in particular was done by me and my little brother (Kynan Williams).
You sent me this eight track set of songs called Sweet Valley. Is this like your hip hop beats demo reel?
Yeah, I guess you could say that. Mine and my little brother's. He produces it all. It's become more than a demo reel as of late. I've started to pick certain songs and photos and put them together into clusters of folders titled Sweet Valley with tons of nonsensical, inane notes about the overall 'feeling of things' which is normally my process for organizing 7"s and LPs.
Tell me about your relationship with your brother.
He's my younger brother. When we were kids I used to be really into WWF and I'd suplex him all over the place.
What's your process like when you're doing these songs?
It varies depending on the song. Lately I'll pull a few records and just sit down and listen to them with my brother. After that we'll choose the samples/tempo/vibe and kind of construct the song from there.
Is licensing a concern at all? One of the songs on that Sweet Valley demo you sent me is clearly a Beatles sample. There were also a few other easily placeable samples in there.
It crossed my mind. I know eventually we'll run into some problems, but for now it's a pretty low-profile thing so fuck it. Initially we made it to give away for free anyways.
How's the work shared between you and your brother?
Well we've only been doing it for maybe two weeks now, but I'd say it's split pretty evenly. He's the real wizard though, I mostly act as a "composer" of sorts. I'll verbalize a melody or construct a skeleton of a song by playing the notes on the piano or guitar, and then he will give the idea life. After that we'll both pick out the appropriate 808s, high hats, or whatever other drum sounds need to be added.
Which producers do you look up to? Maybe it's all the samples but I can't help but think of Prince Paul.
Yeah, I love Prince Paul. For me I wanted to have my personality and my element on there as well as my influences. Early Diplomats. "Hey ma" and "oh boy." Just Blaze. I love Clams Casino and Lex Luger. J Dilla was a huge influence for both Joel and I.
Are you trying to sell beats to rappers? Could you see yourself becoming a Rick Rubin-esque type guy?
I mean I'd love to hear someone rap on it but I didn't make it to sell. I haven't really thought that far ahead about it, I'm flattered nonetheless. We just thought it sounded cool and maybe people would want to listen. You're actually the first person I sent it to, Nick. Do you feel special? In a homosexual way?
Check out this funny video of goof around jams that Kynan sent us: