Wednesday, February 15, 2012


NUVO supplies The Proforms interviewed by Kyle Long

(Skittz, Joe Harvey, ACE ONE and DJ Spoolz)
pic by Jordan Harrison @nerdswantrobots

Atavism, the debut LP from The Proforms, sounds like a classic even on the first spin. That's due in no small part to the group's predilection for the vintage sounds of early '90s "golden era" hip-hop. Proforms beat maker and emcee Joe Harvey grew up on the classic hip-hop sound of producers like Pete Rock and DJ Premier. But it's more than that; Atavism is a finely crafted piece of hip-hop. "I don't believe in making disposable music. We put in a lot of time, energy, and sweat into making this music," said Harvey. The Proforms are an Indianapolis hip-hop supergroup. Anyone who has paid only the slightest attention to the local music scene over the last few years probably already knows who these guys are. The individual histories of each member constitute a large chunk of Indiana hip-hop history. The group features two of Indy's most dynamic emcees, Ace One (of s.a.i.n.t. RECON, The Breakdown Kings, Justice League) and Skittz (of Mudkids, Breakdown Kings) backed by one of the city's best producers, Joe Harvey (Twilight Sentinels) with up-and-coming turntablist DJ Spoolz (Scoot Dubbs, WhoisLouis) rounding out the crew. The group was born from mutual friendships. "We would all be chilling together for hours and hours," said Ace. According to Joe Harvey, that's an important element in the group's dynamic. "There has to be camaraderie; we have to be friends. It's been the same in all my projects; we were friends first and then we decided to make music together," Harvey said, adding, "My main goal with music is to have fun. That's why I've always worked with friends. When it's not fun, I won't do it anymore." That sense of camaraderie and friendship comes through strongly on Atavism. Despite being the group's debut recording together, The Proforms sound like a seasoned veteran unit, trading rhymes and verses with ease. A mutual respect for one another as artists pulled the group together, in addition to their shared friendship. In particular, a respect for Harvey's skills as a beat maker was unanimously cited by the group's members. "I'm a true fan of Joe Harvey as a producer," Ace said. "Joe Harvey is a super producer. You know it's a Joe Harvey beat when you hear it, just like you know it's a Dr. Dre beat. The dude is bad, period," he said. "If you see the name Joe Harvey on a production, you know there is gonna be some ill drums attached," said Skittz, adding, "Musically, it's the difference between someone who gets on a computer and throws something together on Fruity Loops and somebody that really hones their craft." "His beats embody that raw, boom bap style, which is the core sound of hip-hop," says Spoolz. But the Proforms are not a one man show. Harvey points to Ace One's "aggressive energy" and Skittz's "laid-back, but stern and occasionally abstract" rhyme styles as a key component of the group's appeal. Although Harvey created the beats for all but one of the album's tracks, he insists Atavism is a group effort.
"I did all the beats, but the album was produced by The Proforms," he said, continuing, "We discussed everything together. From the order of the tracks, to the order of the rhymes on the songs." But it is Harvey's old school beats that provide the group with its defining characteristic sound. Don't call The Proforms revivalists, though. They view their preference for vintage hip-hop sounds as a genre choice, not a throwback to the '90s. "It's just a genre, it's a musical choice," said Ace. "Some people choose to do swag rap; we do boom bap hip-hop." DJ Spoolz declared that the boom bap style "should never go away," and added that he's "happy to be part of a group that keeps the sound going." To get an outside perspective on the Proforms, I contacted local hip-hop connoisseur Nick Saligoe, better known as DJ Metrognome. Saligoe is best known for his Tuesday night residency at Coaches, Indy's longest running hip-hop night. Nick's impeccable musical taste, expert mixing skills and devotion to the preservation of hip-hop have earned him a place as one of the city's foremost experts on the subject. "I really dig Atavism. I think it showcases some of the best elements that Indianapolis hip-hop has to offer." Saligoe told me. "Joe Harvey is a phenomenal producer," he continued, citing Harvey's use of hard drums and soulful, funky samples. "Any fan that grew up with hip-hop in the '90s and early 2000s should appreciate [Atavism]. I think it's a really strong record and deserves recognition as one of Indy's best releases from 2011," said Saligoe. Despite specializing in a style that is commercially out of favor, The Proforms have set big goals for themselves. "We want to expand outside Indiana, outside the Midwest and outside the country," Skittz said. Ace One admits he would like to see the band tour Europe. "I don't dream that big. But Ace helps with that. He says 'I wanna go to Europe with this project,' and that's not crazy. It's a reasonable goal," said Harvey. But, ultimately, Harvey takes a more restrained view. "I don't have delusions of grandeur. I don't think I'm gonna be a millionaire off this, or a pop star. I had that attitude when I was in my twenties. It's an art, and you have to do it for the sake of the art," said Harvey. Regardless of the album's commercial fate, the group plans to stick together and continue recording. In the words of Ace One, "The Proforms are about saving the world one dope hip-hop song at a time. It's all preservation and perpetuation. This shit won't stop."

No comments:

Post a Comment