Jul 12, 2016 1:20PM

BadBadNotGood Are Bringing Hip-Hop Infused Jazz Vibes To The Tip

Good guys.

The legends known as BadBadNotGood are experts at combining the best of your favourite genre and your dad's favourite genre — hip-hop and jazz, duh. They've worked with rap lords like Ghostface Killah and Mick Jenkins, grew up on jazz, and have probably the sunniest disposition in the whole of Toronto the world.  

You may have noticed that we fan hard over them (see here, here and here for evidence), so we were stoked to get a chance to yarn to bassist Chester Hansen about everything from how he views the relationship between jazz and hip-hop, to what it was like working on their hugely hyped album, IV. Learn some new cool things about them and get at their masterpiece below.

Madeleine Woon: Did you guys grow up in musical households? What are some of your earliest memories of vibing on jazz music?
Chester Hansen: Definitely! For me personally, my parents were both avid music listeners and fans. My mom is a very talented singer-songwriter and they both encouraged me to get involved with music from a very early age. My dad was always a big jazz fan and listened to tons of different jazz around the house, which would have probably been the first time I heard it!

You guys are clearly very keen on collaborating, something that is still evident on your IV album. What is it about that process that appeals to you?
Collaboration just adds a whole other dimension to making music. The four of us have gotten so used to working together that it can be really interesting to throw someone else into the mix. Another person might suggest things that we would never do, and have ideas that we wouldn't which can take the music to a whole new level! We hope for many more collaborations in the future.

Other than including big names like Kaytranada and Future Islands' Samuel T. Herring, I think I speak on behalf of a lot of people when I say thank you for including Charlotte Day Wilson's vocals on the album! She complements your music so well. How did you come to work with her?
Thank you! Charlotte actually went to the same high school as Alex, but we only really connected after we played a few shows with her band in Halifax. We were really stoked on her music for a while, and then finally got her in the studio last year. We were blown away by how talented of a singer and songwriter she was, and it was a pleasure to work with her in the studio. We think the song turned out really well, and we're honoured to have her on the album.

You've worked with some pretty big rap names, including Ghostface Killah, the Odd Future guys, and more recently Mick Jenkins. How do you view the relationship between hip-hop and jazz?
The two genres have always been connected, and they have so many similarities. Jazz is usually focused on a soloist and how they interact with the group, and the same for hip-hop which features a rapper and how their rhymes flow over the beat. There is a huge focus on presence, personality and storytelling. In recent years, there has also been a lot of crossover and collaboration between the two genres which really leads to some cool music. Artists like Kendrick Lamar and Kamasi Washington among many others are bringing the two styles of music into the future!

It's so great that you're bringing jazz to the tip for so many young people. Where's a good place for those new to jazz/experimental jazz to start out?
Wow, tough question! A few top albums for us are Steve Kuhn's 1971 self-titled album, Arthur Verocai's self-titled album, Eric Dolphy's Out To Lunch, Contours by Sam Rivers, and John Coltrane Live At The Village Vanguard are all great places to start.

How important is improvisation to you guys?
Super important! To us, it's the soul of our music. It keeps things interesting, fresh, and creative for us and for people listening. Our favourite music consists of tons of very skilled improvisers and we love to carry on that tradition.

If you had to play to a crowd of five people, alive or dead, who would you pick?
Paul McCartney, Wayne Shorter, Ram Dass, Arthur Verocai, and Marcos Valle, maybe?

What were some of your most memorable experiences working on IV? Do find it tough to work so closely as good mates, or does it help?
Yeah, it can be very tough. We've spent so much time together that we're all like brothers at this point. Sometimes we can have arguments about where the music should go, but for the most part we've always been on the same page. We're all laid-back people that love music and we love creating music together.

What are some of your all-time favourite jazz, soul or funk samples in hip-hop?
Another tough one! A Tribe Called Quest's sample of Ronnie Foster's 'Mystic Brew' is a classic.
Madlib's sample of 'Way Star' by Rubba for 'Thuggin' was amazing. Madlib is a sampling genius, his flip of 'Americana Latina' for 'Raid' was awesome as well.

Shouts out to our friend Frank Dukes for making tons of classic samples like the sample for 'Real Friends' by Kanye.
What does the future of jazz look like to you guys?
It looks great! There are so many amazingly talented musicians and artists out there, and the public's ear is tuned into jazz-influenced music in a big way right now. We're so excited to see what the future of music holds — it's a very exciting time. 

You can grab yourself a copy of IV here, or stream it below: 

Photo: Courtesy 

Madeleine Woon