Words: Matt Innes
The release of a brand-new EP heralds the triumphant return of pioneering Aussie hip hop innovators, Fonke Knomaads.
Few artists have had such a prolonged impact as the musical partnership of MC John ‘TeOP’ Riley and John ‘DJ Soup’ Blake. Formed at the nascent of hip hop culture, Fonke Knomaads have maintained their status as champions of the genre and have only gotten better with age.
Fonke Knomaads released their new EP ‘FreakWild’ in November, their first batch of new material since their highly-anticipated debut album ‘Cleopatra’s Bath Milk’ in 2008. It comes after a lengthy period of gestation and development that began as far back as 2012.
“It’s funny,” Riley says, “like art, sometimes it takes ages and you’re working on something and it’s not quite there, and you tweak it and change it. Then other times things come together really quickly and the next minute you’ve got a very well developed track you can tweak a bit and put out.”
John goes on to explain that at this stage of their careers, Fonke Knomaads no longer make music for the sake of making it, preferring instead to take as much time as is needed to ensure the finest and funkiest result.
Get the new Fonke Knomaads EP ‘FreakWild’ now at www.madcaprecords.com
“We love our back-catalogue and the discography we’ve been able to build over the years, but there’s no use putting something else out unless it’s better, unless we can take it up a notch and do something we haven’t necessarily done before, experiment and come out with something that we’re really super happy with,” he says.
“That’s why we’ve been slow with this [EP]; we’d rather be slow and take our time with it and come out with something super solid from our perspective; we could put out a lot of music fairly quickly but we want to keep raising the bar on ourselves. Thus the break, but we’ve been working away in the background chipping away and we’re pretty stoked to be coming out with ‘FreakWild’.”
His partner-in-rhyme DJ Soup is the musical nerve system of the duo, preparing and serving up fresh beats and rhythms that underpin Riley’s lyrical mastery. Theirs is a 30-year friendship that Soup says provides the basis for the music in the first place.
“Our motivation for making music [now] is probably a little bit different to when we made ‘Cleopatra’s Bath Milk’, I suppose,” he says.
“We’ve been good friends for close to thirty years and went to high school together. We like hanging out… that connection between the friendship and making music, it’s really a hobby and it takes a long time because it’s a different focus to the way it used to be.
“With ‘Cleopatra’s Bath Milk we were focussed on making it happen and now it’s like, hey we really enjoy this and we’re happy to do it but it’s done when it’s done and what comes out is something that makes us happy and it’s not really for anyone else. Whereas before it was more about what other people thought.”
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‘FreakWild’ is the first in a planned series of Eps and singles from Fonke Knomaads to be released over the next year or two, though Riley and Soup say they’re not committing to a strict timeline.
“We have a long term goal and that’s to keep putting these singles out over time and the timeframe we’ve got in our heads is over the next year,” Soup says, “but whether that blows out to 18 months or two years it doesn’t really matter. The fact is we’re still doing it and we’re still getting together every week talking about life and making music as part of it.”
‘FreakWild’ and the entire Fonke Knomaads back catalogue is available now at www.madcaprecords.com