posted on February 22, 2009 18:00
Messiah J and the Expert's place in Irish music is almost unique. A rapper/producer duo that has found equal adoration among die-hard rockers and indie kids alike. 2008 seems to have been their year, and their album From the Word Go has been nominated for the Choice Music Prize. They answered a few questions for Cluas.
Tell us about the album. How long you worked on it? What snags you hit along the way, and how you overcame them? Looking back now, is there anything you'd change?
The Expert: First up, I wouldn't change a thing with this record as it's the best piece of work we've ever done. We definitely hit a few snags - as I'm sure all bands do - but no major ones, just things we thought were going to work but didn't, so we had to adapt; like strings not working on a song etc. We worked on it for the bulk of 2 years and was definitely the most difficult album we've made so far. We spent an awful lot of time writing and writing, scrappping bits, rewriting until it was just right. We were much harsher on each other than ever before and I think that really worked to our advantage. The writing partnership was much closer than before with both of us chipping in with each others ideas a lot more.
MJ: Exactly what he said. So proud of this record. Wouldn't change a thing except our bass player's nappy
Award nominations aside, were you happy with the response the album received?
The Expert:Yeah. We got our best reviews yet, and more importantly the general response from people is that they really like it.
How do you feel about the idea of music awards in general?
The Expert: I have mixed feelings. I suppose it depends on which awards ceremony it is, really.
MJ: They can be a bit silly but I think ones which have serious people judging all types of music for what it is are credible.
Do you think the idea of the album is a little antiquated in these days of single track downloading and plummeting CD sales?
The Expert: I feel that the album format is still the most important music format that exists. There are a lot of people who can be lucky and write one good song but trying to write 10 or more that all fit perfectly side by side on an album in one listen is a real skill. You don't watch certain scenes from movies or read certain chapters in books so why should we do that with music. You need to digest the full thing to get the complete picture.
MJ: I do my very best not to skip tracks on albums because they were all meant to be heard in a particular order. At least that's my take on it. It's definitely not everyone's - I peer over people's shoulders on buses and watch them put on one song on their iPod, not even listen to it through, put on another and then repeat this process til they've heard lots of two minute sections of songs. I cant understand it really other than it's probably a good thumb workout.
Do you feel the Irish music scene is in a healthy state at the moment?
The Expert: I think its in the best state its probably ever been. You have loads of different bands making loads of different types of music and that’s just really exciting.
Any artists who weren't nominated for the Choice Award who you feel should have been?
The Expert: No one will ever be completely happy I suppose, so it's a very difficult job nominating. I really liked a lot of the Crayonsmith White Wonder album.
Your favourite album from those also nominated for the Prize?
The Expert: Jape – Ritual.
MJ: Same here
Best gig you went to in 2008?
The Expert: Bjork in the Waterfront by a country mile. Easily one of the best gigs I've ever seen
MJ: Terry Callier at The Electric Picnic. Small tent, not many there...brilliant show.
Plans for 2009?
The Expert: A & B.
Any recommendations for the coming year (music or otherwise) you have to offer Cluas readers?
The Expert: Be nicer to grannies who cycle
MJ: Consider where Mrs. Mangle from Neighbours is right now.