When we stumbled accross Gypsy Unit a few months back (here’s to you Soundcloud) we knew we were onto a serious winner. Tearing up a genre busting maelstrom of fiddle laced urban mayhem, their supremely infectious choruses, rattling grooves and frenetic energy had us straight down the fortune teller in a balaclava. Already notorious as part of Dodge and Fuski, dubstep filth merchants whose forays into Grannystep had pensioners nationwide clutching their colostomy bags in terror, Dodge has crewed up with Bobylon, Kerry and Benjie - the seditious Stradivarius defiler to unleash the blistering sonic armoury officially known to anyone who will listen as Gyp Hop. Stripping the glittering dirt out of dubstep, welding it firmly to a hip hop flavour, and mugging the Gypsy Kings in a back alley, they’ve channelled it all into an impossibly fat and funky dancefloor pumping, neighbours thumping, bail jumping free flow assault...
Can you tell us a little about yourselves individually and your creative backgrounds
Gypsy Unit: Dodge is from Mid-Wales, and has been making music of varying quality for around 7 years. He also makes dubstep as part of Dodge & Fuski, and used to produce another hiphop crew called The Anomalies. Regarding Gypsy Unit he’s in charge of production and trying to rap. Bobylon has been going to festivals since he was a twitch in his dad’s nutsack, raps in his sleep and makes beans on toast to a very high standard. Kerry is Bobby’s long-suffering girlfriend, also from a musically diverse background and is a festival child at heart - she heads up singing duties. Benjie is Dodge’s brother (notice a pattern here?) who plays most instruments whether they exist or not. He also sings with Kerry and is in charge of looking after the band’s sandwiches.
How did you come together as a band and what was the spark behind
Gypsy Unit Gypsy Unit: It was a slow process - Dodge & Bobylon started making hiphop under different names beforehand and it was only when Benjie came along one day with a violin he had left in his car that things really got moving. It was fundamentally caused from a spark caused due to the anticipation of summer, everything was very ‘in the moment’. Tell us a little about the switched on, conscious hip hop you were initially aiming for and why it was so abysmal Dodge/Bobylon: It sounded like a fucking cliché. It was all ‘women this’ and ‘trying to keep everything together’ bollocks about Britain being grey and miserable over the sound of a piano loop, and let’s face it, people don’t want reality when they go out on a Friday. What the want is pop music disguised to the point they don’t realise its pop music any more.
Where did the violin come in and did someone’s parents insistence on music lessons finally come good
Gypsy Unit: The violin is fundamentally what created Gypsy Unit. Regarding the maternal pressure, in a word, yes. How aware were you of the currents in Balkan and electro swing as you were distilling your sound Dodge: Haven’t got a clue man, I only listen to Lady Gaga. Bobylon: Obviously we were aware of the electro swing movement, people like Dunkelbunt and Caravan Palace were big influences on our sound, but we thought we’d try and bring a more urban, bass-heavy sound to it. Dodge: Yeah, while making sure all the choruses were catchy and the tunes had a commercial, sing-along-able structure to them but still danceable.
You have all kinds of styles, vibes and tempos flying in and out of your tracks – is that flexibility and freedom key to keeping the creativity vibrant
Dodge: In all honesty, the ones without violins come about when Benjie isn’t here and I have to improvise with a synth or some bollocks I’ve sampled off youtube.
How much is the underlying track collaborative and how much does Dodge turn up with a finished groove to start firing vocal ideas over
Gypsy Unit: It’s generally a collaboration between Dodge & Benjie, however we try to make sure everybody is present during sessions to chip in ideas.
How do the lyrics flow – is it as a crew or individually
Gypsy Unit: Regarding rapping, Dodge & Bobylon generally write their verses on their own most of the time (when they’re not plagiarising PJ and Duncan), and it tends to be fairly on the spot. Choruses tend to be an ideas firing session where everybody puts in their thoughts and then Benjie and Kerry refine them into the finished thing. Ultimately the chorus is what glues the track together and gives it its identity so it’s by far the most important factor along with the beat.
READ THE FULL INTERVIEW FREE - LSD MAGAZINE ISSUE 7