MTV Interview: PNC
Even though New Zealand hip hopper PNC maintains his first album wasn’t a break away hit (he’s being modest – ‘Rookie Card’ spawned three top 10 hits in the NZ charts, won Best Urban/Hip Hop Album at the 2007 NZ Music Awards, and earned him the rep of spitting the smartest flows in the land) PNC has become the poster boy for every young kid who dreams of making it big.
Famously discovered by DJ and co-owner of Dirty Records P Money on Myspace, PNCs profile has reached stratospheric heights in his native NZ, all the while remaining unearthly humble and giving every single performance, (from community halls to festivals), his absolute all. His energy and flows have contemporaries pricking their ears in a heady mix of envy and respect, and now, a few months away from dropping his hotly anticipated second album ‘Bazooka Kid’, MTV catches up with a chat with PNC to suss what’s happening in his sugar coated world.
MTV: So how was performing at The Lair?
PNC: It was nuts! It was fun! I didn’t know De La Soul was coming, no one passed on the message so I was like, what’s De La Soul doing here?
MTV: Did you get to talk to them?
PNC: Nah they were pretty in and out hey. Maybe there was a bit of beef behind the scenes, I dunno! I won’t speculate!
MTV: So if you had of known about them performing before hand, do you think you would have been nervous?
PNC: Well I played after them, which was even worse! After I realised they were there and someone told me I was playing after them, I was like what! How am I meant to follow that!? But it was all good.
MTV: So what are you up to in Aussie?
PNC: We’ve got a gig this Thursday at the Oxford Arts Factorywith P Money and David Dallas, and hopefully we’ll pack it out. Also got some shows locked down for Canberra and Newcastle, and also in town to work with some peoples. I’m in the studio right now with a dude called Spruce Lee doing some stuff as well…
MTV: So is the album all finished? Or are you still putting finishing touches on it?
PNC: It’s all done! It’s mastered, the art work is done, and I’m real happy with it. It’s got a different vibe to it, like an 80’s disco influence...
MTV: That’s quite a departure from your last album (Rookie Card). So what space where you in recording this album?
PNC: I’m never the type to go, I’m gonna do this type of album… I never try to do something, it always just sort of happens with the music I’ve been sent. Its funny though, even though the single ‘Tonight’ shows a lighter side, a lot of the album tracks are more the opposite, more serious and somber than anything on Rookie. And it kind of had that balance for me. It seems kind of more juvenile but, when I listen to it, and other people who have listened to the album the whole way through [making it] they’ve actually decided it’s more sophisticated than the first one. So I’m interested to hear what people think when the album comes out and you get the full picture.
MTV: So the whole notorious second album flop – was that hanging over your head?
PNC: Nah because, the times that happens is when the first album is a runaway smash success, and then there’s pressure for the second album to be that good. And have as much of an impact.
And my first one, it didn’t set the country on fire, so I didn’t feel as much pressure like, I’ve got to get that single performing better than the first one on the charts. It was almost the opposite, because it felt like I could do whatever because I wasn’t living up to a massive expectation. So I feel less pressure.
MTV: I just watched the video for your new track, ‘Tonight’. It’s mean! Did you have any input into the treatment of it?
PNC: Yeah the song was so mental, I did the song as a joke when I had some free time in the studio, so usually when I write a song I have some sort of vision of how I want the video to look. So I just kinda sent the song out for treatments but none of them really nailed it, and then this dude Gary Johns sent a treatment through from Fish N Clips, and it just worked for me – the colours he wanted to use, and keeping the humour in there, and I loved it.
MTV: Yeah I noticed on the album cover for ‘Bazooka Kid’ you’ve used bold fluorescents and Manga cartoons. Did you use a local artist for that?
PNC: Yeah, Ryan Marx was our designer, so he did all of it. I love that design, it’s mental and for me it captures the sound of the album because the type of animation we looked at was old school, like Speed Racer, and Vulcan…
MTV: Astro Boy?
PNC: Yeah exactly! So it’s kind of got that 80s vibe, with the colours… and as for the name, well that’s going to mean nothing to the kids out there but it was actually just words I liked [laughs] and just imagery with a kid with a bazooka doing, er I dunno! I dunno why it works for me, it just does! [laughs]
MTV: You released 'Rookie Card' in Australia a couple of years ago, but didn’t seem to have much promo behind it. What are you doing differently this time around?
PNC: The main problem with Rookie Card was that a major label distributing it, so it just got lost in the system, it was too much of an uphill battle for me! [laughs] I really wanted to work with an independent, and the company that I’m working with here in Aussie [Grindin’] loves the music. It works better, because you’ve got people who are passionate about the project, as opposed to someone that just cares about selling it.
MTV: So… what do you think of Aussie Hip Hop?
PNC: I always get asked that when I’m over here! I haven’t really heard heaps of it, and a lot of it hasn’t personally grabbed me. And that’s not dissing it or whatever, that’s just my personal opinion. What I have been getting into over here is the electronic stuff, like even dance music, I think that genre has done amazingly well and is world class. Like Empire of the Sun and Miami Horror, and they’ve really nailed that genre. So it’s not like I don’t like Aussie music [laughs] there’s some really good stuff over here, it’s just the rap hasn’t connected with me personally. Not dissing anyone though! [laughs]
MTV: NZ is a small place and I’m guessing you get recognized most places you go. Is it nice to go oversees and not be recognized everywhere you go?
PNC: [laughs] Yeah yeah its cool! And its cool working with people who don’t know who you are – reminds me of when I was first starting out in New Zealand. I get really excited showing them what I’ve got to offer, whereas in New Zealand everyone already knows! Everyone’s wants you to make another ‘Who Better Than This’ for them, but here they don’t care!
MTV: The great thing about the NZ industry is there is a lot of support for emerging artists, and not that long ago you were one of them. Do you take the opportunity to pass on your words of wisdom to the young fellas that are coming through?
PNC: Yeah. I do, and I tell them all the same, work hard, keep at it… [laughs] I try and help out as much as I can, and also tell them they need to develop a thick skin and know when to keep your ego in check. Because a lot of dudes that come up, they get dissed by someone and they go nuts and can’t take it, or they think ‘cause they got their cousins or their brothers telling them they’re awesome, that they’re God’s gift. When its really like, you’re gonna get dissed by a lot of people when you start out because it’s the nature of that genre, so that’s one of the main thing for rappers – ignore the haters, but learn to take constructive criticism.
MTV: It seems like you have a really supportive group of artists around you at Dirty Records…
PNC: Yeah, I learnt so much from Scribe, P Money and David Dallas – just seeing where they were at while I was still a rookie, - it’s like in basketball, getting to play with the veterans, you get to learn those tricks learn how you gotta act in the industry, and when to pick your battles. I wouldn’t be the artist and dude I am today without their input and leadership. I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by good dudes to mentors me.
MTV: So what’s coming up?
PNC: I go back home on Sunday, and then launching the album in June, but still doing work over here because Aussie is the next step. So that will take up most of my year, making sure everyone hears the album and likes it!
Catch PNC live at the dates below, and for more information get to www.pncmusic.co.nz
Thursday 14th May – Oxford Art Factory
Friday 15th May – Meche Nightclub Canberra
Saturday 16th May – Fanny’s Newcastle