The duo of JR & PH7 took some time out of their busy schedule to sit with us on the latest episode of WIB Meets. We get to know some finer details about their foray into music, the chemistry between the dynamic duo and a whole lot more behind the curtains.
Sit back relax and tune in and don’t forget to check out more of the duo on WIB HERE
For the benefit of anyone who’s been living in an underground bunker for the past few years…who on earth are you?
JR: We are two friends from Germany, who enjoy making making beats that knock, and have some of our favorite emcees rap over them.
How did you get started in music, and what drives you to continue?
JR: I got started in music by playing the saxophone as a child, but once I got my first turntable that kind of stopped lol. I think the first time I had a piece of vinyl in my hand I got addicted of that feeling, and that’s still what drives me today. Whenever we have a new record and we received the wax, I’m excited like a small child at Christmas.
PH7: I wanted to rap like Biggie when I was young but then I realized my English isn’t that good and my rap skills were even worse. So the only chance I had was to start making beats.
Do you remember the first beat you ever made? How did you go about it?
JR: No, actually I don’t but it was probably horrible. I started on a Boss SP 505 and some old records from my parents. The first beat I ever released was a remix for UK emcee, Travis Blaque, on Unique Records back in 2004, I think. I was an intern at the label, and I was just happy to get on. There were three remixes on that 12” and I was for sure the cheapest one they got lol.
PH7: Actually the first beat I ever made was really really bad. I was like 12 years old and used a tom as a snare and no bass drums, and felt like I created a masterpiece. I’m so happy there was no Soundcloud or something like that when I started cause it took a couple years until the beats were audible.
If a movie about your life in music was to be made, what interesting/strange moments and stories would you share to make the movie cool?
JR: This is a good question. A movie about my life would probably have a lot of awkward moments in it as I have a talent to make easy things complicated in everyday life. Besides that, it would probably also have stories about the strange people we have met in this music thing over the years. From artists locking themselves in bathrooms right before showtime, to stealing the batteries out of our studio’s TV remote control, to being on tour buying suitcases of weird porn movies, and fake aspirin at a strange Chinese shop at the Czech border. I don’t want to name names, but in all these scenes you’d find me standing on the side like “WTF?“
PH7: Haha I still have those batteries lol.
Are there any other interesting facts about you that hardly anyone else knows?
JR: For a good part of my life everything was about basketball and I actually played professional for a few years. I’m still balling today, and that has always been my love next to music.
PH7: I love to cook and I would say pretty good. All my friends appreciate my traditional German kitchen…
JR: I can only agree to that, his Bavarian cooking is superb.
What is the greatest thing about working in the music industry? And what would you change if you had the opportunity?
JR: Well, I feel blessed since actually as a day job I’m a music supervisor…mostly advertising, and some feature film productions, so I’m lucky to work with music all the time. I think the greatest thing about it all is meeting and connecting with new and interesting people from anywhere in the world and getting inspired from their creativity. One thing I see that I really don’t like, especially when it comes to Hip-Hop artists, is that many have no idea about some basic structures of the industry, and hence often hurt themselves by making bad decisions.
PH7: I’m glad to make music because it got me connected with a lot of great people, and some of them have become good friends. And of course the traveling — I think without music I would not have had the chance to visit cities all over the world, and see the normal life of people, and not just the tourist type of sightseeing.
Looking back, what have been the most important moments in your life so far?
JR: In my personal life to me that is by far the birth of my daughter. On the music side, I don’t even know, can’t really pin it down to one moment. Maybe one moment that I still remember and that was crazy was when I was really still a kid and found out that all my favorite records were actually based on samples from existing songs. That opened a new world to me…haha.
PH7: Pfff. I don’t know…maybe the birth of JR’s daughter haha.
What have been the biggest highlights?
JR: I’ll stay on the music tip. To me some of the highlights are the many trips to the US, all based on the music we are making in our bedrooms. Additionally getting respect and working with many artists that I have been fans of when since way back still seems crazy sometimes.
PH7: For my definitely when I was 19 or 20 and had my first beats on the albums of artists I grew up listening to. I think by the age of 22 I made songs with nearly all my childhood heroes.
What has been your biggest challenge…and how did you overcome it?
JR: Well, all in all, the biggest challenge is not really having any decent budget for anything. But this just makes you work extra hard and get creative to still make things happen. We are really thankful for the great team we have around us who work with us because we are friends and they like what we do. From graphics, to videos, mastering, label and distro, the inner circle of people we work with are all considered good friends.
PH7: Since I do all the mixing of our stuff, my biggest challenge is always to live up to my own expectations of how I want it to sound like. And in the end you always have to make compromises, otherwise we wouldn’t even have one album released by now.
Who are your heroes? Why do they rock your world?
JR: I’d say my parents. Being a young dad myself now I really appreciate all the great things they have done for me over the years and I don’t take anything of that for granted. So now I’m trying my best to live up to that example for my daughter.
PH7: To be honest I don’t have that one hero or role model ,and those I have change from time to time. I’m just happy to have so many great friends in my life who inspire me! And most of the time it’s the way people solve and deal with real life problems that make them a hero for me.
Who have been the coolest, most memorable people you’ve met along the way, and how did they make an impact on your life?
JR: When I was 12 I had the opportunity to meet and play basketball with Magic Johnson, my hero back then and still till this day one of the people I look up to. I read his autobiography at least 15 times and has inspired me a lot. Another person that had a big impact on my life was one of my early basketball coaches, who came to Germany as a war refugee from Yugoslavia. Seeing his struggle and how he managed to build a new life from literally nothing in a foreign country is something that I respect so much. He even made it to being the German national team assistant coach. Biographies like that make my life seem like a piece of cake, and I’m happy that some of that work ethic has rubbed off on me.
PH7: I met Justin Bieber last year! Haha but actually that did not really have a lasting effect on life. Thank God!
When you’re sitting on the porch age 97 what would you like to look back on and smile having achieved?
JR: I’m looking forward to sitting on that porch with my good old friend Pete, pulling out some of the records we did, playing them on the turntable and our grandchildren will be like: Damn that shit still bangs grandpa!
PH: I would definitely love to join JR’s porch.
What has been your most memorable or inspirational gig and why?
JR: Man, I don’t even know. I recall a show in Geneva a few years back where we were deejaying for a crowd that was not feeling our shit at all when we got on, but with time it turned into a crazy wild party. Oh and talking about awkward situations. We were spinning in Vienna with Bobbito when I tripped over a wire which knocked out all the electricity in the club during Bobbito’s set. This inspired me to not drink and spin at the same time…
PH: HAHA the Bobbito situation. It inspired me to drink while deejaying because then funny things happen. I remember when I was working as a sound technician for German rap legends, Stieber Twins, way back, and did their sound at a festival in the Czech Republic without having any experience and being nervous as hell. But somehow it worked out!
What has been your strangest celebrity encounter?
JR: A few years ago I was peeing in a restroom at LAX and standing there I was looking at the all red Karl Kani denim suit the guy next to me was wearing. Then I look up and there is Busta Rhymes peeing next to me saying: “What you looking at?” It was a really strange situation. I was like “Nice suit you got there” and I told him I was a fan and we started talking a bit about music. When we came out the bathroom, he introduced me to every single person of his ten person entourage before they had to go to the gate. I also met The Game in an elevator of a department store in Copenhagen. Just me and him, so I thought I’d give him a small elevator pitch about our beats, but when I started talking he just stared straight to the door for the whole ride and didn’t reply one word. Awkward…
PH7: For me it’s definitely at a music festival. I was using a toilet wagon in the backstage area where it stated “knock on the door” outside the toilet and that guy outside didn’t stop knocking. At one point, I just heard him say, “ey yo is there somebody performing in there or what?!“ Great way of meeting Redman. Haha.
Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?
PH7: For me Nikola Tesla. A true genius, he had so many ideas which make the modern day telecommunication age possible. And I would serve some typical croatian food to make him feel at home. JR: I’d join the two.
What are the greatest songs, albums, books, movies, TV shows, websites you’ve ever come across?
JR: Damn there is too much to name so I will just name a few that I’ve been into recently.
- Album: Junip – Junip
- Book: The History of HipHop Business (Don Charnas)
- German TV Show: ‘Der Tatortreiniger’
- Website/Podcast www.themoth.org
- Movie: Babel
PH7: Songwise I can’t even tell there are sooooo many good ones. I really enjoy reading Simon Beckett’s crime books. In Bruges is worth seeing, True Detective and House of Cards are great and
www.spox.com is my favorite german sports website.
Name 5 songs (yours excluded) that we would expect to find on your iPod or Music Player:
JR: I will give you artists that I have been bumbing a lot recently if that’s ok: Tuxedo, BadBadNotGood/Ghostface, Betty Ford Boys, The Whitest Boy Alive, Stan Getz/Giberto
PH7: At least one Justin Martin mixtape, always good 90s RnB, like Jade’s, “Don’t walk away.” Some old Neptunes stuff (Sade’s, “By your Side” Remix), a lot of music from Drake and always some TDE songs.
What special-hero type skills are you blessed with?
JR: I can turn fruit into brain activity.
PH7: While sleeping I can travel time and space.
Where can everyone reading this interview keep up with your adventures?
Any final thoughts?
JR: Be sure to support our album with Chuuwee, The South Sac Mack, out on Below System Records. Peace to everybody out there!