Under the Radar is Highsnobiety’s celebration of upcoming talent. Each week, we’re spotlighting a rising artist who is bringing something new to the world of music and is capturing our hearts and minds (and ears). This week we’re featuring Black Fryar, a trio comprised of Brooklyn rapper Stimulus and Berlin producers DJ Creep and Shaid, who together make some seriously next level darkwave rap.
The old adage of having too many cooks in the kitchen rings true more often than not. That said, sometimes you may indeed need a trio of chefs working in unison to craft the perfect broth. Case in point is Black Fryar, a project that sees the joining of Brooklyn rapper Stimulus with Berlin-based producers DJ Creep (of the Live From Earth collective) and Shaid. While each of them has a rich career as solo artists, together they have managed to find a perfect balance – combining their respective sounds into something supremely powerful.
And all of this is made clear with just one single under their belt. “Falar” – which is Portuguese for ‘speak’ – is a titanic track, layering overtly political bars from Stimulus over a throbbing, nebulous beat courtesy of Creep and Shaid. It’s dark, seductive, and utterly uncompromising in its vision, a vision made crystal-clear in the accompanying visual. Even at the very beginning of their trajectory, Black Fryar have established themselves as a group with formidable talent and, even more importantly, a lot to say.
Can you recall your earliest memory of music?
DJ Creep: My uncle was an opera director. So going to the opera as a child was my first experience with music.
Stimulus: My mother’s living room. Definitely vinyl. Definitely soul music. No idea what the song was.
Shaid: Listening to records with my parents. They had a very diverse and vast vinyl collection.
How did you all come together as Black Fryar?
Shaid: Me and Stimulus met at a party that some friends and I threw back in the day called ‘Rimshot.’ He was performing with the live band that we worked with and we clicked instantaneously. We worked on a couple of things before this project. Creep has been a close friend of mine for over 15 years. When we got together to produce some more hip-hop influenced beats, Stimulus was the first person that came to mind to write the vocals for what later became the Black Fryar project.
Why the name Black Fryar?
Stimulus: Creep gave us the name. It just sounded right.
How has Berlin influenced you as producers?
Shaid: I was born and raised in Berlin. I spent a lot of time at the local record stores. I was always listening to a lot of different types of music. This had a big impact on how I approach producing music. Not being restricted to one certain way of making music is an important part of my process. Using all music as fuel.
DJ Creep: It’s my hometown as well, so it has contributed in a lot of ways to how I make music.
Where did the inspiration for “Falar” come from? What message are you trying to communicate through this song?
Stimulus: Lyrically, I wanted to speak about the differences between how we describe and present things and how they really are. Life through Instagram filters versus life in the mirror.
Shaid: My inspiration for Falar stems from one of my favorite Brazilian MPB artists. With this project we were trying to create a certain type of sound aesthetic. The eerie sample suited the sound we were looking for perfectly. “Falar” tapped into some current and very important events. I think that it’s crucial to express your opinion on such things.
DJ Creep: I’m a big fan of Bossa Nova. So that was a big part in writing the instrumental.
How would you describe your sound and visual aesthetic?
Shaid: “Falar” is kind of dark and moody while still being very soulful. The concept for the video came from our close friends at a c t e in collaboration with Frangipani Beatt, and it was exactly what we had envisioned. The flow, the surreal plot and the general aesthetic of the images perfectly underlined what we where trying to express.
DJ Creep: Sonically we try keep the sound very organic.
What motivates you to keep creating?
Stimulus: I’m still working towards making an album that I can honestly say is as good as some of my favorites of all time.
Shaid: Everything happening around us be it music, art or film. There is so much one can draw inspiration from. The main source always being music, talking to other producers, getting inspired by what they are doing and always being hungry to learn more.
DJ Creep: Hearing new and interesting artists keeps me going. It’s always a major inspiration hearing something fresh.
What do you do when you’re not making music in the studio or performing on the stage? Do you have any other hobbies?
DJ Creep: Not much honestly. I do love reading Fanzines.
Stimulus: I’m usually DJing. Hobby wise, reading comics or watching anime.
Shaid: My work is my hobby. I love collecting records, which feeds right back into my work. I enjoy spending time in our studio even if I am not working to observe and soak in whats happening around me.
What type of impact do you want to make as an artist? What are you hoping to accomplish?
DJ Creep: We want to inspire people to become creative themselves.
Shaid: Mainly I want to be able to work with people that I admire, that feel the way I do about music and whom I can learn form in the process. The goal is to do something genuine.
Stimulus: I’m hoping to create alternatives for people who love hip-hop and appreciate experimental music and honest lyrics.
What’s next for Black Fryar?
Stimulus: We have a full album finished, so we will release more songs soon.
Be sure to check out the previous edition of Under the Radar with shoegaze sensation Tanukichan right here.