NY based sister Hip-Hop duo Misnomer(s) has always been a group that caught my interest, specifically because they buck so many trends that it’s hard to even keep track. But I was able to learn a little more about them through this interview w/ The Mad Bloggers. It provides a candid glimpse of the dynamic they share not only as band members, but as friends, and most of all sisters… and everything that comes with the territory. If you’re interested you can catch it in full after the break or by heading over to TMB.
Asian. Female. Rap. Violin.
An unlikely combination, but one that works for the sound created by the Hip-Hop duo Misnomer(s). One part Knewdles (the emcee) and one part Sis On Strings (violin), the Brooklyn duo pushes the envelope with their music.
With the recent release of American I(s), Knewdles and SOS continue to deliver a sound that brings energy, raw talent and creativity. There is much depth to the project. As you’ll read (in this interview) and hear (on their project), there’s a genuine passion to explore and be themselves within the music they create. They do this on American I(s), making it an enjoyable listen.
I reached out to Misnomer(s) right before the release of American I(s) for a Q&A. Check out what they had to say about working with each other, their project and the future.
Misnomer(s): The easiest label to put on it is Symphonic Hip-Hop. Even though there’s only one violin, our production generally has so many string layers, it creates a symphonic sound. The rest of it, well, it’s hard to pin down, because we’re still exploring how we want to fit together. With two soprano voices (the violin & the female MC), there’s a lot we can do that we haven’t done yet.
TMB: Knewdles, how is it working with SOS? What makes your partnership successful?
Knewdles: She’s pretty obedient for the most part (laughs). No, I am bossy though, so the fact that she is an agreeable person makes things go somewhat smoother. I think what makes us successful is the same thing that threatens to do us in. The crazy bond that we have which is shaped by a somewhat traumatic and definitely dramatic upbringing. Yeah. I answer almost everything from a psychological standpoint.
TMB: SOS, how is it working with Knewdles? What makes your partnership successful?
SOS: She’s got a great ear and thinks outside the box… when it comes to music. So when we’re good, we’re good. And when we’re bad, it’s real bad, because it usually depends on how we feel about ourselves.
TMB: How long was this project in the making?
Misnomer(s): One presidential term. That’s why you hear me say “Condoleeza Rice” instead of Hillary Clinton (laughs). Seriously though, in the beginning, what took us longer than we expected was the recording process. We couldn’t get takes of me (Knewdles talking) that we were happy with. I was just too green, as an MC, as a recording artist, and as a person, really. And then, the shit hit the fan and Sos and I couldn’t stop fighting, couldn’t stop our deep-rooted shit from all coming to the surface. I can’t even use past tense because things still are crazy, but we’re really trying to turn previously destructive modes into constructive ones.
TMB: I dig the album’s name, where does it come from?
Misnomer(s): Mainly it comes from our song “For What It’s Worth”, which basically questions what “American” means, and what it looks like.
TMB: What’s the concept behind American I(s)?
Misnomer(s): The concept is that we know we’re two Asian girls releasing a Hip-Hop album, where one is rapping and the other is playing the violin. It’s like this album is about defining and testing these rules that dictate what American is, what Hip-Hop is. The reason for the parentheses in the title is obviously a play on our band name, but also that it can be pronounced American Is or American Eyes. Visually, it makes sense that there’s more than one meaning. It speaks to our bilingual nature, and we’re talking about America here– an optionally pluralized “I” is totally the American way. Not to get too high brow here. The concept is that we weren’t just born in the USA, we were made in the USA.
TMB: Who’d you work with on the project?
Misnomer(s): Chesney Snow, he’s an amazing beatboxer (and so much more), and we’ve performed with him quite a lot, so it was wonderful to have him on the album. Yonatan Elkayam, out in Cali, who’s a multitalented bassist, composer, producer, and engineer/mixer. William Rudolph, who’s a masterer in the Bay Area. And I can’t not mention Mesta Bish. He is just our all around guru. These guys were the main guys to have their hands in our album.
TMB: How long did it take to pull this project together?
Misnomer(s): To get this album actually out, it has taken over a year. We got the masters back last Spring. Yeah. The only thing we needed to take care of was album art. That’s obviously no excuse to take as long as we did. In fact, that’s why we launched the “The Girl(s) Who Cried ALBUM” campaign on July 1st, to wear it emblazoned on our shirts like scarlet letters every single day until we successfully released the album. It was a little bit crazy, but it worked. Through getting asked about the shirts constantly, it stayed on our brains, and we began to actually take the steps to get this album released. We wore those shirts for 92 days!
TMB: What’s the track on this project that speaks to who you are as a person?
Knewdles: This is gonna sound crazy, because it’s the one track where I’m not rapping, but “From Here.” I threw the beat together, I had this urge to sing, I went into the booth and freestyle sang. I guess because almost none of it feels intentional, it speaks to who I really am the most. Also, it’s the one track that Sos isn’t on. It’s all me lol.
Sos: “BooHoo”, and “From Here”, which I’m not even on!
TMB: What’s the track on this project that speaks to who you are as a musician?
Knewdles: Hard to say. I personally think “Fake Cake Lady” works really well musically, I’m proud of that one. It’s hard to not pick “WooHoo” though. It’s such a self-immolating, dramatic, fun song that hits hard and samples a 17th Century composer. That’s the kinda shit I love.
Sos: “WooHoo.” Because of the harmonic quality and interplay of voices.
TMB: Last but not least, what’s one thing do you want a listener to take away from American I(s)?
Misnomer(s): That we really put our lives into this. That it’s not just tracks slapped together. These are our greatest hits, from ages zero til NOW. What happens next, we may go in a totally different direction, but this is where we have been, and we wanted yall to know.