The Niceguys Jump “In the Mix” [DJBooth Interview Exclusive]
In modern parlance, the term “nice guy” is often used as a code word for “pushover.” Here to smash that stereotype and remind us that “nice” can also be synonymous with “fresh and fly” are The Niceguys, a Houston-based crew with a progressive style and an eclectically dope hip-hop sound. Made up of rapper Easy Yves Saint, producers Free and Christolph and DJ Candlestick, the Lone Star State foursome have won acclaim in the Booth and beyond for tracks like “Mr. Perfect” and “Not at All.” Set for release September 28, as a digital purchase or free download, debut full-length The Show will find the group venturing into more musically adventurous territory than ever before, while retaining their trademark energy and flow.
In this Booth-exclusive, five-question interview, Yves and Free give Booth readers the inside scoop on their region-crossing sound, how they translate their electrifying life performances into recorded form, and whether “nice guys” do indeed finish last.
As evidenced by the title of your forthcoming debut full-length, The Show, you take great pride in your ability to entertain a crowd. What have you done to ensure that the passion and energy of your live performances come across in recorded form?
Yves Saint: The Show has multiple meanings. It's important to remember that the passion of our live performance on the stage is more prominent on stage; passion for life is most prominent on record. The Show stands for life as well as performance. Life goes on and so must The Show. The way we managed to communicate that feeling with any efficacy is by being painfully genuine to oneself and one's circumstance. By focusing on how you want it to feel before how you want it to sound.
Free: We took those elements of passion, energy, and emotion and put them into song form. All of those things you need to fuel a great show are what we used to fuel this album. When you hear it you’ll understand, its straight up energy with songs like Mr. Perfect and Die Later, passion with songs like Cave and Toast, and raw emotion with songs like Things Ain't The Same, and On This Road. More than anything shows are about having fun, and we have plenty of records for that as well.
While three-fourths of the group is originally from the Lone Star State, Easy Yves Saint hails from Queens, New York. Which elements of your sound do you see as characteristically Texan, and what have you borrowed from the Northeast?
Yves Saint: It's safe to say when you're mulatto you aren't borrowing from any side of the family -- you're entitled to it all because it's your make up. None of it comes across as an intentional or calculated use of any one part. It's natural. Just as organs work together in a system while having their specific roles, so do our backgrounds. It's all seamless.
Free: I don’t necessarily think anything we do is characteristically Texan or East Coast. Our music goes beyond coastal or regional boundaries, I honestly think that if Yves didn’t have that NY accent that no one would be able to guess where were from. Hell people still have a hard time guessing where we're from now.
The promo photo for leaked cut, Mr. Perfect alludes to the Mr. Men children's book series. If each Niceguys member had to pick a character other than Mr. Perfect to match his personality, which would it be?
Yves Saint: I would say I'm Mr. Impossible because I feel like I/we can do anything. Christolph and Free would call me Mr. Stubborn because I think I'm always right, BUT I am always right when it comes to most people. I rarely assert myself when I'm wrong. I'm also somewhat Mr. Fussy. And Mr. Clever (hear those lyrics?).
Christolph would be a Combination of Mr. No and Mr. Worry and Mr. Nervous. He usually disagrees with the guys, and that's necessary. He is also the least of a risk-taker, which is also necessary when you have this many reckless people in one group.
DJ Candlestick would be Mr. Cool and Mr. Lazy (mainly for Sleepyland), and Free would be Mr. Uppity, because we call him bougie. Also Mr. Forgetful, because he can say something one minute and next forget he said it like Rick James. He's Mr. Nonsense when he tries to act like he never said that thing and also Mr. Cheerful for his optimism.
Free: Christolph would be Mr. Funny, Candlestick would be Mr. Clever, Yves would be Mr. Cool, and I would be Mr. Happy…….pause. Haha.
Has it been your experience that “nice guys” really do finish last in the romantic arena? How about in the music game?
Yves Saint: Oh yeah, in the romantic arena I have to say that it's the hybrids, bad guys then nice guys in finishing order. A lot of females love some sort of turmoil and a man they feel they can fix. Sue me. The music game -- not so much. Look at the Jonas Brothers and Justin Beiber. They are in first place in a major way. Tim Tebow should be a country star. Instant success. As far as THE Niceguys? you tell it.
Free: I think any guy that is too nice to women isn’t genuine. We all do nice things for women, but we're not perfect, and being nice all the time is like being perfect, which isn’t real. Women would prefer a genuine dude who is nice at times, is honest, and sometimes is just a pure *sshole. But he’s real. So that’s why the nice dudes finish last in the romantic arena. As far as being nice in music, its more beneficial, a good personality can take you far, and in an industry full of the worlds most heartless, fake individuals, sometimes being the nice guy is what gets you remembered, because its so rare in this game.
In addition to making music together, you have your own fashion line, A Nice Look. Besides rocking your designs, do you have any fashion tips for guys who want to make sure they're looking nice before going out on the town?
Yves Saint: Well first and foremost it definitely isn't a fashion line. It's just some stuff we did because there was a demand for it. We have the where-with-all to get it done so we just used it to bring people into our world. We rarely make guys' clothing, but all I would suggest is that you wear the clothes and don't let them wear you.
Free: I wouldn’t necessarily call it a fashion line, its more of a creative project that we do from time to time just for fun. We're all really into fashion, so we like to express that every so often with the tees. If I could give out any fashion tips I’d say, dress for comfort first, style second. Also find your exact size in everything, from pants to tees to button downs and suits, and make sure that’s the size you’re wearing. Above all though, do what you want, wear what makes you feel good.
Final thoughts? Shout outs? Confessions?
Yves Saint: I would recommend people LISTEN to this album. Then listen again and again and again. There will be something new to discover each time, because as you get to know us better the more certain things will make sense. No one interview should have all these shout outs. There are enough confessions on The Show. See y'all tomorrow. The Show 9/28/2010.
Free: My final thought: The Show coming September 28! Make sure you get it. Also make sure to follow us on twitter @TheNiiceguys and Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheNiceguysMusic. And keep logging on to our websites www.thenicelook.com and www.theniceguysrule.com. Big shoutouts to James Kelly, shoutouts to Dominos pizza, Jack Daniels, and Shiner Bock Beer.