Words: Miljan Milekić
The first time I heard Foreign Beggars, I was blown away. It was their massive collaboration with Noisia – ‘Contact,’ and I was instantly hooked with their sound. As I further explored their music, I was caught up by their creativity, adaptability, and ability to deliver such diverse music, to work with so many different artists, and always stay on the top of their game. But most of all, I was blown away by their live performances. The news about the group splitting up in 2020 was not the one I was happy about, but I do feel privileged enough to catch up with Pavan Mukhi aka Orifice Vulgatron, and discuss their music career, message, and the new album ‘Matriarchy.’
‘Matriarchy’ is finally out, and it’s one of those records that grew on me instantly. Are you happy with the feedback so far?
Pav: I’m definitely happy with the feedback. This one was really close to my heart as news of the band splitting up came about halfway through the writing process, and was one last chance for me, and for us to give our supporters an insight into our lives, perspective, and some good music.
I know that artists sometimes feel the pressure of expectation, especially when writing a follow-up to a successful release. However, in your case, it wasn’t just that, but also knowing that you’re writing our final album. How did you fight the pressure, and was there anything different you did this time, considering the special place ‘Matriarchy’ has in your career?
Pav: Na, not really. I think this was exactly how it was supposed to turn out. I’ve had some of these seamer beats on my computer for nearly nine years, and I was inspired to write something really honest without caring about what’s current, what’s not, write some timeless music and it felt right to hit those soulful Detroit-inspired bits as they were really close to the kind of music we were making when we first started.
I was always a fan of your visuals, especially the way you approach your music videos, and the aesthetics in them. How challenging was it to constantly keep up that level of quality and creativity over the years?
Pav: The only challenge really was that once you get to a certain level, people get a bit funny about collaboration, and especially living in the big city everyone is about their business at all times. We’ve never had an issue about investing in ourselves. In fact, we’ve always survived on the bare minimum and ploughed everything back into creating, but sometimes when you have a vision, you need people with a similar vision who believe in the project, who are bringing their A-game and resources to the table. But alas, people gotta make their ends meet too. There have definitely been a few things we’ve invested in that will never see the light of day because they didn’t cut the mustard but such is life. It’s more important to protect the brand, image, and tell the story consistently than chuck something substandard out just because you spent a lot of money on it.
You were never afraid to put in some political or social statements in your music, and I always respected that. Do you feel like that kind of voice in the music is maybe more important than ever, with people like Trump and now Boris Johnson leading countries like the US and the UK?
Pav: It’s always been important. Music, especially hip hop is a platform and a voice for the voiceless, I can run around the streets with a megaphone or rant away on Facebook, but putting exactly what we see into the music and saying how we want makes it timeless, palatable, and also gives comfort or inspiration to people with similar views who feel helpless against the sheer weight of the system.
One of the things you are known for is your insane live shows. I got the chance to see you twice – both times at Exit Festival in Novi Sad, and both times, it was a warzone in the crowd. How much does the energy you receive from the crowd fuel your energy on the stage, and what’s usually the ignition point for you guys to start wreaking havoc?
Pav: It’s all about the energy exchange, understanding people have come to have the time of their fucking lives, and finding a way to connect with them so they do. We’ve also come for the exact same reason, so we feed off of the energy, multiply it, and Hadouken! it back. Now it’s not always that simple, and sometimes you may have to work the entire set and still not get to the point of pure synergy and escalation with the crowd. This makes it harder, but you have to tap into that energy from other places and understand that you are there to be a vessel and present your art which, as an infinitely fortunate position to be in.
You recently came back from your final European tour. How emotional was it to visit some places for the last time as Foreign Beggars? Did you have any special moments with the fans?
Pav: Aaah man, so many places, a few new ones as well. I think the fact that so many people came out and shared their experiences, people were traveling from all over the world to different places to come and rock out was really moving.
As I said earlier, you announced that 2020 will mark the end of your 18-year run as Foreign Beggars. Without trying to get into anything too personal, can you tell me more about the decision?
Pav: It’s OK, we’ve been a group for 18 years, and everything is a product of compromise. We are all very different people, and feel it’s time to really explore our individual creative consciousness, challenges and tell our individual stories.
Do you have any plans for the future you would like to share?
Pav: There is a lot of heat in the pipeline, and all will be revealed. Please keep your eyes peeled on our profiles!