The Airplane Boys

The Airplane Boys
With Brave New World, the Airplane Boys meticulously assemble a soundtrack for that post-flight strut up the jetway, lazy afternoons on an exotic beach and what every globetrotter feels at one point or another: the hangover. MCs Beck Motley and Bon Voyage are the experimental, production-heavy, hip-hop duo from Scarborough, ON who've already touched down in clubs from Macau to L.A.

What inspired you guys to make Brave New World?
Beck Motley: In Tokyo, we were walking the Shibuya Crossing at night, going out to get stuff to eat and jotting down ideas for "Tokyo." For the song "Temples," that was inspired by being in Kyoto. We took the bullet train there for the weekend to clear our minds. For songs like "T.I.D.E.S," Jason was really inspired by women loving themselves and standing up for themselves, and I was inspired by The Cove, the documentary about dolphins being slaughtered. "Brave" is about a five-year relationship I had. Her nickname was "Brave" because that was the last movie she watched with her mom and her mom passed away while Jason and I were on tour in L.A. We had to cancel the tour and come back. Things changed. She wasn't the same girl anymore. She wanted something else in life and I got it, but it was a transition for me and for the guys. She was a close part of our family and she became a stranger. A lot of Brave New World was fuelled by her, the love in there Jason and I were writing about, losing someone you love so much, being vulnerable.

And what about the album art, because each song has its own artwork?
B.M.: We're fortunate to have a team that's so cultured within the film realm and fashion and art. They'll put us on editorials on film, stuff Kubrick shot or Hitchcock shot. Our brand director Warren Credo has a book of Kubrick still shots and he'll go through references and feels and sometimes that'll inspire records, not just videos. Our creative director, Justin, did a great job with the artwork for Brave New World. He told us in Japan, "I want to go with this kind of high culture feel, I want to go with this mural, it's painted." You know, he came through.

People aren't always sure what genre you guys fit in.
B.M.: A lot of people want to say hip-hop or pop. We're just an indie group from Toronto. And not just a movement, but a culture. Toronto is such a multicultural city. We're one of the first diverse duos coming out of it.
Bon Voyage: We always looked to make international moves. We knew we wanted to see the world. I think naturally us projecting that energy, that's become ours. Toronto's very hard on its artists in the city. They want to wait until you get out there, like Drake. He was accepted externally first. It's been helping us as well in the city.

You guys like to run your vocals through a filter, too.
B.V.: Early on we were heavily inspired by Kanye's distortion. I took independent music production at school and started to play around with ProTools.
B.M.: If the beat is heavy, we want our voices to be semi-lo-fi, like we're attacking from space.

How do you strike a balance between your sound and what's popular?
B.M.: It's thinking of the big picture, because it gets so tempting to give what's already working. It accelerates the success. But for us, what's more important is that we're remembered. I feel like you're remembered when you bring a different colour to the game.

What about the first verse on "Globetrotters," you talk about plane troubles?
B.M.: There was a delay. There was something missing. They kept sending announcements every hour. We were sitting down literally like three hours and in those three hours I wrote the verse for "Temples," the hook for "Globetrotters" and the verse for "Globetrotters." Those are real moments. It was funny because another time I took a walk and there was a park beside our hotel in Japan. I was just chilling. Jay took a walk several hours after and we met up on this bridge. We were both listening to the beats. I was like, "Yo, I got this idea called 'Complacent Virtues.'" The beat and that park manifested a lot of our sounds and ideas for the tape.
B.V: What's crazy about that story — I didn't hear Beck's verse yet. We were just writing in our zones and then coming together and sharing ideas. I was reflecting on life in Toronto, things we've been doing, things I've seen out in Tokyo as well. So I say, "I wrote this in Tokyo." Later Mannie told me his verse, which starts, "I wrote this song on a plane." We started the verse the same way and we didn't know. We came together in the park and it clicked. That's how a lot of our music is made.