TNGHT at the Opera House (735 Queen East), tonight (Thursday, November 29), 9 pm. $20-$24.50. EB, PDR, RT, SS, TM. See listing.
Lunice was on a tipsy stroll around Tokyo last week when he happened upon a giant digital billboard of himself and his TNGHT production partner, Hudson Mohawke. The sign was lit up and blaring music to promote their gig at the Electraglide Festival.
"I did not expect that!" the 24-year-old Montrealer says, laughing incredulously. "I was just walking around drunk and I was like, ‘Whoa!' Right dead centre!"
Members of Glasgow's LuckyMe crew, Lunice (born Lunice Fermin Pierre II) and Mohawke (Ross Birchard) formed TNGHT earlier this year and released a self-titled EP on Warp with the goal of putting a minimalist electronic spin on maximalist hip-hop. It received glowing reviews, MCs are lining up to work with them, and high-profile producers (whom Lunice declines to name) are already claiming early fandom.
The music, stripped of much of its mid-range, mixes hi-hat rhythms and 808 drum patterns with wobbly half-time grooves, weirdo samples and lots and lots of bass to achieve - via minimalist means - the epic sound rappers love. That attention to highs and lows comes partly from Lunice's background as a b-boy with an interest in left-field rap like MF Doom and old-school Memphis MCs.
"I've definitely developed a way of catching a rhythm. It's not as easy as it sounds - especially if you don't got the rhythm to catch," he explains. "I come up with different rhythms in my head when I'm not even working on the track, and I apply that flow until I get it right. It gives me the same feeling I used to get from breakdancing when I'd hit the beat."
Such attention to detail means TNGHT don't have to play loud or, as Lunice says, "be all over your face with noises" to hype a crowd. At the moment, though, they're primarily a part-time studio project that only emerges to play select gigs. Playing live gives them an advantage over producers who exist only in the studio: the crowd reaction informs their sound.
It's an approach Lunice thinks other rap producers should take.
"I want to see Kanye West tour off of his stuff!" he says. "Like, not rap - just straight fucking play his beats, but all chopped-up.
"There are so many different things producers can do [with the music]. Give it a few more years and maybe you'll see Lex Luger touring off of his own music. You never know."