Lazy Habits goes to a place haunted by the ghosts of greed & hollow happiness
The Hip Hop band releases a new single ‘CTRL’ & plays 2 live shows in Taiwan
Hip Hop bands are few and far between. The originators were Stetsasonic, the perfecters are The Roots, and Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals put on a hell of a show right now. For the better part of a decade, the UK’s Lazy Habits, a Hip Hop band with two drummers and a large brass section, have been putting out music, playing festivals, and doing their thing. They just released ‘CTRL,’ an ode to the ghosts of greed and hollow happiness. They will be playing two shows in Taiwan over the next week.
James Collins is the head of Lazy Habits and has been in Taiwan for a good chunk of the last decade due to having a Taiwanese wife. LiFTED caught up with him to discuss his time in Asia, the various incarnations of Lazy Habits, and how UFO houses have inspired his latest work.
Please give the readers a bit of background information on how Lazy Habits has been in Taiwan for so long.
I don’t really relax when I'm on holiday. I’m more interested in finding out about the local culture and more specifically local music culture, which with a genre like Rap and Hip Hop can often help you understand the culture more from the viewpoint of those living it as opposed to a travel guide.
I love music and I always want to be listening, watching, or involved in some way. So after watching Kou Chou Ching [拷秋勤] at Spring Scream, that was the first introduction, which turned into a tour the following year where we met Dwagie, and it all kind of spirals from there. I consider a lot of those people family now.
On your previous album you had a few Asian features. How did that come about? Who are some of your favorite Taiwanese rappers? How about Asia as a whole?
I have worked on a couple of remixes with Dwagie since we met and we always spend time together talking about the culture whenever I’m here, so that collaboration was a natural progression of that. Through him, I met all of the other collabs that took place, but at the same time, we don’t work with people we don’t know so again these further collabs were with people we knew, had played with, and artists we rate.
I don't really know a lot about Asian Rap as a whole, but in Taiwan, I think there is a lot of talent in Hip Hop. From OG’s like Dwagie to established big hitters like PoeteK, who is technically one of the best rappers I have ever heard. Now you have this new wave of Taiwan-influenced Trap which is full of attitude and vibes, people like Asia Boy and Lizi, and also a new Pingtung rapper called Huskey, who has crazy energy on stage.
How did the concept for ‘CTRL’ come about?
I wanted to shoot in Sanzhi for years. I’d seen the photos of the Futuro style complex there and It had always been a dream to bring that in for the third album when we got to it. I already had that concept for the third album in mind. Then I found it had been destroyed and that was that…until someone told me about Wanli. So we went and checked it out mid-2020 after I got stuck in Taiwan when all the flights were canceled.
The concept of the album as a whole is about a book of short stories by JG Ballard, called Vermillion Sands, which is a fictitious and futuristic resort for the wealthy. The book deals with this place as a mostly abandoned and desolate place haunted by ghosts of greed and hollow happiness. Wanli looks like that place. It looks like people just left in a hurry. There are still TVs and clothes upturned and laying around in these half-destroyed houses. It’s a surreal place.
You’ve got some live shows coming up in Taiwan and then a full spring/summer schedule in Europe. What can people who come out to the shows expect to see?
We’ve had well over 30 shows canceled in 2020 alone, and didn't even try to play out in 2021 because things just weren't ready. So, I stayed here and slowly began to put a live crew together. DJ QuestionMark was living in the UK and we met through RPG. He became my tour DJ in the UK for some shows when we didn't have the band with us, and we also worked together on music.
After we decided to start working on shows we talked to a few musicians we really like and thought would really bring something special and different to the sound. I first heard Min Yen [謝明諺] playing with Leo 王 and Leo37 [someone I’m currently working with on something and someone I highly rate as a musician] and also Szu Chien Lu [盧思蒨] who Lu Luming [盧律銘] introduced me to whilst working on a film score. Together the sound is something quite unique and I’m grateful to be able to work with such a high caliber of musicians.
Check out Lazy Habits’ video for ‘CTRL’ below and live at Paramount in Kaohsiung on February 12 and in Taipei at APAmini on February 19.