Interview: Keeping It Earnest with… Darkhouse Fam

Interview: Keeping It Earnest with… Darkhouse Fam
Don Leisure & Metabeats get down with EE.

This week it’s not only EE’s Alex Patchwork’s birthday and ensuing rampage weekender – big ups to the big man, am sure some port will be spilled – but if you haven’t noticed, we’re also celebrating our second vinyl release with the mighty Darkhouse Fam. Their animal style, double double “In & Out” EP is, in our opinion, a stone cold banger. Of course. Sa-Ra’s Om’Mas Keith graces the opener “Take On The World” whilst SF’s cosmic funk bro B. Bravo laces “Like No Other” and Darkhouse’s Don Leisure and Metabeats deliver a fully formed, proper release, with reprise N all dat.

We’re gonna be doing this interview series on the regular – check out the AraabMUZIK – a more long form chat that isn’t about the press release or the hard sell, more about everyday living, their craft and community.

Saying that, we do have an insane party coming up that you have to come to. It’s our collabo with Kutmah’s Sketchbook and Hit+Run and celebrates not only the Darkhouse Fam EP but also our dude Kutmah’s slamming new CD release on Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood – “Worldwide Family Vol.2″. We got Gaslamp Killer joining us too. Fine print says limited tickets are available here.

Earnest Endeavours & Dante Fried Chicken – Ride or Fry London – Part 2 – Cooking up with Darkhouse Fam from Earnest Endeavours on Vimeo.

Lecture: Sa-Ra Creative Partners (Rome 2004) from Red Bull Music Academy on Vimeo.

The Neighborhood / SOMA: B. Bravo & The Starship Connection from Yours Truly on Vimeo.


Text by Terence Teh
Photos by Jasper Clarke

The first time we heard Darkhouse Fam we were in the NTS studios with Kutmah and like anything that dude drops, it was totally noteworthy. This time was slightly different in that fact that the rugged raw beats had a certain flash funk, a dungeon feel with overly pregnant bumps and a boogie down production, hard hitting one-two. It was kind of epileptic yet soulful, it was musical. Alex hit them up, most probably trying to shark a track for the “Brownswood electr*c” series he also curates and myself and Tom were like, hell no. This is Earnest Endeavours right here – go holla Ifan Dafydd instead.

Luckily, Darkhouse ignored Alex’s emails until the constant pestering and some awesomely kind words from Kutmah when they all played in Wales together made them re-consider the offer of some free BBQ and they rolled up to our Dalston Summer BBQ with Hit+Run and Black Atlantic, quickly realising that our blitzed kimchi Scotch Bonnet hot sauce was fucking baller and that we were genuine fans. That was last summer and we’ve become good friends and we’re proud to collaborate with the Welsh beatdown slayers on their second EP and hopefully the first EE x DHF project of many more.

What was the first production credits you guys had?
Meteabeats’s first credit was on a track called “Pump This” by Ralph Rip Shit (shout out Ralphy & the AM crew). Don Leisure’s first production credit was on a local DIY electronica label called Trauma Press that used to have something to do with the Spillers Records store. It was really plinky plonky stuff and I didn’t know what the hell Iwas doing. The artwork allocated to the release had all these weird insects crawling out of a woman’s opening… crazy.

Do you adapt your approach to the different projects you have out, or the different vocalists?
Nah not really no… if we are making something for a vocalist we will leave the track kind of unfinished and then go back in on it once the vocals parts are done. The way we approach tracks is usually the same sort of process.

Is it ever tricky balancing all the different projects?
Yes! Especially when multiple deadlines are involved and also real life stuff too. It’s good that it isn’t a solo mission at times. Like right now, I’m answering these questions while Metabeats is doing some filming for another project somewhere else…

Do any of the projects start to feel like a neglected girl!
At times they do… but when we show them attention its all romance again.

Let’s talk Action Bronson?
Ha! All I know is that dude eats well, smokes well, cooks well, spits well and dresses well… he has it covered.

How was it working with him? and Om’Mas too?
Yeah, both collabs were a treat! Both were done remotely as Action is a NYC resident and Om’Mas splits his time between NYC and LA, so we weren’t in the studio for either sessions. The Action track is gonna be on the solo Metabeats album this Spring. He is definitely one of the best new rappers out there, we are both quite fussy about vocalists and he is a stand out cat.

Working with Om’mas was insane as we are both huge Sa-Ra fans. We didn’t think it would happen for the longest time because it took around a year-or-so from initially speaking to him to getting the demo track he sent back to us. He is a musical don, plays every instrument and his mother was in Sun-Ra’s Arkestra so to have him make a cameo on our shit was a dream come true. If anyone doesn’t know about Sa-Ra they should go explore the back catalogue.

Why do rappers make such good prison chefs?
Maybe because they are always getting nicked for shit?

Is making music an ecstatic or meditative experience for you?
Initially meditative… then after its done ecstatic.

Can you tell me about a moment when everything came together in the end, track wise?
For the EP? It all clicked really late with this EP actually. I think Om’mas Keith and B.Bravo’s vocal parts were mixed down around a week before mastering and the Vanity Jay vocals were done literally a day or so before the EP went to get mastered. It was a bit of a mad dash.

Don, tell us about living in Africa?
Fresh produce and dope coastal weather. The place was pretty lawless, I was driving around wasted with no licence and all that, it’s just the way things are done there. It’s nuts. All the clubs have amazing BBQs but they all play Dr. Alban “It’s My Life” at every event… the original. The city I was in was really small and quite claustrophobic at times despite its beauty. I had a nasty spell of malaria which was a bummer and this girl I was hanging out with got shot in buttock one time. I was ready to leave when all that was kicking off!

What in Wales do you start too miss when you’ve been away for too long?
Going round my folks place for a munch… our studios.

What are your Top 3 Welsh culinary traditions?
3) Albany Fish Bar. They do a masala fish and chips… traditional chippy but they dip the fish into this spice before frying it. That’s dope.

2) New York Deli is a DHF favourite. Fucking humongous sandwiches and hoagies. The staff are all cool there too. Best enjoyed while stood behind the counter at Catapult record store chatting breeze to the staff there.

1) Lilos Grill & Juice House. No surprises here. It’s a two minute walk from Don Leisure’s studio (The Leisure Centre). Lebanese cuisine of the highest standard. Staff and owners are super friendly. You can catch us in there weekly. Anyone who visits get taken there for a feed.

How do you approach the getting and giving of praise?
Just try and be humble and only big stuff up that deserves it. We got time for anyone who isn’t a joker. “It’s nice to be important but its important to be nice.”

Do you think it would have been the same if we were all doing this in 1996?
I know we’d have way more fucking money if it was 1996.

What about if we’re doing this in 2022?
Probably the same as now but we wouldn’t have to use our hands for anything.