Catching him before his introduction show to Beans' in parisian Point Ephémère, we wanted to meet again the one who, with the short but brilliant LP "X2", delighted our senses two years ago. The man is of the coolest, so why hesitate?

HHC: Good evening Tes, our french website hiphopcore.net is very happy to see you again, exactly two years after our first interview. To begin with a ultimate fan question, your work has great quality but happens to be quite seldom (an EP, "Take Home Tes", in 2000 ; a short LP, "X2", in 2003, and again an EP, "Pro-Tes", this month), how would you explain that?

Tes: I personaly like releasing less. I think less is more. I have a lot of material, but in the end I always choose less. I just want the best songs to come out.

HHC: So you would say you put a lot aside?

T: Yes, there's a lot of tracks that are gonna be released in the future, that hasn't been released I think. Even from "X2", there's like 5 or 7 songs that didn't make the record, that could've just been just as good as 'New New York' maybe, but I thought like, that was the strong one, so I didn't want to put those on there.

HHC: You're fine with that? It' not a problem for you, not releasing a lot and puting aside some things, even if they're good?

T: Sometimes it's OK, yeah, 'cause I take the ones that I like better, that call in my heart, the other ones just save it, and maybe just, in the future release it as a Best Of or B sides.

HHC: Do you think one day you will see towards former work and release it because you think it's still good and hasn't too much age?

T: Yeah, definitely. I actually released something recently only in Japan ["Pro-Tes", on Contact Records]. That was songs that didn't make "X2". They also wanna have their say at what songs are dope. "Take Home Tes" was different, that was an album that I was just like, trying to get something out, so I was like, "OK, whatever, here is my best songs right now". But for "X2" I made a lot of songs and Lex, well, gave me like "Hey I want THESE twelve" and these ones are great, so...

HHC: How was received your EP in Japan?

T: Well, it's a small release, you know, it's only 500 copies, so, I don't think it's gonna make a huge impact. It's a good introduction to Japan. Basically, it has a song called 'Testarossa' on it, it's just a kind of a 'New New York' mate, it was made on the same time, I made it on the same day. It's five songs, one really good freestyle.

HHC: And so, what's new for us in France from you?

T: Er, OK, the new record is coming out in the summer. Actually it has a french title, it's called "Sans Rival". It's gonna be on Lex, full length, and I feel like it's my best work, I really do. I know I always say it, but I feel like this is the one that I really like. I had a lot more time to really sit around, I started only making music last year and now I'm always home just working on it. This time I've actually recorded more music that anytime, I think I have forty songs, but I'm only gonna choose like, fifteen.

HHC: Only listening to "X2", one could find the experimentation of a lot of styles and type of sounds (jazzy, groovy, elctronic, laidback). Would you say that one of those directions ended to be more in your own spotlight, catching your attention more than others?

T: I think it's all over the place! You know, different moods. I've always been the Hip Hop guy that hangs out with everybody. The ravers hang out with me, the alternative rockers, the electronica heads and I've always been open to their music too so it shows in my music. So, depending on my mood and who I'm hangin' out with and what music you're puttin' me on to, I feel the influences, try to find myself in that and then relay it, but I'm not gonna go like ‘oh, this is the Tes sound'. I noticed on this album I feel like I'm gonna go back more to Take Home Tes styles, not in the same kinda lyrics, but using a lot more this voice again [he makes a big low voice]. On "X2", it was mostly the high voice. Some were excited about bringing the old voice back.

HHC: Two years ago, you were advising our readers to watch for your collaborations with Cannibal Ox's Vast Aire. What can you say about it now?

T: We did something together on Embedded Records and it didn't turn out to be so dope. We never actually set down anything, we kinda like, gone our own way. But we're still cool to each other. He's doin' his thing, I'm doin' my thing. He was gonna be on a song called 'Night Is Yours', but it never actually took place and now I'm feelin' like I don't really wanna have too many rap collaborations on my albums. I see like it's a Hip Hop thing and it always does, like "oh, I gotta have this guy and this guy". No, I want collaborations with people that are just down to do it because they wanna do it, and it doesn't have to be a rapper, like on the next record I have the guy Tim Gane from Stereolab did something for me. I really try to crush the genres, change it. Why does it have to be Hip Hop all the time?

HHC: After the "Panic Room" compilation, you appear again in a project next to our homies TTC, on a Kid Rolex's record. Did you keep in touch with TTC?

T: Oh, it's Para One, yeah, we hung out last night. I'm gonna be on their show [21 April at the Elysée Montmartre], we're gonna do "Beatdown" for the first time ever. We wrote that in Paris the first time I came here, before "X2", on vacation, three years ago.

HHC: Can you explain us your work showed at the movie festival "Les Urbaines" in Lausanne, Switzerland, a few months ago?

T: Oh yeah, that's what I'm doing tonight. Basically that festival in Lausanne contacted me about doing something and at first I thought I'm just wanna do some rap. But they wrote back and they wanted me to do something different. And that night I saw the movie The Warriors screened by someone in a Park so I just wrote back quick "Well, I'll do a new soundtrack for "The Warriors" and I'll do it live". And then I've started doing some research and I wrote proposals and it became something more and more and more. Now I'm really involved with it, cutting it up and actually changin' the movie a little bit.

HHC: What kind of movie is "The Warriors"?

T: "The Warriors" is almost like a period piece, but it's not, it's a movie about a gang. They go to this big place to meet each other and all the gangs are trying to make friends so they can beat the cops. But it also reminds of what New York was like when Hip Hop started : a lot of diffenrent cultures coming together, gangs. The city was really dark at that point. And that's what the movie is about, how was New York in the seventies, a little extreme, with a lot of subway, a lot of graffitis on the trains... The movie fits some of my music, the darker side of my music.

HHC: Last time you told us your addiction for Ghosface Killah. He was recently seen on Prefuse 73's LP, who in turn produced the LP of Afra, and Afra works with you... well, it's a little complicated but the asking is clear : do you think you will rap with Toney Starks one day?

T: I do. I don't know if it's gonna happen, but there's a possibility Lex is gonna release Doom and Ghostface together. It's not guaranteed, but there's a possibility, ‘cause Danger Mouse is recording it, so, it was mentionned before. It's funny you ask ! I'd love to have it happen, definitely. It's funny you know about Afra's record.

HHC: "X2" was out on Lex, the same label as Why? & Fog's "Hymie's Basement" and DJ Signify's "Sleep No More", do you find yourself close from the spirit of "cLOUDDEAD" or Anticon productions?

T: I don't think we're similar. I think the only thing we share is the fact that we're open to everything. That's what Lex is : everybody's at the label is open to do a lot of different things. Nothing connects us. Well, Dose comes from the same place I came from, in the mid-nineties we were all independent underground rappers, but we all gone on to do other things.

HHC: Some people compare your flow to Dose One's.

T: The high pitch one, the nasal one. I can see that, yeah, that's what people hear, especially if you don't understand english. But I find it different still. There is that thing [he uses the high voice], but I'm gonna separate myself from that this year.

HHC: And at last, what do you think of our country and the spirit of Hip Hop in France?

T: It seems like there's a lot of b-boys floating around France, I don't know if everybody knows what b-boy culture is, but there is a style. Like for TTC, they have the spirit of Hip Hop, I never really find such an energy in America : Para One, Tacteel, these guys are really dope and they definitely are in the b-boy culture. I love this country. I'm thinking of living here eventually. I don't know when. In Paris, maybe in the south too, for the summer.

Interview by Billyjack
Photos by Nicolanifanta
April 2005

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