Food For Animals

Aahhh... I've been waiting for this one for so long... Food For Animals is one of the very few last hip hop acts that would make me buy their new stuff before I even get to listen to it. If you don't know them by know, I got a couple of "s" words for you. "Scavengers". Savagery. Saturation. Sure investment... And prepare for "Belly"!

Note: Each member, meaning Ricky Rabbit, Vulture Voltaire and new member Hy answered the questions, then they melted the whole thing. Hope it makes some sense.

Hip-Hop Core: Hi... Let's start with a little presentation... Where are you from and where does your name come from?

Food For Animals: Ricky (Rabbit), Vulture V & HY. We are all originally from the suburbs of Washington DC, the capitol of the USA. Maryland. Some of us are still there. Some of us have moved on (Barcelona, NYC).

The name "Food For Animals" was originally from a line in a rap, off of our first album "Scavengers". We liked it from the beginning and decided it was a decent representation of what we were about. There's a lot of different interpretations, different ways of reading it. And somehow, we've never really gotten sick of it, which is pretty remarkable.

There sure are alot of bands with "animal" names these days though.

HHC: Now what about your musical background, early influences/fetish albums, and how you guys met each other? I think FFA had some new members in the roster recently also?

FFA: Vulture V and I (Ricky Rabbit) met each other through the DC hardcore/punk scene, maybe around 2001 or so. We were still playing in heavy guitar-based bands, but we were listening to less and less rock music. I had been making noisey DHR-type music. I knew that Vulture V could rap (even if he was just rapping in joke bands then).

So we started recording with the help of our (then) guitar/synth player, Dr Dan aka The Young Anglometric. The line-up of Food For Animals has always been pretty flexible. We've toured/played shows in all sorts of arrangements; rappers, guitars, synths, beats, "hype-man", noise, whatever. Last summer, we toured through France with a translator (basically a good friend, who spoke good french and wanted to travel) Recently, we have been recording and touring with a new animal, Hy.

Yeah, I (Hy) am the new member. I met Andrew (Vulture V) at a movie theatre we both worked at. He was finishing the first FFA album and I was just getting started seriously rapping/recording. When Andrew and Nick (Ricky) were starting the second album, they invited me to do a song with them. We recorded and it came out tight, and I started doing shows with them. We recorded more songs, did more shows... and here we are.

HHC: "Scavengers" was pretty much a shot in the dark in terms of sound, like you don't really have an equivalent as far as I know.. What were you situation when you did it and was it hard to promote such an album? How did you hook up with the fellows of Muckamuck?

FFA: I feel like there is a surprisingly small amount of music that sounds like FoodForAnimals. On one hand that's cool and it's neat to be onto something that seems (relatively) new. But on the other hand, it's difficult because there's not too much of a scene that we can rise up through.

Muckamuck Produce was a label founded by a good friend of ours. It was a huge help in getting us started and getting our music out, but unfortunately the label is not putting out any more records. It's a shame because it was a really cool label.

HHC: Do you feel connected in terms of sound and intention to the whole IDM scene? I think of labels like Planet Mu, Tigerbeat, Rephlex, etc...

FFA: Really, the IDM scene has shown us more love and helped us out probably more than the hip-hop scene. Our new record will be released in Europe on Jason Forrest's label "Cock Rock Disco", which is mostly a breakcore label. Recently, we've been trying to move away from pretention that comes with alot of IDM stuff, though. Our live live preformances are alot more hip-hop. We all party. We try not to stare at laptops, too much.

HHC: Also... Your sound sometimes reminds me of UK grime/dubstep because of it's very slow bpm, dark mood, dirty beats, and very aggressive rap... Is it a music scene that you are aware of?

FFA: Oh yeah, we love some grime. The MC's over there have some of the best flows in the game. I think that there is perhaps more grime influence on the new record, "Belly". Mostly because the rapping is a lot more skillful and faster than on our past efforts.

HHC: What type of equipment do you use, how do you split the work ? Basically, how do you guys make music? Is it a full-time work?

FFA: We have always done all of our recording ourselves, usually at home, on computers. In the past, I (Ricky) only used old versions of ACID for beats and ProTools for vocals/synths. But now I'm learning Ableton Live, just like everybody else. But we get it all (programs, samples) for free. So don't go waste your money on that shit. Everything is for the taking.

Unfortunately, we are pretty far from paying our bills using only money from record sales and touring, so we still have to work. That's probably a big reason that we take so long to release new music.

HHC: Which is the non-musical everyday sound you like the most?

FFA: Hmmm, maybe I would say the "Outdoors"? Nature sounds? Maybe I just need to get out of the city more often.

HHC: How come that you are part of, let's say, the 5% minority of US rappers talking about current political issues? I saw this documentary about the early american hardcore scene, and there was this part about the DC scene, where a guy said that lots of kids living there had parents working for the administration... Is that your case?

FFA: Us living in the DC area, we're more exposed to government. When I'm visiting friends/family in DC, I can see the Capital Building from corners of poorer neighborhoods. I think that's just part of being an MC from this area, it's more on your mind. The same way a MC from L.A. might rhyme about gang culture.

HHC: In which way does your environment have an influence on the kind of music you make?... What would FFA sound like after 5 years of living in, say, Hawaii? Also, what does the DC scene looks like... Its known for rock labels like Dischord and such, but is there a niche for your kind of stuff?

FFA: We met and got our start in DC, but I'm not sure that DC, as a city, has really influenced our sound all that much.

Not that Washington DC does not have a long fascinating history of underground music. It's been great sometimes. And great for us sometimes.

Food For Animals was born during a transition period, where alot of the older "Discord" bands were maybe slowing down. DC's "sound" was changing. We were involved with the younger, more electronic/experimental side of that scene: Q And Not U, Black Eyes, Manhunter. Muckamuck and Hoss Records were involved too. Kids were putting down guitars and picking up drum machines. People were dancing.

Nowadays a lot of those same kids have left DC for other places. None of us live in DC anymore (Baltimore and Barcelona), and very few of our friends are still there. It's kinda sad, but DC is kinda hurting these days

As far as hip-hop, in DC most rap comes in the form of go-go (heavy, live- percussion, funky). There's more go-go shows than hip-hop shows on a monthly basis, which I'm cool with. I (Hy) grew up on go-go and rap. There is definitely a small, but passionate, rap scene in DC though.

HHC: You did this 7" with Bomb Mitte.. how did it happen? And a silly record nerd question: any plan of having "Scavengers" on vinyl some day?

FFA: Bomb Mitte is a great German record label run by our friend Christoff. He booked all of our European tours (four times now!). He's been a huge help for FoodForAnimals. But "Scavengers" will probably never be released on vinyl. I mean unless there's a huge surge of interest or something. But we'd all love to see more of our albums on vinyl.

HHC: You're about to drop your second album soon, tell us more about it.. Should we expect something in the same vein as "Scavengers"? Any release date? Label? Vinyl release?

FFA: "Belly" is the new record and it's a monster. In Europe, it will be on Jason Forrest's "Cock Rock Disco" label ( In the US, it will be on Hoss Records ( Both are great labels.

If you've heard any of our older stuff, the idea is the same: booming raps over noise and cut-up samples. There's certainly room for subtleties and nuances though. Its not ALL noisey loud beats. There's room for fun. There's introspective songs. There's variety to our lives, so there's variety on the album too.

For me, it's about finding different directions to take hiphop. Our goal is to blow minds.

I think that the main difference between this record and some of our older stuff, is in the quality of the rapping. I think that the writing and the flow is much stronger on this album. Pretty much unstoppable now.

HHC: What are you into, artwise, these days (music, movies, whatever...)?

FFA: I (HY) like that new UGK album. I've been listening to a lot of Marvin Gaye lately as well. Right now, I'm way into French gangster/noir films (Elevator to the Gallows, Le Cercle Rouge, Classes Tous Risques). Lino Ventura is dope.

Let's see, what is hot these days? (Ricky) I've been listening to a lot of soul, some Kruatrock and free-jazz, but all that stuff is boring and old. Of course, we always keep an ear open for new hip-hop, even if there is a lot of not-so- good stuff out there too. Sometimes, for hip-hop, the radio is just as crazy as the underground.

Have you Europeans heard of Baltimore Club music? You should look out for that, if you've never heard it. DJ Technics, Rod Lee, etc. Real hard and spare, but danceable.

HHC: You did tour in Europe already.. Do you have good memories of it? Who's the toughest audience, Americans or Europeans? Any plan to come back soon?

FFA: We've done a lot more touring in Europe than we have in the US. None of us have cars, so it is difficult for us to get around in the US. Whereas in Europe, you guys have that whole train thing. Public transportation is not the best in the US.

So yeah, we love touring in Europe.

It's funny that audiences are generally more into FFA in countries that do not speak English…

I (Hy) have very good memories of Europe. I loved it. We did a show on my birthday (July 10) in Konstanz, Germany, and it was probably the craziest performance I've ever been a part of.

HHC: So, what's the FFA's winter schedule looks like, any secret plan you could reveal here?

FFA: Well, I think that we're going to be back in Europe in December. Really, we're trying to travel everywhere now, before the world goes back to being a small place again (artificially low gasoline prices can't last forever). We have to get to Japan, soon. Other than that, we're just going to keep doing our thing.

Interview by Pseudzero et Almyum
October 2007

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