Duo DJ Format and Abdominal unleash their first full album together on 28th April. We sat down with the pair ahead of its release to talk about why they’re Still Hungry, why now is the prime time for a collaborative record, and what to expect from another eagerly anticipated joint tour.
By Katie Manning.
The album is named after your track Still Hungry, why did you pick this song to title the record?
Abdominal: We actually had the album title first and then decided we should write a title track to sum up the sentiment.
So what is the sentiment of the album?
Format: For me personally, describing how I felt about my approach to making music, that I’m very much still hungry. It’s the same for Andy (Abdominal), we didn’t want anyone to feel that we were just putting out music for the sake of trying to make a comeback or make money. It’s still very much our passion and we’re still hungry to do this as artists, we feel we’re at our peak and are still giving it everything we’ve got. Andy you probably wanna elaborate on that.
Abdominal: I agree with everything Matt’s (DJ Format) saying, musically speaking but then even beyond that in terms of life in general, how as we get older we face some obstacle maybe that life throws our way. So it’s like we’re also still hungry to tackle those trials and tribulations and persevere in life and keep going, so it works for me musically, but also personally.
It’s a very honest album, with tracks such as We’re back. Was that important to you to not blur things, and be honest with people about how you’re feeling?
Abdominal: Yeah, I think my writing has always been that way, just really inspired by events in my life. It’s obviously the only thing I know so I don’t wanna come out and talk about things I haven’t experienced, or things I think people wanna hear about. All I can do is express my experience and turn it into art or music, so that’s always been the case and this album’s no exception.
Format: I think that’s why people really relate to you as a rapper, because they feel like they know you, that’s the impression I get.
Abdominal: Yeah, I get that feeling too, it really is a personal connection and people come up to me at times or message me online to say they’ve gone through something similar in life, or it’s really helped them because they don’t feel quite as alone, as they see that there are other people out there experiencing this sort of thing. So, it is important to connect with the listener in that way, it’s my own personal experience but there are some universal themes in there that people go through.
You’ve been long time collaborators, what made you decide now was the time to do a full album as a duo?
Format: Initially, it had been 10 years since we last did a live show together, and we thought it would be fun to mark that landmark with a reunion tour for old times sake, to see if anyone out there still wanted to hear our old songs and come party with us, and the response was just so much more overwhelming than we could have imagined. Most of the shows sold out, people were coming in their droves and singing along to every word, and we thought wow this is such a good feeling, if there are that many people that still wanna hear this kind of music and hear what we’re doing we should get back together, and for the first time do a whole project together. So we said let’s do it, let’s do a whole album together that’s us in equal measure.
Abdominal: It was also fun for us, after we did that first show on the reunion tour we were both exhilarated, the adrenaline was flowing like oh my god look how fun this is to get on stage and get this kind of response. There was obviously the demand for it from our fans, and for us as well it was really gratifying, and it’s always been a good collaboration artistically so a full album together appealed to me.
There are a lot of different sounds coming through the album, you’ve got some ska/funk/hip-hop elements. What kind of artists inspire you or inspired this album?
Format: From a musical viewpoint as the one who puts the music together, I listen to a lot of different music, mostly late 60’s early 70’s. That could be jazz/blues/soul/funk/rock/reggae, but it’s generally an older sound, so I like to take little bits and pieces from those old records to create a hip-hop album for now. I do more of a classic hip-hop kind of sound, maybe more the 90’s kinda sound, but I’m just inspired by a lot of different music and that naturally comes out in the hip-hip that I make.
You’ll be playing the Wardrobe in Leeds on May 3rd.
Format: Yeah that’s gonna be the first show of the tour!
What can we expect from you guys at a live show?
Abdominal: A little of the old, a little of the new. We’ll be presenting this new material which is fresh for us, so we’re excited about bringing that to people. We’ll also be doing our older material, we can’t get away from that stuff. We still find it fun performing it so there will be those earlier collaborations as well, so we can mash it all together. We’re still working out the details of the set, but other than that it’s just our usual stage approach which is a very stripped down, traditional, pure hip-hop approach; one DJ, one MC, two turntables, and nothing more than that, no pyrotechnics or anything. We always aim to bring a very energetic, entertaining show.