Exclusive Interview: Bad Bad Not Good Talk Education, Working With Tyler The Creator, Clams Casino

All photography by Loni Schick.

Bad Bad Not Good are three jazz-hop (jazz meets hip-hop) musicians from Toronto, Canada, who you may know from their publicized collabs with OFWGKTA mainstay, Tyler, the Creator. The dudes from BBNG play a nasty versions of “She,” “Fish” and even Waka Flocka Flame’s “Hard in da Paint”, all performed with the improvisation expertise of a jazz veteran like Roy Ayers, who they recently opened for in Toronto. I know, sounds pretty damn cool, right, three college students jamming together for an unrehearsed encore session before a packed crowd at the Nujazz Fest– But wait, didn’t I mention the dudes from BBNG were still in school? They attend Humber College in Toronto, and my gut feeling is that they’re about to drop onto academic probation, very soon. On a brighter note however, or rather, a “based” note, Billie Holiday spent some time on probation, and she wasn’t half bad.

Read the complete interview after the jump.

Can you introduce yourselves, because you’ve done the Exclaim! piece, but not everyone in New York City knows of you guys?

I’m Alex, I play drums.

I’m Matt, I play keys.

I’m Chester, I play bass.

You guys can go as wild as you want.

Alex: I like positivity, any items that are rare that you can find at antique stores.

You had some family here at the show? [opening for Roy Ayers at the MOD Club]

Alex: My dad and my uncle came.

Chester: My family’s in Ottawa.

What about school teachers?

Matt: We go to school. We don’t really like it.


Matt: At Humber, it’s a jazz program.

Yeah, I went to art school around here too, at York. Anything outside the box is not part of the curriculum.

Alex: Yeah, I guess you could say the same thing about us.

Matt: Yeah, we’re not very oriented with the school.

Chester: It’s cool because there are a lot of amazing teachers, but it’s not really-

Matt: I think we try to do everything the school wouldn’t do, and our teachers wouldn’t do, to make solid career choices.

Alex: Obviously, we respect the teachers at the school, they do their own thing, they’re great musicians, but if you’re going to study jazz- and the jazz they teach is from the 60’s and you learn old school stuff, which is all cool. But It’s not the right time and place for that music now. You can’t go out there and play what you learned at school.

Chester: It’s like a 1960’s jazz degree.

Matt: The thing about that jazz, it’s a good tool. Jazz at that point was based on the performer and really solid performances, proving your technique, but it’s kind of irrelevant now. No one really cares how well you can play your instrument. That’s dead.

What about hip-hop though? Obviously you have hip-hop influences, but I never heard of any producers you guys like.

Matt: Obviously J Dilla, Clams Casino.

I was going to mention Clams Casino.

Matt: Yeah, we’re totally into that stuff.

A$AP Rocky.

Alex: Yeah, the mixtape’s pretty sweet.

Chester: I guess we all came from a different musical background, but we all listen to hip-hop.

Matt: We’re all on top of new music.

Have you heard Blue Slide Park?

Alex: No, is that Mac Miller?

Matt: I haven’t heard that yet.

You should listen to “One Last Thing”, the Clams Casino beat, it’s unreal.

Alex: I’m not a big Mac Miller rap fan. I actually downloaded an entire instrumental album of Clams Casino beats, Lil B, Soulja Boy, yeah, it’s dope. It’s sick. He’s on top of his voice sampling and what he’s doing with his beats.

You guys like Ratatat?

Matt: Yeah, I like Ratatat, they’re pretty cool.

Alex: I think I heard “Seventeen Years” in grade 9. I was like, “Oh, this is cool, what is this?” Obviously I didn’t know much about music, but it’s just harmonies and guitar.

Matt: Yeah, exactly.

Alex: The production side of it is really cool.

You guys have the Odd Future reinterpretations and they do the remixes, then they worked with Cudi. Do you see that happening with guys down the road?

Alex: Yeah, basically where we are, we’re up on our game, we can play the instruments, like this guy [points to Matt] knows so much about production that no one even knows, mastering, like producers don’t even know about mastering.

So he can do it all.

Alex: Yeah, basically he’s like a book. He also knows web coding, computer programming, wait, wait, wait, wait, instrument list: banjo, guitar, I’ve seen him play upright bass, tenor sax, alto sax, and piano.

That’s what you need in hip-hop today, to be able to do it all.

Alex: Yeah, you need a basis. You’ve got to have a creative side, you have to know what sounds good, obviously if you make a beat that sounds good-

It helps to be able to do everything yourself though.

Matt: Oh, for sure.

Alex: You’ve got to be up on influences.

Do you have a long-term plan that way?

Alex: I think production and performance.

Matt: Yeah, that would be amazing.

Alex: Play beats, make beats, play beats live, or go perform-

Matt: To play with an emcee would be really awesome. We’ve never really done that yet.

Yeah, like the video you guys did with Tyler.

Alex: Yep, and that was cool because it was all one take. Tyler came over for two hours and we chilled, and he was like, “Okay, let’s do this.” We did an hour and a half of that, and that’s where that video came from.

Was it surreal when he walked in?

Chester: It was pretty crazy.

Alex: He came to my house which was pretty funny.

Chester: And we ordered Domino’s.

Alex: And he’s fucking hilarious.

Yeah, I saw the picture where he’s lying on the Domino’s box. Was it just Tyler who came over?

Alex: It was just him and his friend.

Matt: He said Hodgy and Domo were going to come, but they were working on some tracks at the hotel.

You should reinterpret some of those BlackenedWhite records.

Matt: Yeah, when they came in-

Alex: We were kind of geeking out, like, “He’s coming, he’s coming.”

Chester: Like Hodgy’s going to be here and shit.

Alex: So we started playing “F666 the Police” and he comes in, he’s like, “Yo, I know that. What is that?” We’re like, “That’s “F666 the Police,” and he’s like, “Oh shit.”

Don’t you think you guys would be great in hip-hop because your beats progress, even Clams Casino-

Matt: Well, it’s just loops, oh, well, Clams Casino doesn’t loop and that’s the biggest thing with hip-hop, half of those trap beats, you listen to a Lil B album and it’s the same four bars.

Alex: He’s produced some beats that aren’t like that, but there’s also stuff he puts more time into.

Matt: Of course. Also with a live band it’s so much easier to be interactive. You don’t even hear beats that are so interactive with the lyricism at all, it’s always just the same beat, and then the rapper could be spitting the craziest fucking polyrhythm and the beat’s going to stay the same, you know what I mean?

Hip-hop needs more interaction. There’s so much emailing in beats. If you had a session where you guys are just jamming-

Alex: Yeah, working with an artist and finding things they like, music they like, sounds they like. They’re all like, “I love 2000 music.” Or like 70’s shit. “Okay, cool, let’s do that.”

What about soundtracks, or scores? Are you guys influenced by them at all?

Alex: Yeah, yeah, yeah, for sure. There’s a lot of crazy shit, John Williams.

Matt: I used to be obsessed with Fellini. Those movies are so amazing for the soundtracks. We’ve never been like, “Yo, check out this sick soundtrack.” Remember that dude though, he was showing us the score, and it was fucking cool, I’ve never heard something so cool before, the progression was obscene.

Even The Weeknd is posting music from Blade Runner on his blog.

Alex: Yeah, yeah, well if you dig foreign films. People have been writing music for those movies. There’s always going to be so much shit that’s never going to surface, you pick it up, chop it up, cop a couple samples.

Could you see yourselves doing a score?

Matt: I think that would be dope. We could.

Alex: I’d like someone to give us a skate video, and then we make music for it. Have them edit it based on the tricks and then do some really interactive music with the skateboarder. Because every time you have a skate video-

Matt: It’s like Nu Metal, or plain hip-hop.

Chester: That would be really cool.

Matt: I think the coolest thing about movie soundtracks, it’s a really postmodern way of making music, because some movie soundtracks have so many different influences from different times, you get classical music, or A Clockwork Orange had all this crazy synth stuff-

A Clockwork Orange is crazy. I just saw it again at TIFF Bell Lightbox.

Matt: It’s an amazing movie obviously, but the soundtrack.

You guys listen to Suite For Ma Dukes?

Chester: Oh yeah, I love them, oh my god. My buddy, when she came to U of T or whatever, got Ma Dukes autograph. It’s pretty neat, yeah.

I wanted to ask you about the pig mask. You said it shows how good you guys are. Obviously you guys have to have somewhat of a- I know this sounds gay, intimate…

Matt: That’s why I don’t even face the audience. Alex is behind me. I literally have to be facing him.

Because you two look at each other and it’s like you’re reading each other’s thoughts on-stage.

Matt: That’s actually kind of how it is. We respond to each other from nothing. We rehearsed a bunch of our songs for a school thing, like, “let’s videotape this and bring it in as a joke,” and Alex and Chester didn’t even know I was going to bring it. Then we did a video for the next jam session, and we realized after, in music and when we rehearse, we don’t really make endings. That encore we did was totally unrehearsed.

Alex: So it’s funny when you wear a mask and in Jazz everything’s on the fly, go with the vibe. It’s like, “Okay, I’m wearing a mask now so you literally can’t see my face, my mouth, so I can’t be like, ‘no, no, no, yes, yes, yes’. With how these guys play, it’s fucking crazy, because they can pick it up. They listen so well.

Matt: The thing is [speaking to Alex], half the time you’re looking at me, like, “no, no, no,” but you don’t even have to tell me that.

Chester: It’s only been like six months or whatever but we seem to have this connection.

Alex: There’s been a lot of musical settings I’ve never been able to connect with, like with groups.

Matt: Yeah, we played the show at The Red Light and it was an hour and a half long, and that entire show was spontaneous. We had all these crazy interweaves to the songs. Nothing was planned. We don’t really have to.

Even completing each other’s sentences.

Alex: [laughs] Completing each other’s sandwiches.

What about future plans?

Chester: Keep making music. Keep being based, being positive.

Alex: Yeah, based, positive generation, positive activities, positive eating, positive thinking, breathing. Don’t be awkward, be positive. If you don’t study for a test and you’re going in there, just be positive. Fuck it.

Matt: More mixtapes to come, collaborations, more shows.


– By @petermarrack