Onoe Caponoe is a London-based rapper; he’s an artist that through a steady build up of releases and mix-tapes has been exploring the far reaches of psychedellia and providing a unique outlook on hip-hop.
Having recently joined the High Focus family, Onoe Caponoe’s debut label release ‘Voices From Planet Cattele’ (released 28th Jan) goes far beyond just a listening experience. For starters, like all of his projects, the strength of narrative is continued through the visual elements of artwork and videos. Onoe Caponoe and album producer Chemo are clearly in perfect harmony with one another; Onoe Caponoe is a compelling storyteller who has crafted a vivid world that entirely draws you in, whilst Chemo’s imaginative production perfectly builds the fabric of the journey.
This is an album that equals colourful escapism at its absolute finest! In light of this, we had a chat with Onoe Caponoe about all things Planet Cattele… Hi Onoe, hope you’re good! First things first, how are you feeling now that the project has finally dropped?
“Yeh good! I’m interested to see what happens… like how people take it, what sort of people like it and I’m real interested to see what happens with the exposure that High Focus can offer!” That Four Owls x DJ Premier thing was a massive move for the label!
“Yeh exactly, like what the fuck! Crazy shit!” The album is obviously pretty experimental, outside the alternative nature of the LP were there any themes in particular you wanted to explore or question?
“To be honest, there wasn’t really a set thing I wanted to get from it and the name actually came towards the end of doing the project. I think I made one song knowing what the title of the project was, the whole thing took a couple of years and if I’d have known what we were going to call it from the beginning it would probably have come out a bit differently.”
“I’m glad with the way it’s come out though, I feel like because the type of music it is and the way things ended up with the artwork and everything, it’s actually better this way because it’s a bit more abstract; the album has lots of different vibes but then it’s strange because it all makes sense. Some people might hear some of it and be like ‘yo, this ain’t right, he’s talking like that instead of in first person and about the shit that’s literally around him’ when actually that’s all been done on purpose. I wanted to do things in a different way.”
You mention the name came towards the end of the project, are there any stories behind how the name came about?
“From around the beginning I was fucking around with the whole idea of it being a project with Chemo and we were saying Chemono as a kind of joke attempt of joining our names together… I thought it was funny but didn’t really want to run with that for the actual thing.”
“I’ve got this whole Catdelic aka thing going on and Chemo’s aka is Telemachus, put together its Cattele. So we were fucking around with that, doing loads of drawings of this cat with a TV on its head, like a space helmet sort of thing and it all came from there really; doing loads of drawings, thinking about it a lot and yeh just fucking about. Then on the phone to him one day I mentioned I wanted it to be called ‘something From Planet Cattele’ but I couldn’t figure out the last word or how to bring it together, he started saying bare random shit then as a passing comment he said ‘Voices From Planet Cattele’ – I was like yo, that’s it, it makes sense innit!” Do you know what, I pronounce everything wrong so it’s even written as CAT—TELE in my notes haha that part seems pretty obvious now! So I’m intrigued, have you given any thought to what it would look like walking through Planet Cattele?
“Yeh, from doing it, sometimes you kind of feel like it’s been created to be honest!”
“It’s some weird shit that I don’t particularly understand, do you know about the whole other dimensions thing? So there are like other planes and shit that can be right here where we are, well I kind of feel it’s like that, like it’s here but you can’t see it haha god knows, god knows what’s going on!” I’m aware that you and Chemo were originally introduced through mutual friend Chabuddy G! From there Chemo offered to help master your ‘Willows Midnight Gallery’ LP – how has it been working with him as the producer behind the entirety of this project?
“Yeh he’s cool man, he’s a sound dude and a straight up normal guy, chats shit… chats bare jokes! Not like, well, sometimes you meet people especially in this whole rap thing and they just have this weird fucking energy about them and you think to yourself ‘fuck it, I’m just tripping, they’re cool’ but then they’ll start doing weird stuff. It’s like because everyone’s making music and everyone’s rapping maybe some people want to fuck with other people just because of music reasons and to get big type thing, not because they actually feel them or because they’re similar as a person.”
“Everyone seems to be cool with that but I find it really weird, that’s why I don’t really collaborate with a lot of people. If I meet someone, if they’re cool and they’re just a normal dude then it’s good innit, we can be friends and from that we can make good music. The other shit though, of people sending you messages all the time like ‘oi, do you wanna collab’ and all this shit, I’m not really down for that because all of these weird things can happen along the line, then you’ll look back and realise you just shouldn’t have fucked with that person from the beginning. It’s a weird one but Chemo is the complete opposite and that’s why we worked so well I guess!”
Both your music and artwork are always brilliantly trippy – to the extent I literally feel fucked just looking/ listening to it haha. So whilst I’m aware the psychedelic nature of your work is more down to your personal style as opposed to heavy drug use, what are your thoughts on the positivity and negativity of drug use in the creative process?
“It’s a bit of a hard one because everybody is completely different. One of my good friends for example, he’s probably the most creative and insane person I know, he’s fucking amazing in terms artwork and his brain is just constantly coming up with ideas, he’s never taken drugs haha he’s just crazy I guess! So people like him really don’t need to do drugs and if he was ever even thinking about it I would even plead with him not to because I don’t know what the fuck would happen if he did haha!”
“So yeh everybody is different. I mean I know for some people they get buzzing and it isn’t like oh shit, all of a sudden all of these ideas and stuff come to them, they just feel totally comfortable in themselves.”
“On the flipside though, I feel like if you’re the type of person that has a good experience, it can be like ‘ok, yeh that’s sick I’m gonna do it all the time’ type thing but really you’ve got a window if something like that happens to you, a window of boom opportunities and you have to take those then, rather than getting side-tracked and thinking that doing whatever you did to feel like that is going to give you a route to anything because it’s not.” When it comes to the artwork side of things, are there any artists whose work you’re particularly influenced by?
“Yeh, there are lots of people and I always fucking forget them man! Let me try and think… everyone in my group. There are lots of amazing artists in my group, Taztron Delix, the guy who does all my videos and he raps and stuff sometimes, he’s a crazy artist, he inspires me. Then there’s another guy in my group called Nathan Detroit AKA Episode he makes a living off selling his artwork! He paints fucking mad old school kings and queens and shit, I can’t think of the actual term, they properly look like photos though but trippy at the same time – really weird stuff. There’s also this group from Miami called Metro Zu who I fuck with quite a lot, they all paint and all their stuffs crazy. There’s lots of people man… There’s also this Graffer from New York called Noxer and he’s fucking ill, he’s one of my favourite writers but he’s an amazing artist at the same time, it’s not just Graff stuff do you know what I mean? He’s made his own style and he’s incorporated everything into it, he’s really good.”
I’m aware you have a history with pirate radio, I’m always fascinated asking about this as pirates bring up some pretty interesting stories – can you give me a bit of a background to your experiences?
“Haha ok fuck it! So there was one, I probably shouldn’t say it’s name and I won’t say where it is, but it was just the most ghetto shit I’ve ever been to. I used to go to a couple and the others were always in different places but this one was always in the same place, it was always in West London in this kind of car garage slash caravan site almost… it was so fucked!”
“To get there, you’d walk into this place, you’d have to walk through all of these alleys and shit, then you’d walk into this big open space and there was this metal fenced part – you know like if you go to a concert or something, sometimes there are those makeshift fences you can move around and line up next to each other, they’re around waist height? Well, there was this little metal fence going across and you’d basically have to hop over it and run as fast you could into this little fucking makeshift shack sort of thing.”
“The reason you had to run as fast as you could was because there were these two fucking huge dogs, they looked like pitbulls but I don’t know what they were, they were fucking massive and they’d be there just barking and looking to fuck you up. I mean they’d actually been trained to kill people, so there were mad cases of people getting fucked up by them, one dude got his fingers bit off or some shit! So literally every single time you were going in and every single time you were going out you’d end up getting chased by all these dogs. Sometimes you’d be in this shack with literally 40 kids, passing round a smoke and shit, then it would be time to leave and everyone would just be there, bare scared… then everyone would run, the dogs would come and people would be falling over the fence – it was fucking insane!” Fuck! I have a few friends that do Rude FM but I’m not sure it’s anything like that…
“Yeh I’ve heard of that! It’s sick that there are things like that still going on. It’s changed a lot man! When we were doing it, in those times everyone was still listening to radio all of the time, taping sets and stuff. I don’t know if it’s still like that but then I don’t really listen to the radio or anything anymore.” Your album is quite far removed from rap and hip-hop mainstream but looking at the commercial side of the scene, what are your thoughts on how the genre has assimilated into pop culture?
“Obviously that’s a fucking huge question! I’m just me innit so everything is my opinion and I’m talking from my perspective entirely, everything I say could actually be wrong and it probably is to be honest haha! Also, my thoughts might change in ten minutes or something… Right now though I feel like it swings both ways.”
“The fact it’s become so popular is really good in terms of so many things, everything has built up so much and hopefully that means for the people that are doing it for the right reasons there’s a big enough platform for them to be able to eventually support themselves completely from it, like I want to do.”
“On the other hand though, there are a lot of negative things about it as well. One thing that definitely stands out to me, increasingly over the last five years or so is that there’s so much more but it’s fucked! I feel like I see so many more things now and when I try to watch some of this shit, I just get that feeling straight away that these people are doing it for the wrong reasons completely and I don’t know if some people are even aware of that themselves. I feel because it’s so popular there’s a lot more of that and it’s like in this society that we live in, a lot of people are pushed towards just wanting to be famous. Then the main rap shit pushes out this idea of ‘having all these bitches’ and ‘having all this money’ and who doesn’t want that innit? Any kid that’s coming up then looks at that and is like ‘oh yeh, I wanna rap, I wanna be like that, I want all that shit’ and it’s creating a lot more of that, a lot more of that mentality and shit.”
“That’s one of the main reasons sometimes I feel like fuck this shit, fuck rap but then I have to remember that it’s not fuck rap, it’s FUCK all that shit and that mentality. You can’t let the negative outweigh the positive which is the real shit, the actual good music and the good people not just all of this fake shit that’s going on. I kind of hope all that shit dies down to be honest, wait for people to jump on to the next fad but then I don’t know really… it might not happen unless another fad comes about which is pushing out a similar ideal of having loads of money and chicks and shit.”
If you can’t remember saying this I’m going to be totally embarrassed haha! I’m aware that you’re going to be going on tour with The Four Owls but in regards to a solo tour you mentioned in a previous interview a potential naked tour in your garden… I’m just wondering how the plans for that are coming along?
“Haha they’re coming along pretty well… I did the first run through the other day when the sun was up so yeh, I might start promoting it and see if people wanna book me and stuff haha take it from there really!” And finally, what should we be looking out for in the coming months?
“Obviously there’s the album and the rest of the videos. I’ve got a couple of other things in terms of little projects that I’ve worked on. They’re just ideas at the moment so I wanna wrap those up and then work on a way to put them out but specifically suiting them as they’re not big albums or anything. They’re pretty weird so maybe shoot some weird old school videos for them.”
“After that I want to work on and put out something which is a bit more for everyone, not too experimental but at the same time it’s me doing it haha so that will definitely go out of the window at some point. Then I plan to drop something else that’s real big, completely put together by me so executive produced by me type thing. I want to go crazy and stick loads of fucking things together and yeh it will definitely come out real clean, like hopefully an actual proper release again.” ‘Voices From Planet Cattele’ is available to purchase on limited edition wax and in CD format over at the High Focus Records store. Keep up to date on all things Onoe Caponoe by following him on Twitter, Soundcloud and Facebook 🙂 Check out the full album preview below:
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