We interviewed Von Pea and Don Will of Tanya Morgan.
After the recent streamed release of their impeccable third studio album ‘Rubber Souls’, Sampleface catches up with Don Will and Von Pea, both halves of one of hip hop’s premier duos Tanya Morgan, to get the story on their past, present and future, in their own words. Over to you, boys…
1. Tanya Morgan has achieved success as a duo. Do you ever see yourselves reuniting with Ilyas?
Von Pea: Yeah…we have two recent songs that aren’t out yet. One is my song featuring Don and Il, and the other is a TM song with him on it. I produced one of them and Danny! produced the other; those will drop next year. Other than that we’ll still work on music randomly, but probably not an album as a trio.
Don Will: We’ve done a few songs with him here and there since the split.
2. Your first album was primarily worked on via AOL Instant Messenger. Do you think it’s fair to say that you were inspired in part by The Foreign Exchange?
VP: Phonte and Nic gave me my first shot with ‘Von Sees’ so I owe them forever, but honestly the method was more neccesity than being inspired by them. Don and I were working over the internet around 2002…actually Phonte and I were too. He emailed me a chorus back in 2002, the same night I was putting the song out (haha). That stuff probably predates FE.
DW: Honestly, no. Not for me at least. We were using the most efficient tool that would let us communicate and send files to one another and talk in real time while we created music. Around that same time we were working with Nicolay and Little Brother on things also away from Tanya Morgan so it was honestly just the means for creation in that day and age.
3. Von Pea, How much influence do you think Brickbeats had on you as a producer?
VP: Percussion. Layers. I’m usually the album producer so Brick would send me the tracked out stems of his beats to pre-mix. Theres always these cool layers way in the back that add a lot of character to the beats but you may not notice them in the son.
4. Don Will, what has been your favourite collaboration between you and Von Pea exclusively?
DW: In terms of projects, I really like the Sandwich Shop, but if we are talking about individual songs, I don’t really have a favourite.
5. You’ve been dubbed “the rappers’ rap group” by certain publications. Is that a title you accept?
VP: To me that means your peers respect you so I’m good with that!
DW: It’s cool to be considered musicians who make music that other musicians respect, but that’s, in a way, an underhanded compliment. In a way, it’s saying that we can’t communicate our ideas in a way that a person who isn’t musically inclined can enjoy them. We definitely aren’t looking to make music that pleases only our peers, because our music speaks of experiences anyone can relate to and enjoy.
6. Where did the name for this album originate?
VP: 6th Sense had the idea to name it after The Beatles’ album because he says that it was the album in which they took a turn creatively and he wanted to do that with us.
DW: It’s also, in a way, talking about the expansive nature of the sound of the record. It’s about showing growth and reaching for new things.
7. What in your opinion separates Rubber Souls from Brooklynati?
VP: I think the main difference is the music has a bigger sound. We usually go for more of a no frills beats-and-rhymes style. We’ve done music with players before like “get violated” on my solo album and Don’s “love junkie” remix but this time we went that direction for most of the album. It all still has that warm sampled feeling to it.
DW: Four years, 6th Sense and one less member. its a completely different album. The song structure, the musical direction, the tone of our voices, hell our voices have probably changed at this point. Both projects are high quality but this project is unto itself.
8. Taking you back to October 2007: what do you think was the defining moment for you during the ‘Show Us What You Got’ competition (excluding the moment you were announced as winners)?
VP: I remember one of the judges saying ”We found the new Tribe Called Quest”, that was lofty LOL. But a huge compliment nonetheless.
DW: Hanging out at the Power Mixshow Summit in Vegas and was just a moment in itself. Vegas is always fun and when you are around other industry vets as well, it’s even more fun. That weekend, I went off and hung out in the mountains outside of Vegas also. They have these huge caves that the locals go hang out at. Me and Ilyas went out there and shot some videos and hung out. It was a good time.
9. What sort of music did you listen to growing up?
VP: Michael Jackson and Hip Hop haha. All hip hop from the most mainstream to the most underground. My favourite of course was and still is De La Soul.
DW: Gospel, rap, funk, soul. There was a lot of music around me and I can’t say one single thing really influenced me as a child. When i got into high school i was more into rap and r&b then college hit and i was big into indie hip hop more than anything else.
10. What was the first hip hop track that caught your attention?
VP: ‘I think I can beat Mike Tyson’ by Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince.
DW: ‘Life Is Too Short’ – Too Short.
11. Do you think it is important to have a musical background, whether it be classically trained or just learning an instrument?
VP: I think it’s important to have an appreciation for music more than anything. I can’t play anything but I’ve made a positive contribution to music based on that appreciation and respect for music.
DW: Absolutely. Music is about math and logic and reasoning at its foundation. Its important to have any sort of hobby that develops you as a person. If you choose to make music your career you should definitely learn about your field tho.
12. What’s your biggest musical accomplishment and why?
VP: Every album is a big musical accomplishment to me because making an album takes over your life! It’s all milestones of my life by the years, so it’s hard to pick one.
DW: Touring outside of the US because I never imagined that music would take me around the country let alone to see the rest of the world.
13. Who would you most like to work with and why?
VP: I would love to work with No ID. I’ve always been a big fan of Common and to work with the guy that is one of Com’s #1 producers would be a dream.
DW: I’d like to work with Kareem Riggins and Pharrell because they are dope.
14. What are your thoughts on UK Hip Hop and is there anyone in the UK you’d like to work with?
VP: I honestly don’t know much but D Double E is dope, I like his flow and sense of humour. And of course, Dizzee is the man.
DW: I haven’t really been keeping up on the scene out there like I usually do, but there’s a cat named Booda French out of Ipswich that I like. I’d love to hear what else is going on that way though. If anyone is reading this, hit me on Twitter with your Soundclouds and streams so that I can check it out. My name is @donwill and I’m always down to listen to stuff.
15. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
VP: About…8 years ago, my grandfather told me to keep doing what I’m doing (music) because I’m supposed to be doing it…he told me this in a dream. He died 13 years ago. Does that sound crazy?
DW: Dres from Blacksheep told me to enjoy every moment and appreciate every opportunity. Basically as a person documenting your life, you need to live a full life in order to have something to talk about. Don’t get mad at your situation, just work to change it if it needs to change.
16. What advice would you give to beginners starting out?
VP: Find your own style and do your own style even when it isn’t in style. Don’t just go for what’s the trend, because you’ll be gone with that trend.
DW: Get a job and invest that money you make into yourself and your career. Stop treating music like a hustle because you are fucking it up for the people who look at music as a lifestyle.