INTERVIEW: Benji Bambach / Green (ASM)

We are back after a well earned break over the festive period! Our first interview of the year is with Benji Bambach from ASM who released their album ‘Color Wheel’ in Autumn last year and are preparing for touring and more in 2020 – they caught our eye over here in Minnis2Society HQ after the release of their single and video ‘Honey’.

For those not in the know tell us what ASM stands for and the dynamic of the group?

We started as 2 graffiti crews when we were young and foolish – AS crew and SM crew, which eventually merged to become ASM. What ASM would stand for was a post-hoc consideration. We settled on A State of Mind and have regretted having two names, ASM and A State of Mind, ever since. ASM for the homies, so let’s roll with that and it can stand for whatever people conjure up, on an interactive tip. The dynamic of the group is basically that we’re 3 hip-hop nerd homies from high school and we’ve been playing this sport ever since. 

You recently dropped the new album ‘Color Wheel’ – talk us through some of the collaborations you got featured in the album.

Most of the collabs are homies with whom we’ve been working for years – Chinese Man, Mattic, La Fine Equipe, Astrid, etc.. that’s all family. We started as a group of friends making music in a collective like-minded dynamic, so we try to maintain that energy and work with people we connect with on a human as well as an artistic level. 

It’s also difficult to talk about the album, and not mentioned the Colour textures themselves…can you share a bit more on this?

Colors are instantly emotive and evocative, and are universally communicable in a similar way to music. We felt like attributing a color to each track was an interesting way to conceptually unify the whole thing while leaving a broad range of interpretational scope in the lyrical content. It was nuts how we all basically agreed with the color attributions on each track, which confirmed to us the soundness of the anchor concept. Colors have a simple yet powerful primal kind of magic. 

Do you feel that Hip Hop has had a good year in 2019 – it feels like it is back on the up?

Hip hop is such a deeply engrained part of the global cultural landscape these days, so it’s difficult to isolate “hip hop” as an entity capable of having a good year or otherwise. There’s definitely some dope and interesting material coming out recently. The beats on the Madlib & Gibbs record are dope as hell, the new Tyler is mad interesting. Earl is dope. Gang Starr release has some tasty member-berry moments. Honestly at home we mostly listen to 70s music these days – jazz, soul, psych, and so one.. nerdy crate digger stuff. There’s so much gold out there from that time. It’s an endless journey of exploration.

Talk to us about the slightly loopy music video for ‘Honey’

That was our homie John from Chinese Man who came up with the concept. The Lebanese sample that forms the basis of the track is about a call to assembly, to ask your neighbours to help with the construction of a home. That was kind of the guiding concept for the visual along with the idea that the “Alala” in the chorus can be heard as a generic expression of indifference. It was a broad enough starting point to be able to go fairly wide in the thematic scope of the video. Its basically about the absurdity and self-destructiveness of our species, with a few glimmers of hope sprinkled in.

What are your plans for 2020 – have you got more tour dates lined up?

Yes indeed, tour dates throughout Europe, primarily in France during the spring run. The album is out now and doing the rounds, so we’re now onto the next chapter and starting to chisel away at that. More soon!

What have you been listening to, watching, reading and loving recently? Any recommendations?

I just re-read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert Pirsig which is is a classic work of accessible metaphysics. Been listening to Dorothy Ashby’s Rubiyat, which is incredible, amongst a lot of other things – Weldon Irvine, Roy Ayers, Lonnie Liston Smith, the list goes on and on. More recently I dig the Kiefer album on Stones Throw, and the London jazz revival cats, Kamaal Williams, Moses Boyd etc. Been re-watching the Jim Jarmush catalogue again recently, and a lot of rap battles. Shoutout to Shuffle T and Marlo from the UK, those guys are straight genius! Otherwise been experimenting a lot with ramen broth variations, and mostly drinking natural wines – Claus Preisinger, Stefan Vetter, and Valentina Passalacqua are some recent stand-out wine makers that we’re loving hard!

Finally, what is your tip of the day?

Drink natty wine, listen to Tribe, use less plastic.. there’s hope yet!

We absolutely love the ‘Honey’ track and music video! If you want to find out more and getting following/supporting ASM here are some links below.

Twitter: ASM and their label Chinese Man Records

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