As Posted On VIBE.com
Q&A: Meet The Airplane Boys, The Toronto Collective Talk Music, Banksy And Touring Asia
Hailing from Scarborough, Toronto, The Airplane Boys are an alternative rap group consisting of two members, Bon Voyage and Beck Motley (real names Manny and Jason). Their debut mixtape Where’ve You Been hit the internet back in 2011 and they’ve since toured the world making a name for themselves in the hip-hop world. VIBE sat down with them to talk about their music, the countries they’ve been to and what their take on Banksy and the BET Hip Hop Awards Cypher performances is.
VIBE: How did you two first meet each other and decide to form a rap group?
Bon Voyage: My parents split when I was ten and I moved to a neighborhood in Malvern, which is a part of Scarborough, met this guy on the first day of school and he came up to me like ‘yo you want to join me for this talent show?’ I’m like ‘yeah let’s do it’ and we’ve been best friends ever since. We both started rapping around the same time just as kids, ten years old. So here we are; long story short.
What were your musical influences growing up?
Bon Voyage: Oh man, Neptunes, Timbaland and Missy, Puff Daddy and Ma$e, N.E.R.D.
Beck Motley: Outkast, Andre 3000, The Beatles, Earth Wind and Fire, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson of course, the usual suspects.
How would you describe your music for someone who’s never heard of you guys in a sentence?
Bon Voyage: We’re forward thinking storytellers. Everything is true to the heart, it’s not like it’s a story it’s our story at all times.
Beck Motley: Experimental hip-hop. We have a lot of influences from electronic, to funk to jazz. We started in a jazz band, and we were doing jazz festivals so a lot of our ear resonates from that jazz era. We try to implement as many of our influences into the hip-hop. We’re first and foremost storytellers because that’s the way we express ourselves.
You’ve had some pretty creative video concepts so far, what kind of thing are you looking to do for your next video? Any cameos?
Bon Voyage: We’re really happy about this one video we just shot called “Scarborough Kids” it’s us telling our story from the bottom to the top and it’s putting on for exactly where we’re from, our neighborhood and Toronto as a whole.
Beck Motley: Childhood friends, people who we grew up with in Scarborough, Toronto and people that we look up to, who are doing it big in the industry. People from Scarborough are going to watch it and have that sense of appreciation that this region harvested some of the most talented, creative minds. Not talking about us, I hope we reach that, but there are a lot of things that are coming from Scarborough that aren’t recognized. It’s only right to go back to where we started. We’ve never felt so confident before.
What artists are you listening to right now, is there anyone you’d want to collaborate with?
Bon Voyage: Well listening to Drake, most definitely. Nothing Was The Same was amazing. I think he’s in a very confident place. For him to be there coming from Toronto it means a lot to us to see that.
Beck Motley: When you hear artists that reference places that you grew up in, it means a lot to you. The people that worship these bands, like in Liverpool The Beatles, it adds to the mystique of the UK. In the States, with Jay Z when he raps about stuff in Brooklyn, you want to go there. I think with Drake he has the ability and the voice to do that. He’s saying things that us kids in Toronto we live, we walk through, we eat at, we have our first dates at and it means a lot to us because we’ve never had that voice, not just for up and coming artists, for people living in that city. He’s doing more than just being an artist; he’s becoming an ambassador and opening the gates. Furthermore on the question, we’re listening to a lot of Kendrick Lamar and what he’s bringing to hip-hop, we’re listening to a lot of Big K.R.I.T, to Banks the singer, The Weeknd, there’s a lot of music we’re listening to.
Did you catch the Cypher performances at the BET Hip Hop Awards? Who was your favorite?
Bon Voyage: Yeah, that was cute. It was good for hip-hop, there’s a great energy and its dope to see that lyricism is back.
Beck Motley: Kendrick, it’s his time right now. We appreciate when people don’t waste time and when they have their moment they utilize it to the best of their ability and you just have to recognize it and salute it because you never know how long that moment lasts for.
Are you Banksy fans? Have you had a chance to check out any of his work around NYC? What did you think?
Beck Motley: Oh yeah we saw his exhibit in a truck. We love Banksy man; anyone that’s trying to make statements with their art, not just for commerce but for self-expression and to make a movement to inspire. Whether it’s within the rules or where it’s restricted. That’s what art is for, it’s a language that’s forbidden to handle or control. Banksy is one of the artists that are trailblazing that. People like Kanye, people that do it for art, that’s where we want to be.
As very fashion conscious young men, how would you describe your image in three words?
Bon Voyage: Us.
Beck Motley: Honest, organic.
Bon Voyage: We’re not necessarily fashion guys, but we’re style guys. We mix up pieces, we make our own clothes.
Are you looking to start up a fashion label as well?
Bon Voyage: Definitely. We’re going to drop our merch and whatever comes of that and grows we’re looking to do that.
What can we expect from your new album ‘Egos And Expectations’?
Beck Motley: Our story. We’ve been doing this for a year and a half now. We’ve seen places like Coachella, performed at the O2 Arena, travelled to Asia, the UK and that’s a lot for people that are just coming into it. When we got back to Toronto and we saw our family. We decided let’s go back to our roots, let’s write what’s true to us, let’s not miss a step in our development, let’s not miss a step in who we want to be as people but more importantly as artists. This project is called ‘Egos And Expectations’ and with opportunity comes the great responsibility of maintaining your ego and being level headed. Also handling, controlling and balancing your expectations. I think those are the most important things for us as a crew, us as friends and us as individuals in order to grow as people. So when you listen to the album you know who the real, not just Beck and Bon are, but who the real Manny and Jay are. We’re just Scarborough kids, creative minded kids that wanted to create art that inspires. That’s all we want.
You’ve already toured internationally. Where has been your favorite country to visit so far?
Bon Voyage: Man, we had an amazing time performing in Korea in front of like twenty thousand people. But I think I would say Tokyo, Japan. Best energy, its dope to see the balance between spirituality and the forward thinking technology and just how put together everything is. It’s great to see the fashion, how they own hip-hop as a culture out there. They appreciate hip-hop much more than we do domestically, it’s the craziest thing, it makes you want to go back and do your research. It was dope to see the culture spread across and for us to be able to take what we think of the culture, our perception of it, over there. It was amazing.
Beck Motley: We liked Shanghai too. We’re strong believers of it’s not the places that make it; it’s the people that make the environment. It’s the conversations. You can be in the most beautiful island, but if you’re alone for so long you’re like what’s there to do, where am I going, what’s challenging me? At least here you are meeting people that are opening your mind that are telling you their stories. To pick a place, like he said, aesthetically Japan but this whole journey, meeting everyone is a trip in its own.
What’s next for The Airplane Boys? Any more new music or shows we should know about?
Bon Voyage: Man, just more growth. This project, just building up and making sure we deliver this right to the best of our abilities. We have a chance now and we’re going to take it. So just expect us to be in your face, in a good way hopefully. We’re looking to tour Europe we’re looking to be in France, Russia and Poland very soon.
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