AWARDS / Warm Computers
Release Date: Oct. 12, 2018
Label: Animal Street Records
Music: Funken / Lyrics, vocals: Thesis Sahib
Recorded by Funken in France / London ON
Mixed by Fabien De Macedo
Genre: Experimental Hip-Hop
AWARDS is a Canadian-European experimental hip-hop duo comprised of London, Ontario rapper/vocalist Thesis Sahib and French producer/multi-instrumentalist Funken. On their debut full-length album Warm Computers, the pair blend post-rap, art rap, art pop, new wave and intellectual disco into a dizzying kaleidoscope of sound that thoroughly obliterates any attempt at categorization.
It’s the next stage in the pair’s development following a 2013 10-inch vinyl EP, Futuristic Jokes, that established a cult following in Europe, and later released on cassette through Montreal label Endemik Records. For the release of Warm Computers, Thesis has teamed up with Mean Joe Tunes, founder of Animal Street Records, a label whose goal is to foster the underground hip-hop scene in London, Ontario and, eventually, beyond.
Animal Street couldn’t have a better starting point than Warm Computers, which—contrary to many indie hip-hop collaborations—was made by AWARDS together in person during sessions held in France and Canada rather than via the internet. “Funken and I have worked together on many other projects that encompass our shared love of No Wave, post-punk, absurdist poetry, folk art and the indie/art rap scene we both came up in,” Thesis says. “But I feel that Warm Computers is very much OUR sound. One thing he said to me early on in our collaboration before AWARDS existed was that the best hip-hop comes from the ear that listens the best.”
AWARDS is a product of the pair’s involvement with several hip-hop collectives including Backburner in Canada, and the wide-ranging network of musicians Funken has developed in France known as Cocktail Pueblo, which Thesis largely credits for the album’s sonic tapestry. Under his birth name, James Kirkpatrick, Thesis is also an acclaimed visual artist whose disciplines include everything from painting to sculpture. Several years ago, he decided to take an extended trip outside of Canada, which ultimately led him to cross paths with Funken.
Thesis says that many of his initial ideas for songs come to him during the fog and exhaustion of travelling. He specifically cites the Warm Computers track “Dog Or Cat,” which took root in his head while driving through a blinding snow storm in Switzerland and contemplating why Europeans don’t seem to keep as many pets as North Americans. He also draws from his experience as a graffiti artist on the track “Ink Or Paint,” while “Dinosaur Bones” explore the effects of global warming and excessive consumption.
But perhaps the overall message of Warm Computers is best conveyed by the opening title track and album closer “Welcome To Goggle,” which focus on our obsession with technology, and the struggles artists face trying to survive within it.