The Foreign Exchange

Interview: The Foreign Exchange

After meeting on the internet in 2002, Phonte and Nicolay have made waves with The Foreign Exchange, both as a hip hop and a soul group. The lead single from their last album Leave It All Behind was nominated for a Grammy, and they recently released their third album Authenticity to across the board praise (check my review here). I caught up with the guys to talk message boards, sampling, leaving a legacy and more…

Oh Drat: Hey, how are you doing?
Nicolay: Yo yo…
Phonte: What’s goin on?

OD: First of all, thanks for taking the time to talk to me –
N: Not a problem!
P: I’m a big fan of the site man!

OD: Thank you! That means a lot to hear! So, with Authenticity having been out around six weeks now, reception’s been overwhelmingly positive – for me it was a highlight of the year – what’s been your favourite reaction so far?
P: I had one fan hit me up on Twitter, and he told me that the album was like The Empire Strikes Back, in the sense that of all our albums Authenticity is the darker one, and you know, of the Star Wars movies The Empire Strikes Back was where stuff started getting real. I thought that was a very flattering comparison.

“one fan hit me up on Twitter, and he told me that the album was like The Empire Strikes Back”

OD: Nice analogy! So with it being the third album now, the story of The Foreign Exchange and how you met is pretty well documented – but even all these years later it’s still a fairly unusual story. Do you think that now forums and message boards are less, or maybe even more, useful ways to link and collaborate with likeminded artists than when you met on OkayPlayer in 2002?
N: You know, I can only speak for myself but I do know that since then a lot of things have come around and taken their place. I mean this was really before any type of social networking – there wasn’t Twitter, Facebook, or anything like that – and definitely in my life, messageboards, and particularly OkayPlayer was where I spent a lot of my time. Not just talking about music but talking to people and with people, and I think that in a sense Facebook and Twitter have kind of stepped in and taken a lot of that with it.

Pages: 1 2 3 4


The Foreign Exchange – Authenticity

Authenticity is the third album from the Grammy nominated collaboration of Phonte and Nicolay, and shows a further maturation of The Foreign Exchange. If the leap from their first album Connected to second Leave It All Behind was a revolution, Authenticity is an evolution in the Foreign Exchange’s sound.

Continuing to showcase Phonte’s vocal talents, once again this is predominantly a soul album, with Phonte choosing only one track to rhyme on. A modest cast of guests includes FE Music artists Median, Darrien Brockington and YahZarah, as well as Chantae Cann and Jesse Boykins III.

If the leap from their first album ‘Connected’ to second ‘Leave It All Behind’ was a revolution, ‘Authenticity’ is an evolution in the Foreign Exchange’s sound.

The aching, often self loathing, powerlessness over love is the primary subject matter for Phonte’s tender vocals. With so many different emotions that we attach to love, each track shows that it can mean different things, at different times, to different people. The overarching moral to the LP as I saw it is that ultimately love is a two way street – a point beautifully made by the decision to put the final track to YahZarah’s solo talent.

The roller coaster ride of emotion is echoed in the instrumentals, with Nicolay’s production talents shining through a variety of sophisticated synthetic arrangements. I love how instrumentals are given room to breathe throughout the LP, with a few extended intros and outros, and poignant shorts at the end of titled tracks. I also love how totally involving the arrangements are made through really taking advantage of the stereo field, an opportunity often left untapped lately.

The Foreign Exchange go from strength to strength, and this is one of my albums of the year. Available directly from The Foreign Exchange music store on double vinyl, as well as CD and MP3 download, check out the video to the lead single below…

Hello. Add your message here.