Interview: Larwood & Koh – “We don’t want to limit ourselves to one specific sound”

The Hip-Hop world is a diverse place, full of uplifting music, verses of message, declarations of love, spirit and the election of togetherness through sound.

The UK culture is vastly different to that of our US counterparts, though its core values remain the same. In the UK scene, the character of artistry is especially varied making it one of the most innovative and refreshing arenas to discover new sounds.

Talents come in many different mediums, and Hip-Hop is especially privy to duos due to the equipment set ups that differentiate it from other genres of music.

So, with that, we took to the wavelengths of our incredible scene in order to track down and maul UK duo Larwood and Koh with our annoying questions. Larwood has been creating impressive stories, jousting metaphors alongside witty wordplay that is held up by the dope production laid out by the talented KOH who laces his work with bouncy bass and varied soundtracks.

You’ve heard of them now, so it’s going to be difficult to ignore the dynamic duo.

S: So to start, for those that don’t know, how do you describe your work?

KOH: We make rap that’s a smorgasbord of US and UK influences. I’ve always liked sampling soulful records which is what Larwood and I first started playing with – boom-bappy, 90s hip-hop influences. After sending him something more grimier, to flip the script a bit, we discovered something else – a way more grittier, grimier UK sound. Now, we’re just playing with mixing the two and seeing what comes.

S: Where did it all begin. How did you guys meet and come to work together?

LARWOOD: I’ve always spent years writing bars, rapping to myself and a few friends behind closed doors until one of my lot told me I should take it more seriously. So – with the help of my manager, Luke (505 films), we started to put a few freestyles on social media and it caught the attention of KOH. He came to see me perform live at an Open Mic night and we haven’t looked back.

S: What parts of your local scene had an impact on your style of music?

KOH: We never actually met each other until 2019 but we both grew up in south and south west London and we both were in to skating – the soundtrack to that was pretty much American hip-hop and boom-bap stuff.

LARWOOD: Growing up in Streatham and the school that I went to, Elliott, was where I fell in love with rap and cyphers and freestyling etc.

S: Your work takes on a different sound compared to most other Hip-Hop tracks. How do you define it?

LARWOOD & KOH: Originally, we had a totally cohesive sound – it was very boom-bappy and if you heard all those demos, you would almost definitely know that it was by the same artists. However, our first release, was when we decided to experiment with something different – more fast paced, harder hitting. It got a pretty good response so we kept exploring that. We don’t want to limit ourselves to one specific sound – we want to keep diversifying, challenge ourselves and not stay in a comfort zone.

S: What influences (music or not) inspired your style?

KOH: A huge influence for me is a group called ‘Little Brother’ – having started my music career in rock and metal, this group and in particular, 9th Wonder, is one of the sole reasons that made me want to produce hip-hop.

LARWOOD: I always struggle to answer this because it changes so often – I grew up listening to Em, Kanye, Jay-Z, Ghetts, Wretch 32, Devlin, Kano, Chip and more recently, J Cole and JID.

In anything I write, there is usually an echo of one of these artists (and so many more). The people around me, my life experiences, stories, artwork, theatre – anything that gets me thinking.

S: Who else can you credit as an integral piece in the production of your music?

KOH: Apart from any brilliant artist that I have sampled and been inspired by, I don’t have another collaborator who isn’t Larwood. My friends help with feedback and support but they aren’t necessarily integral to the production.

LARWOOD: Similarly to KOH, I write and create lyrics based on KOH’s beat and so it is his work that inspires what a song is about. Outside of the creation of the music, my family, my partner, my manager and my friends are all integral in somehow in that they support me and inspire me and a lot of what I write is about them!

S: Your latest song is ‘Axis’, what’s it about?

LARWOOD: KOH sent me the beat around November last year and I started mucking around with a flow that reminded me of a track that JID had on his ‘DiCaprio 2’ project. So, the flow came first and then, lyrically, it is essentially about believing in yourself, working hard despite any outside pressures. The world keeps spinning – I’m gonna keep doing me and hope it leads somewhere dope.

S: How often do you meet up to rehearse, talk and discuss your music?

LARWOOD: We speak almost daily, and naturally, when we aren’t physically together, we work, create, write etc. In terms of linking up, it’s fortnightly on average

S: Your manager, Luke, is a cinematographer and is also involved with a lot of your visuals. How far down the line do you begin to talk about a video?

KOH: A video concept or rough, visual idea usually happens before the track is finished. Sometimes one of us will have a really clear image and concept, like with ‘Axis‘, and we’ll run with it immediately or we will discuss at length and chop and change until we are happy.

S: Albums have taken a bit of a nosedive in recent times, though they’re still cherished by listeners. Is an LP something you consider or are working towards?

LARWOOD: Definitely. With social media and YouTube and the possibilities available now for independent artists, we are testing the waters with singles and releasing more music that might not feature on a project. However, the goal has always been to release an LP.

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