College News spoke with Far East Movement’s Kev Nish
CN: “Like a G6” just went platinum-congratulations! Your schedule must be hectic. You finished touring with Mike Posner and went on the road with La Roux. What do you miss most about being home in L.A.?
FEM: Ah, that has to be tacos. In L.A., we live over one of the best taco houses. Mexican food exists everywhere, but there’s something about the Mexican food in L.A, it’s in our blood.
CN: Your first hit, “Round Round,” from the “Fast and Furious” soundtrack, cemented you to the music business in 2006. How did you come up with the idea for the song and who in the group gets “round round” the most?
FEM: The song was actually inspired by a Beck record. We’re huge fans of Beck, and listening to Beck we heard the song “Girl.” There’s a guitar riff in there that was catchy. It was “Whoa!” So we sampled it hip hop-style, threw some Outkast-style drums, and the song was born. “Round Round” has many meanings. More than being the obvious, it’s also about spreading love around the world, you know what I mean? It’s about getting out there, seeing new places, reaching people, so [it has] two meanings!
CN: So you wouldn’t say that it’s about getting… around around necessarily?
FEM: It is, too. It’s one part of it.
CN: You’ve coined two popular terms: “slizzard” and “like a G6.” What does each of these mean? Were they invented for the sake of the song?
FEM: Well “slizzard,” I would say that’s five drinks away, as in wasted. That’s when you’re stumbling out the first club in a wheelchair or a gurney. Actually, we can’t take credit for that word. That’s a word used by Outkast, Three Six Mafia, many Southern rappers. We’re just fans of it. We grew up saying it, so it all makes sense.
“Like a G6,” that came from when we go out, like to three or four different clubs. We’ll pop bottles, we’ll feel fly, the DJs will be pumping that hot music in the club and that feeling that you get, when it’s peak time, maybe 1 a.m., the Moet is flowing, you know the girls and everyone is just having a good time. We were always saying, “yo, what would be the word for that?” Fly like a presidential airplane? Fly like a 30? Then it came up, you know, that you got Drake and you got Jay-Z talking about a G4 pilot, the G4 jet is a family of a private jet. So we were, “what’s that next model?” That next model would be the G6 and it ended up sticking.
CN: What is your favorite song on “Free Wired” and why?
FEM: That’s hard, because we put our blood, sweat and all of our creativity into each song. But I will say for sentimental reasons, “Girls on the Dance Floor,” because “Girls on the Dance Floor” was the song that got us recognized by Martin Kierzenbaum of Cherrytree/Interscope Records, who brought us into his office and got us our first ever major mainstream record deal. That’s why we made it song number one on the CD.
CN: Your latest single is “Rocketeer.” I would call it more of a pop ballad because it’s a different sound from what Far East Movement is known for, so what’s the story behind that song?
FEM: You know, we always say that a genre doesn’t really define who we are. Music defines you as a person, it defines us as people, but one genre doesn’t. So it’s about a playlist. We have Beastie Boys, we have Outkast, we have alternative rock, electro, you name it and what we wanted to do with this album was fuse all that. We wanted to put together each element of the hip-hop style drum and the pop-style electric synth with an alternative sound, with West Coast style. We like to call that a “free wired” sound.
“Rocketeer” is the best example representing how we live in downtown L.A. We’re just dreamers from downtown L.A. The album sound itself was actually co-written by Bruno Mars and we wanted to push our limits. We’re inspired by the club but we’re also inspired by everyday dreaming. We’re inspired by the ones we love, those girls that change our lives. We’re inspired by all types of genres of music, and this song accurately depicts how we’re living “Free Wired.”
CN: You guys have great style-I’m not just saying that. You’re always wearing something eye-catching. What do you like to wear and what are some of your favorite trends right now?
FEM: With us, it’s not about a trend, because every time we look for stuff we want, we can’t find it. It’s more about necessity, we always say. You know, it’s a functionality style, a gentleman party style. We remember going to clubs back in the day. We know what it’s like to stand in line for an hour and then be told after we’ve waited that we can’t get in. We love ladies, so we keep it classy. We started wearing rocking ties, button-downs, nice jackets, but we related it to the street wear lifestyle. Right now, we’re rocking Joyrich, people we’ve grown up with in the community that are doing incredible things in the fashion game. At the same time, they’re making stuff that actually represents how we live. Whether it falls out of trend or it doesn’t, we’ll still be rocking the same thing because it’s functionality to us. We can wake up in the morning, go do a TV interview, maybe go to a music-publishing meeting or whatever it is, and look presentable. We stay working, we stay partying, and we don’t have the fortune to wear the mascara, and all the stuff that can cover the bags under our eyes, so the shades do the trick. The shades also hide how we’re thinking, how “slizzard” we really are at 3 a.m.
CN: You can sleep when you’re dead, right?
CN: Partying is a big theme in many of your songs. Tell us about the craziest party you’ve ever attended.
FEM: One of the craziest parties we’ve ever been to was for sure in Brazil. We were taken out of our element, and it was a farmer party. It was such a refreshing vibe from the downtown L.A, Hollywood clubs. We were literally on a farm and there was hay on the floor. There were people walking around with backpacks full of a thing that’s kind of like Tequila, called Tequiza in Brazil. You open your mouth and they just start pouring it in. And the girls are just so friendly, they walk up to you, dance with you, and give you a little kiss for no reason, when they don’t even know you. The hospitality was incredible. The music was awesome: folk and a country-dance called Forro. That party was nuts.
CN: Being Asian-American myself, I know you guys have your favorite Asian foods. What are they?
FEM: Well, every time anyone comes to town, maybe Baby Bash from Houston, maybe a DJ comes in from wherever, we always take them to eat Korean BBQ, and we show that in our music video for “Like a G6.” That’s the place where we have meetings. We have meetings with Billboard Magazine; we have meetings with L.A. Times. For some reason, that’s our office – Korean BBQ. It’s a chance for us to eat some incredible, marinated skirt steak, and you drink a little what we call Soju, which is like sake, three levels weaker than vodka. So it’s just good conversation, good barbeque and good times. That’s one of our favorites.
CN: And you get like ten appetizers with Korean BBQ, right?
FEM: Exactly. It’s all you can eat style. They don’t skimp.
CN: On a more serious note, you guys identify yourselves as a hip-hop group, a genre in which there aren’t many Asian-Americans. What difficulties, if any, have you faced in this business due to your race? Why do you think it’s important for young people to identify with Asians in the entertainment industry?
FEM: We never set out to use race in any of what we do. We’re proud of our heritage, proud of the people that recognize it and maybe even proud of the fact that maybe they share the same ethnic background as us, but when it comes to music, we grew up as L.A. kids first. We grew up as kids in L.A who were just dreamers, who were just struggling musicians. There are billions of us; there are billions of us in maybe any city. We’re just kids who are out there trying to make it, living on a dream. So, when it came to music, we never really felt any problems with being our race because we had friends who were Caucasian, friends who were African-American, all doing the same thing. We were just a community of struggling artists, so it was never [segregated] by the Asian table and the African-American table. We did shows together. We helped each other online. When you’re in that environment, in L.A., you can see authentic cultures from 30 different parts of the world all in one city. Race never really played an obstacle, maybe in other cities, but not where we’re from, and we’re very fortunate in that aspect.
CN: You’re on tour right now, so you’re on the road a lot. What’s it like living in a small space with all guys? Do they have any gross habits?
FEM: It’s not that, because we’re all brothers, we grew up together. We were homies from the time we were trying to get the same girls in high school. It’s easy actually. A lot of it is about having respect, respect for each other’s space, respect for community space, and we all have that so everybody’s cool. Everybody cleans up. These are the people with whom we share buses; it’s all about respect and everybody has been so respectful. There were no encounters yet. Maybe after the tenth or eleventh bus tour, we’ll start seeing some gross stuff. But if we start seeing it, right away we’ll kick them off the bus.
CN: Since you guys have been touring a lot lately, mistakes are bound to happen on stage. What was your most embarrassing experience and how did you recover?
FEM: Oh man, one of the most embarrassing was the one with J-Splif. We were in Houston, and the crowd was crazy, energy was nuts and he was feeling it. He walks up in front of a monitor speaker, the crowd had its hands in the air; everybody was going crazy. At that moment, he was the man. But as he walked backwards, not seeing the monitor speaker in front of him, he fell, straight on his back, like a tree. Timber! You could see his face go from cool to like, fly-less in the matter of a few seconds. The rest of the show, you could see this humbling, embarrassed smile, like “Aw… I ain’t got no game right now.” It was one of those moments that we’ll never let him live past. It was funny, and you could see the kids in the front row just laughing.
CN: Can I find that on YouTube or what?
FEM: There might be a clip on YouTube. On the FM satellite, there might be… I’ll have to look it up.
CN: What female star would you love to go on a date with and where would you take her?
FEM: After seeing “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” I have to say Mila Kunis, a.k.a. Meg from “Family Guy.” Meg from “Family Guy” needs love, you know, she’s always hated. Her personality in that movie, it’s about confidence, outgoingness and adventure. The second would be Natalia Kills. We all have the hugest crush on her. Every time she walks into “Cherry Tree” we just want to take her out. Where would we take her? Natalia’s crazy and super artistic, so we’d probably take her to an art gallery downtown, maybe a little bit of wine, cheese and some taco truck afterwards.
CN: You have many female fans. Have you ever hooked up with someone you met on tour or at an appearance?
FEM: We’re at a point right now where we’re growing. We’ve met some incredible women on tour; we’ve met some incredible women at home. We’re at a point right now where we need to build the brand. If they want to roll with us and kick it with us that’s cool, but we try to keep what we do professional and our personal lives very separate. I mean you never know; it may happen. She might say that she doesn’t know the music and just wants to get to know you as a person. Three months later, you might realize she knew who you were the whole time, and you never knew. We try to keep it as separate as possible.
CN: Do you guys have girlfriends right now?
FEM: Nah, we’re all single.
CN: Since this is College News magazine, I have to ask. What were you guys like as college students? Were you studious, slackers, partiers…?
FEM: Well, we have Prohgress; he was a party animal, though he studied hard. He was the guy who skipped through class, slizzard, you know what I mean? And he would get through it. We have J-Splif on the other hand, who was out there at the end of class, knocked out, straight sleeping, drooling, trying to copy off Proh. And there’s me: I dreaded it. I hated going to class. I never graduated. I wish I did though. I regret that now so I want to go back to school. We also have Virman, who had his iPod in the back of the class listening to music. He was on his laptop in the back of the class downloading music. Those are our different spectrums.
CN: What’s the best memory you have from your personal college days?
FEM: The best was always the day of finals. The last day, when I turn in that final and I know I didn’t do good, but hey, I don’t have to worry about this. Let’s go!
CN: Did you go to any parties?
FEM: Yeah, we partied so much, but that was so regular. I’m trying to think of the extracurricular. You know, we were so busy making music during that time. Like everyday, we were writing lyrics in class. I would write books and books of them. We were all spending late, late nights – until 5 a.m., 6 a.m. – where we all knew someone had to be in class, someone had a test, someone had to go to work. We would stay up all night and make music. That was our life.
CN: Well, it got you somewhere, right? So it was worth it.
FEM: Hope so. We’ll see.
CN: What advice do you have for young people looking to break into the music industry?
FEM: Just be yourself. Work hard being you. Make sure you create opportunities for yourself. Stay online, stay interactive, stay humble and always think big picture. Never talk trash online, never burn bridges.
CN: What are your music plans for 2011?
FEM: For 2011, we’re releasing our music video for “Rocketeer”. We have our album out, “Free Wired.” We’ll be touring and working hard getting it into people’s iPods, into people’s ears, you know what I mean?
CN: Last question. How can you advise the readers of College News to be fly like a G6?
FEM: First, you have to play “Like a G6” while you’re getting ready to go out. Then, staying fly like a G6 is wiling out. Wiling out means being yourself. You notice how we say, “when sober girls around me they be acting like they drunk?” Because it’s not about getting completely wasted. It’s all about having that confidence to go out there, creating that time of your life. Don’t let the party dictate you, you dictate the party. You stay fly. Don’t let the people around you make you feel a certain way, don’t even let the DJ – sometimes there are whack DJs. You make the party, you feel fly, and everyone around you will feel the same way.