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JJ Peters: The best of both worlds

You’ll have a tough time finding anyone who has dedicated as much to the alternative music community as JJ Peters.

JJ’s finger prints can be found all throughout this world, both locally and internationally. Through his work in I Killed The Prom Queen, he played a key role in establishing the thriving scene we see before us today, and via Deez Nuts, proved to the world that you needn’t fit neatly into a box to be a part of it.

Since the release of hip hop/hardcore infused Rep Your Hood in 2007, we’ve enjoyed many iterations of JJ Peters, the latest of which is perhaps the most revealing – and vulnerable – of them all.

Today, JJ released ‘Four Walls’, the latest in his eponymous solo project which came to light last year, and the next instalment of his forthcoming solo album out Friday, 24th June.

To mark the release, Blunt Magazine spoke to the man himself about style-shifting between hip hop and hardcore, and treating fans to the best of both worlds.

Talk me through the timeline. You Got Me Fucked Up came out in 2019, and it seems as though you pivoted straight into the solo project…

I’m pretty guilty of just dropping things sporadically…

I put out my first solo thing February of last year. It was really just to test the waters and I didn’t expect it to garner too much attention or be received too favorably to be honest, because it was a little bit out of the box. I thought, this is probably going to bomb at least with the crowd that listens to Deez Nuts. Surprisingly enough, the single went really well.

Then I just started dropping the stuff constantly after. I was kind of guilty of overdoing it a little bit. I had put out two EPs and about six singles and then another EP by the end of the year.

This time around, I’m putting months and months into the writing, lots and lots of time into the mixing. So I’m going about it in a much more professional way and hopefully the results are deserving for a professional project.

Now that fans have had some weeks to sit with the songs, to really sink their teeth into them and digest them, how was the response?

The acceptance side of it has definitely been a big element and that makes a lot of sense, given the fact that… Well, take Rep Your Hood, for example, being our first effort, that was very much letting it be known that there was going to be a lot of hip hop involved in the vibe of the whole project. My love for hip hop has never been a secret to anyone who’s been a fan of my music.

A lot of people were really upset, especially based around the album Stay True and based around the title of that track. So many kids were sending me really angry and genuinely upset messages that they felt that they’d dedicated X amount of years of their lives staying true to hardcore and I was somehow betraying them by doing this weird, melodic hip hop.

I had to explain to them, ‘You’ve grossly misjudged the lyrics’, because I never said once in any of those songs that you were supposed to stay true to hardcore – or any genre specifically. The message that I was trying to impart was staying true to yourself.

One’s not impinging on the other so just let me do my thing.

There’s considerable connective tissue between hardcore and hip hop. The energy, the principles of anti-authority, and a sense of community. In practice, how easy is it to switch between the two disciplines?

I’ve actually kind of toyed with the idea of taking some of Deez Nuts’ biggest hits and remaking them over beats that were built around and inspired by using samples, because what people have failed to realize across the years is that if you listen to Deez Nuts songs, I don’t have a very strong screaming voice, I’m just rapping really fucking loud.

I’m spitting 16 bars per verse, I’m rapping through every song.

I think the most interesting part for me is just the interplay, because obviously I’m kind of limited in Deez Nuts to screaming and working in that sort of high end pitch or high energy, high volume kind of delivery. Now I can kind of play a lot more with the low end, low-fi and the vocal range, which I think is sometimes a lot more expressive for some of the content that I want to talk about, if it’s deeper and darker, that kind of thing.

I’d love to dig into that. When you sat down to write your solo material, what ideas, or what themes did you find were interesting you?

Wherever I’m at at that point in my life just kind of pours out onto paper in a therapeutic way. Deez Nuts got a lot of shit for being this fun time party band for the first couple of albums, but that was honestly where I was at in my life at that point in time. I was loving life. I was living in great excess. I was hedonistic to a fault and so that’s the music that I wrote.

Then as my life progressed, I went in a different direction. And as the songs became darker and a bit angrier and a bit more introspective, people were like, ‘oh, you’ve changed…’

I think you’ll find that this album is considerably darker, given some personal aspects of my life and the nature of the world at large during this bizarre COVID time; that’s obviously going to affect things considering that I made the album during isolation.

The world of punk and emo have collided with hip hop and rap like never before. We’ve seen this with ’emo rap’ artists like Lil Lotus, who recently signed to Epitaph, which is a huge legitimiser of the movement. Where did this wave come from? There must be something in the water…

I honestly don’t know…

Punk rock and emo has grown, morphed and changed as has hip hop. And I think they’ve just kind of eventually merged together until these kids that love all these things become a mutation of all of it put together and some really cool shit happens. So I don’t think it’s something that’s happened right now. I think it’s something that’s been happening very gradually over the last 10 years and is now sort of coming to fruition.

You’re releasing the next single ‘Four Walls’ today! Tell me the tale behind the track.

Someone that I’m close with described it ‘of and for the times that it was written’ because obviously, ‘Four Walls’…

It kind of fits into the theme of everybody feels quite trapped at this point in time, stuck in their houses during this crazy pandemic. But for me, it was actually written before that went down. I don’t want to give too much away or implicate myself too much…I was really trapped in ‘Four Walls’ for a little while there so I had a lot of time to reflect and think about what was going on in my life outside of those four walls.

One obvious outcome from releasing so much material is the demand for, well, more of it. What’s on the cards for the coming months for both JJ and Deez Nuts?

Man, the timeline has never been more up in the air.

We’ve been offered some Australian shows that they’re kind of spit balling as being the time when everything will be allowed to go back. Then we’ve been given an option for a bunch of European festivals come summer next year.

In the meantime, I’m throwing myself headfirst into music that I can record and release and do things remotely. I’m working on a new clothing line called Good Grief…

During this lockdown period I’ve thrown myself into my work tenfold, because I haven’t been able to focus on any Deez Nuts stuff. So yeah, basically, going to keep forging on with Deez Nuts, going to keep forging on with my solo stuff and keep adding fuel to the fire until it’s time that we can go out there and do some shows again.

JJ Peter’s new single Four Walls is out today. Don’t drift too far, JJ’s solo album has an official street date of Friday, 24th June.