Far East Movement took over the airwaves last year with "Like a G6"—the electro-rap-pop single that you just couldn't get out of your head. The group, born and raised in Los Angeles, is back with another club track, the Tyga-assisted "Dirty Bass" with a new look to match. Members Kev Nish, Prohgress, J-Splif, and DJ Virman are bringing bass back to the streets and looking at Uncle Luke for inspiration; that means we're about to hear a lot of thump, see a lot of ass, and wear a ton of gold.
The guys stopped by the 'Plex headquarters to let us shoot them in our studio, talk shoe addictions, custom clothing, and more. Cop the Dirty Bass album, out on June 5, and catch them on tour with LMFAO this summer.
Interview by Soo-Young Kim (@sooeypooey)
That's a big ass chain!
Kev Nish: I never leave home without my L.A. bass chain.
Who made it?
KN: This was designed by Transparent Agency in Downtown L.A. It’s a reflection of the inspiration for our new album Dirty Bass. L.A. bass was the foundation on the album, so I always rock it just to represent a little bit of home.
And I see you're rocking some gold too.
J-Splif: Gotta keep the grill on me all the time. Got gold in my mouth. Shouts to Ben Baller.
First things first, how does your music influence your style? Or is it the other way around?
KN: Our music definitely influences our style. We’ve always treated being artists as half the music and half the lifestyle. For this album, our fashion grew like our music—organically. We’re heavily inspired by what we like to call the Golden Bass era. You know, there’s the L.A. bass, the Miami bass, the fun, colorful, booty shaking rhythms. Just that whole era from the So So Def Bass All-Stars to the NWA bass songs to Uncle Luke and the whole 2 Live Crew movement. We wanted to take that fun energy, the golden era, and put it into this new album. So along with that comes the lifestyle.
We bought ourselves a 1989 Cadillac limo. We found it really cheap—dirt cheap—and we fixed it up. We put in five 12-inch sub-woofer amps just like the olden days when you used to take your auntie's 1989 Ford Escort that maybe she gave to you. You know, your first car, hooking it up with sub-woofers, just rolling down Wilshire in L.A. We brought that vibe, we’re just bringing that classic bass vibe and that really reflects our style because a lot of these custom dirty bass jackets to the chains to the Adidas collaboration, everything’s inspired by this new album. And it's all custom. We think of it and we collaborate with Transparent Agency to bring it to life.
What's Transparent Agency?
KN: It's our in-house media group with all of our friends, all of our neighbors. We built this collective called the Transparent Agency. They do jewelry, clothes, these are all our own jackets that we had customized. Denkym of Transparent Agency is part of our team. He does all the media, music videos, that's how we started. We're a do-it-yourself team. When we were younger interning at Interscope and learning, we realized the only way to ever do anything is to create it yourself. So we put together a team of friends, we all grew up together in the scene in L.A., and now we’re a full functioning unit.
When you guys aren't wearing Transparent Agency custom clothing, what other brands are you wearing?
JS: It’s a combination of both high-end and streetwear and whatever looks good. It can range from anything from Nikes to Creative Recs to Vivienne Westwood. It’s whatever works with combinations and of course we’re always on the custom made tip, so even if it's a YSL jacket, we’ll "Dirty Bass" it up and put patches on it or spray paint it or do all types of crazy stuff to it—piss people off you know?
KN: It's more fun like that though. We don’t want to wear it like exactly like how they made it. We want to try to customize it.
How has your style changed since you guys started in the industry?
KN: When we first got signed, we came in with shades—we’re still rocking the shades, it’s always been a big part of our look—and the ties, a lot of the streetwear, but the ties were a huge staple. With the first album, we came into the music industry and the record business with the sense that we meant business. We felt like we had something to prove. People were always like, "What can we expect from you? What is this? What is that?" So that was what wired that mission. It was to go in and to make our first major label album.
Now, the album’s Dirty Bass and like we said, it grew with the sound and the fashion is growing into what is now the golden dirty bass era. You can say that these chains are reflective of the ties.
How do your styles differ between the four of you? Who would you say is the most stylish?
KN: He doesn’t want to say it, but I’d say J-Splif can be the most stylish. He’s the only one that can pull off a [Thierry] Mugler fur coat. He just got this Mugler fur coat that he just brushes. He just sits there and he has a gold comb with his initials engraved in it and I catch him. I’ll be looking at him and we’ll be in the recording studio he’ll be thinking about lyrics and he’ll just be brushing his coat. [Laughs.]
JS: Gotta keep it fresh, I don’t want PETA coming up to me though. [Laughs.]
KN: But it’s the whole brushing thing that gets me. He’ll get [the comb] into his hair, and then get back into the fur. Where does it end?! But I gotta give it up to J-Splif, he’s the most stylish and he’s also become our fashion photographer, he’s our Instagram king. We also call him J-Peg. [Laughs.] And Prohgress, he wears the same jacket everyday, but that’s kind of his thing. That jacket never smells, but he wears it everyday.
Well, it's leather.
Prohgress: It's leather. Exactly. That's the whole point of it.
KN: DJ Virman's always on that "I used to rock that back then when it was cool." He is kind of the OG as far as…
P: He’s got like 7,000 pairs of shoes too.
KN: He has a shoe fetish.
P: His kick game is on point. He got the [Air] Mags right when it came out.
What's your favorite sneaker?
DJ Virman: Favorite sneaker of all time? Well it has to be the Mags because they’re my most expensive shoes. I had the first Nike Back to the Future ones, but I’ve moved on up to the Mags. I donated money to the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
JS: Get outta here Virman! That’s what you call peripheral benefits right there.
What are some of your favorite shops in L.A. that you guys like to shop or hang out in?
KN: I like the Santee Alley swap meet, you can always get your Pro Club tees, your "$4.99 for 6 pairs of underwear"...which I'm rocking right now. [Laughs.]
JS: Opening Ceremony is a good store.
KN: When it comes to L.A., we don’t really shop too much. Because we know so many of the garment makers and we just customize a lot.
You're going on tour with LMFAO in June. Their style is crazy. Their whole thing is to look wild like club kids. You guys have a little more hip-hop influence in your style. How would say your styles compare? Who would win in a style showdown?
KN: It's like high school. We always say it's like being at a club and two different groups have a table across from each other. Here’s the DJ table, here’s their table, here’s ours, you know? We might do things differently, we might sip the champagne, girls on our side are booty shaking and when hip-hop songs come on our sides, we're wilding out. Their side, they’re not sipping the champagne, they're champagne showering, you know what I mean? They’re wiggling, they’re shuffling, it's two different parties that definitely co-exist. I couldn’t say one's gonna win, one's gonna lose. Not to play political but we’re really grateful to them because they’re bringing us on an amazing tour and they put us on our first tour which eventually got us signed. We were friends before we had a record deal and they put us on our first tour in the states which caught the attention of Cherrytree/Interscope and that’s how we got our record deal.