How do you hip-hop? If you are Tanner Kauffman and James Bauer, you experiment. Together they make up the Sunny DeVilles, the Boca-based hip-hop act who's spanking new album In Search Of... is just the beginning of their journey. The record is laced with heavy lyrics and saxophone grooves, quite the opposite of today's mainstream rap chart-toppers.
Tanner and James operate on their own level, uninfluenced by the sometimes limited hip-hop scene surrounding them. Recently, the Sunny Devilles released their album into the world with a CD release party at UNIT 1 in Lake Worth. The artsy conditions, constantly running video projector, and lack of a stage meant their performance was straight up in your face. An experimental experience, their stage presence perfectly compliments the In Search Of... vibes. The record is a winner, but what about the guys behind it? We took the time to chat with Tanner and James about how they met, what they listen to, and why you should care enough to give a listen.
New Times: Tell us about how you guys met.
Tanner Kauffman: We met skipping class one day. I showed up at his house. I didn't really know who he was but it was like, "Oh, what's up?" and it kind of evolved from there through mutual friends.
When did you realize that making music together might be a good idea?
Tanner: I don't know if it was ever a real invitation. One night we sat down. I was like, "yeah, let's do it," and he was like, "yeah" and then we just started up in the studio, wrote something and recorded it.
What are your thoughts on the local hip-hop scene in South Florida?
Tanner: I think it's saturated with wack stuff and not as much good stuff. It needs a lot of progression but there is a lot of people that want to do it.
James: I think that there's a lot of potential from here but right now it isn't developed. Nothing really big is happening for hip-hop. But other genres of music -- there is a lot of creativity going on.
Tanner: Definitely a lot of creativity. I think there are a lot of people who want to do it but they just lack the ability.
James: There are a lot of motivated people.
I read that this record was a remaster of an old recording.
Tanner: Yeah we released a pretty shitty album in May of last year and then later we met some dudes who knew what they were doing mixing and mastering wise. We realized the record wasn't what we wanted it to be so we re-did it and re-recorded a lot of stuff, laid down a lot more saxophone. It just came together a lot better.
I've been listening to In Search Of... and it sounds like Tribe Called Quest might have been an influence. Are there any acts that you listen to and are influenced by that might be surprising?
James: We really don't listen to rap that much honestly. We listen to more artists coming out now. We listen to Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin. Pretty much everything besides hip-hop. We like hip-hop, but I don't know... It's not music we listen to all the time.
Tanner: We love hip-hop from being younger. It played a big part then. We enjoyed it and we thought it was our way of expressing ourselves but I think we are influenced by more of an experimental side of things. I think that's where we are heading, more and more experimental. Things will change a lot.
Tell us about how you guys got hooked up with Jacuqes de Beaufort and UNIT 1.
Tanner: We were at Propaganda and Jacques came up to us and was like, "you should come check out this spot I'm working on." So we go over there and it seemed like a really cool place. We just felt comfortable. You are free to do whatever you want. He liked the vision for the first show that we threw there.
What's next? More shows? Just South Florida? Tour?
Tanner: All of that and more. We are trying to get a lot more shows. We want to rock down South a little more, in the Miami area. We are kind of locked Palm Beach County right now. We want to do the South Florida thing, hopefully a Florida tour sometime soon. We are trying to get involved in some festivals. But nothing is in stone right now.
James: Making more merch, getting a little more creative in that way.
Tanner: We want to do all the marketing stuff and play as many shows as we possibly can, see as many people as we possible can. Just keep growing.
What do you want someone who hasn't seen you live to know about the record?
James: It's very personal. Take some time to listen to it because there was a lot of thought put into it.
Tanner: It's not really something you can just turn on and walk away. Maybe a couple of the tracks will trigger something.
James: It's more for something you listen to when you are by yourself, when you are in a rut and need to get out of it.
Tanner: It's a reclusive album. You've got to appreciate it.
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