Rizzo & The Members Club on Bringing Hip Hop to Berlin Clubs
By Martin Stokes . September 28, 2017
Intense, incendiary and demented are just a few of the adjectives used to describe Rizzo & The Members Club
Heard from another room, you might be forgiven for thinking that Rizzo & The Members Club are fronting six musicians. The UK trio crank out a surprisingly huge sound considering they’re generating music from nothing more than a drum kit, effects-laden bass guitar and a microphone. Rizzo, the eponymous rapper of the group, demonstrates a terrifying energy on stage, weaving dark storytelling with liquid rhythms, while Nick Fox and Dan Linke support him with a breakneck intensity harrowing enough to leave anyone shaking with emotion.
They’re the opposite of low-key. They are unashamedly in-your-face, blatantly twisted and borderline offensive, and this suits them just fine. And when they’re not tearing things up in venues around Berlin, they’re working on their tracks, which recently culminated in the release of their live album and newest music video.
We sat down with Rizzo & The Members Club to talk about their origins, the craft of rap and storytelling and the future of hip hop in Berlin.
Rizzo & the Members Club @ Loftus Hall. Saturday 30th September 2017
The Facebook event is here.
How did Rizzo & The Members Club get started?
D: We went to school together. But the band didn’t happen until a few years after school when we moved here to Berlin. Rizzo always used to rap and Nick and I had always been in bands together so it just made sense.
R: Well you guys came here to do music – I came here to get fucked up. No, I wrote some rap lyrics to a beat I liked, went into the studio in the old Stasi HQ on Magdalena Strasse, told the lads to come up with something, and that something’s been rolling for about two years.
N: For me it was the first time I’d really ever held a bass, and the idea came from there. It was just a novelty side project all about making music, and having fun. Everything just worked so well and it felt so natural and organic.
Musically, your sound is quite hard and dark, but lyrically it’s overlaid with this loose-form storytelling. Tell us a bit about your influences and your writing process when it comes to lyrics.
D: We all come from different backgrounds lyrically. I grew up listening to classic rock before getting into indie. Then I heard Eminem and Dre’s 2001 – got my grandmother to buy it for me while on holiday in Ireland – which was my first introduction to hip hop. When I started drumming I copied a lot of drummers I liked – John Bonham, Dave Grohl. I think I just wanted to be a long-haired rock ‘n’ roller.
R: For the writing process – it’s whenever I feel shit or amazing. It’s a coping mechanism really. Sometimes I’ll write a whole song in one sitting then not write anything for some time afterwards. It’s always been storytelling from a personal space – short stories, poetry, songs, everything. For example, I love my Greek mythology and that definitely shows through.
N: For me, the eerie darker stuff always appealed. Stuff like Massive Attack, Queens of the Stone Age, Death Grips…
What about other two-piece instrumental bands – Royal Blood, the White Stripes?
N: I’m glad they exist, but it was never a sound we set out to emulate. I like their sounds, and I think when you’re a two-piece inevitably you’re going to sound unique; the restrictions kind of force you to be creative.
Your first single, Igneous Throne, begins with an eerily atmospheric feel before transitioning to something sharper, harder and darker. Tell us a bit more about it.
R: At the time I wrote it I was just laid off. I was feeling pretty down and it’s a job I’d gained a lot of confidence through. The song is about being at the bottom then climbing your way up, overcoming all the shit that comes along the way.
N: It’s worth nothing that we work with Rizzo, not before him. It’s common in hip hop to lay down the beat then spit the lyrics. But with us it turns out more organically, it’s almost written around what Rizzo’s saying.
D: We went into the studio with 15 or 16 tracks, but this is the one we wanted to put out first. We feel it’s the best representation of Rizzo and the Member’s Club and everything that we’re about.
You guys just came out with a video for this track. Can you tell us a bit about the filming process?
D: We made a fucking crazy video for it. I think we felt quite strongly that we didn’t want a boring, standard video. We wanted it to be reflective of the band, quite spooky. The director took us to some dark places. We can’t actually say where. We there on a rainy day to do the shoot. I was petrified, man.
N: Shout out to Francisca Blaauboer and Amnon Bikovsky. We know them really well and they know us really well. So they were able to push us – and especially Rizzo – really hard on the day to deliver the footage we got.
R: It’s what we do, man. It’s all centred around pure fucking emotion. There’s no fakery, no bullshit. It’s literally just us – as honest as you’ll get.
Having come from the UK, how do you find the music scene in Berlin?
R: I love the music scene in Berlin. It’s why we came here. I fell in love with electronic music here, and the vibe surrounding it. It’s nothing like the UK. Here, when you go clubbing you can go the whole weekend if you want to.
D: I was very unprepared when I came to Berlin.
N: The music scene, especially the techno scene, is immense. I’d say it’s definitely had an impact on our sound, if only indirectly.
And do you think the scene caters well to hip hop?
N: Well that’s part of the reason why me and my friend Lexodus formed this hip hop collective called Peanut Butter Beats, which Rizzo & the Members Club is part of. We personally think hip hop’s slightly under represented in Berlin. There’s a lot of really good hip hop here but it’s kept on the street and it’s not so much explored in more mainstream venues where you’d expect to see diversity of music. There are some amazing hip hop venues – Prince Charles is kind of a flagship in this regard, the Badehaus does regular Swag jams and hip-hop nights. But on the whole there’s nothing prominent. There’s no one breaking through on the street.
Do you think there’s a demand for it?
N: I think there is, which is why we founded the collective. We thought if we pooled resources and worked together, there would be a lot of artists we could bring forward. As a result, we put on big nights with huge turnouts.
Any further releases that we can look forward to?
N: We’re going to drop Moonlit Prowl which will be our second single, with a video for that coming soon. Also we’re writing a lot of new material.
Are there any future gigs on the horizon?
R: We’ve got gigs every month for the next four or five months at the moment. Keller der Kranken at Zosch on the 28th October.
N: There’s also some Peanut Butter Beats shows including RMC, and we’ll be at Schokoladen come December. But the big one’s coming up is Keller der Kranken at Zosch.
D: And hopefully we’ll do some other shows outside of Berlin in the coming months.
To keep up with upcoming gigs, check out their website here.
To follow them on Facebook, check out their page here.
And finally to hear their dank and depraved hippity hop, check out their Soundcloud here.
30th September – Peanut Butter Beats Hip Hop Takeover at Loftus Hall
21st October – KuB Soli Party at Supamolly
28th October – Keller der Kranken II at Zosch
18th November – Peanut Butter Beats Hip Hop Takeover at Loftus Hall (TBC)
16th December – RMC’s Nightmare Before Xmas at Schokoladen