Interview: Finsta (of Finsta & Bundy)

Finsta Bundy is the kind of music that everyone should hear, but the kind of music you also want to stay underground, you have to dig harder to be able to listen to this kind of stuff. That’s usually the best kind.

Let’s go to Bushwick, Brooklyn. That is where your story starts, right?

I wish I had stories of sneaking out to go to parties and shows but I just stayed in the hood and was into stuff like playing skelly, stickball, basketball, johnny on the pony, cocolivio and stuff like that. The radio and block parties were my sources for music. That was like a soundtrack for my life. Cats like Red Alert, Chuck Chillout, Mr. Magic, Marley Marl and Van DC were on the radio as well as a bunch of others.

I forgot some of the dance shows on TV I would watch but of course there was Soul Train, I used to watch Hot Traxx and Video Music Box and a gang of other shows. Coming up and being exposed to all types of music would basically help me with the integrity of the music I would make later on in life. I would pretty much listen to everything from Lite FM stations to Rock, Jazz and just about anything I would hear while turning the dial.

At what point did you stop and realise that music was what you wanted to do?

I was in I.S.383 in Mr.Gigler’s band class. I started off with the recorder and eventually started playing the sax. It wasn’t until after my mom made me go to get on my church choir that I started to get into the thought of writing and performing. It wasn’t until high school when I met Evil Dee [of Da Beatminerz] that I started making beats and writing rhymes. It was definitely on from there.

We all have people we look up to while growing up, who were yours?

I looked up to my older brothers. They were both very different yet respectable in their own ways. One was more on the straight and narrow and the other on some street shit. I’m sure I was an annoying lil’ brother most times but both of their characters are a part of who I became as a man.

Can you tell us about the first vinyl you remember buying?

Well, one of the first pieces of vinyl I bought was Eric B & Rakim’s Paid In Full. I can remember hearing “My Melody” blast out my neighbors window across the street. I was tripping and totally captivated because I never heard anything like it. It wasn’t till a little while afterwards that I actually had the money to buy it but from there I was really into it.

You were in Black Moon early on when they were called High Tech. Can you go into more detail about those days for us?

I got kicked out of Bishop Loughlin and ended up going to Bushwick High School. I met Evil Dee in band class, he was playing the drums like he was gonna kill them, like Animal from The Muppets, and I was playing the sax. We ended up getting cool and I started going by his crib and eventually started making demos.

I was into making music before, but I was more on a wanting to sing and produce gospel tip. Either way, 5 ft went to Bushwick too and him and E[vil Dee] were already cool. When I would go to the crib E would make a beat and we’d write to the track. My very first raps and demos were recorded there. 5 and Buckshot met up on the dancing tip and everything fell in to place after a while.

‘Finsta Baby’ was your first solo single, How did the record all come together?

Evil hooked me up with Gucci Man who had a label called CRACD Records and was looking to put something out. That would be my first time in a professional studio. We were at Calliope Studios in Manhattan all night. We basically tracked, recorded and mixed “Finsta Baby” and “Payday’s Bliss” that same night.

What’s the story behind you and Bundy joining forces to become Finsta And Bundy?

It was after a show in Fayetteville, North Carolina. We figured out a routine where Bundy would come from behind the turntables and kick a verse. We knew the routine and I already knew he could flow but when it actually happened it felt natural so when we got back home it was official. We didn’t automatically say that Finsta And Bundy was our name, we toyed around with Redrum at first. By the time we were gonna deal with Big Willie we figured out the name and we got stickers that was like “Finsta And Bundy Straight Out The Mutha Captown”. We didn’t keep the latter part though [laughs].

Did Big Willie Records (Tape Kingz) find you guys or did you contact them to put your first single ‘Sunnyside/Spirit Of The Boogie‘ out?

I was working in a record store called Jackpot Records downtown Brooklyn in the Fulton Mall, and these two tall white boys came in the store. I had my record in the store at the time and if I’m not mistaken I was trying to sell it to them and told them it was me. I think they might have heard of the single and maybe a couple months later Rob from Big Willie came out to Bushwick to talk about putting something out.

Any particular song that you both created which holds that most importance to you?

I would have to say “Don’t Stress Tomorrow” because the point of it was to realize what we had in front of us today will create the success we hope for tomorrow so before we stress what’s beyond our reach let’s just focus on now. Us not putting too much into making a hit record helped us create music that’s known and loved by people across the globe that may not even speak the same language.

That’s a blessing and since I never measure my success by anybody else’s it becomes a personal accomplishment because all I wanted to do is music and have anyone who would hear it vibe to it and hear how we were thinking.

Is there one lyric that stands out to you the most when you think back that you can go into more detail about?

“People are acting like this life is just a bowl of grapes, acting fake until their vineyards is at stake”, from Where Ya At?

That’s the first thing that comes to my head. It was basically me seeing how people who supposedly have so much would think so little of someone else who may not have as much. It’s not until they’re situation gets rough that they even consider someone else’s situation.

What’s the most memorable time creating music with Bundy?

My most memorable time is combined with all the times we were in a studio. When Bundy & I started actually recording in a studio we didn’t have anyone coaching us so it was a hands on experience. We had the engineer but he was a House dude so I had to figure out how my beats would sound coming out the board. I was working with a two second sampler at home and would have to re-create the beat in the studio. It was definitely a learning experience.

Do you have a process which you could take us through when you write?

My process is pretty easy, I basically let the beat dictate what I write. The feeling of the track will always give me my direction.

What did you use to create your music on?

In the studio I used an Akai S950, S1000 and I think it was S1800. In the crib I had a Yamaha keyboard that sampled for 2 seconds so I had to put everything on 45rpm to sample. Eventually I would get an MPC2000. My dude E Wit Ill Steez had an SP1200 and an ASR10 that I would rock on too.

Best sample you’ve found?

My favorite sample was Miles Davis “Lonely Fire“.

Do you have any crate digging tales to share with us?

I remember going to Japan with Da Beatminerz and going record shopping till I had a nice amount of records. We flew back with some and sent the rest through Fed Ex only to have all the records lost. I was mad as hell.

Highlights of your career so far?

There’s been a lot so far that can be considered highlights but headlining a show in Biel, Switzerland at the Coupole Bienne in 2012 gets it for me. To get that kind of love and so many people coming out to support was great. Shout out to DJ Foxhound Capsule.

What are you views on the music scene today? 

I think the music scene is pretty much the same today as it’s ever been. The only difference is that the mainstream outlets aren’t as open to independent artists as it was. They actually wasn’t that open then but there was still a good balance of what you heard. There’s a lot of dope artists and music out but money and gimmicks are what most companies are chasing. You gotta love and search for the real shit but that’s how it’s always been.

Nowadays, I’m feeling cats like Oh No, Oddisee, House Shoes, Pac Div, Black Milk, Roc Marciano, Homeboy Sandman, Skyzoo, Rapper Big Pooh, Rapsody, Brother Ali, Von Pea and a whole lot of cats. There’s a lot of good music out there you just search and you’ll find it. You can’t expect mainstream outlets to break certain artists or really promote without some sort of agenda.

For all Finsta Bundy fans what can we look forward to?

We have a new Finsta Bundy album we’re completing, I have a solo joint called “WaltGJr” that I’m hoping to drop this year as well. We also have a few other projects in the works. I’ll wait till we’re deeper in to mention those.

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