18 May
Spaceship beats for Australopithecus


Hailing from Cologne, Germany, Ancient Astronauts are otherwise known as producers Kabanjak and Dogu, and they’re dropping their debut We Are To Answer June 9th on Thievery Corporations’ ESL Records. The album is a beautiful slice of hip hop ingredients, dub-tinged spices and jazz chili sauces, all blended into a heady stew of breakbeat wonderfulness. The instrumental tracks will take you back to the halcyon days of Mo Wax and Ninja Tune world dominance, with Coldcut and Shadow making tunes you didn’t even need smoke to elevate to. Of course there’s plenty of vocals too, including collaborations with Bootie Brown and Imani of the Pharcyde, Azeem, Tippa Irie, Bajka, Phat Old Mamas, Ulf Stricker, Raashan Ahmad and Entropik. (You might’ve already heard their remixes for Fort Knox Five, Up Bustle & Out, Ladybug Mecca (of Digiable Planets), Zion I and Dr. Rubberfunk.)

LIAS dispatched a space shuttle envoy to the 3rd moon of Jupiter to catch up with these guys and ask ’em some questions. They were kind enough to hold court and answer…

As Ancient Astronauts, what planet or moon would you most like to visit?

Dogu:  Planet Breaks was always my favorite spot in the universe…had lots of good times there with Kabanjak exploring the origins of ancient breakbeats…
Kabanjak: I definitely agree with that. It´s a great spot.

How’d the collabo with Pharcyde come around?

Dogu: I met The Pharcyde´s manager some years ago at MIDEM Music Conference in Cannes, France and stayed in contact. Some years ago I also got in contact with Spaceboy Boogie X who produced a lot of tunes of The Pharcyde in the past years, helped him out with some European contacts and then he got me in contact with Bootie Brown and their manager again…They were up for doing a song with us so we just did it.

Which of their albums did you prefer back in the day, Bizarre Ride or Labcabincalifornia?

It´s definitely Bizarre Ride because this is still one of the best hip hop albums of all times…it was so raw and funky and The Pharcyde were just flying with such easiness and groovyness over the beats that it was unbelievable. We love how they flip there lyrics over every break. Labcabincalifornia is still a great album, but Bizarre Ride is inaccessible in their whole list of albums.

So you guys are Ancient. How Ancient? Like Australopithecus ancient, Samaria ancient, or Afrika Bambaataa ancient?

Dogu: Hmmm good question…don´t really think you can restrict it to one certain epoch or era, but musicwise we are more grounded in the 20th and 21st century in regards to the fusion of traditional music cultures such as jazz, funk, reggae and hip hop with forward thinking production techniques. But of course the real origins of all these influences have much older origins that we still explore too.

Kabanjak :: Yes, I think the word ancient refers more to the music than our persons. we´re not that old :-)
It means we get our inspiration from the past and present, and transform these influences into the future.

Peep “Rising High” (with Raashan Ahmad) below for a taste of Ancient Astronauts, and a bunch more questions after the Jump

Risin High (With Raashan Ahmad) – Ancient Astronauts


As little astronauts running around in the 80s, what were the 5 albums that you found most directly influential to your style?

Kabanjak: The first music  that really caught me generally was Blues. I went to the local library and copied some Muddy Waters, Led Belly and Big Bill Broonzy on tape. In the late 80s I got my first guitar and my uncle handed me out a copy of Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland. that really struck me. Also the first Led Zeppelin album was one of my favorites these days.

Dogu: Public Enemy – It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, the Organix album by The Roots in the early 90s, Burning Spear – Marcus Garvey, nearly all albums by James Brown or Curtis Mayfield, EPMD – Strictly Business.

If we pressed Shuffle on your iPod while you went to the bathroom, what would you be embarrassed for us to find?

Kabanjak: I wouldn’t be embarrassed for the music I listen to on my iPod. Maybe just the audiobooks I got — there´s some horror stuff  that grown ups usually wouldn´t listen to.

Dogu: To be honest I don´t have an iPod, only a little mp3-player that I rarely use…and I don´t have any embarrassing music on that one…

How are the hip hop scenes different in Germany as compared to the US? What about as compared to the rest of Europe — does Germany have a specific sound or aesthetic?

Dogu: I think I have to answer that one…it´s a difficult question because the days where I was part of strictly the hip hop scene are over since many years…I started early to dig the reggae and funk/jazz scene in Germany and then preferred events/clubs/etc that fuse all these styles and not concentrate on only one sort of music. Our scene for hip hop was more the freestyle scene that came over from the UK through labels like Ninja Tune, who gave you a whole night of a journey through the history of breaks, beats and dubs. But I think Germany never really had this kind of big-player-money-and-bitches kinda scene that exists in the states. That big player bling bling scene is more routed in the house music scene in Germany, I would say. Big show off with cheap music. The hip hop scene was first really bad in Germany, copying American stereotypes and giving no real innovation into music. But nowadays you have in all big cities good parties and concerts with true hip hop music and artists performing, but it is more on a solid underground level. No real big money involved, it´s more for the true people. Compared to other European countries, Germany built up a good culture of hip hop in the past 15 years I would say through, for example, Groove Attack distribution in Cologne importing all good stuff in hip hop and related music styles. The UK always had a strong hip hop scene with cats like MC Mello, London Posse (Rodney P), Roots Manuva, Silver Bullet and others kicking it in a rough UK style. The scene in France is also strong and very innovative. Also Austria and Switzerland have good scenes for their domestic hip hop. Holland had good acts like 24K or other groups in the early 90s. Don´t know too much about the scenes in other European countries though…

What were you doing at midnight last night?

Kabanjak: listening to horror audiobooks on my iPod.

Dogu: I was watching TV with my girlfriend.

What is on your shopping list?

Kabanjak: loads of Instruments.

Dogu: a new Pioneer mixer and some other equipment for the studio, a new hat, tons of vinyl.

If you were lost in a supermarket, in what aisle would we find you in?

Dogu:  Hmmmm…maybe in the aisle for pasta and pesto. Noodles make me happy.

Kabanjak: I probably would go to the supermarket for beer.


Track List

1. From The Sky

2. I Came Running

3. Classic (with The Pharcyde)

4. Dark Green Rod (with Ulf Stricker)

5. A Hole To Swallow Us (with Phat Old Mamas)

6. Risin’ High (with Raashan Ahmad)

7. Lost in Marrakesh (with Entropik)

8. All of the Things You Do (with Tippa Irie)

9. Everybody

10. Seventh Planet Skit

11. Oblivion (with Azeem & DJ Zeph)

12. Surfing the Silvatide (with Bajka)

13. Crescent Moon

2 Responses to “Ancient Astronauts ‘We Are To Answer’”

  1. […] know we like Ancient Astronauts, we posted a Q&A with them on Monday. Today they released a mixtape as a sort of aural appetizer for their debut LP, We Are To […]

  2. […] de Yo No Fui” by ESL mates and LIAS favorites Ancient Astronauts (read our interview with the Astronauts here), a hip-hop rhythm remix of “Vendendo Saude e Fe” by Adrian Quesada himself, a Tony Questions […]

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