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SoulTracks reviews 'Glaciers'
The music man behind much of the signature tones that have come to define The Foreign Exchange (+FE) sound continues his alchemist trick of making instrumental electronic music feel organic for laypeople who swear they don’t care for electronic music. Following a tradition initially established in jazz by artists like Miles Davis and in soul by Stevie Wonder’s experimentations in Songs in the Key of Life (peaking in the woefully underrated In A Square Circle), manipulating electronic music to distill the innate robotic coldness of its confines to cultivate something emotional and resonating is a hard row. Most lean into the coldness, creating music that stretches from the industrial and dystopian to the nihilistic and metallic.

Indie-soul collective Foreign Exchange plays the Cat's Cradle (via The News & Observer)
It seems like only yesterday Phonte Coleman was just a North Carolina rapper/singer, one-third of the up-and-coming hip-hop trio Little Brother. Back then, Coleman was also exchanging music files with an Internet help desk employee and aspiring producer in the Netherlands (Matthijs “Nicolay” Rook), hoping the two could make music together.

Phonte and Nicolay remain focused on The Foreign Exchange (via Creative Loafing)
With their fifth studio album, Tales From the Land of Milk and Honey, The Foreign Exchange has perfected its sophisticated take on R&B, incorporating not only a range of sticky sweet melodies, but also a smattering of nuanced romantic themes like domesticity and compromise. But whatever you do, don't call it ''grown man music.''

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R&B Duo the Foreign Exchange Aims for the Soul (via Vegas Seven)

by +FE on July 11, 2014 at 2:10 PM · Comments
So a Dutch producer and a North Carolina rapper meet in an online forum ...

The punch line? They go on to make progressive, polished and envelope-pushing soul and R&B. A decade, four albums and a Grammy nod later, the Foreign Exchange has gone from a hip-hop side project to a full-fledged band and record label. And their music has taken them all over the globe--everywhere except Las Vegas. On the road again in support of their highly praised Love in Flying Colors, the group is ready to spread their gospel to Sin City with producer Nicolay spinning July 13 at Insert Coin(s), followed by a Foreign Exchange show at the venue July 14.

Many artists have a love-hate relationship with touring. I know it's impacted your relationships. Why is touring such an integral part of your mission?

Phonte Coleman (MC/singer): Because we're not a band you're going to see on a lot of mainstream outlets. We have to use the tools that are available to us, and one of our many tools that we have is our live show. We're just that group where you can try to explain it all day, but once people see the show, that's when they become a believer. It's very much like a traveling band of preachers. You go, you spread your gospel from city to city and make people believers as you go on.

I've heard great things about your live show. What can we expect?

Nicolay: We're very much a duo as a group, but onstage we're eight people strong. It's a two hour-plus show that has everything from musicianship to comedy.

How do you expand that two-man sound to a full-band experience?

Coleman: Before we go on tour, we'll hold a day or so of rehearsals. ... But for us, every night is rehearsal. Every night something changes. No two shows are going to be the same. One song that might bring the house down in Vegas may get crickets in San Francisco. You kind of have to read the vibe of the crowd that night and adjust to that.

The Foreign Exchange started as a side-project (Coleman was a member of seminal rap group Little Brother at the time). Now it's the main vehicle for both of you. What's kept the chemistry going?

Coleman: In this business you have to work with people that keep you driven and constantly push you to be better. And with me and Nic, that's just something that we've always done. We've always pushed each other to be better and always present our best selves. And not only that but never putting limits on the other person. Whereas most artists would say "I don't think we should do that," me and Nic are the type of people that will say to each other, "Why not do that?" It's just that kind of adventurous spirit that you need to keep growing and to keep creating, and to really keep yourself from getting bored. With me and Nic, we're able to keep things fresh. We go for re-invention every record.
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