Home
RECENT INTERVIEWS
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.''

The Foreign Exchange Evoke Chaucer on 'Tales from the Land of Milk and Honey' (via Exclaim!)
''More than anything else, the biggest crime as an artist is to be boring.'' Phonte Coleman, the primary songwriter, vocalist and animated gif half of the Foreign Exchange, has probably never been at the receiving end of such an accusation. Over the course five albums with partner Nicolay, Phonte has equated love to an excuse, displayed affection through lunchtime chicken wing delivery, and made a gorgeously passive-aggressive ode to the better mate. His songwriting is unparalleled in its combined frankness, humour and relevance in our everyday dalliances.

The Foreign Exchange introduces its own Song of Solomon: 'Tales From the Land of Milk and Honey' (via Washington Post)
Phonte Coleman, the rapping, singing half of the hip-hop/R&B duo the Foreign Exchange, has a complicated relationship with religion. When he was growing up, he detested the mandatory trips to his grandmother’s baptist church, so he joined the choir just to make the ordeal more palatable. At least from the choir stand there was an added element of entertainment. Stationed behind the preacher, young Phonte could gaze upon the flock and see who was fanning themselves, who was trying not to fall asleep and who was struggling to stay on beat.

The Foreign Exchange's Nicolay tours to find new inspiration (via IndyWeek)
Phonte Coleman and Matthijs 'Nicolay' Rook keep their distance. Together, they've made several albums, toured the world, been nominated for a Grammy and built a little independent empire under the name The Foreign Exchange. But Coleman raps and sings from Raleigh, while the Dutch-born Nicolay lives in Wilmington. The space between them must be fertile, as they both pursue separate artistic offshoots. Coleman has his hip-hop and TV endeavors, while Nicolay has just released his expansive fourth solo album, City Lights Vol. 3: Soweto, in which he offers up a Euro-soul take on South Africa's native rhythms.

We Be Spirits interviews Nicolay
Nicolay is one of the most eclectic and innovative music producers around, full stop. His first notable achievement as producer came in 2004 after Connected was released – the debut album of The Foreign Exchange, of which he is half. The album was famously recorded with the 'exchange' of electronic files across the Atlantic; the artists meeting only after it had been finished. He has since gone on to cover new and exciting musical ground releasing albums as a solo artist, as well as part of TFE.

Nicolay wraps his experiences abroad into a jazzy album (via Star-News)
It was around 3 a.m. one morning in May of last year when the Wilmington-based musician Nicolay and his neo-soul band, The Foreign Exchange, crossed Mandela Bridge in Johannesburg, South Africa. They were dead tired from being on tour, and only hours earlier had played a sold-out show for fans they didn't know existed.

You are here: HOME » INTERVIEWS

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.
Plus



WWW.THEFOREIGNEXCHANGEMUSIC.COM
Copyright (c) 2008-2014 Foreign Exchange Music, LLC. All rights reserved.