1. I hear a dramatic evolution in style from your solo release Here in 2006 to your recent work in The Foreign Exchange, with the more pronounced hip-hop feel of the earlier release evolving into a broader style that, while not excluding hip-hop from the mix, embraces as deeply soul, funk, and r'n'b, and jazz, too. How do you see the stylistic evolution of your music?
The fact that the first couple of projects I released (starting with Connected) were primarily hip-hop oriented was indicative of what and who I was primarily influenced by at that particular time in my life, and not necessarily indicative of the totality of my interests and abilities. During the early '90s I started eating, sleeping, and dreaming hip-hop as a fan, but I had always looked at myself as a musician on the one hand, playing bass and keyboards in funk and soul bands, and as a scholar on the other, studying music at the university level, and since I didn't DJ, there was no place for me in hip-hop as a contributor in my mind. That all changed when I heard J Dilla. There was a musicality in his music that was unlike anything else that I had heard and that made me believe that there was a place for me. So I totally immersed myself into the hip-hop music production esthetic, and it helped me find my own voice. The music was something that I could do on my own, without the help of others. I really got into sampling and more so even the combination of sampling with my own live instrument playing. Over time I started to depend on my own playing and composing and arranging more and more until there was a point where I felt I didn't really need the samples anymore because they were just a restriction to me; I think that you could say that hip-hop as a whole started to feel like a restriction to me. Hip-hop fans might not like reading that, but I really don't mean it in a bad way. I just wanted to start incorporating other styles and flavors that I loved equally, like jazz and R&B and dance/electronica. I was keeping a lot of that behind closed doors because it wouldn't have fit within a hip-hop context, and once I let go of that, it all just started to come together-- "Daykeeper," "House Of Cards," "Sweeter Than You," "Shibuya Station," "Saturday Night," etc., etc.
Continue reading Ten questions with Nicolay (via Textura)
Phonte Coleman has come far through endless determination and musical ingenuity in the 10 years since his former group Little Brother dropped their pivotal debut, The Listening. During this time, he formed a partnership with Dutch producer Nicolay. It's a partnership that has since produced three albums and a fully independent business under their own banner.
Just released, The Reworks gives new life to fan favorites from the Foreign Exchange's catalog with productions from the likes of international sensation 4Hero, ?uestlove and James Poyser's Randy Watson Experience and Tall Black Guy (considered by many to be reviving soulful Hip Hop within the underground), as well as and FE's own instrumentalists Zo! and Nicolay. The project offers enough to hold hungry fans over, as the group is hard at work on their next effort, Love In Flying Colors, with Zo's anticipated ManMade slated to drop in the coming months.
The always candid Phonte and his lesser heard partner in crime, Nicolay recently spoke with HipHopDX, reflecting on how far they have come together, relishing their present moment and leaving the future up in the air. Though their music's consistency speaks greater volumes than any words can, this chat offered insight regarding the always-brewing creativity involved in their operation.
Continue reading Phonte Says He's ''Done Remaking Songs''; Won't Rap ''To Stay Relevant'' (via HipHopDX)
In the age of the Twitterverse -- where even the latest Bond Girl wrangled her spot in "Skyfall" via a tweet-the-right-people onslaught -- social-media creative connections might not seem that arbitrary, or shocking. But do they last? Apparently, if you're +FE. After an (e-)meeting, and connection, on rap message board OKAYPlayer.com 10 years ago -- from Raleigh (Phonte) to Holland (Nicolay) -- that led to that across-the-pond first album in 2004 ("Connected," completed before they ever met in person), the boys of +FE are proximal (Nicolay relocated to Wilmington, N.C., in 2006), flourishing and ever-so-humbly unaffected by rising fame.
Now with their own label (FE Music, 2008, with Director of Operations Aimee Flint) and their fourth studio album on the horizon, they are still the same sound engineers with a shared vision who sought each other out over social media. "It's not about mass production. It's personal," says Phonte, of the intended heartbeat of their qualifiably electronic sound. "It's very warm and very human," he continues. "It's not processed and edited to the point where you can't see any fingerprints on it. It's something that very much breathes."
And now? With all those carefully crafted fingerprints, they're finally gonna 'bring it home,' and leave their footprint in Durham.
Continue reading Seven Questions with The Foreign Exchange (via Triangle.com)
The Raleigh native shows up for this interview bubbly and upbeat, beaming enough sunshine to make curmudgeons crack a begrudging smile. Jolly has good reason to beam: Her new album, "Angels," was released on Tuesday. And Friday, she's performing at her album release party at Lincoln Theatre.
"The performing thing has always been something I've wanted to do," says Jolly, 33, during sips of French press coffee. From the way she speaks of her musical journey, that's pretty much an understatement. She studied classical music at St. Mary's School, did community theater musicals, sang the national anthem at Carolina Mudcats games, majored in vocal performance at Western Carolina University, even getting her master's degree in classical voice (which she considered "more of a challenge") at Boston's New England Conservatory of Music.
Continue reading Raleigh native, singer Jeanne Jolly lives up to her name
Hisham Dahud: How has being a Grammy-nominated independent artist affected your views on the artist / fan dynamic? What does this say about the connection that musicians need to build with their fan bases?
Nicolay: I believe that the connection between artist and fan has become the very center that everything revolves around. Any musician should ask himself or herself this question:
"Why would anyone purchase my album when they have instant access, whether it is legitimate or illegal, to literally all of the music past and present that their heart desires?"
It mostly has to do with that connection. Besides loving your music, a fan wants to care about you and about what you represent, and feel that you care about them as well. Just being on "American Idol" is no longer going to cut it. That's why the up and coming independent artists have a leg up. Major label artists that depend on huge marketing budgets to promote their releases are now competing with a new generation of artists who have literally grown up on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and are reaching people in totally new ways. If you follow current sales trends then you know that more often than not, the indies are starting to come out on top.
Continue reading Life As A Grammy-Nominated Independent Artist: Nicolay Of The Foreign Exchange (via Hypebot)
Nicolay Shows Off His Jazzy Side on North American Tour, Talks New Foreign Exchange Album (via Exclaim.ca)
The tour, which makes its lone Canadian stop in Toronto on Thursday (July 5), is something that's been a long time coming, the Foreign Exchange member notes. The show will see Nicolay and the Hot at Nights perform jazzy interpretations and arrangements of his instrumental compositions from his City Lights Vol. 2: Shibuya project.
"Toronto has always been great. When we were doing the tour and I knew we were going up north, I really wanted to include Toronto in the plans," the North Carolina-based Nicolay says. "I feel like Toronto is a very open-minded city and people are definitely ready for something that is a little bit off the beaten path."
Continue reading Nicolay Shows Off His Jazzy Side on North American Tour, Talks New Foreign Exchange Album (via Exclaim.ca)
Hip-Hop Producer Nicolay Showcases Jazzy Interpretations in Detroit With The Hot At Nights (via Huffington Post Detroit)
One said side project would be Shibuya Session, a collaborative effort between Nicolay and a fellow Raleigh, North Carolina-based jazz trio The Hot At Nights, led by eight-string guitar virtuoso Chris Boerner, along with Matt Douglas on saxaphone/woodwinds and Nick Baglio on the drums.
Continue reading Hip-Hop Producer Nicolay Showcases Jazzy Interpretations in Detroit With The Hot At Nights (via Huffington Post Detroit)
We spoke with Nic about the fast and furious recording process he endured to complete The Shibuya EP, his love for Harold's Chicken, feuding with iTunes, and when the next Foreign Exchange album is coming out.
Phonte has also stepped out on his own with 2011's "Charity Starts At Home," a critically acclaimed rap release that touched on issues befitting of a man who has literally grown up with Hip-Hop as his backdrop. NewsOne had a chance to chat with Phonte between a break in his heavy tour schedule as he shared how a bassist and vocalist from the Washington, D.C. area has inspired him.
Raleigh's resident MC/soul singer extraordinaire (who usually just goes by his first name) - the same man who has been front-and-center for such outfits as the now-defunct hip-hop trio Little Brother and the Grammy-nominated, indie-R&B collaboration known as the Foreign Exchange - has spent most of these past months onstage, mainly by his lonesome.
"Everything I've done up to this point was from Little Brother or Foreign Exchange or whatever," says Coleman, 33, getting comfortable in his Raleigh home after just getting off a plane.
I mean really, with all of its iconic flaws and deep history of regression, it's always been remarkable to me how the best art-literature, music and visual works-are created from progressive minded southerners.
Take for example, The Foreign Exchange. This North Carolina based duo, consisting of one Phonte Coleman, the rapper/singer of Little Brother fame, and Nicolay, a sonic intellectual from the Netherlands, regularly creates some of the most atmospheric, modern soul music currently populating the music blogosphere and digital music players everywhere. You won't hear The Foreign Exchange on commercial radio, but then why would you want to?
Continue reading Stardom Beyond Fame: The Foreign Exchange, tonight @ Shaka's
Listen Up: Phonte Coleman, Nicolay of The Foreign Exchange began an ocean apart (via The Fayetteville Observer)
Phonte Coleman, one half of The Foreign Exchange, lived in Raleigh and was part of hip-hop group Little Brother at the time. He swapped music and ideas with Nicolay, a producer living in the Netherlands, on okayplayer.com, an online hip-hop community.
The idea of making an album together through digital exchange was ahead of its time for 2002, even though Coleman didn't see it that way.
Continue reading Listen Up: Phonte Coleman, Nicolay of The Foreign Exchange began an ocean apart (via The Fayetteville Observer)
Overcoming obstacles of communication has been an overriding theme of The Foreign Exchange. Coleman and Rook completed their 2004 debut Connected by sharing snippets via the Internet. The Raleigh-based Coleman met his complement on the hip-hop message board Okayplayer. Despite the fact that Rook resided in Holland, the two found immediate common ground, Rook's soul-inflected R&B soundscapes pairing perfectly with the pillow-y croons of the then-Little Brother emcee. These days, Rook has moved closer to a coastal home in Wilmington, but the pair still largely create in isolation.
Continue reading Leave It All Behind (via Mountain Xpress)
Because, you know, if Steve Harvey did it, right?
By and large, Coleman originally made his name as the third of the North Carolina rap group Little Brother that balanced rhymer's rhymes crafted for hip-hop purists with stories about dating and courting (there's a difference), breakups, sex, family, parenthood, and the nuts and bolts of everyday life.
But he did it with the kind of wisdom-chased wit that happened to make for convenient pocket-size philosophies for lovers.
I've read that you've worked with guitarist Chris Berner through your Foreign Exchange project, and in that project you were making more hip-hop and electronic stuff. This EP sounds a lot more classic, like you can lounge to it, whereas Foreign Exchange stuff kinda makes you wanna hit the dance floor. Can you tell me a little bit about how this EP came to fruition? What drove you, personally, into this smooth jazz sound?
I've always been a very big jazz fan. You can definitely also hear that in a lot of the Foreign Exchange records. But it never really went beyond being an influence. I've always dreamed of doing an actual "jazz" project, but not really claiming it to be jazz as much as it is just my interpretation of it. As you say, I've really tried to come up with a very classic sound where everything is played on actual instruments. There's no sequencing or computers or any of that stuff involved. In a lot of ways it was about a desire for me to further challenge myself and really look for depth in a direction we don't normally go in.
Continue reading On the Record with Nicolay (via Pittsburgh City Paper)
He needed to do something to pass the time, to keep himself occupied, to prevent his musical skills from becoming atrophied. With Phonte Coleman, his singing/rapping partner in the Grammy-nominated, North Carolina-based, emo-soul duo known as The Foreign Exchange, working on a bevy of projects last year (including releasing his own solo debut "Charity Starts at Home"), Rook was looking for a project of his own. And thus, "The Shibuya Session EP" was born.
Released in November, the eight-track recording has the Dutch-born, Wilmington-based Rook hooking up with The Hot at Nights, an exploratory jazz trio from Raleigh, doing jazzy, occasionally avant-garde reworkings of several tunes from Rook's 2009 electro-soul album "City Lights Vol. 2: Shibuya."
Continue reading Nicolay goes with a jazz groove
Things were a little different back then for Nicolay, who plays a gig on Tuesday at the Soapbox with exploratory jazz group The Hot @ Nights out of Raleigh.
His Grammy nomination, for Best Urban/Alternative track, from his group The Foreign Exchange's song "Daykeeper," had yet to occur. In fact, The Foreign Exchange, the duo Nicolay shares with Raleigh-based vocalist Phonte Coleman, was so obscure they were known to only the hippest of hip-hop heads.
Five years later, however, the Foreign Exchange has parlayed its Grammy nomination into a deeply devoted following that allowed the group to book its biggest-ever tour in 2011, not to mention allowing Nicolay to build up nearly 19,000 Twitter followers. (Phonte, a former vocalist with the hip-hop group Little Brother, has nearly 47,000.)
He's also taken quite the musical journey, from hip-hop to more of a soul/R&B/pop vibe with FE - even covering a James Taylor tune and doing a country version of a Foreign Exchange song on a live album - and expanding on his 2009 solo effort "City Lights Vol. 2: Shibuya" on a live album with the Hot @ Nights.
Continue reading Grammy nominee Nicolay is now in 'Session'
Phonte Breaks Down Personal Growth, Philosophy On Bringing Sexes Together Through Music (via HipHop DX)
If you let Phonte tell it, he used to look outside of himself when making music. Now, the North Carolina Hip Hop pioneer looks within.
That key change has helped the emcee/singer evolve in the last two years. At 32, Phonte admits that his twenties were often a "me against the world" period in his life, and that he now feels ready to deliver his solo debut, Charity Starts At Home on September 27. As the title indicates, Phonte is celebrating an inward focus, on a record he quickly admits, "isn't for everybody."
Continue reading Phonte Breaks Down Personal Growth, Philosophy On Bringing Sexes Together Through Music (via HipHop DX)
Almost a decade ago, Durham's Median illustrated that idea with one of his first recorded songs, "Two Extremes," arguing that he was trapped between the dualism of pursuing an audience versus making what he felt he had to make. "Can't sell my soul/ gotta get paid," he rapped. "Not playin' myself for my record to get played."
Continue reading For his second LP, Median reunites two of local hip-hop's key components (via Independent Weekly)
As a part of one of Hip-Hop's most influential groups, Little Brother; Phonte has always stood out. Ask around with anyone in the know, and he is pound for pound, one of music's most talented artists. He raps as good as any rapper in the game and sings just as good as any singer in R&B. Now, the freakishly talented artist out of North Carolina is ready to break out with his first solo project, Charity Starts At Home, and has linked back up with Little Brother member 9th Wonder after a long hiatus. In this interview, Tigallo speaks on his inspiration for the solo album, his relationship with Drake, 9th Wonder, the future of The Foreign Exchange and Little Brother, and more.
Me and 9th have a mutual friend in Fatin "10" Horton. Fatin is a producer in 9th's Soul Council production team and he's been a friend of mine since we were both teenagers growing up in Greensboro, NC. Through the years, he's always been a neutral party and always told us, "Look, whatever y'all gotta work out, that's on y'all; both of y'all are still my peoples." Fatin called me on New Year's Eve and said that 9th wanted to talk, and I told him to give 9th my number and we can hash it all out. He came to my crib on New Year's Day 2011 and we been rockin ever since.
The Foreign Exchange really allowed you to spread your wings as a complete artist, what does the future hold for that?
The Foreign Exchange has changed my life in so many ways. I tell everybody that +FE is me and Nic's 401K package. I love the craft of emceeing, but you can't rap forever. Being the person I am, I just love doing music. I don't want a vanity label, I don't want a bullshit clothing line, I want to make music until I die. +FE gives me the space to do that. I can sing til' I'm 70 if I want to. Me and Nic can be like Frankie Beverly and Maze and tour forever. You see Frankie step onstage with his white hat and them white linen pants, you know what time it is...lol.
Continue reading Phonte: In My Own Words (via The Source)
What began as a friendship between Dutch producer Nicolay and former Little Brother frontman Phonte in a forum on Okayplayer.com, lead to the birth of indie-soul juggernaut, The Foreign Exchange. Now a decade strong, the group reflects on their evolution and their search for authenticity.
That same year their first officially meeting took place at a Little Brother show in Amsterdam -- the meeting place coincidentally taking cue from the influences within the sound that we've grown to love. A sound where experimentation with Hip-Hop, Electronica, Soul and Psychedelic was the norm for the group, and long before the music industry began to accept genre-bending formats as the new standard. +FE even drew inspiration from everyone, from The Beatles to James Taylor and Prince. So as the underground buzz began to stir, the idea of creating an new album under the same pressures of the first, seemed a tad ridiculous and extra. So Nicolay moved to Phonte's home state of North Carolina, where they began to work on another project.
Continue reading +FE: Checkpoint (via Stark)
Median. The name can mean a lot of things but to this Justus League member, the name is as complex as the artist.
Recently dropping his second studio LP, The Sender - executive produced by Phonte and 9th Wonder, Median hopes that he, like others in the Justus League, will become more than just a mysterious name with dope records.
Newer members of the Justus League have attributed a lot of their success to the instrumentals provided by legendary producer 9th Wonder; however none of the newer members had a first hand account of how 9th Wonder came to be, except Median.
HipHopDX recently spoke to the Raleigh emcee about the becoming of 9th Wonder and what the ultimate goal of Median really is.
Median Breaks Down His Role In The Justus League
HipHopDX: What does it mean to be a part of The Justus League with artists, some newer like Skyzoo, but some older guys like Buckshot? What does that mix do for your artistry?
Median: Right. [Buckshot] has a whole movement/legacy that spans beyond like when I wrote my first line, I already had a Buckshot log full of classics. So yeah, that's a whole other world but I mean just watching all the moves that all the guys made, 9th [Wonder] in particular, it's just amazing. Because all of those names are names that you know are relevant and have history so watching him with those who you came up on. It's like the producer gods gave him that type of ability to move that way and it's just great to be watching.
Continue reading Median Recalls Early 9th Wonder Style, Explains Evolution Of The Justus League (via HipHopDX)
It's made singer/rapper/songwriter Phonte and producer Nicolay -- who will play a concert at Fresno's Fulton 55 on Friday night -- unlikely music pioneers.
City Arts: The Foreign Exchange sound has shifted on Authenticity, but listening to your first album you can hear that those elements of soul and R&B have always been there.
Phonte: It's really an extension of what we had already done. We want to always build on our sound every time, but we never want to repeat ourselves. So with songs like "Sincere" [from the first album], those were kind of a foreshadowing of what was to come. There's really nothing that we did on [second album] Leave It All Behind or Authenticity that you didn't hear coming on our first album Connected.
Continue reading City Arts Magazine interviews The Foreign Exchange
How's the Authenticity tour going?
It's been going really, really well. We're just having a blast; I think in general we are really excited to play some of the new tunes. Cause it kind of puts a new fresh dose of energy for our show. We have flipped things a little bit, we've changed a one or two things around. And as a result it's kind of like a brand new show to us. It's just been a lot of fun, we've been having a really good time.
Continue reading Connecting With The Foreign Exchange (via Stimulate Your Soul)
Authenticity is a lot moodier than your last two albums, and you are definitely touching on relationships issues that people usually don't bring to light. Do you find that people want more happy material from you guys, or is your audience growing with you musically?
Phonte: I think for the most part the audience has grown with us. They have faith in us to pull through with whatever it is we're going to do, even if it's not as up as they're used to. They trust in us to execute it to the fullest. Me and Nic knew, releasing this record, that this would probably be a slower burn than our other records. 'Connected' and 'Leave it All Behind' were very much records that you 'get' from jump. 'Authenticity' was a much more subdued record, and really is something that takes a lotta listens to really understand. Truth be told, I didn't really 'get it' until two months after it was out, just because I needed the time after completing it to have some space away from it to regain perspective. One night I was up working and going through emails in the middle of the night and I let the album play from top to bottom, and I was like "damn, I get it now." Which is odd, we made it, but that was really how it was.
The Loop Detroit: Talk about the live show for The Foreign Exchange
Phonte: It's really about showing people a good time. It's truly about giving a place for people to escape to. Just enjoy live music being played and the live music atmosphere of us all doing something at one time together. In the culture we live in, thats becoming less and less of the thing. Everybody's becoming more isolated.
TLD: Talk about the new album Authenticity.
Nicolay: We wanted to keep things stripped down as opposed to what we used to do in the past. We wanted to showcase and highlight the songs themselves and the performances. Keep it as simply as possible. A lot of people have really responded to the lyrics because on this album, they are really center stage.
But if there's any other reason to like MC/vocalist Phonte and Dutch-born producer/instrumentalist Nicolay, it's that they make incredibly good music. Their third album, Authenticity, continues down a similar path blazed by their last release, Leave It All Behind. However, as they describe it, Authenticity is a little more stripped down than their previous offerings. What remains constant, though, are fantastic sonic arrangements and some quite adept songwriting which, for example, makes the "odd guy gets dream girl" trope seem fresh and probable on "Maybe She'll Dream Of Me." Regardless, it's apparent that a relationship born out of mutual respect for each other's work and facilitated by the Internet has blossomed into a full-blown musical operation that's garnered a worldwide fan base and critical acclaim.
Continue reading DCist interviews The Foreign Exchange
Source: 365 Albums A YearThe Foreign Exchange are an extremely talented duo consisting of singer Phonte and producer Nicolay. After releasing their first album together in 2004 and switching genres in 2009, their latest album, Authenticity, shows once again great growth from the group. It's no surprise that it placed at #12 in our top 50 albums of 2010; "From romanticizing to reminiscing, philosophizing, glorifying, and degrading love it seems the album glides along on elegantly like its skating on ice."
In our conversation with the duo, we've talked about their upcoming projects (Phonte even dropped a release date!), working with The Based God, Internet as a promotional tool, Nic's passion for collecting vintage synths, their relation with film, and much more.
Continue reading 365 Albums A Year interviews The Foreign Exchange
Continue reading The Foreign Exchange: Bringing Authenticity to Music
Continue reading Roundhouse interviews The Foreign Exchange
But Leave It All Behind was not made at Electric Ladyland or The Hit Factory. It was made in the living room of an ordinary beach house in Wilmington, on the coast of North Carolina. There, Nicolay (Matthijs Rook), newly arrived in the US from his home country of the Netherlands, sat down to mold the raw material into a cohesive album. And he did it without anything that could even remotely be called a classic studio setup.
Continue reading Beatnik Online interviews The Foreign Exchange
Source: Oh DratAfter meeting on the internet in 2002, Phonte and Nicolay have made waves with The Foreign Exchange, both as a hip hop and a soul group. The lead single from their last album Leave It All Behind was nominated for a Grammy, and they recently released their third album Authenticity to across the board praise (check my review here). I caught up with the guys to talk message boards, sampling, leaving a legacy and more...
Continue reading Oh Drat interviews The Foreign Exchange
Nu-Soul had the opportunity to catch up with The Foreign Exchange and speak to them about their new album Authenticity, how they maintain their creative autonomy, and the greatest lesson that they've learned from each other.
Continue reading Nu-Soul Magazine's +FE Music Interview Series Part 4: The Foreign Exchange (Phonte + Nicolay)
Zo! is a man whose music I've come to love over time. Not just for the incredible production, heartfelt lyrics, or haunting melodies, but for the realism and honesty that is conveyed on each track. His latest project, SunStorm, an autobiographical album that is the culmination of a musical journey, is his best work to date. While his musical resume grows and he continues to hone his craft, this musical architect creates feel good music for the soul.
Continue reading Nu-Soul Magazine's +FE Music Interview Series Part 3: Zo!
Their last album, 2008's Leave It All Behind, received a Best Urban/ Alternative Performance Grammy nomination for the song "Daykeeper." Nicolay Rook, the group's producer, laughs at the all-too-real impersonation, stealing a glance away from the heaping plate of hush puppies in front of him. The duo has again rendezvoused on a Wednesday afternoon in late October, at the Smithfield's Chicken 'N Bar-B-Q restaurant in the little town of Warsaw, off Interstate 40's Exit 364. The stop is equidistant from Rook's Wilmington home and Raleigh, where Coleman resides.
Continue reading The Foreign Exchange continues its unmitigated risks on Authenticity (via Independent Weekly)
So they stepped up their game. Even before the hype had faded, even before the Grammy for Best Urban/Alternative track went to India.Arie in late January, Phonte (a former member of N.C. hip-hop group Little Brother) and Nicolay put other plans on hold to start work on what would be the group's third album.
That album, "Authenticity," released in October by the group's own Foreign Exchange Music label, debuted at No. 145 on the Billboard top 200, a respectable ranking for a purely independent record.
Phonte: Most R&B is pretty much men singing what they think women want to hear. Guys kind of get left out in the cold. There's a misconception that guys don't like R&B. Guys like to hear male singers but it has to be something that speaks to them on some level. No disrespect to Trey Songz, because he has songs that I like but I can't ride with four other dudes listening to Trey Songz. That's just not going to happen because most of his songs are tailored to women. My homeboys can't be singing "My Neighbors Know My Name." I'm sorry.
Continue reading The Foreign Exchange: Authentic Souls (Part 2) (via The Well Versed)
Phonte: I always thought we'd be making music together to some capacity. But in terms of Nic moving stateside and moving at the level we are now, I truly didn't see that coming. I kind of knew from our first record that it would be more than hip hop. We both had aspirations of doing something outside of the realm of hip hop. In terms of it turning into a full blown company and us producing for other people, I damn sure didn't see that happening. We've been blessed.
Continue reading The Foreign Exchange: Authentic Souls (Part 1) (via The Well Versed)
Q&A: The Foreign Exchange's Phonte Coleman On How To Make Grown Up R&B That You Can Listen To With Other Men In the Car (via The Village Voice)
Continue reading Q&A: The Foreign Exchange's Phonte Coleman On How To Make Grown Up R&B That You Can Listen To With Other Men In the Car (via The Village Voice)
Continue reading Zo! artist feature on Brave Soul Collective
Their 2004 debut, Connected, was a long-distance alliance of beats and rhymes tossed back and forth via the internet, and 2008's Leave It All Behind, which featured the poignant, Grammy-nominated "Daykeeper," maintained the momentum and broadened their fan base.
Frontman Phonte, meanwhile, branched out as half of The Foreign Exchange, an ambitious collaboration with Dutch musician/producer Nicolay; together, the pair compiled an album through instant messaging and trading sound files. The 2004 debut, Connected, was one of the best hip-hop albums of the decade, a lush, seductive masterpiece that perfectly fused laid-back soul with thoughtful, introspective, melodic hip-hop. The Foreign Exchange shocked many people by picking up a Grammy nomination for best urban/alternative performance for "Daykeeper" from its 2009 follow-up, Leave It All Behind, which abandoned hip-hop altogether in favor of R&B and soul, focusing on Phonte's singing. This year, Phonte reunited with the remaining half of Little Brother, Big Pooh, to release Leftback, the group's fourth and purportedly final album. The A.V. Club recently spoke with Phonte about ending Little Brother, music-industry bullshit, and beefing with 9th Wonder on Twitter.
Continue reading The A.V. Club interviews Phonte
AllHipHop.com: Your last CD was in 2008, are you planning to release any new music?
Nicolay: Yazarah (a fellow collaborator) has been touring with us and has been featured on all of our albums. She is actually one of the first artists that we are coming out with on our imprint. We are working on a new album for The Foreign Exchange for the fall. We definitely have a lot of music coming out this year.
Continue reading The Foreign Exchange: Class In Session; Music 3000 (via Allhiphop)
I was able to catch up with Phonte and talk about Little Brother's retirement, get the truth about why 9th Wonder bounced, and find out what's next for the Grammy nominated Foreign Exchange.
Continue reading Phonte Talks Little Brother, 9th Wonder and The Foreign Exchange (via Soul Sessions blog)
Sleep is a luxury Phonte and Nicolay still can't afford.
"Honestly, I had been working so much, it didn't hit me until I completely woke up," he laughs.
Leave It All Behind to Nicolay's sojourn in Shibuya.
You guys are red hot and raising the bar. "Leave It All Behind" is in constant rotation in my mixes, the album is crazy nice (translation: its a really good record). What was the inspiration behind recording this album?
PHONTE: For me it was wanting to explore different kinds of music, doing something that I didn't have a chance to do up until that point. I wanted to stretch out and try something new.
Continue reading In The Lab With The Foreign Exchange (via Unique74)
For the Dutch-born, Wilmington-based musician and producer who calls himself Nicolay, that moment is now. It just depends on how bright the spotlight is going to be.
If The Foreign Exchange, Nicolay's R&B/hip-hop collaboration with Raleigh vocalist Phonte, wins a Best Urban/Alternative Performance Grammy for the song "Daykeeper" on Sunday, it's going to be blinding.
If they don't, well, it's still going to be pretty bright.
I first grew fond of The Foreign Exchange after hearing the 2004 debut album, Connected, which featured a host of appearances including Rapper Big Pooh (of Little Brother), YahZarah, Darien Brockington and Median. Tracks like "Nic's Groove", "Happiness" and "Be Alright" were on constant rotation. Now, six years and one album later, The Foreign Exchange are practicing their acceptance speech. Their sophomore album, Leave It All Behind, is nominated for a 2010 Grammy for Best Urban/Alternative Performance for the track "Daykeeper" which features one of my favorite jazzy soul sistas', Muhsinah. I was more than delighted to catch up with Nic and Phonte and talk to them about The Foreign Exchange, their exciting nomination, and what's in store for the future.
Nominated for "Daykeeper" off their latest project Leave It All Behind, The Foreign Exchange, comprised of Nicolay and Phonte (Little Brother) feels the love. The group that came to existence via the Okayplayer message boards has received warm reception from domestic and international crowds. The overall success of this album in and outside of their "traditional" fan base has been somewhat surreal. Compared to Connected, Leave It All Behind is a more soulful R&B inspired album. Criticized by some for being too R&B, Foreign Exchange remains unaffected by these negative observations and continue to make music they can trust and believe in.
Continue reading The Foreign Exchange: Leaving The Old Behind (via Okayplayer)
Born and raised in Holland, Nicolay was trained to learn how to use classical instruments and has worked to become a music producer since his youthful days.
"My motivation is based on making music and music-related things," Nicolay said. "I've always been the type of person to mess with instruments and recording devices for hours on end."
Continue reading Nicolay: Never Losing His Way (via The Indiestry Magazine)
Meeting each other through the popular website forum Okayplayer.com, the two would exchange music and lyrics through e-mails and make their dynamic debut album, Connected (2004), before meeting each other face to face. Phonte, a member of the group Little Brother, and Nicolay, producer extraordinaire from the Netherlands, have blessed the masses with some amazing work, so much that at press time the duo was nominated for a Best Urban/Alternative Performance Grammy for the single "Daydreamer" from their second release, Leave It All Behind (2008).
Continue reading Connecting with The Foreign Exchange (via SOBO Magazine)
But that's exactly where Nicolay - the independent Dutch producer and musician who helps create the sound for R&B/hip-hop group The Foreign Exchange - received the news last week that he and vocalist Phonte, of Raleigh, had been nominated for a Best Urban/Alternative Performance Grammy for their song "Daykeeper."
"We've just been going nuts for the last week, man," Nicolay said, sitting in his living room with his wife, Aimee Flint, who serves as The Foreign Exchange's "director of operations," handling business dealings, promotion and a million other things.
Source: Musik AddiktsRecently Music Addikts got a chance to kick it with Nicolay and Phonte of The Foreign Exchange. The two originally met through Okayplayer.com and completed their first album as a group before even meeting face-to-face. Although their meeting was a little unconventional, the studio chemistry between these two is evident in the Hip-Hop infused "Connected" as well as the more mellow R&B charged "Leave it All Behind". Whether rapping or singing the end result is the same...a fix that any ADDIKT can appreciate. If you aren't familiar with The Foreign Exchange let the Music Addikts introduce you to one of our favorite groups in this exclusive interview. For all you long time fans go below the jump to find out what artist F.E. would love to collaborate with, their thoughts on Twitter and what's next for them as a group as well as solo artists. Drop us a line if you enjoyed the interview and even if you didn't.
Continue reading Music Addikts interview The Foreign Exchange
Source: Tha RecipeTha Recipe had a chance to talk with Nicolay, (the Dutch Master and ½ of the Foreign Exchange), on the 1 year anniversary of their ground breaking project "Leave it All Behind". We talked about his new solo album Shibuya, City Lights Vol 2, life on the road, and what's coming up next for him, Foreign Exchange, as well as other artists performing under the Team Foreign Exchange banner.
TR: Congratulations on the one year anniversary of 'Leave It All Behind'. The baby is growing up!
Nic: Thank you, I can't believe it's been a year already. It's cool to see an album reach a milestone like 1 year and still have relevancy.
Continue reading Tha Recipe interviews Nicolay
The group's last album Leave it All Behind (2008) is more R&B and less hip hop than its debut album Connected (2004). Yet, Nicolay said fans shouldn't think of the latest album as an abandonment of hip hop.
Continue reading Baltimore Performing Arts Examiner interviews The Foreign Exchange
Phonte has no trouble reconciling his duties as a member of the fiercely loved Little Brother and the fan-favorite duo The Foreign Exchange, who are currently touring in support of their latest project, the critically lauded and publicly loved Leave It All Behind a melodic tour-de-force offering that can best be described as Post-When Everyone Shut The Fuck Up and Stopped Trying To Categorize Dope Shit.
Continue reading 12ftDwende interviews Phonte
The message appeared on the Southern rapper's Twitter page a day after our interview, when I asked him, "All your projects seem to have a smooth, soulful, almost smooth jazz kind of sound. What is it about that sound that appeals to you?"
While I don't know if my question prompted Phonte's subsequent post, it's clear that Leave It All Behind (Foreign Exchange Music), his 2008 album with Nicolay as the Foreign Exchange, charts new depths of mellowness. In person, Phonte is a hilarious, extremely un-PC wisecracker, as subscribers to his Twitter account (and, back in the Stone Age, his MySpace page) will confirm. However, Phonte's turn as sincere loverman simply explores a side of his personality already revealed in his work as one-third of Little Brother, the hip-hop group for which he remains best known.
Continue reading San Francisco Bay Guardian Online interviews The Foreign Exchange
"I had a very lucky opportunity to visit Japan, specifically an area in Tokyo called Shibuya, which, it's kind of like Manhattan in New York - it's the busiest, trendiest neighborhood in Tokyo and it's like always moving...I was there for about 5 days - I was there for a show - but we just really tried to take everything in and see as much as we could in those 5 days." His biggest takeaway was the reminder to remain true to himself as a musician. "That whole trip really just opened my eyes in a lot of ways to just be more open-minded...I kind of really started thinking that, you know, for myself, I sometimes had been too preoccupied with what the listener would sometimes think of what I do that I sometimes forget about, you know, just letting whatever kind of idea through me, just letting whatever kind of music comes - just letting that out instead of trying to censor yourself, or thinking like "well a fan of The Foreign exchange will most likely listen to this, and this and that." So really if anything it just really inspired me, or kind of really helped me to open up my mind a little bit more about, you know, other options, other possibilities, other forms of music. It was really good that that sort of came out."
Continue reading The Anti-Pop Blog interviews Nicolay
Five short years later, Nicolay stands out as one of the most innovative and inspiring producers in hip hop. The Dutch producer expertly harnesses the "organic and emotive qualities of classic soul" with each release. His third solo album, the highly anticipated City Lights Vol. 2: Shibuya, will be released later this month
Continue reading 12ftDwende interviews Nicolay
They play Yoshi's San Francisco with a full band at midnight on Saturday, Sept. 12. Wait, what? Yeah - midnight, y'all - for a special "Beyond Jazz Music Series." You can get tickets for $25 at the Yoshi's website.
Why the eff do you care?
One: you're nosey. The guys sat down with me for about half an hour to answer some of my favorite questions. Phonte talks about how he wishes he was Theo from "The Cosby Show," why he is the boss of himself, and spying on his kids. Nicolay shares college dropout fantasies, stories of his mama's records, and more. More on that in un momento.
Two: story time!
Continue reading NBC Bay Area: "Yoshi's Foreign Exchange Goes Live at Midnight"
Consider how hip-hop duo The Foreign Exchange came together. North Carolina native Phonte (of the rap group Little Brother) and Dutch producer Nicolay met on the Web site Okayplay.com and began to send tracks and vocals to each other via instant messaging. Those tracks eventually came to constitute the duo's first album under The Foreign Exchange moniker, Connected, which was released to critical acclaim before the artists ever met face to face.
Phonte couldn't quite believe his ears when he first heard Nicolay's rich production. "We had a bunch of conspiracy theories going on, because at the time he was overseas and was kind of like a mysterious figure," Phonte recalls during a recent phone interview. "It wasn't like we could hook up over at his house. We thought, 'What if he's really a girl? What if he's got a whole staff of beatmakers?'"
Continue reading Foreign Exchange: North Carolina Dutch hip-hop (via Nuvo)
"It was around 2002 so it was somewhat of a radical concept to be making an album by e-mailing parts. When (Little Brother) was doing records, Nic and I were doing stuff for the first album and it was actually Pooh (the other half of Little Brother) who thought of the name," said Phonte. "We were in the studio and he said 'it's like a foreign exchange program.'"
The two met on a Web site message board courtesy of Okayplayer.com, began making music and instantly realized they had something special; they had synergy. Nicolay was living in Holland while Phonte resided in North Carolina.
Continue reading The Indianapolis Recorder: "Who Is The Foreign Exchange?"
Sonically Connected was an extension of what Little Brother had already achieved with The Listening hip-hop-wise combined with musicality of Nicolay. It had a bit of everything in terms of influences and genre; whether it was jazz, soul/R&B, electronic or hip-hop. It was such a cohesive piece of work I almost wish it hadn't been released through BBE, but that's another blog entry. Whether they knew it at the time, Phonte and Nicolay had a definite chemistry between artist and producer that translated into some quality music.
Continue reading Potholes In My Blog: Foreign Exchange is the future of the funk
Source: Rickey Smiley Morning ShowNicolay calls in to the nationally syndicated Rickey Smiley Morning Show for a quick interview about The Foreign Exchange. We find out that Rickey is a big Foreign Exchange fan, who plays Leave It All Behind every evening and thinks every track on it is a HIT! Listen to the audio below.
Phonte was singing before your favorite rapper sang!
For those who've followed Phonte Coleman since he burst onto the scene in 2003 with his partner-in-rhyme Big Pooh, and producer 9th Wonder, collectively forming Little Brother, Drizzy's pick came as no surprise. MC and critics alike have given props to Phonte's witty wordplay and Southern-tinged flow since Little Brother's debut, The Listening (ABB). But in 2004, Phonte switched things up and began to amass a new set of fans with The Foreign Exchange, a collaboration with producer Nicolay. Together the two released Connected (BBE, 2004) to critical acclaim. In 2008, they released their sophomore effort, Leave It All Behind (Hall of Justus/ Nicolay), which Phonte is currently promoting on a nationwide tour.
Continue reading VIBE.com: 60 Rappers In 60 Days: Phonte
Turtle: How are you doing today?
Nicolay: I'm not doing too bad today actually, it's a day like any other I'm just working on a few things. Just finishing up a few things so its not bad.
T: Can you give a little back story on how you became a producer?
N: I was actually the type to play in bands, that was my main musical reference point. It didn't always go the way I wanted it to. It wasn't paying the bills, so I decided to stop all of that, and just get a job. In the evening hours I more or less started producing for my own enjoyment. I never really intended doing more than that. Out of that freedom grew something that ultimately people really liked. So, really it was a matter of me almost stepping away from music to get back to it in a very different way.
Continue reading The Last Broadcast interviews Nicolay
"Nervous? Come on, fam," he exclaims, before laughing and finally succumbing. "Nah, there's always a bit of nervousness. This is literally the first time [Nicolay and I] have ever played together, like ever," he stresses. "But I'm beyond certain we'll do a great job."
"I think in the past we were reluctant to talk about it cause we didn't want to ruin the surprise of it. We were still trying to find our way in terms of what we were going to do, or, if and when we were gonna do another Foreign Exchange record," Phonte told us just a couple days after the release of the LP. "Now that it's finally here it feels good to finally have it out for the world to hear."