On Wednesday, They Hate Change released a video for a new single, “Faux Leather.” The four-and-a-half-minute clip—filmed at downtown Tampa’s Wtrcooler Studio—is the follow up to the rap duo’s Godmode Music release 666 Central Ave., which brought international attention to the band after previous independent outings on imprints like Deathbomb Arc.
“Faux Leather” lovingly lambasts luxury brands and industry plants, and it’s also a tip of the cap to some of They Hate Change’s hundreds of influences, particularly the most ambient and out-of-the-box ideas of composers Brian Eno and Pete Namlook. It’s the kind of song the band’s members—Andre and Vonne—have been searching for since they did a six-hour house party DJ set for friends in 2016, and it’s the tune that will formally introduce They Hate Change to its biggest audience ever when “Faux Leather” becomes release No. 411 for Jagjaguwar, the revered indie label that’s been home to Bon Iver, Dinosaur Jr.,Okkervil River, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Black Mountain, Sharon Van Etten plus dozens of others.
In the song’s coda, Vonne and Dre also skewer DSPs and poke at rappers who don’t read their contracts and end up as broke as their fans—an important sentiment to consider in the context of a signing that arrived on the same day They Hate Change was announced as direct support on a five-week U.S. tour headlined by U.K. post-punk band Shame.
“Rappers are as broke as their fans, because they're signing deals with these labels that are not willing to spend time… even at 100 million streams, which makes you one of the biggest artists out, you’re still getting half of nothing because you signed [a bad deal],” Vonne told Creative Loafing Tampa over drinks at University of Tampa haunt the Retreat. Vonne, together with their bandmate and decade-long best friend Andre, have courted offers from other labels, including majors, but Jagjaguwar made more sense than anything else.
“We care about the catalog,” Andre added, alluding to how Jagjaguwar grows its artists instead of looking for a quick payday. The label’s only expectation of the duo is to keep making music with no timetables or complicated contracts to worry about.
What stood out about the band’s music to Eric Deines—the A&R rep who signed They Hate Change—were the touchstones of Bangs & Works Chicago footwork compilations on the Planet Mu label. Deines considers Vol. 1 of that B&W comp a seminal collection from the last two decades, and he heard it immediately in They Hate Change. He also picked up on the unbridled happiness which They Hate Change has cultivated over the last few years playing DIY house and garage shows across Tampa Bay. “I’ve called it ‘joy with teeth’ a few times. It’s a rare thing—and highly contagious,” Deines added.
That exuberance was on full display during Jagjaguwar’s initial Zoom calls with They Hate Change, when the topic of obscure and essential chillwave pioneer Small Black came up. Deines was talking about Jamila Woods—a singer and poet who brought rappers Noname and Saba to her Jagjaguwar releases—but then he mentioned how the label also released Small Black’s 2010 debut, New Chain. Vonne and Andre were both just 16 years old when that record came out, but they later discovered Small Black and even owned signed copies of the album. “We howled,” Deines said.
“We’re just fans and junkies for that music in general,” Andre added. It’s also a near certainty that They Hate Change will pick up fans during the run with Shame which travels from Seattle, down the West Coast and across the southern border before looping back up through the Midwest and Eastern Seaboard before wrapping in New Orleans.
Vonne and Andre won’t say exactly what else is up their sleeve for Jagjaguwar in 2022, only divulging that they’ve arrived at the sound They Hate Change has been barrelling towards for the last five years.
Deines rightfully points out that the duo has “been in the game for a bit longer than meets the eye,” but until “Faux Leather,” Andre and Vonne had been in their bedroom studio—surrounded by their Rhodes, Akai samplers (S2800, CD3000xl), Korgs (MS-20, R3), Ableton rig, Moog and floppy disks—dissecting Roland 707 and 909 beats and weaving the sounds of footwork, grime and ambient music into nine releases under the They Hate Change banner. Indie influences, together with other homestate flavors (Jam Pony Express, Buck Sosa, Gitt Fai) and their deep love for crank, jungle, downbeat even the Balearic textures of Ibiza’s lounge scene were also part of a search for a sound that led them to 666 Central Ave., which is a bridge to the next chapter for the duo. And you don’t have to be a record store nerd to connect.
“Our music is at once for the heads, and it’s for everybody,” Vonne said, reiterating that, “Everyone can get it, and the heads can really get it.”
And if you’re from Tampa Bay, you ought to get behind it before the rest of the world catches up.
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