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Brother Hand Mirror are a hip-hop duo comprised of Oscar Vincente-Slorach Thorn and Grant Jonathon Gronewold aka HTML Flowers. Based in Melbourne, the pair’s distinct sound has been described as ‘hipster hop’ and ‘glow rapps’.
With a penchant for positivity and an oddball appeal, Brothers Hand Mirror are sure to delight their hometown crowd and win over some new fans at this year’s Sugar Mountain Festival in Melbourne on Saturday, January 19.
Rapper HTML Flowers took the time to write back to our Q&A and shed some light on what Brothers Hand Mirror are all about.
For those who are unfamiliar with Brothers Hand Mirror, how did the group come together?
HTML Flowers: Round about 2010, after a few years of talking about it and never really putting the time aside, me and Oscar finally met up. He had a desk littered with cassette loops and I had an old Mac notebook filled with three or so years of rap scribblings. I rapped about riding my bike at night over a loop of Oscar’s [Vincente-Slorach Thorn] voice pitch, shifted and nailed down by clicks from wooden sticks. A few months later I moved into the warehouse he was living in, and that’s about when we really started developing as an entity and a brotherhood.
Your brand of music is quite distinct. How would you describe it?
HF: Well, I’m comfortable with the term ‘hipster hop’, which is what we usually get, in the sense that I try not to pay attention to these things too much, but if I were allowed to decide from now on what we would forever be classified as, I would probably go for “GLOW RAPZ 2012?
Brothers Hand Mirror’s blend of electronic beats and rap verses suggest that there’s a fairly eclectic taste of music within the band. Who are your influences?
HF: Arthur Russell, Charizma, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez, MC Lyte, J Dilla, Prince, Pompey, Bjork, Antony & The Johnstons, Flying Lotus, Mount Eerie, Lucky Dragons, Ultramagnetic MC’s, Shabazz Palaces, Lauryn Hill, Arvo Part, Zapp!, Destiny’s Child
The band hails from Melbourne, but Brothers Hand Mirror’s rhyming style differs from most popular Australian hip-hop acts. Is your flow a deliberate effort to stand out from the crowd or just a natural outcome?
HF: I rap with my honest voice. It just so happens that it’s a different kind of voice than people are used to hearing in hip-hop. I am convinced this is because most people only have a surface level appreciation for hip-hop culture and don’t go much deeper than Wu Tang Clan or Jay Z in terms of their main hip-hop interests. Strange voices have always been an essential part of hip-hop culture. That said, I am aroused by the idea of making something previously unheard of, so honestly I don’t know, it’s got as much genuine intent to be different as it does an organic unconsidered state of being different I would guess. OH, AS WELL THO, I am American and have a very strong American accent, so that probably has something to do with how I sound diff to many Australian acts.
Your Facebook bio notes that Brothers Hand Mirror are fond of freestyle. How would you rate yourselves as freestylers?
HF: I am terrible at freestyling in the context of battle rhyming, I really dislike being so negative towards someone. I have found that when I am doing a befriending battle (as in trying to compliment someone or tell them you love them) that I am much better. But even more than that, I like simply rapping/singing my thoughts as I walk around on my own, and sometimes with Oscar while he beatboxes. I would steer clear of making that beautiful personal act into something I have to rate myself as good at or not, and as for Oscar, he doesn’t really rap at all, so I don’t think he would rate himself either.
Do most of your lyrics come from freestyling or are they more methodically constructed?
HF: A good deal of them come from freestyle singing and verse, yeah. Another portion comes from writing poetry, another portion from notebooks and journal entries, and another portion from conversations I have with friends or borrowed or re-interpreted lines from songs or poems or stories or movies that inspire me.
Your music gives credence to the Flight of the Conchords’ mantra that ‘rappers have feelings’. Have you found Brothers Hand Mirror’s personal, emotional lyrical style is well met by peers and listeners?
HF: Yes, our “emotional style” is met well by listeners. I would say that Flight of the Concords are benefiting off the stereotype that all rappers are sociopathic, un-empathetic “criminally minded” men, which is a fallacy BTW.
Apparently one of your band’s interests is tattooing eachother. Are any of you actually trained tattoo artists?
HF: I have trained myself by osmosis. I have practiced tattooing for the last seven years. I do tattoos for people all over Australia and I design tattoos for people all over the world. You can educate yourself on how to do it, despite what mainstream tattoo culture rails against, you don’t need to go to university to figure it out. I learnt by practicing on myself and willing friends and also by passing around the few underground handbooks there are on tattooing history and standards of cleanliness. Oscar has even less experience tattooing than I do and he does amazing tiny straight focused line work, it’s not heaps difficult depending on where your interests with it lie. I left school when I was 17 and rarely attended classes when I was there, so all I’m trained in is lying to authority figures and drawing when I should be listening.
You guys are playing Sugar Mountain Festival in Melbourne on January 19. Do you get more nervous playing before your hometown crowd?
HF: I guess I get nervous from having responsibilities and obligations and I feel very obligated to rap so well that an actual rainbow bursts from guts and floods the forum out, so I am only nervous in the sense that what we do that day must be something wondrous to remember in the hearts and bones of our audience. Otherwise it’s just gong to be totally f**king fun and we are gonna dance so much – COLLARBONES – ESG – DIRTY PROJECTORS – PEANUT BUTTER WOLF – best day ever for real.
Brothers Hand Mirror have a few EPs and singles under their belt. When can fans expect a debut LP and what details about the album can you reveal?
HF: Hopefully sometime next year . We have a lot of material, but we only like to release it in groupings that make sense to us or contain a relative cohesion of theme or production or feeling. Know what I mean? So please, if you’re eager to hear an album and getting sad that we haven’t dropped one yet, just trust that when we do we will have really tried to make something worth listening to from start to finish. xx forevz ~ luv u guy heaps ~ u r my lyf ~ don’t ever 4get that ~ c u at the next show ~ HTMLflowers xoxoxoxox