Skewing lines in hip-hop with collective Death By Icon

Death By Icon are an alternative hip-hop collective that reign from Chicago. The lads have just dropped their latest track ‘Wake Up’ which has been gaining a lot of love in the blogosphere. The group consists of MC Vic, MC and producer Ant, and producer Dook. 

Whilst their originality and uniqueness may at first be something to get used to, Death By Icon’s sound is one that will shake-up the industry. We chat to the lads about gaining world-wide attention, why they’d love to collaborate with the Neptunes and what we can expect from their upcoming project ‘Hassah’. Margaret Tra writes. 

How did you guys get together?

Dook: Around 2008, a mutual friend connected Ant with me. He needed to record some stuff for a podcast, and I had a small recording studio set up. Then, I think at the end of 2011, both Ant and Vic started coming over to my place and they recorded the first ideas for Death By Icon (DBI). In early 2012, I left Chicago for Los Angeles and continued helping with DBI production/mixing. I think it was after we all hung out when Ant and Vic visited LA in March 2013 (to record songs that would lead to our first album, Trybecca) that we knew DBI could really be something.

What can we expect from your forthcoming ‘Hassah'?

Dook: I feel Ant and Vic have evolved quite a bit as writers and performers in the relatively short time between ‘Trybecca’ and ‘Hassah'.

Production-wise: Some of the ‘Hassa’h beat ideas I'd send the dudes were a little weird, but some aspect would inspire Ant to add further production on the beat, Vic to write some verse ideas sparking melody ideas for Ant. If ‘Trybecca’ was like turning on a light that emitted the DBI aesthetic, ‘Hassah' is that light burning brighter and in more colours. 

Ant: Lyrically more extensive than ‘Trybecca.’ Production-wise, it's balanced. 

You just released 'Wake Up' what's the response been like? 

Ant: It’s been great. A lot of people have been receptive to it so it’s always cool to see that. What surprised us most was how responsive people around the world were to "Wake Up. " I find it novel that people actually like what me make here in the States; so for it to connect to someone in another country is crazy to me. 

What other projects are you working on?

Ant: Dook's been making a bunch of beats lately so their might be a beat tape in the works before the end of the year. Besides working on ‘Hassah,’ we've started collaborating with different artists around us. We do all of our production so it'll be dope to switch things up and work outside of our circle. It's been something we've wanted to do since we started. Seeing other artist's processes and how they work is something that's always interested us.  

If you could collaborate with anyone who would it be?

Vic: If we could collaborate with anyone, it would be the Neptunes or Pharrell; if not both, either member would be dope. I remember the first time I heard ODB's "Got Your Money" and I was just vibing out to the beat. I hadn't found out until much later that the Neptunes were behind that. It's crazy to see how much they've done, especially behind the scenes. Their super influential not just with their production, but lyrically as well with the stuff they do with N. E. R. D.  "Bobby James" is still my shit!

What's the scene for hip-hop in Chicago for you guys?

Vic: The scene for us so far has been welcoming. I know there's still a lot of people unfamiliar with our sound, but for those who have listened seem appreciative of what we're doing. Overall, Chicago's become more eclectic and experimental skewing lines in hip-hop. It's definitely more open minded. 

What stimulates your soul?

Vic: A good muse and positive vibes stimulates my soul. 

Ant: Ideas. 

Dook: Movies. Lots of sci-fi and documentaries. Or anything where people discuss their process or shed light on an aspect of their creativity. I'm one of the few people who actually watches a DVD's director commentaries and making-of special features. I also like to travel and eat. When I visit a new city, I don't care about all the tourist-y sightseeing. Take me to the good food.