In a time when the Internet is used for just about everything, a music group took Web usage to a whole new extreme. The Foreign Exchange is a duo that has defied the limits of geography. The pair began their music group while living halfway around the world from one another. This unique duo consists of Rapper/Singer Phonte Coleman from Raleigh, N.C. and Producer Matthijs “Nicolay” Rook from Utrecht, Netherlands.
The pair created their entire first album without meeting each other face to face or even talking on the phone; thus the name The Foreign Exchange.
The indie hip-hop/ Electronica/ Soul/ R&B duo converged via Okayplayer.com in 2002 and shortly after, they began working on their debut album “Connected.” After a year and a half of communicating solely through instant messager, email and snail mailing music over the Atlantic Ocean, the artists completed “Connected.” Phonte detailed their collaboration in an MTV.com interview:
“It was all very surreal actually. Nic would just send me tracks via Instant Messenger, and I would record to them and send the finished product back. I had no idea that our simple IM sessions would develop into the beautiful project that we have now.”
A love for hip-hop and raw musical talent brought the artists of the Foreign Exchange together. Their album “Connected,” which focused more on rap than their following albums, was driven largely by heartfelt lyrics and jazzy beats. This attracted fans of the North Carolina hip-hop group Little Brother, in which Phonte was also a part of. The album received critical acclaim that was driven by powerful singles such as “Sincere” and “Come Around.”
Nicolay shares his thoughts on the creation of “Connected” with MTV.com:
“Here I was blindly sending out beats to a guy who lived thousands of miles away from me. When he sent the songs back to me though, the harmonies and melodies and concepts fit my tracks perfectly. It was like tossing somebody a few watercolors and watching them come back with a beautiful canvas painting.”
The Foreign Exchange’s sophomore album “Leave It All Behind” dropped in October 2008. The album was quite the divergence from the smooth rap that filled “Connected.” This album had a slower, more soulful vibe, with Phonte focusing mainly on singing.
Tickets available at http://AuthenticityTour2011IndianapolisMay6.Eventbrite.com/
Nicolay left his home in the Netherlands and moved to Wilmington, N.C. for “Leave It All Behind.” Although the duo was closer geographically, allowing them to meet occasionally, they still agreed to exchange music through the Internet only. The artists explained why they decided against face-to-face studio collaboration in an interview with Roundhouse.org.uk:
“We realized as we went along that actually one of our key strengths is the way we worked. I’m best if I can just be on my own; I don’t ever have anyone else in the studio as that’s really when I feel like I can put my own personal inhibitions to the side, and just do me like 100%, and I think with Tay [Phonte] that’s the same thing,” Nicolay said.
Though this approach is unconventional, it obviously works for the pair. Their success has earned them a Grammy nomination for the “Best Urban/Alternative Performance.” The music group was considered for their popular track “Daykeeper.”
Daykeeper Video from The Foreign Exchange Sophomore released album, Leave It All Behind.
Their third album “Authenticity” was released in October 2010, and it is easy to see that the group has evolved yet again. With lyrics about love lost and found as well as more live instrumentals, “Authenticity” takes on a more mature, laidback tone. In January 2011, the Foreign Exchange began touring with R&B Singers Sy Smith and Darien Brockington in promotion of their newest album.
Adding an even greater challenge to their busy lives, the Foreign Exchange opened a production label in June 2009 entitled, “Foreign Exchange Music.” R&B Artists such as Zo!, YahZarah, and Darien Brokington all joined the label. Phonte detailed the hard work behind managing a label on top of music career on RoundHouse.org.uk:
“When you’re overseeing and doing your own stuff it takes a lot of man-hours, especially when you’re trying to do it independently, so to the question of how do you balance it, you don’t, or you balance it by having no personal life. You don’t do anything else, like wife, kids, bathing, eating, like all that stuff goes to the side. It’s all music all day long.”
This busy, unique duo has created their own music style that makes them hard to group under just one genre. Their musical approach is just as innovative as their soulful sound. -Morgan King
Join Old SOUL Entertainment as we welcome back to Indy The Foreign Exchange. The Authenticity Tour features Nicolay, Phonte, Sy Smith, Zo! and the full band!! This will be an unforgettable night. If you haven't had the opportunity to see this Grammy Nominated group live in concert, this is your chance. One of the Midwest favorite Deejay's MetroGnome will be keeping the pace along with Belgium Deejay Lady Ly. The show is Friday, May, 6 at The Athenaeum Foundation's Theater. 401 E. Michigan St (Right off of Mass Ave, across from the Murat Theater).
Click link below for ticket info:
The Foreign Exchange Tickets
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Authenticity Video from The Foreign Exchange latest released album titled Authenticity.