As one of the acts shaping the new Seattle sound, we've been eagerly anticipating the Physics's new album, Digital Wildlife. Well it's finally arrived, and the only thing better than the music itself is the record's price point. Digital Wildlife can be downloaded for free at the Physics's Bandcamp page. (Seriously, just click that link and go download it right now. This article will still be here when you return.) The album's title comes from the way the Physics mixes analog recording elements and electronic sounds to form one cohesive and eclectic hip hop record. This Saturday, December 21, the Physics head to the Crocodile for Digital Wildlife's release show, which features a diverse palate of opening acts ranging from rising local rapper Dave D to the sugary sweet young pop rock band Tangerine.
For our latest Fiendish Conversation, we chatted with the Physics's lead MC—Thig Nat—about Digital Wildlife's aethetic, making the album available for free download, and Built to Spill.
How did you guys decide on the concept for Digital Wildlife?
What we wanted to do was look at the juxtaposition of how the digital age we’re now in mixes and melds with the humanistic nature that we all have. So we kind of wanted to use this overall theme for the project, not just in terms of content, but also in terms of production. A lot of the sounds that we’re using and incorporating into the project are synthesizers and “digital” sounds that we are using to help reinforce this theme.
And there’re some of the things that I talk about on the album. For example, I have this interlude on the album where I’m rapping from the perspective of somebody that’s always taking things at face value on the Internet or Instagram or something. “Oh, there’s this beautiful girl, she must be an awesome person. Let me show her that I’m an awesome person, and let me put fourth this persona online that shows me as a guy who has money or has a nice car. This will bring me happiness. This will get me what I want.” Which is not necessarily true, of course. It’s all a facade. So there are a lot references on the album to things like social networks; things like how people act and the image that people put fourth online may not necessarily be reality. We’re living in a digital age, but at the end of the day, we’re all human; we all have the same urges and desires.
What was the decision process behind releasing Digital Wildlife for free?
We want the music to reach as many people as it can. We’re over here in the corner of the country in Seattle. For a lot of people in the country, you say Seattle and they’re like, “Whoa, where’s that?” It’s like not even in the country. So that presents challenges when you’re trying to reach people far and wide. We want people to listen to our music in New York. We want people to listen to our music in Europe, and Africa, and Australia, and everywhere around the country. We could charge for the album, and people would pay for it and we’d make some money off it, but somebody across the country who’s maybe heard of the Physics might not be so inclined to spend money on a band that they’ve only maybe heard a little bit about. For us, the value is in the exposure. Because we feel really strongly that this is a good album, we want this to reach as far as it can. So we’re removing all barriers for people to discover this music. It’s literally a click away.
This album, and the majority of The Physics catalog, has a fairly chill, laid back style. What draws you to that sound?
I guess a lot of the stuff I grew up on was kind of that same vibe. Growing up I was a huge Tribe Called Quest fan and I’m a huge fan of J Dilla and the melodies he created with his beats. And it tends to be that sort of melodic, laid back vibe. I think that’s kind of instilled in me, so it’s probably a subconscious thing that I tend to create music that’s in that same vein.
What’s the best concert you’ve seen this year?
Well I just saw the Macklemore show a few days ago, which was on a pretty big scale. That was pretty crazy, just to see how many people packed out the KeyArena. They had all kinds of stuff going on: Stuff flying out of cannons… fire. From a grand perspective, that was pretty crazy. I also like going to smaller shows. I saw Built to Spill play the Sasquatch launch party. I’m a huge Built to Spill fan and that was the first time I got to see them, so that was dope for me.
If you weren’t a musician, is there another line of work you might’ve wanted to purse?
Well I have a lot of interests. I’m really into fashion. I’m really into photography. I’d probably be trying to start my own fashion line or something like that.
What aspect of the Digital Wildlife release show are you most excited about?
I’m looking forward to doing some of these new songs that we just released. This new project is a really big deal for us. We’ve taken some risks on this one that we haven’t before. The last project we released was about a year and a half ago, and when we released that, I wasn’t nervous at all. I was pretty confident that, “Oh, you know, I think this is a pretty good record. I think people will like it.” But this project is totally different. If I’m gonna be completely honest, I was nervous about a lot of these songs and the direction that we’re going, because we are taking chances. There’s uncertainty there. But at the end of the day, why play it safe? This is something we do to be fulfilled, and sometimes the greatest fulfillment comes from taking chances and jumping into something that is uncertain.
The Physics: Digital Wildlife Release Show
Dec 21 at 9, The Crocodile, $10–$15