Yo Writer: Danielle Cohen
INTERVIEW WITH ORI KAPLAN of BALKAN BEAT BOX
D: Are more people finding out about you since one of your songs got sampled on Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty to Me”?
Ori: I don’t know. What do you think?
D: I don’t know. What do you think?
Ori: I don’t think the masses out there who are listening to ‘Talk Dirty’ even care. Maybe some people but, nah, they don’t care. If you hear any rap song, do you really go listening to what other songs they sampled in the beat?
D: Do you like what they did with your beat?
Ori: Our beat is out there on the Internet. So many people do whatever they want with it and then put it on YouTube every day. There are so many remixes and songs that sample our music from belly dancing mixes to kids making remixes of our songs.
It’s out there and we’re not trying to stop people from using it once it’s out there. You can’t really control it in this day and age anyway. So we’re not going to discriminate against Jason Derulo.
D: I agree! I was really annoyed when I read that one of the members of Portishead was complaining because some little-known band was sampling his song against his wishes. In fact, his exact words were, ‘I just want my beat back.’
Ori: What do you mean ‘I just want my beat back?’ You can’t control what people do with it. Diplo also sampled our stuff and he was like ‘Yeah, I’m working with Busta Rhymes and I’ll use it. And then he tried Nas and then he tried others. Eventually Mac Miller wanted the beat. We couldn’t control what would happen with it.
We always say yes to anyone who wants to use our beat. Unless it’s something evil—like something hateful or violent.
In this case with Jason Derulo, we said yes, we didn’t get a lot of money for it. So we negotiated a good publishing deal and then we forgot about it. And then nothing happened.
And then suddenly we hear that Talk Dirty is #1 in Australia… Then #1 in the UK.
Now they have our catalog, they love our stuff, and it’s given our band the financial boost to reach independence so we can start to do our own thing, NO LABEL, and the next step is to just release our music on our own.
D: Why do you want to go LABEL-less now?
Ori: I would love to have no label sitting there over my shoulder. The concept of labels is so old! They’re supposed to sell records for you but now they don’t even sell records. So now CDs are like a business a card, nobody cares or buys it.
Plus, when you release an album most of it isn’t even heard. Because people just check out your single on YouTube and maybe 3 more songs and that’s it! They’re ready to come see your show… And then all the work we did on 12 amazing songs just disappears.
D: Dude! It breaks my heart when people buy an album and don’t listen to the whole thing.
Ori: We’ll keep making albums but the idea is to release singles too. And then—who needs the label? They want 50% of your shit. They basically own you and why should they? Because they invested $120,000 in you? Now, we can do that on our own.
D: So what do you think about Florida?
Ori: (Ori laughs). One time we played with Matisyahu and there were a bunch of girls at the Matisyahu show showing their boobs. I’ve never seen anything like it.
They were so… “Let’s just fuck!”
By that point I had toured a lot and this still shocked me. I was like, “What? This is Florida? I would not want my girls to be raised here.”
You know, I’ve heard it’s the Armpit of America.
D: Actually, that’s New Jersey. Florida is known as the ‘wang’ of America.