Three best friends at the crossroads of the Brussels hip hop scene reflects on their latest album.
Swing, Loxley and Primero – together known as L’Or du Commun – are a force to be reckoned with in the Belgian hip hop circuit. In May, the group released their second studio album, Avant La Nuit, written in total lockdown. Today, they give us an update on the motivations and the message behind the project.
‘Avant La Nuit’. Does ‘the night’ symbolize something in particular?
Swing: “The night can mean anything. We wanted a title that anybody could interpret in their own way. For some, this can be the literal night; for others, this refers to death. In that sense, 'Avant La Nuit' becomes an album about life. As we're artists that rap about life around us, that interpretation doesn't sound too far-fetched.”
After a year like this, we can imagine you’ve found lots of subjects to discuss on this album.
Loxley: “Well, we finished writing this album in the first lockdown, which was quite a positive period if we look back on it. At the time, everyone just assumed it was a little break. However, it did give us perspectives we took into the album, but you'll have to wait a little longer to hear what we've written in the past few months.”
We don't have fixed roles amongst the three of us. Every song is different, and everyone can come up with the first idea.
How do you go about writing new music? Who does what?
Loxley: "We don't have fixed roles amongst the three of us. Every song is different, and everyone can come up with the first idea. We're aware of each other’s strengths, so we know what the other can bring to the table.”
You all have solo projects running at the same time as well. Isn’t it difficult sometimes to find common ground when you have diverging artist directions?
Primero: "Of course that's difficult sometimes; it's normal. As you develop as an artist over the years, it's normal that we all find our groove. But we're three good friends, so we're always able to keep L'Or du Commun and our solo careers separate easily.”
Do you ever get into arguments?
Loxley: "As artists, you're dealing with a lot more than just music production. Only when it comes to managerial and strategic stuff, we disagree occasionally, but never about music. We're always perfectly aligned when it comes to songwriting, rapping and producing. We’re a strong unit.”
We always try to stay connected with as many other people as possible.
For a few years, the Brussels hip hop scene has seemed to come together more and more. So many of your friends have become massive stars, yet great collegiality amongst everyone remains, which is reflected in your album's collaborations.
Primero: “L’union fait la force, isn’t that a national slogan? We’re all in this together. We put in a lot of effort to support each other, and we all benefit from that. The artists who feature on Avant La Nuit are the ones we’re closest with – collaborating with them has felt natural.”
Swing: “We welcome all the attention on our scene right now! I don't think previous generations could profit from a similar shared boost like we're experiencing now. It's a matter of taking and giving: we all know each other, and we all work on each other's music when we have the chance to. We always try to stay connected with as many other people as possible. I also want to mention Phasm and PH Trigano, two of Brussels’ finest beatmakers who worked on this album and who did a mighty fine job.”
How have you perceived this surge in the popularity of local talent? The French market especially seems to have its eyes on Brussels lately.
Primero: "We already had a lot of talent before, but in the current social media age, new music reaches a lot more audiences. It’s only now others realize how much good things are happening here.”
Don’t be afraid to do new things. Create your own space and own it.
Swing: “A lot of those good things are happening together, at the same time, so that benefits the whole scene even more. Stromae, Damso, Hamza… They all draw attention to our scene. It's similar to the success of our national football team. We currently have some of the best players we've ever had in the same team – of course, people are going to notice, far beyond our borders.”
So what’s next for L’Or du Commun?
Swing: "We've been doing a few shows to promote the album. After that, Primero and I will probably take some time to continue working on our solo rap projects. Loxley is also a great visual director, so he'll have his hands full too. But that doesn't mean L'Or du Commun is over. We'll come together to make new music again sooner than later.”
If you could give one piece of advice to young artists out there, what would it be?
Swing: “I feel so old when you ask us a question like that! Have we become the old dudes now?” (laughs)
Loxley: “I think you need to be sincere in everything you do. Don’t be afraid to do new things. Create your own space and own it. That’s what will be most rewarding in the end.”
Swing: “Exactly. Don’t let yourself be influenced by
too many things around you. It’s easier said than done, but great artists never
copy what's been done before already. If you follow your instincts, you'll feel
it in your guts.”