I wasn’t immediately sure what to make of Finn’s music; there was something about it that felt unfamiliar. Then I realised he was having heaps of fun—planned silliness as he describes it.
It’s a testament to how diverse hip hop has become in this country, that you can have artists like Beach Boy, not only putting out music but doing so with a great deal of success. It seems like yesterday that diverting from the norm would earn you a punch in the face. We caught up over Skype to talk rapping, fashion and playing the violin.
How long have you been doing music under the Beach Boy alias?
I’ve been producing since I was quite young but the Beach Boy thing has only been going for a year. I used to try and produce for rappers but it didn’t work out. I switched it up to Beach Boy to do something for myself and it came together so I ran with it.
Nice. I really like how curated everything you put out is.
Yeah, it’s silly, but planned silly, you know?
Does anyone help you with that?
Well, of course my friends definitely help out. Most of the ideas, me and my friends make it happen.
Do you have a fashion background?
I’ve always been into clothes and taking inspiration from media and movies. I was the kind of person when I was in school that I’d watch films and dress up as my favourite character.
So you produce all your own beats?
Yeah, I’ve been producing since I was tiny and I just love it. With the vocals and rapping, if someone came up and said you suck at rapping I wouldn’t really care, but if someone said I suck at production, that’s when I’d really argue. That’s what I put the main work into.
How did you go from making beats to doing raps?
This artist I was trying to hit up [for beats] kept saying no. In this kind of rebellious moment I thought, ‘I’m going to do something fun and silly and not think about serious stuff’. The video started working and that just opened a whole new world for me, ‘cause vocally I’d never done anything. I used to be scared of doing vocals, then I just started doing it for fun and it started working.
It’s often the way, when you stop putting pressure on yourself then things come together.
Yeah, because you can’t plan it. When you plan it, it never works.
I read somewhere you have a musical background. Did that help with your production?
Yeah, it definitely helped. I played violin for nine years.
Oh wow, that’s a serious instrument.
I did the clarinet and piano. The piano is the key to producing. If you can do piano you can do every instrument in the world on computer. Having a music background really made things easier. I just love music anyways. I listen to music 24/7.
Is there any local music you reckon the readers should check out?
Yeah definitely, I just got off tour with KVKA and Name UL. I used to listen to a bit of their music but after going on tour with them I listen to their music more than my own.
That KVKA dude’s voice is insane.
Yeah, it’s a really big deep voice. I love it.
How was the tour?
I loved it. They’d done lots of shows before. I’d done a couple but I’m new to it. They were quite professional. I was just the underdog trying to learn everything as I went.
I went to the Red Bull/YGB show recently and it struck me how healthy the New Zealand hip hop scene is. What are your thoughts?
I really, really like it. It just sounds like a whole new thing developing. I back heaps of it. Definitely been learning from the people around me. With my vocals I don’t like to call myself a rapper, ‘cause I don’t think I suit it, but I like to say my production is more hip hoppy.
It seems much friendlier these days than when I was doing it.
Yeah, if I was doing it ten years ago I would’ve got shredded.
I really bugged out at that Red Bull thing. Back in the day people would’ve been stealing and punching each other.
Yeah, it’s more PG.
Who are your top three artists, living or dead?
Most of the music I listen to is movie scores.
I love Hans Zimmer. I watch all his interviews, he talks about making soundtracks. I love him so so much, I would definitely put him up there. Of course I love FKA Twigs, she’s one of my favourites at the moment. And I have to say Yung Lean.
The New Zealand one or the Swedish guy?
Was there a New Zealander called Yung Lean?
Yeah, and he actually had the name first and he had to change it.
And they kind of look a little bit the same, even though the New Zealand guy is like 10 years older. Fuck he was gutted when they came out. Plans for the future?
I’m going to live in Vietnam and then Hong Kong.
Are you going to do shows?
It’s just me and my girlfriend going backpacking, so we’re going to take a break, and then maybe a US tour next year.
That’s all my questions. Anything else you want to add?
Yeah, I think the main thing is to have fun. A mix between working hard and having fun.
Text by Dominic Hoey
Photograph by Viru Helaratne
Published in Manual #63