Planet Giza is a wacky and wonderful world. What initially began as the brainchild of Montreal jazz and hip-hop trio Rami B, Tony Stone, & DoomX — has quickly evolved into a vibrant movement that harmonises the trio’s talents as producers and lyricists.
Storytelling sits at the forefront of every Planet Giza track. Not just when it comes to the intricate, Slick Rick-like wordplay of lead vocalist Tony Stone but also from a production perspective. The group approaches each beat as if they are scoring a movie with ups and downs, twists and turns, character developments, and layered world-building that draws the listener deeper and deeper into the surreal world of Planet Giza. However, beyond the dedication they show to their craft and the skills that they have honed in the studio, their swift rise to international recognition can perhaps be best explained by their lovable and gregarious energy.
Their latest single ‘When The Moving Stops’ is emblematic of the quintessential Planet Giza sound. Yet it also seems to signal that the next stage in the evolution of the group is lurking on the horizon. I sat down with Tony Stone, Rami B, & DoomX to learn a little more about their collaborative production style, their 90’s hip-hop influences, and their new EP ‘Don’t Throw Rocks At The Moon‘.
First off 2020 was obviously rather shitty year to say the least, how are you all doing? How has it been the last year or so– particularly as artists trying to find ways of creating for and engaging with your audience?
Tony Stone: It was difficult at first because we didn’t really know what to expect or really what to do in these circumstances. Eventually we began to adapt and started to find new ways to manoeuvre around the situation we are in. We have been able to plan new projects and have more ideas.
Rami B: This is actually the first time that we have had to plan a release a year in advance. Usually we make a project and then drop it after 2 months or so, but because of the pandemic we had no choice but to sit on it for awhile. In a weird way I think it helped us. The initial struggle was to find inspiration after having our shows cancelled but we used to always make music in each other’s homes, so it was easy enough for us to take it back to basics.
Tony: A lot of our inspiration tends to come from day to day interactions and travelling together. It’s without a doubt a plus creatively when you can go outside!
There is no better place to start than the beginning, so how did you guys come together as a trio and what was the idea behind forming Planet Giza?
Rami: Me and Tony actually used to play basketball together in high school. I think Tony had a mutual friend with DoomX at the time.
Tony: We were all making music independently until Rami and Doom started to show me how to make beats. One day I pitched the idea of us all making songs together in my crib and that’s exactly what we did. Our reaction to what we made was good so I said “man we need to keep this going!” until eventually people became familiar with our music and needed to put a name on it.
Were you almost surprised at how good it sounded?
Tony: I wouldn’t say I was exactly surprised because I knew that these guys were fantastic beat makers. I knew something good was going to come out of it. It wasn’t until people actually started to play our music and share it that I thought we really could be on to something.
Very crucial follow up question: do you guys still play basketball and who do you support? Are you Raptor fans being that you’re from Canada?
Tony: Sometimes, we aren’t in a team or anything like that anymore!
Rami: I’m actually the biggest Toronto hater. Being from Montreal, anything sports related that comes out of Toronto I automatically have to hate. I’m actually ashamed to say that I root for the New York Nicks.
Where did the Planet Giza name come from?
Rami: I actually think it was Doom who came up with it. We knew we wanted to be ‘Planet something…’ and then we came up with the Giza after the 3 pyramids in Egypt. That just seems to have stuck and we’ve never changed it.
(DoomX joins the call)
Hey Doom! Perfect timing, there are two main tracks that make me want to know more about your approach to production. ‘Hands On’ is a very Funkadelic and Stevie Wonder inspired track even though it opens like some mad Berlin techno tune. Comparatively, your latest single ‘When The Moving Stops’ has a more grungy Slick Rick hip-hop feel. What I think both tracks do well is exhibit great storytelling both in the lyrics but also in the way you use the beat. Do you guys approach the beat like a story as well as the lyrics?
Tony: It’s all about keeping the listener entertained and not looping the same beat over and over again.
DoomX : Well with ‘Hands On’ we always wanted to make this type of dance record, one that sounds like it’s come straight from the 90’s. We had that bassline of the track and then we tapped in with JMF to get the bridge done, he did his thing in the studio in one day. It was heavenly inspired by that 90’s dance era.
Tony: It’s also a six minute long song! We thought “who puts out a six minute long song” but we specifically wanted it to be a whole journey that you could just dance your heart out to and make it feel like it was never going to end.
Remi: We also thought that making it a longer track would be perfect for our radio sets.
Tony: ‘When the Moving Stops’ is one of those tracks that as soon as this lockdown is over, it’s going to be insane onstage. I cannot wait to play that song live, people are going to lose their mind.
Expanding more on ’When The Moving Stops’ can you guys feel an evolution that’s happened in your work since the early days spitting about cool ranch Doritos on your first track ‘Put You On’?
Tony: Definitely, I don’t feel like we have ever made a song like this, that’s just straight raps. Especially one that’s not all about girls! It definitely showed us how diverse we can be. Our next album has a completely different feel and scenery to our precious work so it’s easy for us to see the evolution.
Remi: The pandemic really cemented our drive to come up with something different and to continue evolving and working on what we do. Doom suggested working with JMF and him coming on board the project really gave us a different sound. Suddenly it sounded a lot more mature and layered.
Doom: JMF brings to the table exactly what we needed to take our music up a step. He’s an instrumentalist so he can work things out on the keys and do things that we couldn’t do before. Every idea that we have that we can’t really connect the way we want, we can just call JMF and he brings it to life. Interestingly, I don’t think it was a natural progression. I think we more consciously wanted to learn how to create at the next level and allow our music to grow.
If you could live in any other decade in order to experience the fashion and music firsthand, which one would it be?
Tony: Take me to the 90’s. I want to rap with Jay-Z!
Remi: Yer 100% has to be the 90’s.
Doom: I’m going with the 90’s too. The 80’s would be cool as well though.
Is 90’s music predominantly what you grew up listening? What’s on heavy rotation for you all at the moment?
Remi: For me my biggest inspiration is Pete Rock. I got into his music through a video game called ‘NBA Street Vol. 2’ one of their songs was the loading screen soundtrack in the game. At the time, I didn’t know what sampling was so I thought Pete Rock was playing all the horns and everything else in the track. It wasn’t until I discovered 9th Wonder that I understood what sampling was. As for now I listen to a lot of Roy Ayers.
Tony: Growing up, in terms of producing, 9th Wonder was a massive influence on me. Every producer will tell you about this legendary 9th Wonder drum kitpack that literally everyone used to make beats with. As for artists it was largely Jay-Z & Andre 3000. I used to study Andre. Nowadays I’m loving Benny the Butcher from Griselda.
Doom: I really grew up on a lot of southern Hip-Hop like Lil Boosie, T.I., & Young G-Eazy. I wasn’t really into looking out for producers like that when I was younger until eventually when I found people like Drumma Boy, Just Blaze, and Lex Luger. I also loved J.U.S.T.I.C.E League. Today my playlist is a lot more like a melting pot. Sometimes it’s Trap like 18 Veno, sometimes it’s Outkast, but that Louisiana and Atlanta sound will always be there.
You guys just started your own radio show called ‘Mellow Mellow Radio.’ How did the show come about and what are the plans for the future?
Doom: It was really just a new way to engage with our listeners and continue to put out new content until we could put out new music. We also really missed just being able to pull up and perform or jam with lots of people.
Tony: The plan is just to continue having spontaneous and unscripted conversations with our dope friends and other artists.
Is there one track that you think best represents Planet Giza or perhaps one that you are most proud of making?
Doom: My personal favorite is ‘Playerz Ball’. The way it was created and the whole vibe of it really feels like it was built from the ground up.
Tony: It was literally built from a single sound that we added layer upon layer until it became this amazing song.
Doom: It came about because I was watching Goodfellas. There is a scene in the movie where they introduce every member of the mob in this dark smoky room. I just wanted to recreate that scene sonically. I sent the guys a baseline, Tony added the drums, and it just kept growing from there.
Remi: For me, the track we are about to release is the one I am most proud of. But for now, our latest track ‘When the Moving Stops’ is my favourite as it is really the start of a whole new sound for us. It’s still different to what’s about to be released but it definitely shows the quality we aim to continue creating. We actually did this upcoming project in one six day period so it has a very unified sound.
Lastly guys, aside from sheltering from a once in a century disease, anything else you’ve got to look forward to this year?
Tony: Our next album will be dropping right around the middle of February so make sure to keep an eye out for that as well as loads of new shows on Mellow Mellow Radio and a couple of singles too!