Bond St. District, the duo of Baltimore MC DDm and producer Paul Huston, brought their grand stage show to the District with a performance at DC9, a U Street corridor staple. The show was a rarity for the city: a line-up of Baltimore artists which included opening sets from the Baltimore Club-tinged electropop duo Chiffon as well as rising star Kotic Coutore backed by Destrukshawn. The top floor of DC9 was as much a stage, as it was a pulpit and theatre. The band made people dance from songs off their first EP “Everybody’s So Sleepy” and new album A Church on Vulcan, laugh at references to the authenticity of the Roseanne sitcom and reflect on moving forward in Trump’s America.
After the show via e-mail, Bond St. District discuss performing in D.C., the important of sleep (or lack thereof), and Baltimore’s thriving arts scene.
Q: How did you feel about the show at DC9?
PAUL: I felt great about it. It was awesome to see a bunch of new faces.
DDm: I’m happy D.C. came out for a Baltimore act without there being any D.C.-based acts on the bill. It was a great feeling.
Q: A bunch of folks in the crowd were familiar with your songs and rapped right along with you. Did you expect such a good turnout? Were you nervous at all?
PAUL: I don’t want to say I was nervous, but more so anxious to see the crowd response.
DDm: Hearing the crowd sing along was humbling and a relief at the same time. I’m just happy people showed up lol.
Q: Tell me about the set, and how that all came together. What inspired the design, the costumes?
PAUL: I met with my friend Johnny and we decided we wanted something geometric that resembled a pulpit you would see in a church.
DDm: The arch and lighting were inspired by our album cover. A artist named Adam Farkas built the arch and did the lighting for it.
Q: During your show, you took time to give your view on everything from Roseanne to Bernie Sanders. I think people enjoyed that just as much as the music. Was that always a part of your performances?
DDm: I always like to talk to the people. I want them to feel included in what’s going on and make a personal connection.
Q: How did you approach the making of “Church on Vulcan”?
PAUL: We wanted to make something forward but still true to ourselves.
DDm: We set out to show our range as musicians and songwriters.
“We set out to show our range as musicians and songwriters”
Q: In interviews and on “Happy Accident,” you discuss how you met and how your relationship developed into what it is today. How has that relationship evolved?
PAUL: We know what to expect from each other.
DDm: Yeah we’re more direct.
Q: The production on the album feels more layered, moodier, and – at times – darker than on “Everybody’s So Sleepy,” while still retaining the breakbeat and funk foundation. What inspired the production?
PAUL: Old Sci-fi movies and Radiohead.
“Insomnia has been a big part of my life”
Q: The idea of being asleep, dreaming and waking up is apparent across both projects. Why is that?
PAUL: Insomnia has been a big part of my life personally and has influenced my production.
DDm: I’ve always been a dreamer. I dream big, but sometimes I feel like I’m not as far as I would like to be.
Q: You’ve both been making music for a number of years. Did you ever feel pressured to conform to any current sounds to attract a particular audience?
PAUL: This album there was pressure.
DDm: I always like to be forward and on the cutting edge. I always put pressure on myself to be ‘next’ on whatever I do.
Q: During the show you mentioned that your band members put you on to some of their favorite artists. Who have you learned about recently that really made an impact on you personally and musically?
PAUL: Chrome Sparks is cool.
DDm: Probably Hugh Masekela for me.
Q: Tell me about the process of collaborating with the featured musicians and vocalists like Josephine Olivia.
PAUL: it was great to work for people who could sing the records. Neither one of us are vocalist ourselves.
Q: You echoed sentiments that Killer Mike has expressed over the past couple of years (both on social media and on television) to learn how to grow your own food, take control of your health, and really just be as self-sufficient as possible. What is that looking like for you? Did that affect any of the new music?
DDm: Right now I’m super focused on my health and getting into shape. I want to be the best me as much as possible.
Q: What are your thoughts on the music and arts scene in Baltimore? There are a number of artists, venues and curators that all seem to be doing a lot of extraordinary work simultaneously, much of it collaboratively. Do you feel that there is renaissance happening now?
“I think the kids now are in good positions to be national stars”
PAUL: I think it’s underfunded and has potential. It just needs more investing.
DDm: I think the kids now are in good positions to be national stars. They just need the backing.
Q: Where will you be in 5 days, 5 months and 5 years?
PAUL: In 5 days working on our next project. In 5 months touring the current project and in 5 years touring internationally.
DDm: In 5 days having 5 more pounds off. In 5 months touring and having about 80 lbs off. In 5 years being on national TV!