Hip-hop crew is sampling success

BEAT MAKER: Harry ‘‘Haz Beats’’ Huavi has seen his rap group Home Brew reach lofty heights over the past six years.
BEAT MAKER: Harry ‘‘Haz Beats’’ Huavi has seen his rap group Home Brew reach lofty heights over the past six years.

Being a music producer wasn't Harry Huavi's first choice as a career, but it's panning out pretty well. He sat down with Danielle Street to talk about life as part of the Home Brew crew.

Harry Huavi thought he was going to be a rapper when he grew up.

As it turned out, Mr Huavi aka "Haz Beats", is the man responsible for the jazz-influenced production of New Zealand hip hop phenomenon Home Brew.

"I always wanted to be a rapper, but then making my own music led me to being a producer. I had no time to rap anymore. I was just making beats."

The K' Rd resident started making music as a teenager living in South Auckland with a friend who eventually moved to Christchurch. It wasn't long before he hooked up with Home Brew's frontman Tom Scott over the internet and the pair began collaborating.

"He lived in this place in Sandringham that had a little shack outside. I used to come over with my laptop and just bang out beats and he would just be writing, writing, writing."

Mr Huavi says they started getting serious about music late in 2006, bringing their music out of the bedroom and into the world.

Since then the Home Brew trio has accomplished a steady take-over of Aotearoa's rap scene - this year achieving a number one album with a self-titled debut LP and winning the award for best hip-hop group at the New Zealand Music Awards.

Mr Huavi says the group's mounting success is a surprise, but it hasn't fazed him.

"When people say, ‘man you've got a number one album', I think that number doesn't pay for my rent, and it doesn't make me more creative. I'm still struggling to do the things I want."

Although cash from the music industry ebbs and flows the 30-year-old says the struggle helps him stay real.

"It keeps us humble and keeps us doing what we actually want to do without big money getting involved."

To make ends meet he holds down a regular DJing spot at a local nightclub and plays support at international gigs.

During the day he composes using his laptop and a programme called Fruity Loops in combination with a Maschine midi-controller.

He makes beats using a "sampling" technique - borrowing snippets of sounds from a variety of recordings and reassembling them into a new composition.

Old school tradition would see a beat-producer rifling through crates of dusty vinyl to find rare recording to samples, but technology has opened up a world of sound.

"It's dirty work going into the crates. Sometimes you find the gems, but nowadays I'm a bit broke and the internet has given us so much for free."

Moving forward, Mr Huavi and his crew are working hard on Young, Gifted and Broke - a collective of visual and musical artists.

It also doubles as a record label for Home Brew and friends so they can stay independent and reap their own financial rewards.

"We are still trying to figure out the ropes of running a business, so it's working and experimenting at the same time," Mr Huavi says.

"We just want to keep releasing music and being creative."

Auckland City Harbour News