The music industry is always changing in Berlin, but the rich sounds of hip-hop still dominate the scene today. Music producer, Figub Brazlevič, has made his mark within the Berlin hip-hop community, even though he was reluctant at first to embrace the genre or promote himself through Instagram. While staying in touch with his techno roots, Brazlevič has now found great success from his diverse music and his long-player collaboration, “Slice of Paradise,” that was included in a list of the 100 Best Albums and EPs of 2018.  

In episode three, we learn more about the meaning behind “Nothing to Forgive,” some of his memorable experiences from making music overseas, and what inspired his artist’s name.

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Figub Brazlevič. I’m an artist, I do beats, I’m a producer, I do a lot of stuff with cameras, and I live in music -- as a music producer.

You have a really interesting story about your name. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

I like unconventional things. That’s a big word for me -- to do things unconventionally. So, as I had the chance to drop music, I thought about the name like many artists. Every artist has this problem -- to find something, there was this kid in school and one day he kind of flipped out and he said something like, “Figub,” actually it’s a bad thing because it means “eff up,” you know? It kind of stuck, so I turned it into my artist name many years later. My father is from Bosnia and most names ends in “vič.” So I had this idea for it, in Germany, you can say “Bras,” for like, an expression, it’s a stupid expression for something, which is common. My drums are pumping, so people are like, “Ah, your drums are ‘Brassing’” So, I call myself “Braslevič” because “Brasle” is als this famous noodles in Germany, called “Spaetzle”  and “Brasle, Spaetzle.” “Braslevič, Spaetzlevič,” you know. Basically means, “Fuck up, Spaetzlevič, you know.” So, in honor of this, I made it “Figub Braslevič.”

It’s very similar to how you approach your music as well, you see what inspires you, grab it and change it into your own interpretation of beats.

Exactly, exactly.

Is that why you chose hip-hop as a medium?

I started actually with techno music. It’s kind of the same process because you work with samplers, but I fell in love as I was listening to music when I was eleven or twelve, you know, on TV and stuff. One of my friends actually asked me to make a song because I was doing techno music, and the feedback I got from him was so nice, that I felt like, oh yeah, that’s something I would like to do. It had so many, let’s say, topics -- you have the breakers, you have the writers, you have the music, you have the rappers, and you also can put skateboarding into it a bit, and you’re closer to it.

Berlin has such a huge techno scene and you went into more of hip hop. What’s the scene like in berlin?

First of all, for me personally, I still just think that I produce progressive, techno-esque music. I think that a lot of my beats could be easily done as house music or something, so, it's still the same process. Nowadays, I think the environment in Berlin is different. I moved here ten years ago, and it changes every year. From year to year the whole industry is changing. So, this city has a lot of electronic music influence, and it’s good that it has because this is something where we as Germans, our music and our roots music is Schlager or even folk music, which is out of the mountains mostly, you know? So we had to invent something after this clash of the walls, you know? Everyone who didn’t want to go into the military and stuff, they went to Berlin because they had to do it here, so all the outsiders came here and made it happen. That’s very interesting, that is the drive of Berlin, it’s still on. 

Berlin is very international, and that also reflects a lot in your work through your collaboration with many artists from different areas and cultural backgrounds. what has been the most memorable moment or experience that have stood out for you?

I have been a few times to Palestine. Making music there, being invited to make music over there, and being over in the refugee camps, some of the oldest refugee camps. That was an amazing experience and coming back there another two or three times and people that are very lovely to me shared emotions and real life and for me, it was cool because I could, somehow, all these ideologies that I have for other countries, I could throw them out of the window. To go there and see what is really going on is changes your life. Especially Palestine because it’s the root of Christianity and Islam and Judaism and stuff. The conflict is still existing and you feel that whole peak from all these people and all these years and it really also gave me a big, the Palestine experience was amazing. Recently, I went to South America, which was super amazing, and I had the chance to meet so many good people everywhere and making music. For me, it doesn’t depend on the language.

How do you make music on the go then?

I’m the one that personally prefers to have my equipment in my studio to be honest, I’m not the laptop producer; If I have to, I do, of course, but most of the time, the situation is that you can find a studio at these places, for example. I was surprised because when I was in Palestine, I came into this camp and they dragged me directly into this studio and we had more equipment and more worth than mine, you know? You’d be like what the -- what is going on over here? That was amazing! It’s mostly not a problem to work. When you wanna work, you can work. You can find a way.

Can you tell us about your song “Nothing to Forgive” off your latest album? It seemed like it had a bit of background to it.

Yeah, the music business, as well as to be an artist is not always easy, especially when you’re independent. When you think you know everything better than everyone else. Actually, I think that everyone is every artist is coming to -- reaching a certain point in your life where the tension is so high, where it’s so difficult to, to behave normally. For example, you have your goals and things are not working pretty well and all these problems and circumstantial issues and this song is a very honest song about what happens between us artists; between what you don’t see if you’re a fan outside. The things with which we think; the things that we say, like, “Oh, no, I don’t like this song or no, I don’t like this tune, this edit is not so ‘mine’ or whatever. Like, you wait long or sometimes, like for me, some artists wait sometimes for months to finish a project, and it’s just like, the way of life you know, and sometimes you can’t predict it. It’s unpredictable and so, this song is, was the first song ever.

When I listen to it, it actually speaks to the artist from that way when you are alone. Like, when I am alone, I have many different thoughts than when I’m with people. When I’m alone, I have to really say these thoughts. My homie, Technical Development made this song where he put all his [anger] and sadness and frustration and everything in a song, but trying to do something positive about it. So, “Nothing to Forgive” is like “running side by side/chasing whispers/Do you wanna get it/Come with me, come with me/Turn your back, I see it from the other side.” So, it’s a wonderful song; it actually says to the artist, “Yo! It’s us, man!” You know, in these times of social media, the attention is different, right? Especially because you have people from different countries and you meet because of the music, there wasn’t a friendship, maybe before. So, suddenly, for many years, you realize that, “Oh, he takes a shower for two hours, man.” You know? All these things; there’s a lot of tension all the time. This is also why a lot of groups are splitting, I guess.

I guess the title being, “Nothing to Forgive,” means that there is nothing to forgive.

It’s that there is nothing to forgive. I feel how I feel, man! We just need to communicate and speak with each other. This is for everything in the world, especially when you have problems between two races, we should speak with each other instead of showing memes and “oh, my God look at these guys!” That’s not the right way.

Give us five key words for this song.

Tension, friendship, respect, energy, development. Definitely tension; tension is so deep, man. Another key word is friendship because it just depends on friendship and you can only say these things if you have gone through these things. Energy is something very important to me and development is also something very strong because we need to stand and stick in this moment, you know?

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