The first thing STS & Khari did when I got to their studio is offer me a beer. And directly after our interview, they invited me to grab some BBQ with them at their favorite spot down the road. This is the attitude of their upcoming effort “Better On a Sunday” – including everyone from all walks of life and making them feel at home.
What inspired the feel for Better On a Sunday?
Khari: I mean, for me this song and my part in it is about creating the most comfortable atmosphere for what it actually means to go through these days. Most people who will listen to this, you know, we’re the same as those people that work hard every day. So it’s not that we don’t relate to people who have lavish lives, because obviously everybody wants that [laughs], everyone wants to have a good time. But that’s not every day. So that was my goal, to have a good environment to really listen and reflect on those ideas. And you know, STS just took it the rest of the way from there.
STS(Slim): Man look, let me tell you what. He sent me that recording and I just said “Damn” [laughs]. That’s what I said. I was blown away. It was special. From then, we just knew it was on. And we didn’t rush it. That’s the thing – we’ve had this song for a while. It’s a song that’s never going to be irrelevant. Not that we’re going to, but if we sat on this for another three years, it’s still potent. It’s blue collar, it’s real, it’s what people are actually going through. I think anybody that’s had an honest day’s work can feel this song. Everybody gets up and grinds. And you know, once it comes to Sunday, if you’re religious you’re going to church, or you’re hanging with your family, having Sunday dinners, watching a game with friends, and it’s just that day. And I don’t think I’m misquoting the Bible, but I think even God took off on Sunday [laughs].
Freeform: Well I think you guys really captured that vibe in the song. That feeling of taking a breath, recharging.
Slim: And that’s exactly what it’s for – when you have a wake up early, you’re going through it. Everybody wants to make a “club” song. Especially their first single. But you don’t go to the club every day. Like, you just don’t. And that song [Better On a Sunday] hits every single day. However you’re feeling, whatever day, it’s one of those tracks that goes everywhere. That’s the type of music we’re trying to make – for everybody.
Freeform: The lyrical content is really straightforward, not trying to put on a front at all. Like “here’s what’s going on right now”.
Slim: Yeah, and that’s us, man. You’ll see us and we’re the same guys no matter where we are. LIke, we’re comfortable being who we are. We don’t need all the “rapper”, “singer” stuff [laughs]. As long as we can make music and support ourselves, and pay for the drinks [both laugh].
Khari: For ourselves and friends. As long as we can do that, we’re good [laughs].
Slim: Not like we don’t want to make money, obviously everyone wants to make money. That’s what the song is about, going to work to make money and get by. But at the same time, you know, you just want to enjoy life and that’s what we’re about.
Tell me about your new music video in Venice.
Slim: Man, that video was more than Venice. Those were only the pictures we posted on Instagram, [laughs]. It was a 2 day shoot, but we put 7 days worth of material together. We did a lot of different shoots, but yeah we went down to Venice, Santa Monica, downtown, all over the city. Just trying to capture the image of the song. You want to get hard working people, cause you know, we got up early in the morning, went down and shot while everybody was going to work. We wanted it to coincide – we’re working on the shoot while everyone is also hard at work.
How did you two hook up in Los Angeles?
Khari: Okay, let’s start here: I’m from Bakersfield CA, but I moved to Georgia when I was young. He’s from Georgia [Slim], but we didn’t even meet until we moved to Philly. That’s how it goes. And he can tell you how we met up in Philly.
Slim: I think the first time we got together was when we were doing a Money Making Jam Boys session. We both worked with The Roots, but still didn’t know each other at that time. And we were doing that project [Money Making Jam Boys], with Dice Raw, Black Thought, Truck North, P.O.R.N., man I hate saying that name [laughs]. I’m just gonna say Greg. But yeah, we went in that day and did like three records, and he [Khari] produced all of them. And they were the best records to me. After that, we just kind of clicked. Musically, we just work. So we just started making records together, trying out different things. If I needed to record something, he’d let me come to his crib to record. And like, we just built the relationship off that. And here we are now.
Khari moved out to L.A. first, and I came out here to visit. And I was like “alright, I get it.” [laughs].
We put some things together, and then everybody heard the record and we knew it was something special. And we took some time to really focus in on what we were doing. We already had records, but we took some time to really get the sound right. Being out here in L.A. is special right now. The music scene, the vibe of the city kind of just works for us. We’ve been through all the same places, but not even intentionally. Everything just happens. When the universe speaks to you…
Khari: Over time we just realized that we really need to do this. Like let’s just sit our asses down, stop everything we’re doing, and just do this. We’re really focused on this record, like right now we’re getting it mastered and by the time you hear this it’ll probably be done. And everybody that we’re having work on it, and put certain aspects in, they are putting seriously great effort into it. And that’s what you need – you can’t do this type of thing by yourself.
How has the L.A. music scene differed from Philly?
Slim: The only difference is there’s more sunshine out here [laughs]. Everybody from Philly is out here.
Khari: Yeah, seriously.
Slim: Everybody that we really mess with is out here. Like yesterday we went to go see Questlove. Saw my man Dr. Dre, DJ Active is out here, working with Janet. So it’s like, everybody who really still wants it, you know, they gravitated towards Los Angeles. So you get that feel, but it’s one of those things where we were so involved in Philadelphia and that Philly sound. He [Khari] did Game Theory. I was on How I Got Over. Once you get into that Philly sound, it’s not going to ever leave. It’s just who we are. Matter of fact, I think coming out here kind of builds on it because it gives us a chance to reminisce the sound. But that being said, we don’t want to be set into one sound. Because that’s not what we do. We can do so many different ranges. Like we work with RJD2 a lot and working with him; I’d say if anything we’re closer to him. He plays in the band and sings on the record. So it’s like, we’re all there. If you’re from Philly and you doing music and you’re in that scene, you can always tell.
Freeform: So it’s like a big family, but everyone just moved to L.A.
Khari: I mean, you want to do music anywhere you can do it. And that was my thing, I didn’t have to stay in Philly just to say “Oh man, I’m Philly”. I don’t think anyone needs to do that. The point is to collaborate with people anywhere you go, especially when it’s music. And it’s fun to be out here in California. It was fun to go to China to work there. It’s fun to go to Europe to work with different artists. I mean, it’s just great to travel and get as much done as possible.
Freeform: To get a different creative headspace?
Khari: Yeah, exactly. I’ve probably moved every year since I lived in Philly. Like no more than two years in one spot. I like to move around. It just puts you in a mood of “Okay, now I’ve got this space to figure out”. Test your skills, you know.
After that we grabbed another beer and had some BBQ. Better On a Sunday comes out November 10. In the meantime, check out their music video for the title track.
Follow STS and Khari Marteen on social media here.