Who is The Foreign Exchange you ask? The Foreign Exchange is the perfect fusion of soul, R&B, hip-hop, jazz, and electronica – sounds masterminded by Phonte (of hip-hop group Little Brother) and producer, composer and performer Nicolay.
“It was around 2002 so it was somewhat of a radical concept to be making an album by e-mailing parts. When (Little Brother) was doing records, Nic and I were doing stuff for the first album and it was actually Pooh (the other half of Little Brother) who thought of the name,” said Phonte. “We were in the studio and he said ‘it’s like a foreign exchange program.’”
The two met on a Web site message board courtesy of Okayplayer.com, began making music and instantly realized they had something special; they had synergy. Nicolay was living in Holland while Phonte resided in North Carolina.
Nicolay and Phonte are more than just two men who’ve done your basic collaboration. Their sound is said to be the music you’ve been waiting to hear, but didn’t know where to find. Although the duo comes from different music backgrounds, The Foreign Exchange’s sound stands out among other hip-hop artists and groups.
“We just try to come up with music that sounds good and feels good,” said Nicolay.
Phonte and Nicolay began colleting a legion of fans with their debut album “Connected.” This premier record explores life and love to laid back and genuinely pure hip-hop, R&B and electronica.
The Foreign Exchange followed a very successful “Connected” with “Leave It All Behind.”
According to their Web site, “the duo’s second full-length is a dark, multilayered affair that features Phonte showcasing his abilities as an exceptional lead and harmony vocalist, while Nicolay extends his musical palette to include sprinklings of jazz, down tempo and house.”
Their music is loved, but it takes one to see The Foreign Exchange live on stage to get the full experience of who the two are. Nicolay believes their music is a very important angle, but it’s the entire experience that keeps fans wanting more.
“That’s where your longevity comes from. I doubt people doing shows doing four, five songs will still have careers,” said Phonte. “This is what we do. This is who we are. I hopefully would like to do this for the rest of my life and the only way to do that is if you’re giving people something they’d like to come back for and quality music on a consistent basis.”
Phonte and Nicolay give fans their all and make music that they are proud of.
The pair may have originated from different music backgrounds however see The Foreign Exchange as a force destined to grow. They’ve developed and nourished their brand and have plans to engage other musicians into their movement.
“People who are already in our families and extended network, like Carlitta Durand, we want to put on our shoulders and see if we can apply what we’ve learned in order to help their projects get a little more shine,” said Nicolay.
Upcoming projects include Nicolay’s solo album “City Lights Vol. 2: Shibuya” followed by the support of singer Carlitta Durand and producer/keyboardist Zo!’s upcoming projects.
So who is The Foreign Exchange? They are Phonte and Nicolay, two talents mingling head-bobbing beats behind true lyricism. The Foreign Exchange is the missing link to today’s music climate. The Foreign Exchange is hands down good music.
Up Close & Personal w/ The Foreign Exchange
When: Saturday, Aug. 15
Where: The Athenaeum, 401 E Michigan St.
Time: Doors open at 6 p.m. | Show starts at 7 p.m.
Featured artists: featuring Darien Brockington, Carlitta Durand, Zo!, The Els and special guest appearances by DJ Limelight and Alpha.Live
Tickets: $20 limited presale | $25 advance | $30 day of show | $60 VIP
For more information or tickets, visit www.theprocircuit.com.