Captains Of The Imagination interview

In Hip Hop, Interviews by Nick Russell

Swiss hip hop collective Captains Of The Imagination recently released ‘Fingerprint’, their 6th studio album. Produced entirely by Josra and Bdance, who are beatmakers for the French label Sorry I’m Late, the project hears Imagine, Evita Koné & Dr Koul immerse themselves fully in this new esthetic without betraying their group’s identity: introspective lyrics, dynamic flows, soulful melodies, guest musicians and orchestral arrangements.

Dr Koul spoke to Nick about the new project, the Swiss hip hop culture and what we can expect in the future!

How and when did Captains Of The Imagination come together as a group?

Imagine was the founder of the group, and he invited Dr Koul to join. Koul had been in a jazz/hip-hop band with Evita Koné at the time so he invited her along. The rest is history!

How would you describe the ethos of Captains Of The Imagination as a hip-hop collective?
A lot of it is in the name. The fact that there are several captains means that we disavow hierarchy. We are not competing but uniting for the sake of our creative goals. And this unity combines with imagination, which we see as the field of untapped potential, the sublime intangible force of the universe; that’s what we tap into. So we’re equal parts about politics, entertainment and spirituality.

The new project Fingerprint EP has a broad range of themes and topics. How do you, as a collective, ensure there’s a cohesive narrative across the project and individual songs?

The main key is just to stay true to ourselves. Like a fingerprint, you can change your name or your hairstyle but you don’t change who you are. We love to explore different topics and sounds, and that’s what our audience has come to expect. One more thing: good mix and mastering help keep it cohesive.

Are you conscious of delivering a wholesome or uplifting message in your music or is it more of an emotional outlet to air out your inner thoughts?

It’s both. We don’t really try to bring a message, we just try to be honest with ourselves and follow whatever inspires us in the moment.

What do you make of the Swiss hip-hop scene? What are the challenges and opportunities of existing within such a territory?
Switzerland is a federation of different cantons, and the difference from one canton to another is even more drastic than different states in the US. One of the main challenges is the language since there are four official languages here, and English isn’t one of them. The good side of being in Switzerland is that we’re at the heart of Europe and can get to Berlin, London or Paris in a matter of hours. Great artists from all around the world tour here. But as it’s a small country it hasn’t invested as much in its local artists. Luckily that’s starting to change and our city, Geneva, is growing in respect.

Have you always rapped in English, or do you also make music in your local language?

The official language here in Geneva is French, but it makes more sense for us to rap in the language we’re most comfortable with and our mother tongue is English. Still, we do speak French fluently too and sometimes we get inspired to slip a bit of it into our music. We haven’t done that much yet but maybe we will soon…

What’s next for Captains Of The Imagination?

We’ll continue promoting Fingerprint for a while, we’ve got some new music videos lined up, and we’re still doing shows. On that note, we’re also still promoting our previous album, ‘When The Moon Goes Around The Sun’. Meanwhile, we have a back catalogue of tracks we might release as singles or in an EP and we have several ideas for our next album. Always on the grind – make sure you follow us so you don’t miss out.

The latest EP from Captains Of The Imagination can be streamed below.