Teaming up with some of the hottest rappers around is something jazz trio BADBADNOTGOOD have become renowned for; a noble part of a niche community where jazz and rap intertwine. With previous collaborations from the likes of Earl Sweatshirt, Frank Ocean and MF DOOM under their belt, their latest creation - a stroke of genius if you like - is a collaboration album with Ghostface Killah of Wu-Tang Clan fame. 12-track album Sour Soul has such a cinematic vibe that we were keen to hear about the influences behind it, and how the collaboration came about.

Bridging the gap between London and Toronto via Skype, we spoke to the guys - Matthew (keys), Alex (drums) and Chester (bass) - to try and unlock the ever-evolving world of BADBADNOTGOOD. Besides the fact they were such lovely, down-to-earth people, it was immediately obvious that they have a genuine love for their craft.

So this is quite an exciting album for you guys. How did the collaboration with Ghostface come about?

Yeah, it's been a long process but a few years ago we met Frank Dukes who was the producer on the album. The three of us made it with him. We met him on our first show actually and a few months after that, after we'd done some sessions together, he approached us about going to record in New York at a studio he was working out of and to work on some instrumentals. He was the catalyst for the whole thing.

Who took the lead in this process then? Did you guys make the sound for Ghostface to write to or did you put the music together to go with his stories?

Well basically, the whole kind of premise started when we got to New York to play our first show. We got there a few days early to meet up with Dukes to write and record some music. And we had no idea what music we were going to write or what it was going to sound like or what the vision was. Dukes was working with a lot of musicians which is something he always wanted to do more of as he was always making beats by himself and sampling and flipping things. So he was in the zone of being in the studio and writing and tracking and having musicians play ideas and stuff like that. So we kind of just showed up and started writing sessions and then tracking and getting sounds and learning about all the analogue gear they're using there. Then he had the vision to potentially record a whole bass album for Ghost to record and write, and create this concept of the good and bad times of his life and all the experiences of being a rapper and all the crazy trials and tribulations. So we basically recorded a bunch of demo song ideas and then he sent them to Ghost to conceptualise and then it went back and forth that way.

Amazing! Was that what inspired the '70s recording techniques on the album?

When we went to record the first half of the album - Frank Duke's friends are in a band called the Menahan Street Band and they have an amazing studio called Dunham which was the old home of Charles Bradley. It's all analogue; it's like being in a time warp! I don't think anything there is from post-1970s, it's like everything, even the cups they use. Being there really inspired the stuff we were writing, and then Dukes pulled up a whole bunch of awesome records that we would listen to together, just so we were on the same page to see what to make. We were also in the process of making our own space with Dukes a year later. When we did our stuff it was all analogue as well. So we just love the sound of tape and old records.

When we went to New York that was the first time we really got a taste for using old analogue like old microphones and getting drums sounds and bass sounds and guitar sounds that we'd never been able to get before - by not having that gear and not knowing the correct techniques to use for that setting. So it was a really crazy experience, kind of honing down and learning so much about recording. Then we built our own studio to emulate that same feeling because we found as a band that it's a really amazing way to write and record and do our thing.

How do you feel about this album? Are you happy with it?

We're really happy with it. It's kind of weird for us because it took almost three years to make so we've probably heard it in different incarnations like a thousand times! When we did the final master and we got the final press of the record, hearing it that one last time was kind of like hearing it for the thousandth time it wasn't like having a fresh listen. I think we're still really proud of it. We've really done a lot and learnt so much and it's been an amazing experience.

All the little stories that are special to us throughout the whole process of it like writing songs and having time to take a stab at writing two or three new songs like even a year later - and the whole process of working with Ghost and getting features has been an amazing experience. Listening to some of the songs that we did a while ago and some of the songs we did more recently, it's almost like going down memory lane! (Laughs)

You've just released the video for 'Ray Gun', which was a pretty fun video! What inspired that?

The label was reaching out to a bunch of people to try and get videos and we got a whole bunch of treatments and some ideas were tossed around. One of the ideas was from Rob Schroeder and his company Lodger Films. We just wanted to have a solid video that went with the feeling of the song and took you to another place for a few minutes while you're listening to the song and it turned out really, really cool. The vision was definitely more like a film rather than a music video. We're really happy with the execution of it.

And it features Left Brain from Odd Future. What's your relationship like with OF - are you working with them at the moment?

Not currently. It's funny because that actually came about through the director because he had a connection to them, but we've met all those guys a bunch of times so it's cool they did that. Yeah we're not currently working with Odd Future but we shall see.

There are a couple of moments on the album that remind me of something from a James Bond film. It could be a soundtrack almost! Were you inspired by any film?

We actually do listen to a lot of soundtrack stuff when we get together. Definitely like themes of classic old films and cool Italian movies and French films, that's a really big influence just for like arrangements and string sections and hearing their ideas in their compositions.

What five albums would you say influenced Sour Soul?

We were listening to thousands of albums over the course of making this album so it's hard to say just five. There's this band from England who had a couple of records in the '70s. It's called It'll All Work Out In Boomland by T2. It's a pretty cool, freaky, jazz record. Also a lot of Serge Gainsbourg for sure, like Melody Nelson but probably more the record he did with Jane Birkin. I think we were also listening to Isaac Hayes - Walk On By. Either one of the Menahan Street Band albums because we were super influenced by them.

Did you get to work alongside them at all?

Not yet. Tommy Bennett ended up playing on 'Gunshowers' and some of the horn players did some horn parts on there and they killed it.

What is it like to work with Danny Brown? I know you produced for some of his album but the sound is completely different for him on Sour Soul. How did that work in the studio?

For those and a lot of the stuff we've done, it's kind of like the industry standard now to make a beat and email it back and forth and it's more of an online correspondence. It's pretty rare these days that you'll have a rapper come to the studio and also produce a beat that day and finish a song together. We've met Danny a bunch of times, he's a really nice guy - he and Skywalker are awesome. But yeah basically just corresponding via email, we gave him that beat and he did a solid on 'Six Degrees'; he killed it. It wasn't the most personable way of working with someone but we were all really stoked when we got the final verse from him because he's a big fan of Ghost and he referenced some Ghost classic lines in his verse. It's just really nice to know that you're working with someone who really appreciates what they're getting into and vice versa. He's a great guy to work with.

You guys are becoming the go-to for live sets and beats at the moment and different artists are noticing that. Like Kaytranada's flip of 'Kaleidoscope' for example, have you worked with him since that?

That actually started a relationship with him because he ended up doing that and then he came to one of our shows in Montréal and we hit it off right away. He's super talented. We've done three sessions at our studio and wrote some ideas and played with some ideas that he had. So yeah hopefully he can flip them into something for his album or if not for somebody else's. But we've actually heard some of them and they sound really crazy. It's amazing.

Are you planning on touring this year?

Yeah, there are some plans for shows. We don't have a full schedule for everything yet and not all our stuff is confirmed. It's been pretty hard to coordinate doing shows with Ghostface just 'cause of our schedule and his schedule but hopefully going to do a few shows for that at least. I know we're going to do a bunch of stuff ourselves and then as many Ghost dates as possible when things get scheduled in.

Will you be coming to the UK at all?

Yeah, definitely this summer, it's a safe bet. We usually do and it's always a great time.

You've been to London a few times... how did you find it?

Every time we play in London something kind of crazy happens. So the first time it was like three years ago in the Barfly in Camden, I broke a stick or something and some kid ran on stage and grabbed the stick and started smashing all the symbols in the middle of one of the songs and then like everyone jumped on stage and started going crazy. And the second time we played was at Hoxton Market Square and the same thing happened where people ran on stage so yeah, London's got the vibe for the crazy stage rushes and it's always tight.

What's next for BADBADNOTGOOD?

We're working pretty hard at another record. Since we've been back we've basically been working everyday on it so hopefully that will be ready sometime this year. And then we have a 7" coming out in like a month which will have some cool stuff on it. But obviously the Ghostface record, that's like really what we're most excited for and that's coming out February 23rd!


Sour Soul is out today on Lex Records.