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Mothership Connection Manchester Rap Train Heads for Junkleberry Junction

Mothership Connection is an intergalactic hip hop crew who have been rocking Earth’s atmosphere for the past six years. MCs Goshin, Cheech, Dubbul O and Legion joined forces when they met at a local hip hop cypher night and other collaborators have been involved along the way. The group have recently worked with Manchester producer Mankub to release their new EP, This Train Goes To Junkleberry Junction, a groovy odyssey of lyrical flows and funky beats, which makes you feel glad to be part of the Milky Way.

From the EP’s first full track, ‘Mo Town’, with its funky vocal samples and jazzy horns, to ‘Space Junkin’, a would-be 1960s sci- fi programme soundtrack, with its retro samples, flutes and synths, there’s seamless emceeing threading through its tracks. ‘Salute’ features first class wordplay and a nice vinyl crackle, indicative of a record packed with wah wah effects and cloaked in intrigue. We fired a few questions in their direction.

How would you describe your sound?

[Legion] It’s a lyrical sound. With us you’ve got to appreciate the flows, the content and the energy to be feeling it.

Who are your musical heroes?

[Legion] Our musical heroes will always be Parliament and Funkadelic with George Clinton.

[Mankub] In terms of classic heroes, I’d have to start with The Beatles, James Brown of course, Marley, Jacko, Bowie. Definitely Radiohead. DJ Shadow, Dilla, Madlib, RZA, Muggs.

[Cheech] For me, it’s Tom Waits and Jim Morrison, mainly. I think in the early days of the Mothership we were all heavily bumping the Pharcyde and Souls of Mischief and I do think it all goes back to that in some way.

[Dubbul O] The who is the what and the what is the Funk.

[Goshin] Cheech, Dubbul O and Legion – I expect they’d say the same about me, no? Oh, okay. Frank Zappa, George Clinton and Bill Bailey. Now there’s a top night out.

What inspires you?

[Legion] To create the history of the universe and the world. To carry on the future. What could the world be like and how will we play a part?

[Cheech] Creatively, I’d say I’m inspired by visuals more than music. If I’m writing I like to have a beat on, but I’ll generally have some wrestling or cartoons on as well.

[Goshin] To try and make a mark on the universe.

[Dubbul O] Manchester and the people in it, first and foremost, and the universe and all its other inhabitants at a close second.

[Mankub] Music in general is just a blessing. Being open to all kinds of music really helps to keep your own ideas fresh.

How do your tracks come together?

[Legion] We all write our lyrics separately, however there are always overlapping themes which arise as a result of us chilling together.

[Cheech] One of my favourite things about the Mothership is our shared vocab and vernacular. No matter when, where or how we write individually, it generally comes together really nicely with much of the same content and themes, often unintentionally.

[Goshin] Our resident Mothership beat maker Arch Stanton is currently away on expeditionary duties and so we have relied on skilled producers in Manchester, like Mankub, Kydro, Pro P, Dro P, Cutterz, Clay, Elkmann and many more to gift us with musical gems.

What do you love about rapping and producing tunes?

[Goshin] To express oneself with the most explicit tool we have – speech. Bun the Tories!

[Dubbul O] The discipline and the joy it brings to my life.

[Mankub] As a sample-based producer, the love for me is just buying and listening to records. Making hip hop beats has introduced me to all genres of music.

What advice would you give to aspiring rappers and producers?

[Mankub] Do it because you love it. I’ve been making music in some way, shape or form for many years and never made a carrot, but I’m just addicted to music. It’s always gonna be a massive part of my life. If you want to make money, get a real job.

[Legion] See the value in both working alone and collaborating. Neither will give you everything you need, so it’s best to do both.

[Goshin] Be you, be confident, be humble, have fun. Don’t forget why you were inspired to pick up a pencil or digital audio workstation in the first place.

[Cheech] Challenge yourself. Try and tell stories and write to concepts.

[Dubbul O] Find your own sound and voice. Also, mumbling isn’t rap.

How has your style evolved since you played a Now Then show back in 2012, supporting The Natural Curriculum’s Dayse and Aver at Antwerp Mansion?

[Goshin] Generally funkier and with more train references. Big up TNC [The Natural Curriculum], all day, every day. They gave us ‘nough support in the beginning of days.

[Cheech] On a personal level, I’d say I’ve worked hard to develop my style, but in particular I’ve been focussing on content. As a group I don’t think we’ve strayed that far from our original sound, but I think it’s a lot more polished.

[Legion] Every time we work with a new producer it will usually bring something new out of us. We’ve branched out in this respect and enhanced our rap styles.

What was the inspiration for Junkleberry Junction?

[Dubbul O] The desire to create a universe and play around in it.

[Legion] Around the time we were thinking of a name, I was taking a lot of trains. I was en route to Manchester and suggested the idea and it stuck. I see Junkleberry as a place where all the machinery of life uncoils and you can see its inner workings.

Where can people catch you?

[Goshin] We have plenty of gigs coming up over the next few months in and around the North West, but stay tuned, keep watching what we’re doing, ‘cause we’re just getting going at the ripe mid average age of 27.

Are there any other artists you’d like to collaborate with?

[Cheech] I’d love to get a feature from Jehst if possible. Other than that, I would absolutely love to work with Run The Jewels. I’ll keep dreaming.

[Goshin] I’d like to do some gnarly stuff – Black Josh and Sleazy F, Free Wize, CW Jones, Lychee, George Fell, Henge, Age of Glass, Paddy Steer… There’s a lot of talent at the moment. If anyone’s interested in space funk, let’s make some mad frequencies.

What are your dreams for the future?

[Legion] I’ve always wanted to tour with music so hopefully we can make that happen.

[Cheech] I’d like to do this for a living.

[Dubbul O] More music.

[Mankub] Releasing music on vinyl in the near future.

Which other crews, bands and producers do you rate?

[Goshin] Levelz, Blah, Room2, Mouse Outfit, Taste The Diff’rence, Riddle, Lychee, Agbeko, Hawk House, Ellis Meade, Mankub, Henge, Forhidden Prophecies, et cetera, et cetera.

[Mankub] Room2 family, The Natural Curriculum, High Focus, Children of Zeus, Carjack Mallone. Did I mention I like Radiohead? Ha!

What is the remedy to the world’s problems?

[Mankub] Music is the greatest healer.

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