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Captain Underpants: Harm Franklin & Curtis Waters (Trunks) discuss their new collaboration

Calgary, AB – Calgary artists Curtis Waters (Trunks) and Harm Franklin recently teamed up with MayU, Sry., and Decz for this new collaboration titled “Captain Underpants.”

While I’ve mostly been familiar with Trunks (who has now changed his alias to Curtis Waters) as a super prodigy producer, this track marks his venture into the world of rapping. And I’m super pleased he decided to collaborate with Harm for this one. Of all the guys in Calgary who are trying to infiltrate the rap game, I have highest regards for these two – both as artists and human beings.

The track itself was laid down, completed, and released in less than an hour. The track title was temporarily changed to “Feminist Bitches” but Curtis’ mom didn’t approve so the guys changed the title back to “Captain Underpants.”

“Captain Underpants” bodies that organic artistic chemistry that isn’t seen as much these days. This is pretty much the end result of a bunch of homies getting in the lab together, spitting ad-libs, cooking beats, and dropping bars off the dome. It’s not meant to be a serious, thought-provocative social commentary. But it slaps hard AF. Check out “Captain Underpants” below, and scope our Q&A with the guys after the jump.

Captain Underpants: Harm Franklin & Curtis Waters (Trunks) discuss their new collaboration -

Q&A: Harm Franklin & Curtis Waters (Trunks)

HipHopCanada: So start off by telling me the story behind how this song came about, and what this song means to each of you.

Harm Franklin: So me and a couple of young all-star producers were just cooking up some stuff at the R&B Mansion for one of my new projects like we have been. And Sry. Brought his boy Decz who’s dope as well. We had a good start and it was more new wave R&B stuff. Basically I had to go handle something and was gone for like an hour and a bit. When I was done I called MayU like, “Yo! What’s good? You guys still cooking?” And MayU was like “The other guys left. It’s me and trunks making a song!” And I was like, “Damn! Alright! I’m gonna pull up.” I came back to the R&B Mansion expecting these two wonderkids to be making some wild singing experimental stuff I come in to hear this WILD hard beat that they and the others made in like 20 minutes. And Trunks was just going crazy doing ad-libs when I walked in and the energy was just contagious like… it always is with us. So they show me the record I’m like, “Yo this is wild!” I’m laughing my ass off at Curtis’ verse; his lines and yelling, ad-libbing and bobbing my head like “Yo this goes hard!” ‘Cause honestly you don’t have to be lyrical to make dope music. And if you think so, you’re probably a Janson. But I digress. As I listen and he did his chorus and the lyrics ended I was like “Wow that was so hard. Haha! What are you doing with this part?” And they’re like “Nothing! You wanna get on it?” I was like “YES! IT’S TIME TO BRING REAL HIP HOP BACK!” JUST KIDDING. But yeah. All of us push each other to get out of our comfort zones and grow artistically. So I was stoked to just boot up and say some outlandish dope shit and help create the vibe. Soon as I agreed I freestyled two banger takes that had some dope stuff. And we picked some of the cadences and lines we liked and I wrote the verse in 30 seconds and just went off. And it turned out hella hard.

Curtis Waters: We were having a studio session at my buddy Mayu’s, who’s a crazy producer. He started playing these keys and it was so fucking hype that I HAD to take my shirt off and go in the booth. Hahaha. Mayu, Kyle, and Declan were in the room so we all added our own elements like the 808s and hats, etc. We all started recording stupid shit and it was so natural and raw. Harm joined us later and added his verse and ad-libs and it was fire.

HipHopCanada: How did the two of you end up meeting and deciding to work together?

Curtis Waters: Just through mutual producer friends… I think it was Rajah that was like, “Yo! You should fuck with him.” I was super hesitant at first ’cause I was going through a very reclusive and antisocial phase. But eventually I started seeing him at sessions and realized how sick he was. I had to be friends with him before I could work with him though. Because I don’t fuck with soulless internet collabs.

Harm Franklin: I had already brought two dope producers together over the summer and we got a lot of dope stuff coming. But yeah. MayU was already cool with Trunks and he had already collabed with the other producer via internet for this dude Tapper. So… boom! They were already cool with him and after a session or two, then eventually I won Trunks over too. ‘Cause I feel he doesn’t really fuck with people whose artistry he doesn’t respect. Unless he’s getting a bag from it. So we’ve been building this chemistry for a bit and this is the first time I even heard his voice on a beat. Me and him already have a full EP he produced. That’s like… finished. And it sounds nothing like this song. [I’ve made] so much crazy stuff with these kids. [There’s] another young super producer from here that I don’t want to give too much away about… but it will all make sense soon.

HipHopCanada: Why did you change the title of the song from “Feminist Bitches” to “Captain Underpants”?

Harm Franklin: It was originally called “Captain Underpants” ’cause we were laughing about when Ramriddlz tweeted that. And trunks just names his stuff with wild names. But when we finished recording and while they were mixing I was like, “You should call this “Feminist Bitches” ’cause it’s such a cool oxymoron and sounds controversial.” Then it got changed back and Trunks can explain that better than me…

Curtis Waters: Hahahaah. ‘Cause my mom said so and I love my mom. Hahaha. I definiyely consider myself a feminist and the songs kinda just stupid. So I didnt think anyone would legitimately be offended. But if my mom says no, I’m taking it down.

HipHopCanada: What was the reasoning behind getting this song all finished up in 55 minutes, instead of going back and making changes or fine tuning it?

Curtis Waters: Because we wanted to keep the energy that was present in the room and lock it up in a song. When you overthink a song like this, it becomes disgustingly pretentious and plasticky. Music like this should be made on the spot. Fuck overly polished hype songs. It’s just gross and contrived.

Harm Franklin: Because we wanted to keep it simple and raw; show people what we can do in a focused hour. Sounds just as fine as most stuff that’s popping. Sometimes you do less with more when you don’t overthink things and just go with the vibe and follow the feeling you’ve created in the room. It sounded hard as it was so we didn’t feel a need to go Dr. Dre and make it all clean and plush. We wanted it to be a be raw. It’s art because of how simple it is. It’s like we both whipped a paint bucket at a canvas on some Basquiat tip. But just wait until you hear the well sculpted detailed portraits and paintings we have coming that we took our time on and assembled like Ferrari engines. I’m very excited to start rolling out this new work. This was practice.

HipHopCanada: What’s the vibe you were going for with this song?

Curtis Waters: HYPE! HYPE! HYPE! Just said the first things that came to our minds and I feel like that’s the most accurate and real you can get. I’m talking about Scoobie Doo and cooking quiches. But I mean… if that’s who you are, be that. The song was goofy and energetic; which is a pretty accurate self portrait.

Harm Franklin: The vibe was just to keep it simple, have fun, and be unhinged. No limits. You can hear us having fun, wilding out [and] yelling ad-libs for each other while the others’ recording on the same take. It sounds effortless. But there’s so much work that’s gone in over time to making it sound effortless. I feel like this one’s harder than so much stuff I hear that I enjoy… and we did it!

HipHopCanada: Curtis, talk to me about how you decided to start rapping, because I know you’ve mostly come up as and been known as a producer.

Curtis Waters: My main goal for music is to be as honest and transparent as possible. I want to express everything in my mind. And when I realized I couldn’t just rely on insecure rappers that flex, yet cant even pay for a beat… I started rapping. I wanted to master producing, mixing, artwork and everything else before I started rapping. Now that I can actually make what I want to and have full control, I’m gonna make some beautiful art.

HipHopCanada: Where did the alias “Curtis Waters” come from?

Curtis Waters: Curtis came from Ian Curtis, the singer from Joy Division. I like his music a lot and he has nice eyes. Waters just sounded cool as a last name. When you search up [my other alias] “Trunks” there’s so much shit that pops up. So I wanted to create something from scratch. Also I think the name “Curtis” is funny because it’s super suburban and white. And I am neither.

HipHopCanada: Harm, I know you’re very particular about the producers and artists you choose to work with. What drew you towards Trunks, and how has working with him affected your sound?

Harm Franklin: I’ve always had my eye on him… But yeah. I’ve loved his work and known what he’s capable of and what he’s going to be. I believe in the team of producers I’ve brought together as much as I believe in me. And I truly want the world for them ’cause they deserve it. There’s a few other amazing dudes that I had working together. And deep down I knew it wasn’t what it could be without him. I knew as soon as we got a chance to work together he would see the level of art we could create. Especially with the other producers we got collaborating. The five of us are stars on our own and we got like… three other dope ass producers. But now that they’re together combined along with with me, it’s getting scary now…

Twitter: @HarmFranklin | @WaterCurtis

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Sarah Jay

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Sarah Jay is based in Calgary and works as a freelance journalist and photographer. Sarah is also a former A&R talent scout for the Universal Music Scouting Program, and runs a vintage store during the day. Sarah has juried the JUNO Awards, The Polaris Music Prize, and The Prism Prize. She has been fortunate enough to interview and photograph some of hip-hop's greatest influencers including Future, ScHoolboy Q, Ghostface Killah, Moka Only, Maestro Fresh Wes, Shad, Joey Bada$$, Mac Miller, and more. Follow Sarah on Twitter: @ThisIsSarahJay

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