Children of Zeus – aka Tyler Daley and Konny Kon – have spent the last couple of years releasing a smooth blend of rap and soul. In the process they have scored a whole new batch of fans, plenty of critical acclaim and some crazy live shows – including a set in the infamous Boiler Room. I got the chance to speak with both Tyler and Konny about why they started making music together, their influences and the possibility of hearing a full album from them.
You guys were already established acts in your own right before you formed Children of Zeus. How did the decision to form a group come about?
Konny: My career in rapping to spotty teenagers in massive jeans at UK Rap shows was dead, so I latched onto Tyler who opened me up to a world of support slots for ageing greasy 90s RnB crooners and I’ve never looked back.
The real answer is not far off that, but not as interesting. We both were a bit stagnant with what we did before and organically after linking a few times for one off tracks decided we were one mind musically and best off working together.
I’m pushed to think of more examples of a soul/rap duo in the UK right now, despite predecessors like Soul II Soul gaining international fame. Do you think there is a reason it’s not as common as say a straight soul duo, or rap duo?
K: I guess the last successful soul/rap duo was Floetry. Which makes me the less popular bald headed member when we decided to call it a day. I think a lot of the UK hip hop crowd don’t have a clue about soul music, which is why there’s not many similar groups to us. Also soul music just seems so hard to push here.
I know you’re both big fans of Raphael Saadiq and I would say he has been quite an influence on your sound. Who would you cite as your other main influences?
Tyler: Maybe that idea comes from the fact people say my voice is similar in some ways. I do agree, I can do a good impression to be fair.
He is just one of so many. We don’t really have individuals, it’s more the scenes in general. From rare groove, soul, funk, jazz, street soul, hip hop, swing, RnB, reggae, dub, grime – it’s all in there somewhere.
K: I love Raphael Saadiq, although I don’t think when we make music he’s in the back of our mind. Tyler just has a similar tone. I think influence wise probably the biggest one we both have in common is 90’s Manchester pirate radio.
Tyler, you’ve got a few features on the new Goldie album, The Journey Man. What was it like working with him?
T: A very different process to any I’ve ever been part of. He is super creative and bursting with ideas. As a rule I write my own lyrics, because I’m a writer first. But his story is one I was interested in, so over months of him sending me melodies, lyrics and shapes, my job was to help bring the song to life and put a small piece of myself in there. I learnt a hell of a lot and confirmed a lot about myself also.
Did he approach you out of the blue, or were you guys friends from before?
T: It’s all down to MC DRS – also of Broke’N’English, Konny’s previous group. The answer to most questions, when you talk about Manchester music is MC DRS. He made all things possible.
Konny, I know you’re a bit of a vinyl fiend and you’ve got some gems in your collection. I was wondering what you consider your Holy Grail in terms of rare records? Like if you could have one absolute classic in your possession, what would it be?
K: Hmmm I don’t even know if I want to put myself in that position. I’m not one to spend a lot of money on a record, so the ultra rare shit isn’t really on my wants list. I’m not a collector. I just buy music I love, or music I can play when I’m DJing. The only thing I’ve seen recently that I want is a test press of a record I did 16 years ago that I didn’t know existed, that I saw Disorda post up.
Now of course Tyler is doing a lot of features with other artists and I know you’ve got a few strings to your bow in terms of production, rapping and DJing. Have you got much solo stuff, or collaborations planned outside your ongoing COZ work?
K: To be honest, not really. I have something for Lenzman half finished and some beats I’ve given to some local MCs, but I really struggle to find time to even work on COZ music at the moment, so I turn most stuff down – unless they want to wait until 2019. I don’t write for the fun of it anymore. I specifically write to whatever beat we are working on, so I don’t have throwaway verses like that. I’m happy just getting on with music with Tyler right now too, so everything else will have to wait.
Children of Zeus have released a string of singles, which have all been lapped up by critics and fans, but you’re yet to release a full length project. I’m assuming you’ve got plans to bring one out, but I was wondering if there was a reason you’ve waited this long?
K: We’ve started it. If we keep up the levels to the first few tracks we are working on, I’ll be really happy. Honestly it all comes down to time. Neither of us have time, so people will just have to be patient, but it will be worth it.
Manchester has been through a lot recently. How instrumental do you think the city’s music scene has been in keeping things positive?
T: First of all our hearts go out to the victims in Manchester and all victims around the world dying needlessly. Manchester has always had its hard times, we are a very tough city full of tough people. The music is all most of us have. Its the glue that binds us.
Have you guys got a lot of performances planned for the summer?
K: Yeah summer is working out nicely and the passports are getting a bit of use too, which is always dope. We just signed to Earth Booking agency which should step it up a gear too. The live show is tight. Tyler sounds amazing on stage, it’s not just a studio thing.
Finally any last words or shout outs?
T: My missus and kids. My inspiration and my driving force.
K: Thanks Tim for always looking out and I’d like to thank everyone who supports. Honestly people don’t realise how much we appreciate them sharing our music, videos, links on social media; it really helps a huge deal, so thank you to anyone who’s contributed.