Last year, Foreign Beggars hopped aboard Skrillex’s Mothership Tour. It was in some ways a challenge, as Orifice Vulgatron, one of the group’s two MCs, recalls.
They were a hip-hop group playing shows for crowds who might seem to be all about the EDM dance beats. But it worked and that tour launched Foreign Beggars popularity in the U.S. They returned last spring for a small tour. Their first Los Angeles gig, at Cinespace, sold out.
“It was a sweat box,” says Vulgatron.
From the West Cost to the East Coast and all across the Midwest and South, Foreign Beggars have been making serious waves. Now, with their latest album, The Uprising, out on Deadmau5′s influential label, mau5trap, they are ready for their first U.S. festival appearance on November 3 at HARD’s Day of the Dead.
Though Foreign Beggars may seem relatively new to the U.S. audience, they’ve been around for years. Officially, the group—Orifice Vulgatron, Metropolis and DJ Nonames—have been together since 2002. Their careers, though, precede that by a few years.
Flashback to turn-of-the -21st century London. Drum n’ bass, grime and garage were flourishing across the city’s party scene. Vulgatron and pal Dag Nabbit, who worked with the group in its early years, came to town via Dubai to start a record label and organize events.
“It was the music that brought us here,” says Vulgatron. They were putting together drum n’ bass parties, dropping tracks on pirate radio and hitting up open mic events.
Meanwhile, DJ Nonames and Metropolis met at Queen Mary’s College at the University of London. Nonames was spinning on pirate radio too and taking in gigs at the university’s student union. He and Metropolis met in between classes one day.
“I was doing a very bad beat box and he was rapping,” Nonames recalls.
They worked DIY for a while, collaborating with other musicians and DJs as well as popular street artists. Hip-hop was always at the core of Foreign Beggars, but they weren’t immune to London’s electronic pulse.
“Over the years, with mixed tapes and collaborations, we’ve been diversifying the sound,” says Vulgatron.
In fact, their earliest forays into dubstep came in 2004, when Foreign Beggars worked with Vex’d. In recent years, their sound has become more open-ended.
“We’re just kind of this entity that sits in the center of loads of different genres,” says Vulgatron.
What Foreign Beggars are doing is definitely a reflection of the changing climate of DJ-oriented music, both in London and beyond. “It’s very hard to pigeonhole music now because all so mixed,” says Nonames. ” It’s just beats and it’s all been influenced by various different crunch times in music history when . . . there have been scenes.”
“It’s been mega amazing,” says Vulgatron. “All the barriers have been broken down.”