C-Mon & Kypski are big in Morocco... sort of. Seeking inspiration for their latest album, Where the Wild Things Are, the four-man hip-hop/electronic group spent a month driving around the Moroccan desert in an RV filled with turntables and samplers, having adventures and writing music. Though the album title was inspired by Maurice Sendak's classic children's book, producer/beatmaker Simon "C-Mon" Akkermans says that it didn't stick as a theme until the Morocco trip. "At first, we wanted to take the book as some kind of guideline for the album," he says. "But when we started driving around the Sahara, it was like, 'Yeah! This is fucking where the wild things are!'"
You can hear Sendak's mischievous monsters–and the shifting desert sands–throughout the Dutch group's third and most eclectic album. North African percussion and strings clash with a clarinet-led klezmer band on "Circus C-Mon & Kypski"; a jungle stomp and bestial chanting accompany rapper Pete Philly on "Make My Day."
Akkermans also credits his hometown of Utrecht for C-Mon & Kypski's freewheeling sound. Utrecht has long been open to different styles, Akkermans says, acting as a sort of Manchester to Amsterdam's London ever since Urban Dance Squad first put it on the pop map in the late '80s.
It also helps that, unlike so many hip-hop-based acts, C-Mon & Kypski is truly a band. Founding duo Akkermans and turntablist Thomas "Kypski" Elbers added musicians Daniel Rose and Jori Collignon to the lineup soon after they started playing live shows, and very quickly began sharing songwriting duties with their two newest members. "It's four people with a lot of different influences," Akkermans explains. "Jori and Dan come from pop, rock music, also punk. Me and Kypski are into more of the black side of music... And we've also discovered a lot of world music we really like–gypsy music, Moroccan, Arabic."
Where the Wild Things Are is still without a U.S. label, but that didn't stop C-Mon & Kypski from making a few live appearances in the States this spring, including a stop at South by Southwest, where they played an appropriately Sendak-like venue called the Enchanted Forest. "It's like a real forest, with a real creek running through it," Akkermans marvels. "So close to Where the Wild Things Are... a real fairy-tale vibe."