A DOCUMENTARY about two Scots students who tricked music industry executives into believing that they were a US rap act is to premier at the prestigious South by South West film festival in Texas next month.
• A documentary following two Dundonians who pretended to be from California to win a record deal is to premiere at SxSW film festival in Texas
• The Great Hip Hop Hoax follows Billy Boyd and Gavin Bain, who were ‘laughed off stage’ by British music execs and dismissed as “rapping Proclaimers”
The Great Hip Hop Hoax tells the story of the roller coaster ride Dundonian students Billy Boyd and Gavin Bain found themselves on when in 2003, they launched themselves as a Californian hip-hop duo Silibil n’ Brains.
They developed the idea after being “laughed off stage” by British music industry executives who discounted them as the “rapping Proclaimers”.
Realising that their Scottish background was not helping them, they reinvented themselves as American rappers with fake accents learned from watching MTV, and managed to fool record labels, girlfriends and band members into believing they were the real deal.
Their bizarre charade saw them touring with Eminem’s D12 project, partying backstage at the Brit awards, playing Brixton Academy, appearing on television and recording and writing their own music.
The Great Hip Hop Hoax traces the pair’s three-year journey, using interviews with the two men, industry figures, archive footage of their performances and animated sequences.
Boyd said that all through the hoax, they feared getting caught: “We took a breath and, bam, out came a story. And from that moment on, we didn’t stop acting.
“We never realised the real problem would start if we got away with it.”
Director Jeanie Finlay said that her aim was to examine the impact the duo’s lies had on their own identities: “Everybody lies everyday, as much as ten times in three minutes when we meet someone new. Lying is a fundamental part of human nature and how we get by – but could you lie about your whole identity to get what you want? I felt haunted by the idea that the boys changed themselves fundamentally, all for the hollow promise of fame. I wanted to discover what the lasting effect
on them was.”
Ms Finlay came to prominence with her last film, the award-winning Sound It Out, a documentary portrait of the very last vinyl record shop in Teesside.
SxSW is a set of music, film and technology festivals that take place in Austin Texas during March. The three strands run over a 10 day period, making the music portion is the largest musical festival of its kind in the world, with 2,500 official performers appearing in 100 venues, while the film section focuses on new directing talent.
The music industry has been prone to hoax bands over the years, such as the album released by a band called The Masked Marauders, a non-existent “super-group”, alleged to consist of several of The Beatles, Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan, but later revealed to be a spoof by Rolling Stone magazine editor Greil Marcus.
Most recently, veteran Welsh rockers The Alarm released the single 45RPM under the pseudonym The Poppy Fields and recruited an upcoming band to lip-synch for the video. The scam worked and the song made into the top 30. The hoax has become the basis for a new film Vinyl starring Phil Daniels and Keith Allen.