THE stars of a new documentary who fooled the music scene into believing they were Californian rappers have revealed how the film has brought them back together to bring out an album.
Gavin Bain, from Dundee, and Billy Boyd, from Arbroath, met while students and tried to secure a record deal in the mid-2000s, but were laughed out of a London audition by promoters who branded them as “the rapping Proclaimers”.
Returning to Dundee, humiliated but still convinced of their talent, they reinvented themselves as Californian hip-hop duo Silibil n’ Brains, adopting American accents and a fake back story. The ruse worked and they were lauded by the London hip hop scene as the real deal.
The story of their rise and eventual fall is told in The Great Hip Hop Hoax, directed by Jeanie Finlay.
Since the completion of Finlay’s documentary, the pair have reunited, re-entered the studio and are preparing to release their first album, Dirty Rotten Soundrels, in October following the cinema release of the film on 6 September.
Bain and Boyd told Scotland on Sunday how the film had helped clear the air between them following their fall out.
Boyd, who now works on oil rigs in the North Sea and is married with children, described the interview he carried out with Finlay as “a major therapy session” which had helped him reach out to Bain creatively.
He said: “Seeing the film and realising just how close we came and big we in fact were was an obvious catalyst.”
Bain, who went on to work with another band, Hopeless Heroic, said: “The film did remind me of just how great a team SnB were.
“If anything the film helped us put our issues aside and realise how far ahead of the other rappers and business heads we were.”
For four-and-a-half years the duo had kept up the act of hiding their identities. They landed a major recording contract with Sony and partied with celebrities.
Their success peaked when they performed as support act for US rapper Eminem’s side project D12 and appeared on MTV.
The film captures their increasingly unhinged condition as the stress of maintaining the pretence took its toll on the pair. They were forced to remember their invented stories and maintain their accents in the face of possible legal action and prison if they were found out. The pressure led to the collapse of the duo’s friendship and their musical partnership.
They returned to the studio this year with the intention of creating a couple of tracks. But the pair got on creatively, leading to an album of material and plans to revive their partnership.
Bain claims that the result is the “best album since Eminem’s Slim Shady record”.
They describe the album as a mixture of American hip hop acts such as RZA, Dr Dre, Eminem, Method Man and Redman, and say it also features older material recorded with their American accents.
During their time with Sony, the pair did not release any tracks, fearing that the moment they did they would be found out.
The film charts their roller-coaster experience, from sitting in hot tubs with models, partying in the VIP section and access to a celebrity lifestyle, down to the fights, drunkenness and stunts they indulged in as part of their persona to court notoriety. One scene, in which Boyd urinates into Bain’s hands while standing in London’s Piccadilly Circus, has resulted in the film being given an 18 certificate in the UK, much to Finlay’s frustration.
She said: “Young people should be able to see what is a cautionary tale about the price of fame, because I think it’s frightening the number of young people I talk to who say what they want to be when they grow up is famous. They don’t want to be good at something, they want to be famous in itself.”
She added that the British censors had a “curious attitude towards documentaries and actuality” and that the scene was important in context as they “needed to show the extremes of their behaviour and depths that their characters sunk to”.
Finlay added: “The thing to me that was fascinating was that this was a moment in time – a pre-Twitter and Facebook moment in time. I wish them well, but it’s of less interest to me that they’re recording music again. I’m not sure if it’s had its moment.”
However, Boyd is confident that they can achieve great success this time. He said: “These days there is a lot more emphasis on ‘home grown’ and being from Scotland making music is no longer a set back, It’s more about having the desire to stand out. With the power of the internet and social media, if you have the talent and the ambition, you can go anywhere.”