Exploring Life鈥檚 Complexities in Foreign Colour鈥檚 Debut Album, Weight of a Rose

Fall has personally always been a relentlessly nostalgic season, pelting a world of memories in your brain synapses…kinda like that particular scented candle that brings you back to a specific space and time. In this case, I think the latest release–and debut album, Weight of a Rose–from Raytheon Dunn’s Foreign Colour embodies that same feeling.
The ten-track album encapsulates a horde of emotions colorfully painting a beautiful but complex picture of life displayed and imagined through the existence of a rose. The rose is the symbolic crux of the album, fulfilling its ordained role of carrying the burden in representing life, joys, passions, struggles, doubts, and love—like Atlas holding the weight of the world…this is Weight of a Rose.
Read my track-by-track take on Foreign Colour‘s debut album along with some insight from the artist himself.

Your Heart, My Flower

Jasmine Rodriguez: Pivotal in setting the tone and mood of the album, “Your Heart, My Flower” exists almost like that time-lapse your bio teacher would play when learning about the genesis of a flower in the plant kingdom. “Your Heart, My Flower” is that flower bud—that love and life ready to bloom.

Foreign Colour: I knew I wanted this song to be the intro. I used to play this song in-between breaks with my old band. I was inspired a bit by The Last Bison after seeing them live for the first time some years back. In the background, there is an older man speaking. That sound comes from a recording we had during one of our jam sessions, and when things got quiet, we heard this old recording coming out of my amp.

My amp was sort of old and not the best, so it picked up a radio frequency, and we thought it best to keep for future use. When I got to this song, I felt like it needed something underneath the music to help give it a dreamy feeling, so I added that recording. The beginning of the song is my old friend David recording himself walking and hitting his tape recorder.

Goodnight (I’m Happy for You)

JR: Moving on from the previous track’s somber melody, “Goodnight (I’m Happy for You)” opens up both in a musical and figurative sense with a bright shimmering sound matched with a colorful array of percussive instruments. The track symbolizes a new beginning, a new life that brings along with it bittersweet emotions. This can best be understood in lyrics ‘I heard the days have changed / It gives us new life to gain / But when your problems they grow / We all know how the story will go.’ Exuding child-like energy, Dunn manages to temper naive expectations while also uncovering all of the possibilities that life brings forth. The flower is in bloom.

FC: This is probably the oldest song on the record, going back almost nine years. There are probably eight versions of this song floating around the internet somewhere. Musically, I wanted this song to be a bit festive/colorful. I was listening to a lot of Washed Out albums, Paracosm and Purple Noon, which had just come out. I would like to add that I don’t know about anyone else, but I get a rush of inspiration when I hear new music from musicians I really enjoy. I just have to create while the energy is there; it’s too powerful not to do so. I remember that feeling riding my bike late at night last summer and hearing the entire song in my head, so when I got home, I got to work, and a few days later, it was done!

Lyrically, this comes from a relationship I was in many years ago where the person I was with was very prideful, which caused many problems in our relationship. Too stubborn, you get in your own way; too stubborn and there will be no room for you to grow. More or less, it’s a song about agreeing to disagree about how to grow a flower.

Sundancer

JR: Like you always do‘ is the core sentiment of Foreign Colour’s debut single, “Sundancer.” Approached similarly to “Goodnight…,” a light and airy nature consume the five-minute track, playing out to a cyclical scheme of rhythm and lyrics, which is kind of genius of Dunn. In an interview earlier this year, Dunn gave some insight on the origins of the song, noting heavy existential questions that would make any nihilist nod their head–or really anyone during 2020. Despite the hardships and growing pains that life presents us, Dunn reminds the listener that at the end of the day, you’re still moving, breathing, and accomplishing things, no matter how big or small. And that is something to dance for.

FC: This was the first song I wrote and completed for this album. Originally, this song was much darker and moody, which is how it usually goes when I write on acoustic, but when I brought it to my studio, I realized I might have something bigger here. The rhythm guitar is a rendition or inspired by my old band’s song, “Sleepy River,” but with more groove to it.

I battled a lot with my friend/mixer & mastered engineer Severin about how the song would end because for some weird reason, I wanted the outro to play for an obnoxious length, and he quickly told me, ‘Don’t do that!’ I just enjoyed how it sounded, and I was proud of it, so I didn’t want it to end in a weird way. Once I got the music right, or the sound I was looking for, I sent it out to some friends to get reactions. After hearing [the song], I felt like this would be the debut single whenever I put out this [album].

This takes inspiration from my wife sort of having a mid-life crisis questioning ourselves as humans and our place in the world. In the midst of lockdown, we talked about a lot of things, what our purpose was, and honestly, the meaning of purpose. After many late-night conversations, it all came down to no matter where she goes in life, I will love her just trying and figuring out what life means to her—to love someone without being possessive of where their future will go.

The Flower

JR: “The Flower” is the comedown from the former high-tempo songs, replacing the youthful, exuberant energy with something more grounded and mature—perhaps signifying that the flower is now fully developed. Reassurance in lyrics ‘I’ll wait for you / The flower as it blooms ‘ paired with the sweet and soft lulling melody assures the person on the other end that all of their worries and aspirations are valid. Because regardless of how things turn out, “the flower” will be cherished for all of its qualities and for simply being. This is the calm before the storm.

FC: This song was written sort of out of the blue but for a good reason. I found out while recording this record that we were going to have a baby. I was extremely emotional about it. My wife suggested this was a perfect song to write about and something for her to listen back on. So I tried to bottle everything going [on] when I first found out [and] let it out over this song.

“The Flower” represents my daughter, Sienna, who I try to [symbolize] [as] a flower. With a taste of the sun and water, she will bloom into a beautiful human being. I wanted the music to be like a lullaby. Also, the piano in the middle of the song is called “Fairytale Lullaby.” I wanted it to be something she could listen back to, or my wife could play for her to help her sleep. It’s funny too because she said it does work! My favorite part of the song would have to be the guitar solo panning left and right during the bridge.

Under Your Spell

JR: If “The Flower” was the calm before the storm, then “Under Your Spell” is the storm. Juxtaposing the last song, “Under Your Spell” introduces a nice change of pace with a gradual build-on instrumental that carries an energy not see before in the album. I imagine if this was played live, the lighting engineer would have a field day. This song positions itself as the rough storms we weather in life and can be interpreted as the turning point in the album.

FC: In my opinion, this marks a turning point in the record where the tone is less lighthearted. This song was supposed to be on my band’s record, but we went different ways before the record could debut. I felt like this song needed to be heard by everyone, so I re-recorded the guitars, added some synths, and there it is. It’s a song I can’t way to play live. I love when bands/artists show off how beautiful and powerful their music is when there are no vocals. It can feel like an organized jam session.

A Swan Song

JR: The title immediately caught my attention for this track. Typically, a swan song is like the final bow that an artist or performer carries out. That being said, it makes me wonder if Dunn had doubts about continuing on with his passion which, in the context of this album, represents the flower slowly wilting away. Whatever the case, Dunn really shines in this stripped-back song with an acoustic accompaniment that emits a hauntingly beautiful aura. It’s my absolute favorite song from the album and one that I wish I would have written.

FC: This one is quite personal. I had the first couple of lines I sang for about three years or so, but I could never find the words to help me finish it. I was writing about something I felt inside of me, but it wasn’t clear for me to distinguish exactly what it was. It wasn’t until things took a turn for the worse that the song found its meaning, and it wasn’t about me anymore.

I found myself in my relationship where my partner lost someone extremely close to them. I have learned in the past to never put yourself in their shoes but just be there for them when it’s hard to do anything else. The emotional battles we fought would take a toll on us, and I did my best to understand it all. Our time together ended before the light could be at the end of tunnel. With this song, I wanted to tell my final feelings—a sort of wishful, ‘Goodbye, I hope you found it in the middle of it all.’

Hallucinate

JR: Continuing the darker sound in the latter half, “Hallucinate” instills an almost hypnotizing-like quality with its swaying rhythm and lyrical refrain of ‘I can’t let you go, ‘ signaling a cry of defiance against the once resigned fate drawn in “A Swan Song.”

FC: This was the last one I wrote but also the fastest. I think I finished 90% of it in a day; the lyrics came a couple of days later. This song was fun to play and write. I had this bass line stuck in my head after listening to Fontaines D.C.’s song, “Televised Mind.” That song gets me excited! The drums came naturally after [listening] [to] that!

I listened to an interview of Kevin Parker of Tame Impala saying, ‘You know you got something special when you can just play the drums and bass line on loop forever.’ That’s what I did. The crazy thing is I’m still trying to decipher the meaning of this song–it doesn’t have a huge meaning, but is something you will just have to determine.

Adorn

JR: The curveball of the album! I did not expect to hear a “jazz meets samba fusion,” but here we are. It’s the way Dunn sings ‘ How I love to, to adore you / Feel my love now, all around you‘ that makes you feel like you’ve been enveloped in the warmest embrace. Coupled with the comforting lyrics, the gentle presence of “Adorn” brings respite from the prior sullen soundscapes. The flower has been revived.

FC: This song probably took the longest for many reasons. Growing up, my mom did her best to expose us to different kinds of music [that] I really gravitate[d] towards, [like] blues, jazz, and R&B [with] artists like The Isley Brothers, John Legend, and (most of all) Sade. I’m a huge fan of Sade’s work and sound. This was originally called “Whisper,” which is an entire song itself, but out of curiosity, I changed the BPM of the drums to something faster, and all of a sudden, we had something different, a brand new feel.

There are so many elements in this song that it was a little complicated for me to mix myself [in], but I knew I struck gold with how this song could potentially be. What was also cool about the song was that I felt like I was the producer because I sent this song to a friend of mine who plays trumpet, and I knew it was the perfect element to add to the song; without it, the song was lackluster.

I think he sent me about four takes of the song. [From] [there], I picked and stitched parts together that I liked, placing them in different places throughout the song. It was a tedious process, but it needed to be done! I always knew this song would be a [feature] debut, but who would it be and would they help elevate the song? I would sometimes hear my friend Ciara singing on her Instagram stories (before she deleted her IG), and I thought she would be perfect for the job. We sat down and had long talks about the song and approach I needed from her to make this song something special. I think after two sessions, she nailed it and for that I’m eternally grateful for her giving this song so much life. People are really surprised with this song because there’s nothing like it anywhere else on the record.

The Doppelganger

JR: Jolting the listener out of the previous dreamy-like reverie is the unsettling “The Doppelganger.” Serving as a reality check, “The Doppelganger” delivers a foreboding warning to establish who you are before someone else does it for you. It’s a reinforcing track about taking back control against a world that isn’t always so kind and forgiving.

FC: This song really came out of nowhere. I don’t remember exactly how I got started on this song; if I remember correctly, I was listening to a lot of In Rainbows by Radiohead, and I wanted to make something weird and progressive. At the beginning of the song, my guitar is making a crazy feedback kind of sound which was totally done on accident. I was getting flustered with how the recording process was going, and I just started hitting the string hard and randomly. When I listened back, I said, ‘I think this could work for some odd reason.’ I tried to stray away from playing chords and lean on just playing leads throughout the song, which I think I nailed down during the chorus. I was focused on the delivery of my vocals, wanting it to be as smooth as possible like I was talking on a phone.

Another big influence on this song was HRVRD. They have a demo floating around the internet that inspired a bit of lyrics in this chorus. This song [came] to me after reading this book called Supermarket. It was a short but twisted book about a man losing his own mind in the effort to be successful. After reading it, I thought about myself in this man’s situation and how I would be if the person I feared the most was myself.

Sound of Your Dreams

JR: Closing out the album is the mystical, “Sound of Your Dreams.” Despite the track’s tranquility, it doesn’t pose itself as the deus ex machina. Instead, there’s an air of unfinished business strewn throughout that screams “to be continued.” Maybe it’s because of the song’s short length, or maybe it’s because the song just fades out with no clear ending. In any case, the closer is the epitome of life being a mixed bag. The ups and downs…lessons learned and personal victories earned…all make life worth living.

FC: I was attempting to build this song into something very whimsical, something orchestrated to where you could feel the world around you while listening to it. However, I think I was towards the end of the record feeling the need to just surrender what I have and really take the time to make something like that on the next go around. I feel like you need to look at each instrument like it’s its own character, and you need to find where they belong in your story. I have always liked the phrase “Sound of Your Dreams.” It’s something that I carried with me in several different projects, so I thought it was time to give it a home. Besides, I did feel like it sounded like a dream.


Featured image artwork courtesy of Severin Di Croce; edited by Raytheon Dunn.

Thank you to Raytheon Dunn of Foreign Colour for providing a behind-the-scenes look into each song. Weight of a Rose is out now on all streaming platforms!

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The Journey to Finding Peace in Shaolinn’s Blackstone

Tap into your inner self tonight with the help of rising VA artist, Shaolinn as she premieres the latest in her soul-gripping musical collection with the “Blackstone” EP, out now on all streaming platforms. The show, specially curated by Shaolinn herself, will be held at the Bunker Brewpub in Virginia Beach, with doors opening at 8 PM and the show starting at 9 PM. Other featured artists joining the night’s celebratory events include Gee Litt, Boris the Lucid, Brooklynn, Tson, Khi Infinite, and DJ J-Rok. Read Sumone’s short and sweet conversation with the Heir Wave artist below.

Your release show for your upcoming EP, “Blackstone,” is [tomorrow]. What are you most excited about for the show since it will be the first show you’ve personally curated?

Just seeing all the talent and working with a band for the first time.

What were your thoughts working through the curation process when developing the lineup for the show?

Seeing my favorite local artists peeps and performing with a band for the first time.

Did you find growing up in the 757 to be influential in your creative process or musical style?

Yes, in the process, but not in a musical way. A lot of the artists I listen to aren’t from the 757, but more from the world. I do work with a lot of talented people from the 757, though.

How did you find time to record music prior to being signed to Heir Wave? Was it difficult recording during those times, or do you look back at those moments more fondly?

It wasn’t really different; because to get there, I already had a process in place. It can get expensive, but I had supportive people around me to lend a hand.

When do you feel you create your best work?

On nights when my mind is clear, and I can really dive into the music.

In “Heavy Heart,” you repeatedly mention “being free,” “letting go,” and “finding peace.” What are some words of encouragement that you or someone else provided that ultimately led you to let go and find your peace amidst your self-love journey?

I’m actually still finding my peace. It’s something we all need to work towards. Surrounding yourself with positive people helps a lot.

In a previous conversation, you stated that you did not think people would like “Heavy Heart” “but surprisingly listeners did.” Has your mindset changed when it comes to writing or releasing music after seeing a lot of people gravitate towards your music?

Yes. I didn’t think people wanted such a “talky” song. It’s not a catchy melodic song. I didn’t think people would care about me talking about my life. When I perform it, so many people come up to me and tell me how they relate to it. After that, it made me feel more encouraged to be open about my personal life.

On your IG live minutes prior to the visual premiere of “Vivian,” you expressed surreal excitement. What message did you hope fans would receive when watching the video?

The perspective of a drug addict and how hard it is for someone going through the struggles of it all. The harm isn’t malicious. It’s hard on everyone.

What are you most proud of thus far in your career?

I’m just proud to be here and have this opportunity and the inspiration from all of the people around me. I just want to keep going and, along with myself, make everyone around proud of me.

What do you hope listeners get from your music?

Anything. Anything that they feel. I speak my story, and I hope it makes people tap into their own story and bring something special out of them.


Featured image by: @playknows

Thank you to Shaolinn and her team for the interview, you can get your show tix here. “Blackstone” is out now on all streaming platforms.

Celebrating Juneteenth with Norfolk’s Finest at the Smartmouth Juneteenth Solstice Festival

Join the city of Norfolk’s finest for a day full of music, art, food, good people, and most importantly…good beer.

It’s safe to say that after the past year, people are yearning to get back together and celebrate life and all of the beautiful things that come along with it. Luckily, the good folks at Smartmouth Brewery have got us covered with this Saturday’s Juneteenth Solstice Festival.

In honor and celebration of Juneteenth, Smartmouth has teamed up with local NFK brands and organizations to throw a good-ole fashioned block party. The day’s festivities will consist of a black-owned art & vendor market, food market featuring black and POC-owned restaurants, chefs, and food trucks, and a diverse range of musical acts throughout the 757. The festival will be held at the Smartmouth NFK HQ from 12 PM – 10 PM, is free, and welcome to all ages.

Get up to speed with the day’s details below.


Utopia Feni Art Market | 12 – 6 PM


Nomarama Food Market | 3 – 9 PM


Music Lineup

Listen to our specially curated Popscure playlist while you get familiar with the stacked lineup below:

Well seasoned producer Gabe Niles is a household name in the city of Norfolk. When he’s not producing earworm tracks like Shelley FKA DRAM’s “Cha Cha”–or working with his partner-in-crime for experimental outfit, Sunny & Gabe–the producer is delivering larger-than-life mixes that are bound to whisk you away. 


Hot off her latest EP release, “All My Friends,” Koren Grace is more than ready to take on the masses and introduce them to her world. There’s no plane of emotion and existence the singer/songwriter can’t take you with a discography rich in colorful sounds.


Dariel Clark has a powerful, magnetic presence about him that amplifies when he cranks the amp up. Sparing no niceties, the Virginia Beach musician delivers a one-two combo through his weapons of choice—his guitar and voice.


Headed by the musical virtuoso Big Torrin himself, Big Torrin’s Fusion Groove is the sonic definition of the phrase “good vibes.” With tasteful flecks of jazz, r&b, house, hip-hop, and soul, Big Torrin’s Fusion Groove is sure to satisfy every groove nerve in your body.


Rapper/lyricist Cam Murdoch is known for his pensive, neo-soul inspired raps that focus on the ‘self’ as much as they do fictional characters. His latest single, “The Wave,” carries on this wave of introspection through an unlikely combo of soothing ukelele riffs and strong trap beats.


While fairly new, Kyere Laflare is not to be underestimated. Debut single, “How Does It Feel,” brings in a throwback r&b vibe that’s sure to remind you of simpler times.


If you go by 1pump and wear Scott Summers-esque visors, you better come with the heat and charisma. 1pump certainly doesn’t disappoint with a strong, bombastic release in Scott Summers II: The Light Within.


Known for her hypnotic but real delivery, Lex Lucent is ready to put you under a spell with a laidback flow and unique instrumentals. Her debut project, “Incase You Forgot,” solidifies the rapper as one to look out for.


2020 – A Year in Reflection

As we wrap up one hell of a year, we thought it was only best that we took some time to reflect on some of the really goods things that have come out of this year, specifically with Popscure. Thank you all for making this year a special one—here’s to many more.

What was your favorite write-up from this year? Why?

Tyler W: It’s probably a tie between the Dawit N.M. interview conducted by Cam Murdoch and the Q+A I did with members of the Wild Bunch before the “Our Streets” exhibition, both of which focused on photography. Since practically everyone in the digital age can capture an image with ease, it’s really interesting to me to hear how photographers approach it as an art form.

Jasmine R: My favorite write-up probably has to be “Whose Streets? Our Streets!”— a Q+A written and conducted by Tyler. Documenting the (without a doubt) historical summer of activism and unity is so, so crucial to say the least.

Cam M: The Tyler Donavan piece, I just want that guy to win and have his story shared, so it was big for me to see the response he got from that.

Shannon J: From Overseas, Tyler did a great job poetically telling the story of Kevin Sery and made the piece just as atmospheric and grounded as his music. Otherwise, I was excited to have a couple pieces I wrote go out (“Treasure,” “Bubble Ball“). Since I started working full-time, I haven’t had much time to write for Popscure, so I’m glad I can contribute, and I’m excited to have some new writers on this year too (Allison, James and Noah).

Noah D: Oh jeez, I don’t know. I hate to self-plug but maybe the Why Bonnie interview. It was the first time I’d interviewed a bigger name band, and I just really enjoy the chances it gave me, and I was proud to see it get feedback. Other than that, I loved the recent article [“25 Local Places to Get Gifts in the 757”] focusing on shops in the 757. I think it gave some really solid media coverage to businesses that needed it, and I think it influenced a lot of peoples’ decisions in gift buying.


What was your favorite piece to have edited and published? Why?

Tyler W: I really liked how Jasmine’s interview with LEYA came together because I see that as a great example of how Popscure can create connections both online and IRL. We were able to create a relationship with both the band and their label through email correspondence and then reach new readers through social media shares by the band and label. At the same time, we were telling our local readership about this emerging band that was on tour coming to play in our town. And then we were able to go to the show, meet the band, network with local musicians, etc. I also just really like them and their album—their album was one of my favorites this year. 馃檪

Jasmine R: One of my favorite pieces that I helped put out was the Shaina Negr贸n feature by one of our writers, Darryan. It was a super cool look inside the conjoining of art and self-expression from Negr贸n. I’m also really proud of our Black Experience Collective that we put together as a response to the events of police brutality and blatant murder and injustice that occurred this year. The collective serves as a platform to amplify the black voices unheard in this country.

Shannon J: Jasmine took care of much of the editing, bless her soul, but one of the few I did was “Coronavirus and Why Your Fave Band Tee Is Important Right Now.” Documenting such a shift on the blog was crucial since so much of our content is dependent on live music and the musicians who play shows.


What was your favorite standout moment for Popscure this year?

Tyler W: One moment that stands out for me is posting the Fake Uzumi feature on our new WordPress site in February. Around that time we were leveling up, and I felt proud of the efforts from our newly-formed team. I knew the feature was going to get a lot of exposure, and I remember feeling like our operations were just starting to run smoothly; we had all been working hard getting ready for this new level of attention.

Jasmine R: One of my favorite moments from this year absolutely has to be the Valentine’s Day-themed party we did with Smartmouth Brewing Co. and Citrus City Records. This may sound cliche, but the energy was literally full of love that night. It was literally “nothin’ but love.”

Cam M: Nothin’ but love show with Smartmouth.

Shannon J: Stay Put Fest 2020 was amazing. It was such a fun challenge to translate the exhilaration, fun, and camaraderie of live music onto people’s phones. It was the first time I’d chatted with local showgoers and saw my friends play music in months. There were technical difficulties and a learning process for sure, but I think everyone appreciated it. FlyyScience’s COVID info takeover was super interesting too, and getting to know her and her work was awesome. We just really had to think outside of the box this year with events. No one stole our Instagram account either, which was a plus!

Noah D: I haven’t been on the team long enough to comment!


What do you most look forward to in the future of Popscure?

Tyler W: I look forward to us continuing to grow our team. By adding more contributors, Popscure will expand our investigation into the various aspects of culture and bring our findings to our community.

Jasmine R: Our growth!!!

Cam M: Breaking boundaries and bringing obscure talent to the masses.

Shannon J: Parties, hopefully we can do something fun in the summer!

Noah D: Writing more, editing, carving a voice for myself in the team, etc. etc.


Thank you all for the love and support you showed us this year! On to the next one…

Era Hardaway is Undeniable

Era Hardaway is a twenty-seven year old rapper, producer, and entrepreneur continuing the honored lineage of innovative thinkers and musicians from Virginia. Following the release of the emcee鈥檚 latest EP, “Undeniable,” I had the opportunity to get better acquainted with Hardaway鈥檚 journey and vision.

Era and I met up at his studio in Norfolk, VA, where he develops the bulk of his material. As an artist who is always working, you always have something new and crazy sounding to play, and today I was the lucky guest. Displaying his range as a more than capable producer that鈥檚 laced countless other artists with beats, such as Young Crazy, he began to demonstrate a number of styles from trap and drill to cinematic soundscapes that belong in the next Final Fantasy.

How did you get into music, was there something else you wanted to do before that?

I learned the turntables early on, but it wasn鈥檛 something I really had my heart set on. Before the music shit, I really wanted to be a street ball player. My mom bought me a basketball, and I鈥檇 be in my room rolling the ball between my legs acting like I鈥檓 shaking defenders off. I had all the And1 mixtapes, even the joints where they went overseas. I used to always watch the marathons on ESPN. I started getting into other leagues that started up like YPA and a few others in the street ball community. So that鈥檚 what I wanted to be, then I decided I wanted to go to the NBA, but I was ass at basketball. I had handles but my shot was wack. I mean, now I鈥檓 alright but back then? Yeah, nah.

What got me into music at first was when I started DJing parties with my pops. This was probably like age 7 or 8; my pops would get a party and let me do half the set and keep half the bread. When I started doing that, I thought, ‘This might be it,’ because I started buying kicks and shit. But I still just wasn鈥檛 ready to step into rapping yet. One day when my dad was teaching me how to blend, I said, ‘Man, who is making these beats?’ When you listen to a beat without the lyrics, you just wonder how they put it together. So around the age of 13, I did my research and found out about Fruity Loops, and once I started making beats, I knew this is what I was going to do.

It kind of started from there. For Christmas, my dad bought me the little M Audio package with two small studio monitors and a dynamic mic with the desk stand. You could only do input or output on that M Audio interface; you couldn鈥檛 do both. It sucked, but I made it work. I stacked shoe boxes on top of each other in my closet, put my mic on top, and made a make-shift pop filter with a stocking cap—and that was my studio.

Would it be correct to say your parents were supportive of your creative exploration?

Yeah, they were. Both my dad and my mom, although [my] [mom] didn鈥檛 really understand it and still doesn鈥檛 to a degree. They were always supportive. My dad was one of those people who, no matter what I wanted to do, would support me even if he didn’t understand it. I know as I got older and more mature, they didn鈥檛 approve of some of what I was saying about gas, smoking weed, and pulling different girls. I know they don鈥檛 want to hear all of that, but this is what鈥檚 going on. I鈥檓 not capping on anything. 

At first, my mom didn鈥檛 even know I was rapping. She knew I was DJing, and she didn鈥檛 really like that because she was worried about me getting caught up in the party scene. I鈥檓 actually glad my dad introduced it to me early on because now when I鈥檓 in the club, I don鈥檛 even want to be there unless I鈥檓 celebrating or I鈥檓 paid to be there. It鈥檚 old to me now. 

I really started rapping in 2009, when I was 16. My mom didn鈥檛 know, even though her office was right next to my room. I鈥檓 cranking music, but she had her speakers as well, so don鈥檛 get me wrong…she was cranking in there too, but I know she can hear me through the walls because I can hear her. The funny thing is, she didn鈥檛 realize I rapped until I handed her my first mixtape, “Yeah I Rap.” I spent all my money making about 100 CDs to take to school to give out for free, and they were gone before the first period. People from the Burg hit me up to this day like, ‘Yo, I still got that CD.’ After that, I go home and hand the CD to my mom, and she says, ‘Oh, that鈥檚 what you鈥檝e been doing locked inside your room all quiet for long periods of time.’ I was surprised when she said she couldn鈥檛 hear me there.

Courtesy of Malik Emmanuel

You鈥檙e self-taught as a musician, was your process always this DIY? If not, when did that change?

I鈥檓 an Internet baby. As computers were being developed, I was around it. I mean, we didn鈥檛 always have that, but since maybe around the time I was fourteen, [we] started having iPhones and computers. Even before that, I always asked questions when seeking the source was just asking somebody. When I found out that seeking the source could be a simple search online, I began to look it up first before asking somebody…especially with simple stuff like 鈥渉ow to tie a tie.”

After hearing some of the beats you have, I鈥檓 compelled to ask, have you ever thought of composing for video games?

Hell yeah. I鈥檝e also thought about scoring for movies. That鈥檚 really the main goal aside from rap. I want to be able to build suspense in a situation with music…really learn the process of that, even the mixing and mastering style of it. 

Who were some of your early influences?

Dilla. Definitely Dilla. He was a heavy influence towards my junior & senior year (of highschool). Madlib, of course. And other people I used to watch on YouTube growing up, like Lex Luger and Southside.

I used to always watch everyone鈥檚 come up stories because you feel like you鈥檙e right there with them. I remember watching Lex Luger talk about how he used to have the computer with the full CPU, monitor, and a keyboard in a bag, and he鈥檇 just pull up. The side plate was gone, so you could see all of the computer chips and everything on the inside, and the power button was gone, so he had to hit it a certain way to make it power on. Lex Luger was making beats on that, and that鈥檚 when I knew I could be successful wherever I was at as long as I had the tools to make music. As long as I got a computer, I鈥檓 good. 

“Hardaway” – “Slightly Hyped”

When I recall some of your earlier work, like “Slightly Hyped,” many of those earlier influences like Dilla and Madlib shine through. But, there seem to be followers that saw your progression into The Juug Tape as an abandonment of the earlier, more 鈥渂oom-bappy鈥 sound. To what do you attribute the change in your music?

On “Undeniable,” I rap, ‘The whole juug won鈥檛 to dumb it down, just give y鈥檃ll another sound to show you that across the board I don鈥檛 fuck around.’ That was the juug, and that鈥檚 why I was making the The Juug Tape. I was giving people bars, and it was cool but I was also like, ‘Let me have fun.’ There are still bars, you know what I鈥檓 saying? If you listen, there are still bars in there. A lot of people were telling me, ‘Aww you鈥檙e doing the trap sound now?’ and really there鈥檚 just a difference between what you make and what you put out because I鈥檝e been making beats like that, and I鈥檝e been making songs like that, but they never heard it until I put out a concentrated version.

Plus, it was just my environment at the time. I always tell people Fredericksburg was cool; that鈥檚 where I learned. But being down here in Norfolk really made me a man. I really saw things that I was taught about back home but never got to embrace. So going through all of that, seeing all of that, and growing as a man was what made that music as well. 

So now, when I give people the bars, they’re like, ‘Oh shit, he can spit!鈥 Yeah…I鈥檝e been doing that. It鈥檚 about having fun. The only thing you can do in this life is take a craft and have fun. The world will try to rob you of all of that, your peace, love, and happiness. So you got to keep yourself excited, do it for yourself first at all times.

You mentioned the difference in experiences you had growing up in Fredericksburg as opposed to Norfolk. Tell me about your upbringing in your hometown compared to what you came to find in your second home?

Fredericksburg is a bit country, my mom is from there, and my dad is from Jersey. My cultural retrospect was very universal. I鈥檇 always be out there at my grandparents’ house riding four-wheelers, playing in the dirt, and things of that nature. We鈥檇 try to help my uncle work on cars and clean up the shop, my cousin Nick and I. If we weren鈥檛 there, we鈥檇 be at his house playing ball. It was very wholesome. Fredericksburg is like a commuter town, so there鈥檚 not much for the youth to do, but it can get wild out there. There are still hoods out there, and everybody from the Burg knew about the VFW before it got shut down. There used to be parties, but it鈥檇 always get shut down when people got to wrecking and shooting. That was the only thing out there until we got Jay鈥檚, and that got shut down too, but by that time, I was in Norfolk. There wasn鈥檛 much for the youth, so we鈥檇 just hang out at the mall or go to the movies, typical middle-class childhood shit.

When I came down to Norfolk, that鈥檚 when I started to see things. Like I was saying, my dad is from Jersey, so he and my uncle used to tell me about certain street shit. They would always be like, ‘Watch out for that,鈥 or ‘Look out for this.’ Before I was ever smoking, my uncle told me the difference between “mid” and “loud,” just so I would know. When they taught me things up there in Fredericksburg, it was never really applied until I came down here to Norfolk. I came down here to go to college, but the environment surrounding it is really gritty, and you have to know how to navigate. With certain people I came to be around, even with some of the things that I got into…I had to dabble in those environments and know how to move. That鈥檚 when all that I鈥檇 learned in Fredericksburg became applied and I could see, ‘Oh, this is what pops or unc was talking about.’ I鈥檝e seen some wild shit being down here, and that鈥檚 why I say it made me a man, the experience. Experience is the best teacher.

There are six songs on “Undeniable,” but as we know, you have plenty more in the tuck. Tell me about the selection and arrangement process for the songs that made the cut.

Initially, I wanted there to be more, but I decided to give a more concentrated body of work. With the arrangement of the tape, I was talking with my manager, and he was like, ‘Bro, I rock with it, and I see what you鈥檙e doing, but I think you should take 鈥淪tep鈥 off or rearrange it.’ 

I believe sometimes you鈥檝e got to humble yourself with your art, and if it鈥檚 someone that you consider very close to you and have respect for their musical ear, you鈥檙e going to take that into consideration. That night I rearranged it, and as I was sitting there with my shorty listening to it, I was like, ‘Yeah, he was right.’ Once I made that change, the whole tape flowed differently.

What was your mindset going into the new project, and why the title “Undeniable”?

At this point in my rap career, that鈥檚 just how I feel. I can do anything, and you could put me in the studio with damn near anybody, and I鈥檒l make it happen. There鈥檚 a high percentage I might body you on your own track.

Image courtesy of Rare Cinematic; Cover Art designed by Ali Dope/OnlyDopeMedia

Featured Image Courtesy of Malik Emmanuel (@Foreva.suave).

Thank you to Era Hardaway for the interview. Listen to “Undeniable” here!

Shormey and Alfred. Announce Spring Tour, SXSW Appearances

Two Virginia artists hit the road in March en route to Austin, TX music festival mecca.

From the nation’s capital to the edge of Texas and back again, Shormey and Alfred. will each bring their unique sounds to audiences far and wide. The tour has them returning to many places they have already been before, but this will be each of their first times performing in Florida (March 6-9th)! This will be Shormey’s 2nd appearance at SXSW and her first as an official artist and Alfred.’s 3rd time at SXSW and their 2nd time as an official artist. See all the dates below after checking out their tunes. And if you see a city you know friends in, best give them a heads up that they have a chance to catch some of Virginia’s top-notch talent in their hometown this coming spring.

Shormey (Pop, R & B)

Alfred. (Hip-Hop, Neo Soul)

March 3rd – Washington, DC @ Songbyrd *with Mind Shrine

March 4th – Richmond, VA @ The Camel *with Mind Shrine 

March 5th – Chapel Hill, NC @ Shirley Temple + 

March 6th – St. Petersburg, FL @ The Flytrap + 

March 7th – Orlando, FL @ Couples Coop + 

March 8th – St. Augustine, FL @ Sarbez +  

March 9th – Miami, FL @ Fuzzybaby +  

March 11th – Athens, GA @ The Pitbull Manor + 

March 12th – Atlanta, GA @ Murmur + 

March 13th – New Orleans, La @ Banks Bar + 

March 14th – Houston, TX @ Satellite Bar + 

March 15th – March 21st – Austin TX @ SXSW

March 17th – Laredo, TX @ Cultura Beer Garden + 

March 20th – Denton, TX @ Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studio % shormey only 

March 25th – Charleston, SC @ House Show + 

March 26th – Raleigh, NC @ Transfer Co. Ballroom +

March 27th – Asheville, NC @ Margaritaville +  

March 28th – Harrisonburg, VA @ Easy Greasy + 

* with Mind Shrine

^ shormey only 

+ with Alfred

Monthly Mix: Gabe Niles

We鈥檙e honored Gabe Niles took some time out of his busy schedule to grace us with this funk house mix. He鈥檚 always between VA and LA, either working with Sunny and Gabe or some of your favorite artists. He helped hometown hero D.R.A.M. hit it big and now perfecting beats for Eryka Badu and others alongside legendary hip-hop producer Rick Rubin. Enjoy this nice, long, danceable hour and a half narrated by DJ Sup Ladies himself.

Comparison, Consistency, and Crew Love With Max Fullard

 Photos by Marcel Hoke (@allencatell)
Photos by Marcel Hoke (@allencatell)

 

by jerome spencer

When I met with RBLE鈥檚 Max Fullard at Thank You Gallery in Norfolk, VA for this interview, he took a few minutes to go live on Instagram and talk to his followers. As he perused the gallery鈥檚 collection of books, zines and clothing, Fullard joked and laughed while he held his phone and coveted a Star Trak shirt in the collection. This was somewhat of a homecoming for Max since he relocated to LA in 2017 and he seemed happy to be home. He was quick to get down to business, though. And once we got the interview rolling, he was focused and genuine 鈥 a combination of qualities that is somewhat rare for someone who interviews musicians on a regular basis.

I鈥檓 assuming you鈥檙e already familiar with RBLE, but I鈥檒l give you a quick refresher; Virginia-based hip hop collective came together around 2010 (don鈥檛 fact-check me, I鈥檓 going off of memory) and quickly became eminent in the 757 due to the hustle and grind they devoted to the scene. For a while, it seemed like at least one member of RBLE was performing on any given weekend and their name was on everyone鈥檚 lips. Even if you鈥檙e unfamiliar with the clique, you鈥檙e probably still well-aware of RBLE affiliates DRAM and Sunny & Gabe; the two acts have had a pretty big buzz for a minute now with momentum still building. Regardless of what impetus each member distinctly possesses, the RBLE fam stays close and diligent and Max Fullard is always in the mix; usually front and center.

Fullard has been consistently dropping tracks for the better part of a decade, most notably 2014鈥檚 A Rebel Named Max and 2016鈥檚 Nights of the Forth, but it was only in September of last year that he decided make the trek to LA. While Max鈥檚 reasons for moving to California may have seemed inconsequential at first – 鈥淗onestly, man, weather,鈥 he tells me, 鈥淎nything drops below 70 and I feel cold鈥 – his motivations were actually more specific and focused.

鈥淥ne of the reasons I wanted to move to LA, I鈥檓 not gonna say I was depressed, but I was a little down,鈥 he confesses, 鈥淟ike everyday I鈥檇 wake up like 鈥榓lright I gotta go to work鈥 and I鈥檇 spend unnecessary money trying to find happiness. That鈥檚 why I had to get some of those darker songs on Nights of the Forth out. Because I knew there was light at the end of the tunnel.鈥

A stellar example of one of those 鈥渄arker songs鈥 is Hurt One, a somber record about feeling alone and looking for hope. But the beat is a banger and Fullard doesn鈥檛 want you to think he鈥檚 on that depressive tip. In fact, the guy is brimming with optimism and positivity.

鈥淣ot to knock anybody who ever thinks really dark thoughts,鈥 he says, 鈥渂ut I was on the outside looking in at myself. I knew I was sad and I knew how to get rid of the sadness; I just wasn鈥檛 there yet.  You try to put all of your emotions in one song so I was just like 鈥業 need to get this shit out鈥. When I went to LA for the first time I was happy.鈥

So this really becomes a story about a man searching for himself and, for Max, a change of scenery was what he needed.

鈥淚鈥檓 not saying it was Virginia that was making me sad it was just Groundhog Day shit,鈥 he continues, 鈥淚 was like I need to get out. I need to see some other shit. I was working everyday because I was living outside of my means. I bought a drop-top convertible. I bought jewelry. I was racking up my credit cards just trying to find something that was gonna make me happy and I knew I needed to stop or I was gonna fucking fold. So when the LA thing came around I was like this is it.鈥

LA also found Fullard on his own for the first time. Up until then, he lived in 鈥渢he RBLE house鈥 with the other members of the crew, a situation that could be a little overwhelming in terms of creativity.

鈥淣ow that I am away I get my own solitude and I can become more of who I wanna be,鈥 he says, 鈥淎s myself instead of who I am in the crew. We have the big RBLE House so 鈥 I鈥檓 in my room making music, Gabe鈥檚 in his room making music, (Artel) Carter鈥檚 in his room making music 鈥 you鈥檙e gonna hear each other making music. So naturally you鈥檒l bust in like 鈥榳hat鈥檚 this鈥 or 鈥榶ou should do this鈥 or 鈥榳ill you listen to this鈥. So now that I鈥檓 by myself I鈥檓 able to form my own identity. I鈥檓 not hearing Gabe make his beats and telling him I want it so he鈥檚 able to expand and finish his stuff with Sunny & Gabe. Sometimes I鈥檇 be like 鈥榶o, that shit鈥檚 fire. Let me get that鈥. Now, I started using more dudes that I was finding. I utilize Youtube a lot more.  I like to straight up buy your beat for what it鈥檚 worth, get the stem, and get the contract. That鈥檚 it. I lot of Youtube producers give you that on the reg, you don鈥檛 gotta meet them, they don鈥檛 have to be involved. 鈥

That creative environment also motivated Max in a different way, helping him shape who he wanted to be and what he wanted to get out of making music. 鈥淚 would come home from work and I鈥檇 have a little bit of jealousy that these dudes get to sit around all day and play Madden and work on music. And Sunny & Gabe was popping off and DRAM was popping off and I鈥檓 at work, fucking waiting tables. You know, you make a song like this gonna be it and a week later it鈥檚 only at like 100 plays. But then I started appreciating 100 plays. When I wrote the song Ten Fans, I was like I have ten fans and that鈥檚 it. And those are the people that I鈥檓 gonna show my love for, those are the people that I鈥檓 gonna keep pushing for.鈥

Finding his identity outside of RBLE has proven very productive for Max. He released the Max EP on October 26th which showcases a clearly more ambitious and adventurous Max than we鈥檝e ever heard before and he plans to follow that up very soon with two 鈥 yes, two 鈥 new full lengths in the near future. Max鈥檚 influences have always felt West Coast  – 鈥渢he 2000 Myspace West Coast vibes,鈥 as he puts it 鈥 so LA seemed like a logical second home for him. LA also puts him geographically close to 鈥渃ousin of RBLE鈥 DRAM, a detail that isn鈥檛 lost on one as motivated as Fullard.

鈥淗e lives ten minutes away from me. I see his crib and I鈥檓 like I can get this,鈥 he says, 鈥淲hen DRAM blew up I saw that it was possible. So now I go a little harder. Not even in a jealous way, but like DRAM got it I can get it. Because he has the same exact resources that I have, obviously he鈥檚 on a label now, but he had Gabe, I have Gabe. He mixed and recorded all that shit in [his sister] Sophia鈥檚 kitchen. So he showed us that it was possible with the exact same resources that we have, you know? Same foundation, same fanbase, everything he had with Cha Cha鈥 I just need a Cha Cha, or even if I get three-1/3 of Cha Cha. I just gotta be consistent and he鈥檚 showing me that as long as you鈥檙e consistent and putting out good product and just keep pushing, it鈥檚 gonna happen.鈥

When Max isn鈥檛 learning from his peers, he鈥檚 learning from his mistakes. The Max EP showcases the ambitions of a vet that is ready to step into the majors.

鈥淚 was very inconsistent before I met DRAM,鈥 he admits, 鈥淚 was going thru the wrong avenues, I was paying for PR, I was trying to get on blogs. I鈥檝e been in Billboard, I鈥檝e been in Fader and all that shit, but if you鈥檙e not consistent it doesn鈥檛 matter. Once they see the tweet at the end of the day, you鈥檙e at the bottom. So if you鈥檙e not getting people to post about and talk about you, you鈥檙e just gonna fade out. You gotta stay consistent. Once one song takes off, they鈥檙e gonna go back and listen to everything and then I鈥檒l be fine. So that just keeps me going.鈥

These are words to live by, kids. My dude Max could do a TED Talk on perseverance and following your passions. Or you could just listen to his music and support his dreams. I know he鈥檇 do the same for you because he told me as much: 鈥淚f anybody鈥檚 ever feeling lonely, lost, sad or even just happy you can reach out to me 鈥 dm, Twitter, IG, email 鈥 you can talk to me.鈥 I鈥檇 do it soon, though, before he blows up.

Miles From The Mainstream: A Chat With Gretchen Peters

鈥淚鈥檓 sorry I鈥檓 eating dinner while I鈥檓 talking to you,鈥 Gretchen Peters said after a not-so-long lull in the conversation, 鈥淚 don鈥檛 normally do that when I鈥檓 giving an interview, but I鈥檝e just taken a few bites.鈥 The Grammy-nominated songwriter had just gotten off a plane from Ohio, taking a pit stop from touring at her home in Nashville.

Peters moved there 30 years ago to pursue a career as a singer-songwriter. 鈥淚 basically patterned myself after all the people I’ve idolized and copied while I was young [like Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell]. I came here with that in mind – that鈥檚 what I wanted to do.鈥 Her initial publishing deal was merely an effort to 鈥減rove that I could write songs, then and if I got a record deal, I could insist on singing my own songs.鈥

Lyrics and melodies made for Faith Hill, Etta James, Neil Diamond, and 鈥減ersonal hero鈥 Bonnie Raitt landed Peters in the Nashville Songwriter Hall of Fame in 2014. No matter how bright the star, though, she鈥檚 always flattered when 鈥渁nyone wants to鈥 sing a song she wrote. 鈥淚f it鈥檚 really popular with fans, they have to be on board to sing it for the rest of their careers, and you have to really feel like you can be invested in a song to do that.鈥

Peters knows that feeling well, battling with her own big hit, 鈥淚ndependence Day.鈥 Peters鈥 version for Martina McBride is 鈥渁lmost monolithic, you can鈥檛 really do anything with it except go through the motions.鈥 Now live, she switched from guitar to piano to provide a 鈥渇resh鈥 ballad and show her original version to the world. 鈥淲hen you hear a song a lot you stop really listening to the words. My way of dealing with that was to slow it way down鈥o that people would focus on the lyrics all over again.鈥

Words are Peters鈥 livelihood after all, but they start as a scene. 鈥淵ou have to have to be able to see the movie so to speak before you can really write the song,鈥 she said, 鈥淚 spin them out based on ideas I catch in the course of everyday living.鈥 For 鈥淏oy from Rye,鈥 what she considers the defining track on her new record Dancing With The Beast, the springboard was the title itself.

Despite it鈥檚 name, the song is about the 鈥渇ragile, fraught time for girls鈥 hitting puberty, and was 鈥渁 song that only a female writer could鈥檝e written.鈥 From Peters鈥 biggest hits to songs for herself, this is a common theme, as women of all ages 鈥渁re the characters I鈥檓 really drawn to and interested in.鈥 She quickly corrected my common misconception, however, that while only a woman can write Peters鈥 songs, everyone can appreciate them.

鈥淚t鈥檚 a voice coming at you saying 鈥業 feel this way too.鈥 I don鈥檛 find that depressing at all, I find it hopeful and reassuring and beautiful.鈥

Gretchen on why sad songs rule

鈥淢aybe they didn鈥檛 necessarily know or could have written it, but it doesn鈥檛 mean it doesn鈥檛 affect them,鈥 she said of men who comment on 鈥淏oy From Rye鈥 after her performances. 鈥淥ne of the great things songs can do is kind of let you live in somebody else’s skin for 5 minutes; at the heart of it, what songs really do is open up our empathy channels.鈥

A lack of empathy in the 鈥渨asteland鈥 of current mainstream country accelerated the focus on Peters鈥 singing career. 鈥淲hen I turn on the radio – which is rarely – but when I do it just seems like it鈥檚 just pure testosterone. Honestly, one thing I think we all have to remember is people programming commercial stations are not selling music, they鈥檙e not selling songs; they鈥檙e selling tires, deodorant, whatever they鈥檙e running ads for.鈥

All the good songwriters are hiding in female-saturated, counter-culture Americana, Peters claimed. 鈥淚 started to feel like there was no room for the types of songs I wrote. I could hear it, it doesn鈥檛 take a genius to listen to the radio and figure out things are going east and you鈥檙e going west.鈥 Welcoming these songs would make the radio 鈥渕ore diverse, more varied, just by the nature of [women鈥檚] own experiences.鈥

However, she said 鈥渨e鈥檙e the victim of our own technology,鈥 with shortened attention spans proven in test audiences and focus groups that record labels rely on more than ever to churn out singles. 鈥淧eople may respond to an up-tempo, happy happy song about beers and trucks in the first 15 seconds, but a 5-min story song, you got to hear it all the way through before you even know how it affects us.鈥

While she鈥檚 grateful for her 鈥渁ccidental鈥 success, she鈥檚 not a slave to it. 鈥淚 always have really written what I feel like I need to say. I never really consciously wrote songs for other people.鈥 Peters鈥 seems okay with stepping out of the songwriting spotlight and into her own, finally singing her sad songs for herself and anyone who can relate.

鈥淔rom the time I started loving and playing music, when I was about 7 or 8 years old, the most cathartic experience was lying on my floor in the dark listening to a really sad song and feeling it deeply,鈥 she said passionately, 鈥測ou鈥檙e listening to someone across a great distance singing something to you, letting you know you’re not alone鈥 it鈥檚 a voice coming at you saying 鈥業 feel this way too.鈥 I don鈥檛 find that depressing at all, I find it hopeful and reassuring and beautiful. Even crying when hearing a sad song and feeling better, that鈥檚 kind of what I hope to create whenever I鈥檓 playing live, that moment people can feel like they鈥檙e with other people and sharing that emotional experience. To me, that鈥檚 as good as it gets.鈥

Finding Sweet Peace with Sunny and Gabe

 All photos via Anjelica Jardiel
All photos via Anjelica Jardiel

Sunny and Gabe haven鈥檛 released a full length in five years, but that doesn鈥檛 mean they haven鈥檛 been busy. Gabe Niles has been working with legendary producer Rick Rubin off-and-on in LA on secret project with big names. Sunny鈥檚 been jamming on side projects such as the jazzy dapzam and collaborations with Opal (which has been featured on a couple TV shows now), and solo stuff kept under wraps for now.

They blessed us with a few bites recently, with Vacay and Hadouken, the single off their new record. Now they鈥檙e serving up several slices with 鈥淧eace of Cake,鈥 released this week. The first Time Traveler鈥檚 Ball last fall spun a few tracks in the DJ setlist, but now they鈥檙e performing entirely pre-enjoyed jams live at Origami this Saturday for round 2. Popscure caught up with them before the show to talk about where they started, their travels, and what inspired the long-awaited album.

 

Tell us a little bit about your origins – how did y’all get together to start making tunes?

Sunny – He ripped my song off of SoundCloud and remixed it. Soon thereafter, I recorded on the coolest beat I鈥檇 ever heard. We started e-mailing back and forth and had an album鈥檚 worth of music within a couple of months.

What music, art, or otherwise do you pull inspiration from generally?

Sunny – I just let it come through me. I鈥檝e always played with word association and letting my mind go wherever it wants. Kind of like stream of consciousness. Whatever feels right is right. I鈥檓 mostly inspired by this and how it mixes with my own state and emotions, and how it can fit into whatever instrument or instrumental I鈥檓 faced with at the moment. I love so much music that I have no idea what is influencing me. Love weird shit and honest shit.

Gabe – Colorful things. Chaotic themes. Sci fi. High energy, jazzy moments.

What did you want to do differently with this record?

Sunny – Make it sound a little less dusty. I love Free Candy and the way it sounds but we wanted to clean this stuff up enough to be presentable and ingestible to a wider audience.

Gabe – This record we actually took our time lol. Not really, but the sense of it. Actually just made more songs and chose from a bigger pool of records鈥o we could be patient and hold on to some classic songs for the next rather than overload.

What scene do you hope to set with this album?

Sunny – Oh man, just a big run through time and space.

Gabe – Space casino latin bar called LNS-19 is pretty much the vibe. LNS-19 stands for Latin Nights Sector-19. Def kinda futuristic. 5th element/Cowboy bebop vibes

I know long-term partner D.r.a.m. is on this record. What are some Other exciting collaborations you worked in?

Sunny – I鈥檝e mostly collabed with my own dark emotions.

Gabe – Oh ye, gotta dream team. Gary Donna from our band touches a lot, he is one of my main collaborators. Dude is crazy. Roget Chahayed on the keys for a couple records. He is a walking platinum plaque. Despo aka Los Hendrix, craaazy guitar player from Yonkers based in LA. He produces for Brent Fiyahz, one of the first musicians I met in LA. Pip, amazing composer. He arranged and played a lot of the strings you hear throughout the record. He produces as well, very well rounded. PaperDiamond mastered it, dude is a genius. Justin Battle and Mike Mizzle came in on 鈥淪istermoon.鈥

You all are time travelers, what time periods influenced the music on the new record (past or future since you have seen it all)?

Sunny – A mix of everything at once. A lot of 70s I think. A lot of smoky jazz clubs as well. LNS-19 is a smoky jazz club in the future. It鈥檚 just whatever you feel; it鈥檚 right.

Gabe – Mesoteric Era meets Jetsons meets 2003

As for the present day, how do you feel about tunes coming out lately, for better or worse? What’s exciting you and what’s disappointing (if anything)?

Sunny – There鈥檚 a lot of the same shit that鈥檚 getting a whole lot of attention right now. There鈥檚 also a lot of GREAT shit going on. I鈥檓 a little disconnected and only occasionally find/am introduced to something I鈥檓 reallllly feeling. When I saw King Krule come out with a big ass buzz it was probably the most motivating thing I鈥檝e ever seen.

Gabe – It’s a lot of good shit that comes out that just gets kinda pushed to the side occasionally. It’s kinda mundane when you hear a lot of the songs that sound exactly the same, but you also gotta understand the culture. It’s a great canvas tho, since it鈥檚 kinda flat lines. So it’s still as exciting as it is boring.

From when Sunny and Gabe began roughly 5 years ago to now, how has the industry changed?

Sunny – I have no idea what the industry even is because I鈥檓 afraid of it, but it seems like everything is about some playlist or something. I miss albums. I really miss like, guitar music. I don鈥檛 really use weird genre names to describe what I like but I miss GUITAR MUSIC. Some hard ass shit. There鈥檚 so much smooth shit. I get really tired of stuff that just sounds really good, smooth singers, smooth beats, just FUCK I wanna feel something. My bad, I鈥檓 like an old school person who likes shit nobody has ever heard of. But there鈥檚 a lot of good shit, again, don鈥檛 get me wrong.

Gabe – *Clears throat* it hasn’t. The only things that changed forreal are the gates and the gatekeepers. Play ball.

What does the future hold for music, and what are your efforts to push it in that direction?

Sunny – I want to help inspire others to be different. Straight up. I鈥檒l fight until I鈥檓 dead if it鈥檚 going to help someone else do what they want instead of try to follow a trend.

Gabe – See above.

Seems like you all have been holding onto these tracks for quite some time… why is now the right time for release?

Sunny – We are SLOW AS FUCK. The tracks got too clean and had to get dirty again. We made SisterMoon last month. There’s so many reasons. We have no boss so for two creatives it鈥檚 a nightmare trying to get to a point where we call something 鈥渇inished鈥 Now is the right time because it just happened to happen. No idea.

Gabe – They forced their way out after holding us at gun point.

 

Peep 鈥淧eace of Cake鈥 in it鈥檚 entirety below