Thursday, December 1, SDSU hosted the HeadSTRONG Toy Drive in the Student Union in collaboration with Polinsky Children’s Center in efforts to raise toy donations for children. The drive was a huge success, and so was DJ Josh Giggin’s performance.
Josh is the founder of ECLECTIK, his music corporation based in San Diego that’s linking up with artists, producers, and music professionals around the world.
Since July, when Josh launched ECLECTIK, the organization has been growing fast. When I asked him how often he makes music he laughed and replied, “I don’t make music, I’m too busy watching over everyone else.” From a close knit group of friends who share a passion for making music, it’s grown into 20 founding members and 34 members overall in several different countries.
But that’s not important to DJ and founder Josh, he’s simply here to “set a culture.”
“Music these days is really hard to listen to. Just in general, listening, you don’t even know what they’re saying.”
“When I find artists through SoundCloud to bring onto ECLECTIK, they have to have a certain sound. Something you can listen to—easy listening—it inspires you to get up and go through your day. I’m really versatile with my song selection, that’s why a lot of people in our group are really versatile. They can sing, they can rap, then they can trap.”
“I have to be inspired to inspire. If I’m not inspired when I DJ, it’s hard for me to spread that. My main inspiration is to be an inspiration.”
As for who inspires him, it’s mainly underground, “low-key” producers. His favorite genres are trap, new soul, hip hop, and R&B.
ECLECTIK rapper Ta’ Sean Du Bois began writing when he was 6 years old, and his talents have since escalated into what he calls “feel good music” that you can wake up and go to the beach to.
“I always loved reading and writing, it was like my best subject in school and I also really loved music. I liked the aspect of beat, the lyrics, and how the lyrics matched with the beat pattern. I started rapping early, like in high school. We would freestyle everyday afterschool by the ice cream truck, and then I got more confident and I started rapping over like Kendrick or Dr. Dre and then I started writing my own music. I officially started rapping like senior year.”
Ta’ Sean says his main musical inspiration is Kanye West.
“My parents are from the Caribbean’s, so I grew up listening to reggae. I didn’t think there was any other kind of music. My older brother showed me “Champion” by Kanye West and I was just like, ‘What is this!’ That’s when I started listening to like Nelly and not really people who were like ‘in in’ at the time ’cause they were different, but I liked that.”
He’s inspired by artists like these because of their “swag.”
“They’re so confident in themselves, that they’re gonna take something from like 17 yeas ago, mix it with something new, and put it out there. Being confident is hard, being able to do all that is hard, and so they really helped me improve that.”
Since forming ECLECTIK, Ta’ Sean can see his improvement in his music and performing, as can all of the founding members.
“Performing is scary, that’s what’s hard,” he said. Each of the members I spoke to said they still get nervous when they’re about to perform, “but that excitement and joy also drowns that [nervousness], and then you’re hyped.”
ECLECTIK is constantly expanding. Josh told me about their Link Up show in Orange County, which showcased local talent, and their #LinkUp efforts in San Diego as well. With a worldwide organization, communication can be a problem.
Josh: “We’re everywhere, it’s hard for us to all talk and gather our ideas, but everyone believes in the mission. There is a sound that needs to be spread. Money’s not a big thing to us. It’s easy to make good music when you’re not worried about money.”
“We have a DJ in Australia. We have a DJ and producer in the UK, she’s actually planning a music festival and she’s already asked us to go there. One of our artists is going to be going on tour early in 2017. It’s gonna be 17 cities over two months.”
Those are just a few of ECLECTIK’s exciting future prospects. But through all the success, they’ve kept it real. To all the budding artists out there, the founders of ECLECTIK have this to say:
“There’s always gonna be haters. You can’t please everyone, but you just gotta keep going. In a group of 10 people you might get one person that’s gonna like your song, and that one person is gonna make it worthwhile. And that one person is gonna turn into a whole fan base and next thing you know, you’re playing at a music festival in front of thousands of people.”
And if that doesn’t happen, “we’ll find you,” they added, laughing. Josh did a great job DJing the Toy Drive at SDSU. And I’m sure we’ll be hearing more from ECLECTIK in the near future.
This show was crazy. It was unlike any other show I’ve ever reviewed, mainly because of the uniquely high level of interaction between Hopsin and the audience. He brought three volunteers on stage who claimed they could rap a verse of his classic Sag My Pants, crowd-surfed, and came to the edge of the stage and shook hands with everyone (myself included!) in the front row. I was particularly thrown off guard when he singled me out and spoke to me as part of a transition to a new song. He came to the edge of the stage, crouched down, and said to me, “I know you from somewhere, you look familiar.” He got a line of it wrong and messed up the transition, but his fans chanted his name “Hopsin! Hopsin!” signaling they were still having a great time.
He covered a wide variety of his music, which he pointed out before the show, saying he would because he ‘knew how it was from the fans’ perspective.” From Ill Mind 5, Pans in the Kitchen, I Need Help, to newer Ill Mind 8. His fan interaction portrayed that realness that he’s advocated since the beginning of his career. When he came down to shake everyone’s hand he even said, ‘Just to show you all this is real, no Hollywood bullshit.’ Being Hopsin’s main selling point, the crowd thoroughly enjoyed this.
One of the most unique things, which I’ve never seen before at any show, was bringing up members from the audience to sing Sag My Pants. Three guys volunteered to each sing a verse and then Hop and the crowd sang the chorus. Two of the guys did really well, and got to jump into the audience and crowd-surf. One guy was better at crowd-surfing than the other, and the other one fell at first—but got lifted up eventually. The third lyricist froze on stage, his girlfriend was standing next to me in the crowd and she said that it wasn’t a lack of memorization; just nerves. Still, Hopsin congratulated all of them at the end.
Some of Hop’s music is controversial (which is why we love it) and he was very respectful about it. For example, before singing Ill Mind 7, which is based on an internal monologue questioning the existence of God, Hopsin disclosed to the crowd that he was not meaning to offend anybody; that these were just his thoughts. As an outspoken Christian, his music sometimes conflictingly speaks on his devout faith in God and other times doubts His existence. Hop’s lyrics reflect very realistic virtues, as his opinions are always changing and he does not represent any one belief, which makes him relatable to many.
Hopsin ended his show with Bout the Business, after being enticed back on stage for an encore. His fans were more than loving; everyone was in ecstatic support. And he deserved it; he was incredible live. He rapped and sang every song exactly how it sounds on the tracks. The most impressive was how he kept rapping even while crowd-surfing! Flawlessly! Here’s to hoping he goes on tour again soon 🙏🏽
Once again, The Observatory was an awesome venue. We got to the line about an hour before the doors opened, and ended up standing right at the front, next to the stage. One thing they did, though, was brought on way too many openers. Hopsin’s openers were pretty good. Token was my favorite, he had great energy. But the San Diego area’s opening groups were just laughable and exhausting. Hopsin’s got some true fans to stick around through all of that!
But, all in all, The Observatory is always a great venue.
I spoke with Pennsylvania rapper Eric Will. He shares his journey of becoming a rapper and his true goal of inspiring others.
Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where you’re from, how you started, and what you’re about?
I’m from Easton Pennsylvania. I started back when I was 14 years old. I mean, I started when I was younger, I learned a few instruments and stuff, but then I got like a piano and I started to make like little hip hop beats with my friends, and from there we just kind of started writing stuff and doing like little recordings. My dad was really into music, so he got like a microphone setup and everything, so we would just mess around with little instrumentals and all that kind of stuff when I was 14. And then from there, me and him just kind of kept doing it and just working towards that, and it’s been quite a journey. I have so much more to learn and master my craft and stuff, but it’s just been an amazing journey so far.
When did your writing develop? You’re making these instrumentals, starting off with these beats, where did you find the inspiration to craft and write lyrics?
So me and my friend, we actually both started out with just freestyles. And then probably when I was about 15 or so I started to write my own stuff. I actually had like a whole book- a little book- with a bunch of words that like a rhyme together [laughs]. I would just go through the book and like write a song, it wasn’t anything great but it was little exercises to learn more rhymes and stuff like that. You know, it started when I was 14, but I feel like I didn’t really get extremely serious until I was like 17. That’s when I really started to sit down and produce and write, you know? My songs like really came together and my voice and my mind and who I am.
What changed? What made you think, ‘I need to sit down and get serious about this.’ What in your life made you come to that realization?
So, like, in high school, I had a few very close friends and they all kind of liked my stuff so they told me like, ‘dude, you should just keep pursuing it.’ And of course you have haters and stuff in the beginning, and they’re all trying to hold me back, but you know I feel like both ends of the spectrum -people that hated it and people that encourage me to do it- really like flipped the switch on me. And people were like, ‘dude, you should just keep doing it, just keep doing it,’ you know? I turned 17, I had a job, so I like went and bought everything so I could record my own stuff. That’s really what did it, was when I went out and bought all the recording stuff to help produce my own music.
What challenges have you faced along this road?
From people, of course. Everyone has an opinion on music and stuff. When I first started, you know, you’re never going to jump into anything you do and be like amazing at it. You know, a lot of people, when I first started, that were like ‘you shouldn’t do this and this and that,’ and everybody hated and stuff, so that was a huge thing. Getting over that barrier, passing that barrier, where everyone said I should stop. And, you know, it’s hard to keep doing something that everybody tells you, like, ‘no you shouldn’t do it anymore.’ So that’s definitely one challenge. And of course the money, you know, and going to school. I don’t know how it is down there, going to high school and stuff. Over here, going to high school, we can get up at 6 o’clock in the morning.
“So I’d go from 6 o’clock in the morning to 11 o’clock at night after work and then come home and try to write lyrics, it was crazy. That was definitely a huge challenge. But you know it’s that grind that you put into it I guess that really shapes it.”
Yeah, it’s your motivation that makes you stick out. That’s what holds people back and that’s what makes people stand out. So who are you working with right now? Or who have you worked with in the past?
I guess I’ll just start with like my management. I got a manager early this year, he’s an awesome guy. He really helps me out with all my promotions and stuff like that. I have a producer that I actually just recently got, his name is Homage, we are working on an album just recently. We just decided that we can definitely make something cool, so we just started just signing some contracts and stuff like that. I worked with Hi-Rez. I mean, he’s an awesome guy. He was kind of like the first big person that I got to work with and I remember messaging him- it was crazy- he got back to me right away, and I was like ‘oh my God’ [laughing]. He’s like one of my favorite artists for such a long time, since high school, so when we got to talking it was just awesome. Then he actually hooked me up one day with Emilio Rojas, and he’s an awesome guy too. We actually had a track as well, I plan on working with a few other artists in the future. I would like to maybe work with like Chris Webby, and I plan on working, down the road, again with Hi-Rez and Emilio, maybe working on a track.
So you talked about how you’re kind of in the process of a new album coming out, how far along are you?
We’re just planning it out right now. It’s going to be more like a mixtape, not like an album, like 7 to 9 songs, give or take. We’re still like planning the release date, I’m not a hundred percent sure what time. We’re looking at it right now, and in the next couple weeks I’ll definitely be able to give a timeframe for sure, and that’ll be released on my social medias and stuff. We are just planning stuff out and getting the feel. I definitely want to have like a trap-y and old-school feel, and really combine the two, almost two rap types.
Yeah definitely, that would be unique. What do you think about your style, or even your taste in music, makes you different than other hip hop artists?
I think what makes it unique, my style, is that I like to combine old school and trap, like I can do both, alternative rap, all these different types of rap, and I think that is a huge thing. I want to make stuff that, not only can you party to it, but when you’re alone and you listen to it, you can really sit down and be like, ‘Wow, he’s talking about this and it’s real stuff.’ I think is important to have that mixture and I plan to definitely in this album, I plan to have you know some songs that start off old school and then they go off into this trap vibe, and just really give it an awesome combination of two awesome types of rap. Just combine back in the 90s, to the early 2000’s, to now, 2016, 2015, and stuff.
That sounds like a good combination. So where do you find inspiration for lyrics that people can really get a message out of? From your life and your own personal observations and struggles, or what’s going on around you?
For the most part, right now, I take what’s going on around me, just things in my daily life. I like to reach into some of my old stuff [from] when I first started. My friend’s not really doing it any more, I know he kind of got into some trouble, but I like to reach back into that old stuff in my past. Stuff that I wanted to say back when I first started but I couldn’t or whatever, like to put it in now. For other songs I kind of see what’s going on around me, stuff like that.
What do you see around you, or other artists, or other people, things, in general; what really inspires you?
A lot of artists, like Logic. Old school Logic, and his new stuff, he really inspires me. Futuristic, Eminem, he’s come out recently with his new song, which was like crazy, crazy, crazy awesome. That kind of stuff inspires me, and then everything that’s just kind of going on in the world too. It’s just crazy, if you look at the news and stuff. I like to kind of tap into that, but put my own style into that. You know, like I said, talk about this real stuff but kind of put it onto a beat that people can party too, so it’s kind of like a subliminal message. You know, they’re partying to it, whatever, but they’re also understanding this is going on.
You get the best of both worlds in that. So what you see for the future?
For my future, I’d really like to reach out to maybe some labels and stuff like that, in the future. I mean, my main goal in all of this music, really, the reason why I even started in the first place, was just to inspire people to follow their dreams and their passions, and that they can do it and stuff like that. So definitely trying even more to get my music out there to connect to people that feel like they can’t do it and tell them that they can. I feel like that’s definitely a long-term goal that I would really love to share with other people. And of course, like, reach out to other labels and all that kind of stuff and then just build up my brand and everything.
Have you ever done any shows?
I have done a few. I’ve, so far, I’ve only done like college shows. I actually might have one coming up, I have to talk to my manager a little bit about it more. One in Maryland, and I might have something that’s coming up soon, but yeah. I have done a couple shows at Stroudsburg University and then a few stuff up there. I plan to do some stuff at Shippensburg University and just some more stuff hopefully up the East Coast and future, later on, down the West Coast.
What do you find different in recording your own song or performing for your friends, what do you find different about that from performing on stage in front of students and a bunch of people? Do you ever get nervous?
I definitely do get nervous. I think what’s really different, especially because I always do it in front of my friends and I can just do you so easily I guess, because they already know what I have to offer. When you go perform in front of, especially college kids, they’re like ‘all right what is this kid doing’ and then you get up there and they’re like ‘wow, it’s crazy, this kid’s like really spitting bars!’ And it’s definitely like the reaction of the crowd that really gives you like the confidence and stuff. You almost like feed off of it, it’s just awesome. It’s always nerve-racking, right before you go on, but once you get a song or two out it gets a lot easier. Definitely an adrenaline rush.
What’s one piece of advice you’d like to give someone so that they don’t give up on a dream like this?
I would just tell people, you know, if you believe, you got to believe in yourself. It’s your passion, it’s your love. If you have such a love for something never let it go. Just follow it, you know, and everything will come along with it. Don’t worry about the money, don’t worry about all that kind of stuff, as long as you follow your dream and your passion and your want for something that’s so strong, everything will come along with it, that’s just how it works. It’s important. I was actually just talking to a kid that messaged me today for advice on his music, and I said just believe in yourself.
“That’s the most important thing, and when people don’t believe in you, you gotta believe in yourself and your craft and do it for yourself ,and everything will come along with it.”
Interview with Cincinnati-based rapper and producer, Cing Curt
Hi good morning, well morning over here.
Hey, good afternoon over here.
I want to start with a little bit of your backstory. Where do you live? Where are you from?
I’m from Cincinnati. I live in a suburb a little north of Cincinnati. I started making music when I was around 7 or 8. When I first started writing, I ended up getting a karaoke machine for 20 bucks from the flea market with my dad, and he bought me some cassette tapes and I started recording from there. So I’ve been doing this for a while, it’s something I love to do.
What was that first moment when you’d say you became a songwriter or a rapper?
I remember some kid in school, I was like 8 by the way, some kid was walking on his hands at recess or something and all the girls were going crazy over him, and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t walk on my hands. I went home that day, tried walking on my hands, and it was that night I was listening to music and I wrote a rap song. I wrote this girl a rap song, and took her over the paper, and it worked. So since then, I’ve just been going with it [laughing].
[Laughing] That’s a great story. When you’re rich and famous that is gonna be the thing you’re gonna have to tell a million times.
Yeah, I still know the girl I wrote the rap song for. It’s pretty funny.
So tell me about being a producer.
Yeah, I produce a lot of my own beats and I also engineer all my stuff. It’s really good to be behind the sound of all your music because you get the final say in everything, but it’s also kind of difficult, you know, it’s a lot of work.
Yeah, you’re your own boss so that kind of comes with the freedom but also the challenges. So have you produced other rappers?
Yeah, I produced for a guy named Jay Al, he’s from around here, and he had a music video premier on Russell Simmons’ All Def Digital YouTube channel. It’s got like a million subscribers. And a guy named Picasso from around here, he’s been on the radio stations around here and he’s done a lot of opening for artists like MGK and Juicy J.
Wow that’s awesome. In the beginning were your making mash-ups or have you always made your own beats as you’ve written your own lyrics?
I actually recently got into making my own beats, last March is when I got the equipment to make it myself because buying beats got too expensive. And that full ownership of a beat from an unknown producer can cost up to five grand, so it’s safer to go the route of making your own beats.
How do beats just come into your head? What is your process of thinking that and then creating that?
It depends on what mood I’m in. If I’m in a happy mood I’ll make a little drum beat that’s kind of upbeat and happier.
“Usually when I just make what I’m feeling, then I make the best kind of music.”
Right it’s genuine in that case. Who else have you worked with or worked for?
Recently in the last few months I’ve been linking up with other producers and engineers. There’s a guy in Cincinnati, his name’s Kyle Otto, he runs a studio called Otto Labs. He and some of the guys have been on MTV’s blog site; they go out of town, to Vegas and California, they go to labels and they shop their singles out. So I’ve been recently working with him trying to make something shake. About a month ago a minor league baseball player [John Williamson] from the Cubs hit me up, and he wants to remix my song “Mission.” He’s verified on Spotify; got like 13,000 monthly listeners, so it’s really cool.
Cool, good for you. Let’s talk about your new album Perspective. What was your inspiration for that?
This is my first album so I was trying to have as much of a subject matter as I could. Once I came up with the idea ‘perspective,’ I just went with it. Once I got it, I just started putting as much content in it as I could.
How long did that take you?
I was working on the tape for a little over a year.
How long does it usually take you to create and produce a song?
The crazy thing is that it varies. There are songs on the tape that I’ve spent three or four months perfecting. There’s songs on there that I started from scratch that I finished in a weekend.
How or when do you think of lyrics? Do you have to sit down and really think about it, or do they just come to you?
Sometimes it just comes to me. I’ll be out and about doing something or I’ll just be in the studio writing a song, and I’ll have another idea. And then sometimes I’ll have to sit down and write a little storyboard. Sometimes I have to pretty much write down the story before I write lyrics to it.
Who inspires you as an artist?
I would have to say Nas. I grew up listening to him, so it’s real nostalgic. He’s a great storyteller, so I cling to his music. Present day probably like Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, Isaiah Rashad.
Have you done any shows?
Yeah, I did a show in Cleveland in July and I’ve done a few shows around Cincinnati at smaller venues.
How does it feel when you’re up there?
I love the whole atmosphere of shows, especially when it’s live and everyone’s in tune with it. Just getting on stage and putting something on for the people who are feeling the environment. Especially if you got a decent catalogue, you can play a song that goes with the mood. Once you get into there’s no better feeling.
Where do you want to go with this? Why are you doing it?
I’ve been doing this for so long that it’s like I don’t even think about it anymore I just do it. I definitely want to eventually start opening up some shows, getting bigger shows. I want to be the best. I want to be memorable, I want to have a lasting effect on people and I want to inspire. Music always helps; it helped me growing up, I’d listen to music when I was growing up and I’d relate.
Jay James is a Producer creating free-flowing Electronic / R&B music. He’s also a Music Major at SDSU.
“I will produce the song, I’ll mix, it, I’ll master it. I’ll do the artwork, stuff like that.”
You’re producing your music, have you ever produced anyone else’s?
Yeah I’ve produced for a ton of different people, friends, other artists. I don’t want to name drop [laughs] but yeah I’ve produced for other people in the industry.
Where did you start?
I’ve been playing piano since I was three. I just taught myself how to play, and then I picked up guitar, started picking up some brass instruments, and it got to a point where I was like I wanna be in a band but I always sucked at working with people, because like people are unreliable. So I was like I’m just gonna record these different instruments on top of each other.
So what you’re doing right now, what you’ve put forth in your more professional recent setting, what are you mostly focusing on and how are you making it?
My workflow is kinda weird. I use a few different kinds of software to get the sound that I have. I usually start with the keys, I’ll just be sitting playing something, like ‘Oh I like that’ and I’ll take whatever melody or chords I came up with and then I’ll use other instruments and start layering and adding other counter melodies until I have something.
Are you ever inspired by other artist’s sounds?
Yeah, all the time. I guess like my biggest inspiration that you can like hear is probably like Kanye, Dilla, Flying Motives, people like that. And I also like to incorporate live instruments because I pay live instruments and I go to college where there’s music programs with amazing musicians, so I try to like get all that in there and just make it work to where its like you don’t hear something and its like ‘Whoa where’d that come from,’ you’re just like ‘That works perfectly.’
What inspired you from the beginning?
I watched a documentary on Timberland in like 7th grade, and I was like ‘Why don’t I do that?’ Music’s always been a huge part of my life. I kinda grew up in a church with a lot of music there and I was always involved in that. I’ve always been the kid tapping on things, banging on pots and pans, so it always made sense that I was gonna make music.
What about your cover art, what was the inspiration there?
My album artwork was based off a picture that was taken of me. I went home for summer break and I found a bunch of old pictures and I took pictures of them with my iPhone, and like uploaded it onto Photoshop and f****d with it and sent it to him [friend] and then he messed with it and that was it.
Wow, cool. How much of your music has vocals?
About like 50 percent of my music has vocals. It’s rarely me; I think I’ve put out one song where I was kind of singing on it
And you don’t want to do that? You like making it more?
I’m not ready yet. I’m not happy with where my voice is yet; I’m working on it. Until I’m ready to put out music where my voice is very prepared, I’m not going to.
Yeah, that makes sense. Ok I want to talk about your success on iTunes, like your album Beautiful. When did that come out?
Yeah, my album [Beautiful] dropped in May, and the first week or week and-a-half, it was on the iTunes charts and that was cool.
Damn! That’s exciting to see.
That was wild. I didn’t have a body of music before that.
I don’t put out a lot of music compared to how much music I make. Like there was a time when I was making three or four songs a day.
Are you very picky in what you put out?
Very, very pick. Like people have to push me to put out music. Recently it’s been better; I think I’ve been putting out as good as it’s gonna get. That’s like my philosophy. I try to make it as perfect as possible and I try not to rush, but sometimes you just gotta put it out.
What’s your favorite work?
I definitely have a favorite song, my song “Polaroids.” The biggest reason, is like so when I was working on the EP I had six songs that I had in mind but I had about ten songs that I had done, and I was like alright I’m gonna put out like 6 songs. But some sh*t happened between me and the artist and their label where I couldn’t put out the music and it was very frustrating. So I wrote a new song and then I sent it over to Crystal, who’s the singer on there, and so I got her part and then I was like this needs something else so I extended the song and worked with another producer and had someone play guitar over it and I added that rap verse in the beginning.
So kind of because it came from something that didn’t work out.
Yeah, it was kind of rushed but I was really happy with it.
Did you have a vision for the whole album?
I like to do concept albums; my first album [Beautiful] is based off a story. So everything is based around the same general ideas. But for the EP I didn’t want to do too much of that. The EP was more of leftover things from the album. After the album I was like ok I’m not going to make music for three months, but I started making music again after two weeks.
You can’t not make music.
So it’s kind of the pieces that didn’t follow the script of your album
Yeah, but then the concept came into it. Like I said, I came across those pictures, and so a lot of the music has kind of a nostalgic feel to it. All the songs have reference to something that’s happened. I wanted to make it personal, and I want to turn it into a series KOFI 1, KOFI 2, in the future.
“I just want to make music. I just want to be an artist; I want to have my foot in every avenue of art that I appreciate. I’m really into fashion; I’m really into photography. I want to have the opportunity to make music the rest of my life.”
Have you ever done any shows?
I’ve performed before but I’ve never performed my own music, not yet. I’ve had the opportunity, like a lot of venues have contacted me asking me to play, but same with the singing thing, I’m just not ready. I took a different approach to things than most artists I feel like and I want that to resonate with my performance
A lot of the music I have, I don’t think it would be very entertaining live.
So that would change the music you make a little bit.
Definitely it will; when you go to a show you usually want music that’s a little more upbeat. I have sitting-down, thinking-about-life music.
You do; you really have to listen to it. As an artist does that bother you at all, that you might have to change it up?
I mean, I don’t want to be a boring artist and only make a certain type of music, so I’m branching out to other genres still in my own way. I eventually knew I was gonna have to do something where I could perform.
Gospel was a big part of your childhood; do you ever see and impact of that in your music?
Oh all the time especially vocally, like how I like people to sing things is very like… have you ever been to church? You know, being in a room, and the church choir is singing, it doesn’t even matter what they’re singing, it’s that environment.
Yeah, that feeling. Like if you can make music that gives that feeling to your listener, then you’ve succeeded.
I think that’s what I’m trying to do. I want people to put in their headphones or turn on their car or whatever, to listen to my music, I want that to evoke some sort of emotion. More than just expressing my own feelings, emotions, or whatever, if I can get something out of someone else, I won.
I interviewed AMG artist of the month Aniel, who manages and produces his own music at Sempra Sol.
Hi Aniel how are you?
Tell me a little a bit about your group.
I started this project after I left my previous band back in February of this year. And it’s kind of just me, like I write and kind of mange myself but I do have friends that have been interested in playing with me, and we have played together in a couple shows so that’s been fun. But mostly it’s just kind of like a “me” thing. Eventually I do want to bring in other members, but it’s sometimes hard finding people who are interested in the same kind of music you are, which in my case is electronic-indie-pop.
How do you create and produce that?
Sometimes I hear ideas in my head, and I’ve become pretty good at creating music using FL studio, for the PC, and I kind of just do everything through there for the most part. I also mix and mash up stuff myself, which isn’t too good of a quality because I don’t have professional equipment, but I have been trying to do that more professionally lately, and to do that you have to pay someone to do that who’s a professional.
Well that’s awesome that you’ve been able to create all this on the equipment that you have, how long have you been doing this?
I think I’ve been doing this for maybe four years now.
Now you mentioned something about doing a show, so have you performed for people?
Oh yeah, in my previous band we performed in many places, including in the Del Mar Fair, that was thanks to my friend AJ who’s also in a band, and he kind of helped me get there. We’ve played at the House of Blues, Soda Bar; there aren’t a lot of all-ages venues, most of them are bars.
Have you had any issue with that? Are you under 21?
I’m 23, but sometimes the band members are under 21 and they can only perform and then they can’t be there after.
Right they’d have to basically perform and then leave after.
So you said your previous band; when were you in a band before this?
I think we started early 2014, and my friend and I were in another band with my other friend and that was called Small Talk and that was more punk-grunge, and that’s great like I love punk and grunge but I kind of wasn’t feeling it so we started an indie-rock band, and that was in 2014, and that was called Hand Drawn Tree. And then I kind of wanted to do something different, you know, use more electronic instruments and music, but they wanted to stick with that so I kind of departed and started this thing on my own.
So have you every sold any of your music or performed what you’re doing now for anybody?
Yeah I’ve played… I wanna say maybe in three shows since I started Sempra Sole.
And you’re just doing that on your own? That’s impressive.
Yeah you see a lot of bands doing that nowadays, doing stuff on their own. I can tell you about the equipment I use; it’s a sampler. You know a sampler makes it easy to record your sounds and play it live, plus keyboards and a guitar, and I sing. As for drums and a bass guitar I use the computer for that and then if you have the sampler it plays when I want it to play.
Who would you say is your music idol? Kind of a hard question.
Yeah it is a hard question. I fee like I have a lot, but if I had to narrow it down I would say John Lennon. When I first started playing I think I just kinda wanted to be similar to him. He inspired a lot, and reached a lot of people with his music. Also Beethoven, and for more recent maybe like Julian Casablancas from The Strokes.
Nice. If it’s different from what you’re playing now, what’s your favorite genre of music to listen to?
Definitely indie rock, classic rock too.
Alright cool. Why do create music? You do you put time into this and energy and effort?
I create music because I think music is very powerful. It’s one of the few things that can like bring people together from around the world, no matter your race or religion or whatever. Music is music; it’s a language that everybody speaks. If I’m able to create music and be able to do that, that’s just amazing. It’s also an outlet for my creativity. Expressing myself, it’s just an enjoyable experience for me, I honestly can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing.
Awesome. And with the few shows you’ve done on your own now, how does that feel when you’re able to show someone your music, perform for somebody; how does it feel having someone else share in what you’ve been creating?
It’s amazing. It’s obviously, like, sometimes when you play some shows you have some really crazy audiences that are really into it, and others are pretty chill, just a little harder to tell. And I think it’s a feeling that you can’t really get anywhere else. Especially when it’s your own music, and someone comes up after the show to tell you, ‘Oh hey I really like how you did that,’ or they give you feedback, that’s really the best that you could ask for. It’s an amazing feeling.
If someone wants to listen to your music, where can they go online to check it out?
So right now I have pretty much everything on my SoundCloud. I did have a website before that looked a little more band-y but I’m kind of working on that again.
I’m actually in the process of getting my first official single, “Breakdown,” released.
Oh really? Wow that’s exciting
It’s an exciting process, definitely. It’s something that I had already created before and now I’m just trying to get it on Spotify and iTunes.
The name is actually Latin; it stands for Always Sunny
How did you come up with that?
I guess I really like what “Sempra” stands for, like “always faithful,” and then I like the sun. I think the sun is very important, especially here in San Diego [laughing].