featured interview

The Grouch & Eligh: 'The Tortoise And The Crow Represent Yin And Yang' Los Angeles collective Living Legends like fables. They love to rap and share stories. One of the Legends is even called after a famous fable writer, Aesop. 'The Tortoise and The Crow represent yin and yang', The Grouch elaborates on the title of his latest story with long-time associate Eligh. Both G&E put their experiences of years of close collabo, writing methods and life travels into a three album project, that was funded through Kickstarter. Two solo albums, one duo LP: seldom seen in hip-hop, the trilogy proves they still have a lot of stories to share with their loyal fan base.

You've been in the game for a while, you have a big following and you pledge allegiance to 'independency'. Crowdfunding was evident right? You've almost doubled the original goal of 50,000 $...

G: (laughs) It's amazing how fast money goes when dealing with a project like this. We actually set our public goal lower than the amount we needed to accomplish everything we wanted to do. Reason being, if we didn't hit our public goal -even a few dollars short- then Kickstarter could not collect the money and our project would not have been funded. We knew our supporters would carry us passed the public goal.

E: It made sense to us to call on our core base to get involved on a bigger level with this album. That being said, we had no idea how it would actually go.

G: The most valuable part of the Kickstarter response to us is that it shows the love and dedication of our fanbase. They got behind us and that's what matters. We were able to manufacture CD's and merchandise and get out on the road. We've always been Indy artists which means our money has always come from selling our own records which is very similar to what happened here. We just used a different platform this time.

What you're gonna do with the extra amount of money?

G: Extra money? What's that?

Cunninlynguists did a crowd sourcing project: they asked fans for input for their album. Song themes, features, album cover,... Would you consider doing that?

E: I think maybe we would? Not sure.

G: We ask for input all the time in different ways. We're open to all sorts of creative possibilities.

E: It seems a little too invasive to me.

G: Ultimately, the art has to be an expression of ours and something we really believe in. I won't put something out that doesn't resonate with my soul just because someone drops some cash or wins a contest.

E: And it leaves no surprise for the fans when the project is done. But I can see its appeal as well.

Grouch, you're The Tortoise. A tortoise works slowly but efficiently. Releasing three albums at once is not exactly slowing down though...

G: Not exactly, but I took my time with the record. One or two songs on my disc are at least 2 to 3 years old.

Is slowly but efficient your work ethic?

G: 'The Tortoise & The Crow' goes a little beyond that. Of course there are speeds involved. Eligh usually churns out music at a faster pace and obviously raps faster as well. But the animals represent a yin and yang as well. Our tones compliment each other, our physical appearance works, our thought processes reflect that. It also touches on our longevity in this game and how our subject matter continues to elevate.

Your tones compliment. Do you need compromises for that?

E: We have been working together a long time. It has always been easy. Compromise happens, but it's effortless.

G: We're on the same page more often than not. There are more compliments to one another than compromises with each other.

But can we say you have two different approaches to music? Eligh, you're the gypsy, the searcher, your sound is moodier. Grouch you're the teacher, very confident with a sound that's more uplifitng...

E: I believe both of us embody all of the elements you listed. When we do solo albums, you hear the differrent moods clearly. That's what makes our tandem special I believe.

G: I don't think you can define it as the searcher and the teacher, though. We're both teachers and students. I don't know how to categorize the sounds. The most obvious, more permanent differences are in the rap styles. We each experiment with so many different musical sounds, I feel like the moods change too much to pin one or two on each other. That said, there is an obvious difference between all three discs. That's what I love about music: it's very open for interpretation and I appreciate your opinion.

There was an EP with TNGHT, that preceded the release. It consisted of 'trap' tracks. Never felt the need to do a full album with them?

G: We'd love to get some beats from those guys but as far as that project, we just rapped over their instrumentals. They've yet to acknowledge it.

E: I'd love to do a whole album with TNGHT.

'From a thought to a rap.' It's a craft you guys seem to be good at. Sounds easy, but seems difficult. To translate thoughts into rap, how do you do it?

G: 1. Turn on or make the music. 2. Start playing it over and over. 3. Get comfortable, breathe, eat, drink, stretch, sit, stand, lay etc. 4. How does it make me feel? 5. Meditate on that. 6. Words come a line at a time. 7. Repeat words over and over, more words come, certain words drop out. 8. Build verses, choruses until finished.

E: There is no real method other than to write honesly.

Grouch, you control your breathing, you meditate,... are you a mindfulness adept?

G: I'm aware of myself and my surroundings. I'm no master at mindfulness but my three eyes are open. I recognize I'm a life student and a teacher.

Eligh, your solo album is entitled 'Nomads'. Does this concept still have a link with the 'gypsy theme' from a few years ago?

E: No, it's a reference to the songs on this album. Some of them were songs I really liked, but didn't fit anywhere else. And I format my albums like a journey, the songs are 'Nomads' on that journey.

'My God Song' is pretty much the album's theme song, where you link with the title. What's the idea behind the track?

E: It's about my relationship with my higher power. And how I believe everyone should have one. And how it can be whatever you want it to be, as long as it's better than you.

Also important: 'Have a humble soul'. You have a huge following and sold lots of records independently, still you're doing interviews with some magazine from Belgium. Staying humble is easy for you, right?

G: To be honest, yes, staying humble is easy. I say that with the least ego possible (laughs) Honestly, there are other issues I struggle with. I don't think that one's a problem for me. I like a simple life. I enjoy people. I don't need the ego boosts I did, when I was younger. I want love and I want to give it.

'Only you can waste all of your time.' On what issues do you still waste too much time?

G: Social media, phone, internet, judging and talking about others.

And on what do you want to spend more time?

G: Nature, family, music, soccer, travelling,…

Three G&E albums at once, now it's time for a Living Legends album?

Together: Never say never.


POSTED 03|04|2014
conducted by cpf

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