Fresh off his recent Rhymin' Gosling tour with Louis Logic, Ecid has some even bigger local shows coming up soon: His homecoming show at Triple Rock on Friday
, and Soundset. Gimme Noise talked to the rapper and producer about his new road-tested material and his evolving approach to live performance.
I did [the Hellfyre Club]
show [on 2/26], and then right away... Played Pittsburgh, Chicago, Grand Rapids, Kansas City, Evanstan, Indidana, Bloomington, Dallas, we did SXSW, and a couple others in Texas, Orlando... The South was a trip. I hadn't really been in some of those cities before, and just seeing the cultural differences. It really opened my head up, it was crazy. I could talk about that for hours. People are really friendly, but then people are also very separated.
In terms of...
Race, culture, you know... It's as simple as, if you're a hip-hop guy, you probably wouldn't go to a rock show. It's not as open to whatever you want to do.
How did cities you've never played before take to your sets?
In the South, places that surprised me like Orlando, I had fans that came out, and so did Louis, it was like, whoa, I need to go back to Florida. The same kind of thing happened in North Carolina in Charlotte, we played this house party that was just amazing. It was awesome. And then the next night we played in Virginia, and that was another kind of indie house party kind of thing where we played in this old dentist office that they converted into a [venue], it was all these old dentist rooms that people had practice spaces in. It was really cool. They had a speakeasy-style bar and stuff, that was really cool too.
What was your favorite night of the tour?
Probably New Haven for Ceschi's homecoming show.
They let him out early, mainly because he was a first time offender, he wasn't a violent offender or anything. I think they just gave him early parole because he wasn't screwing up in there. I think there was a lot of people who sent letters in too, there was such an uprise on the internet about it. Yeah, he's doing good. That show was basically sold out, but it was a free show. That one was nuts.
At the Hellfyre show I noticed you were debuting a lot of new material, how's the response been to new stuff on the road?
Crazy. On the tour I focused on doing Werewolf Hologram material
and Post Euphoria material
, because I knew the people who were coming out to see me generally know that stuff the most and are excited about that. I still am excited about doing that stuff, so I would do that and mix in at least three of the new songs every night, and every night those songs, even though I was doing songs that people knew and knew the lyrics to, those songs would steal the show every night. All of them.
Sometimes people aren't totally open to new material; are you a fan of the artist or a fan of the songs?
Yeah, just that one thing. Fortunately for me, I've always kind of made a habit of switching my style, everything I do. I've had people tell me [my beats] always [have] a different layer or style, and they appreciate that. [Sticking to] a formula? I don't even know how to do that. Like Beck, he'll make a singer-songwriter album, then he'll make a hip-hop album, then he'll do some other thing. He'll do a record with Danger Mouse that's like this Beatles-sounding thing... It's great.
You also seemed to be trying new stage techniques, incorporating live production playing with your rapping.
One of the things that I'm working towards, by the time I release my new record, I wanna be able to essentially rap every song and, if I want to, I want to be able to -- because I can set it up with my programming where I can break up all the sounds in the songs and play all the samples or the synths live -- so I want to be able to make it really open. If I want to freestyle and take it somewhere else I can. I want to be able to still keep it honed in but, if to finish out a verse I wanna just like break it down and change the drum pattern while rapping and stuff like that. So I've been really practicing that a lot. In the studio I've been doing it too; in the past, a lot of my beats were just programmed in a program; now I'm starting with playing the drums on a drum machine live. [Then] I'll just start playing synth, and all those performances, I'll capture the best live parts and use those little loops and build on those. I've got a guitarist that I've been working with and another keyboard player, and I'm just kind of adding all these people into the fold, so it's kind of becoming, Ecid is not just me now. I just wanted to really add more and more musicality and try to attempt to be an indie guy with no resources showing you that you still can pull off Kanye ambition if you really go for it.
You're working on a new album, Pheromone Heavy. Do you have a date yet?
I don't know yet. The Post Euphoria stuff was drippings off of that, over the last year or so I've been working on it. The songs that I released for that were all songs that I purged from those sessions. I've got 11 songs right now, and as I was on the road I kind of figured out how to finish it. I based the whole concept of the album off of this one song that I wrote I grew up never knowing my dad. I still don't. I was just raised by my mom. I wanted to write this song about kinda how you feel when you're a kid growing up and you don't know your dad, and you start to make excuses. I wrote this song that's from a really naive 10 year old kid's perspective, writing a letter to his dad kind of forgiving him for not being there. "It's cool, you're probably in the CIA doing something really special!"
Then the next verse is the dad's response, but he's not getting the letter from the kid, and the dad's letter's not getting to the kid... They're both writing letters that are going nowhere. The dad's just admitting, I never wanted you and I don't care, that's why I'm not even writing you this letter. I'm writing it, but I'm never gonna send it. And then the third verse is the mom responding to the kid, telling him why his dad isn't there, and it's basically her telling him that he robbed a bank to provide money to take care of him, but in doing that, he had to leave forever. Before he left, he gave her the money, and the whole point is that he didn't need he money, he needed a dad. The song's called "Watch It Burn," and the last line or two sums it up, we're gonna sit here and burn this money together, because you never needed it. I kind of built a lot of the concept of the record off of that. That song sounds heady and kind of a lot to take in, but then the rest of the record is some of the funnest stuff I've ever done too. It's the most fun I've ever had, all the songs are the most elaborate without being over the top.
Did you hear you were asked to do Soundset while you were on tour?
Right before I left for tour [I found out], just a few days before actually. It's really exciting. Playing 30 days on the road was training for that. Now I'm ready to just crush it as much as possible.
Who are you excited to see?
I want to see Chance the Rapper. Obviously Nas. I grew up loving Cypress Hill.There's a lot of people, it's going to be a good year. It's a cool, diverse line-up. Dosh is there, and 2 Chainz.
I wanted it to be just like a crazy hodge-podge. Tickle Torture is a whole other beast in-and-of-itself. Dwell and the Shape Ship is a friend of mine Mike, who used to be Atlas Dusk. They have a really cool sound, it's really bluesy and soulful, he kind of sing-raps, it's dope. Phillip Morris is just funny. I wanted to do another Worst Dressed Contest, just cuz I thought it was funny, try to take it the opposite. Everyone's always promoting things to dress up, I'm like, wear your grandma's clothes, have some fun.
I read somewhere that you are now a certified hot yoga instructor?
Last year, I went through the training and everything, and since I got done, I got so busy with rap that I haven't been able to start teaching around town like I want to. I'm gonna get into it, but in the future I'm trying to figure out, while I tour, I wanna do invites pre-show. Come do yoga at this spot at 5 o'clock today when I'm in San Diego, I'd either get a teacher that is local to that community to teach it, or else I'll just each the class. I think it'd be a fun way to connect with fans and promote something healthy in the rap community. I also did it now, I can teach all my friends while we're on the road ways to keep their body healthy, cuz being in a car for a month deteriorates your quality of life. I just started this thing on Instagram where I hashtag #sneakeryoga, it's just me on the street doing a yoga pose in my shoes, just to show people it doesn't have to be this big thing.
Sounds like you've got a lot coming up.
I'm just excited about the future right now. It's a good year so far. Now I just gotta finish this record, then who knows. Ecid. With Tickle Torture, Philip Morris, Dwell & the Shape Ship, and DJ Fool Proof. 18+, $5/$10, 9 p.m., Friday, May 2, at Triple Rock Social Club. Info.
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