Starting December off with another interview. Meet Elaquent, or eQ for short. He’s a beat maker from Ontario, Canada. In the city of Guelph, to be exact. He’s teamed up with ThinkLoud Records and Digi Crates Records, so be on the lookout for the LP he’ll be releasing on ThinkLoud next year.
Lingering between hip hop, neo-soul, and downtempo, the man eQ shouldn’t be slept on. He dropped a series of beat tapes (3 volumes so far), titled “In Colour” dirty/dirtier/dirtiest loops. Sometime earlier this year, he dropped “After Midnight“, which is more like a real album compared to the 3 beat tapes before. The album is probably best enjoyed “After Midnight”… when you’re ready to kick back and relax your feet. It has that laidback, jazzy-soul vibe that your mind can and will sink into. Guest spots include his brother Es, Moka Only, Mishoo The Drumkit, Solar C, O-Phrap, and a couple others. This, along with the “In Colour” volumes, can be downloaded at the end of the interview. He’s a cool guy, so don’t hesitate to read the interview, listen to his music, and connect with him.
Tiffology: Hello, eQ. What’s going on?
Elaquent: Whats poppin? Just trying to wrap up this new album. That and Batman Arkham Asylum. I’ve beaten that game 3x already but I can’t stop playing it. New Super Mario Brothers on the Wii as well. Lol.
Tiffology: What’s the meaning behind the name Elaquent?
Elaquent: Well, popular to contrary belief… lol… it’s actually derived from my last name, and obviously the word ‘Eloquent’. I feel that music is a language in itself; and that it hold deeper meaning than just sound. Generally it’s pretty easy to get an idea of who I am based on my production… I guess you can say that my music speaks louder than my words do, and that I can best express my inner thoughts eloquently… hence the name. Kinda neat, huh? lol
Tiffology: Where is home for you?
Elaquent: Home is Guelph. It’s a small city about 45 minutes away from Toronto. I grew up here… not a big hip hop scene in the slightest, in which case most of my links are through Toronto. To be fair, I will likely move to Toronto or possibly the US within the next couple years.
Tiffology: How did you get started in making beats and when did you begin to take it serious?
Elaquent: Listening to hip hop all these years, I was personally always more fascinated with the melodies in the background. Not even just hip hop, I was always attracted to movie scores and instrumental work over various backdrops. Made my first beat in the 8th grade, after having a conversation with my brother Es about how hip hop is becoming wack and all that. I downloaded a trial version of fruity loops and it was just trial and error. Beats were generally trash, but it was amusing. Started to take it seriously once I sold my first beat in the 11th or 12th grade. All in all, its been about 10 years since the first beat. Looking back, I can’t believe I’ve been making beats that long.
Tiffology: RANDOM – Can you play any instruments?
Elaquent: Kinda/sorta. I took piano lessons in like the 2nd grade, which lasted a few years. Now I’m by no means skilled, but I did learn music theory in that time, which definitely helped with things now. I got a good sense of what note works with what tone, and all that. I know some actual musicians, I can’t fuck wit any of them, real talk…
Tiffology: What inspires you to create?
Elaquent: Well, theres all the obvious inspirational situations, like hearing a song thats really dope motivates me to get in the lab. Obviously hearing a hot hot sample will get the juices of any beatmaker goin. But beyond all of that, I get inspired by regular life shit. When my nephew was born, I made a beat. I’ll have a really elaborate and intellectual conversation with someone that will later inspire a beat. Lots of spontaneous encounters inspires me, lately its been new scenery. Going to Costa Rica for instance was an overdose on inspiration. I’d encourage any artist or musician to travel, it’s definitely great for the inspiration tip.
Tiffology: Who were some of your major influences growing up?
Elaquent: Mostly the usuals. Rza, Pete Rock, J Dilla, DJ Premier all come to mind. Theres other incredible producers I was influenced by, but those 4 are 85% of the reason I got into production. Although, as I was comin up, i was mostly inspired by a lot of undiscovered talent around me, which basically told me that you dont need to have a 20,000 dollar studio to make genuine music. Coming up in Guelph, I was really influenced by my man GQStylez another Guelph cat. Shoutout to him… learned how to chop thru listening to him.
Tiffology: What’s your setup like (weapons of choice)?
Elaquent: I keep my setup pretty simple. I’m running FL Studio 8 XXL and Cool Edit Pro 2.0 as far as software goes. On the equipment side, I’ve got a Korg K25 Midi Keyboard, an M-Audio Trigger Finger, a turntable, a Korg NanoKontrol and records. I would love to get a vintage synth though.
Tiffology: What are your thoughts on the hardware vs software debate?
Elaquent: Anybody in this day and age who is STILL debating it…fails. It’s pretty much been established that you don’t need hardware at all to make good music, more and more producers are jumping onto the software bandwagon. In a way its the exact same as the turntable vs serato argument. Anybody who debates it is just a bitter elitist who’s mad that they spent thousands (on gear) to do what a kid with a computer can do. Now dont get me wrong, I’m not hating on hardware, in fact im looking to get more. But it’s pretty clear that what you use is 100% preference. In the end, I don’t care how you made that beat, just as long as I’m bobbin my head. I would sell my soul for a minimoog though.
Tiffology: RANDOM – When you’re not making music, what do you like to do?
Elaquent: If I’m not making beats, there is a 97% chance that I’m either watching kung fu movies or watching Grind Time / King of the Dot battles. I’m actually a big big follower of the battle scene. I got to see Dumbfoundead battle in Toronto not very long ago, shit was live as hell.
Tiffology: How do you decide what you want to sample?
Elaquent: Generally, I try not to sample something that I know 8000 ppl have flipped already, but I ultimately do what my heart tells me. If I know that I want to make some midtempo, vibin, sittin in a hammock type of stuff… I’ll look for whatever I think will match the tune I’m singing in my head. I’ll typically know within the first 10 seconds of hearing a sample whether I’ll make a dope joint out of it. So I try not to overthink the sampling thing, if it sounds good, I’ll flip it. Once I’ve decided what kind of vibe I want, I look for the sounds I need.
Tiffology: How long does it normally take you to make a beat?
Elaquent: It varies, but usually to complete a full beat entirely, probably a few hours, sometimes days. I’m not scared to admit it…. making music isn’t a race to me. I mean… it takes me only about an half hour to an hour to put together the basic structure of a beat, but I spend a great deal of time listening to it, and trying to figure out whats missing. And I usually like to rest my ears and give the beat a fresh listen before I finalize it. So if we include all of the little things, then probably a day or two.
Tiffology: What was the dopest thing about Costa Rica?
Elaquent: The dopest thing was definitely the atmosphere and the people. It was a very humbling experience as a whole… the people there dont have a lot of the things that we all take for granted up here. It’s a developing country, yet despite that, everyone there are generally very happy and welcoming. It was also incredible to be somewhere for a week without having 800 emails delivered to my Blackberry. It also goes without say that the women there looked great…
Tiffology: You were recently in Los Angeles. How was that?
Elaquent: Los Angeles was dope as hell. Have never been out west before. Weather was gorgeous for the most part, and everyone we met treated myself and Es like royalty. Big big big shoutout to everybody I linked up with and met out there. I had a beat set, which was real dope, never done one before. But ultimately it was real dope to actually kick it with a lot of the cats I chat with online all the time. Shoutouts to the Indian Village homies, appreciate it. Sightseeing, making beats, performing, the full package. My only regrets were that I couldnt stay longer. I really wanted to check out Low End Theory and maybe catch a Dibiase beat set, but time wasn’t on my side. I had no idea alcohol was so cheap compared to Canada though. wow, I shoulda stocked up lol. Shoutout to the Fresh Coast, can’t wait to return.
Tiffology: RANDOM – Do you have any guilty pleasures (hobbies, tv shows, music, etc)?
Elaquent: Hmmmmm…. I’m actually a big fan of the Real World. It’s weird, anyone who knows me, will tell you I HATE shit like that, but something about that show. As far as music… I actually like Asher Roth. I get a lot of flack from ppl cuz of it, but I don’t care, I like that kid….
Yeah, I know, i know……
Tiffology: Other than California and Costa Rica, have you been anywhere else?
Elaquent: I’ve been to Cameroon which is home-home, I guess. But otherwise, no. But I have aspirations and plans to see Japan, Chile, Germany, France, China, Italy, Brazil and England all within the next few years. Hopefully through touring.
Tiffology: What are your feelings before doing a show usually?
Elaquent: I’m actually new to the world of live beat sets… there isn’t much of an outlet for that sort of thing here. Having said that, I was worried that people wouldn’t really embrace the set since I’m not a DJ in any way. Luckily, I did a lot of research and watched vids of lots of other cats putting it down to get a feel for what I need to do. If the stars are aligned, I may be doing another few sets in the states soon, which I’m definitely looking forward to.
Tiffology: How do you go about putting together beat sets?
Elaquent: Well, I go through and just listen through my catalog of music and pick out the ones I think will work in a live environment. I then kinda pair together the ones I think will mix and blend into each other nicely. Typically starts off nice and organized, but then just gets spontaneous. Just gotta make sure its a good eclectic, healthy mix and keep things interesting with the fx and beatmatching and all of that.
Tiffology: You’re with ThinkLoud and Digi Crates. How did you get together with those labels?
Elaquent: Shoutouts to both labels. My man Hus (the kingpin of Tha Connection) was piecin together a netlabel, and he hit me up in an email. I had worked with him before on that Take it Higher rmx I did for the Universal Dominance / After Midnight albums. But outside of that, we’ve been building for a little while. He pitched me the idea, and I was definitely wit it, homie is really serious with his grind. Theres a lot of talented artists on the team, and I know that Hus has something big in the works. Furthermore, myself and my man Baker are workin on an itunes release. As for Thinkloud, again, I’ve been in contact and building with the guys there for a while. I’ve been trying to get a buzz in German scene for a while, and release music out there. Originally, they hollered at me to work on a record thats coming out, but it eventually led to the notion of joining the roster after talking on Skype and understanding what all of us are seeking. It was wayyyy harder than I thought to get a label to take a chance on you lol, but yeah, I really like the direction that both labels are heading and I’m excited to see where things go.
Tiffology: RANDOM – What are your top 3 favorite Kung Fu movies?
Elaquent: WOW, that’s a damn tough question. Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a HUGE kung fu movie fan. It’s my 2nd love behind hip hop, but I’ma have to say
1. Drunken Master
2. The Big Boss
3. Iron Monkey
If you ask me tomorrow, there’s a good chance I’ll have 3 different answers though.
Tiffology: There is a series (three volumes) of In Colour mixtapes. How has the feedback been? Do you plan to push out anymore volumes?
Elaquent: As a whole, the In Colour volumes have been really really well received, which is a good look. Thank you to any and everyone who downloaded them. You can get em from my myspace if you haven’t heard them already. Now, the In Colours are pretty notorious for being some of my more off kilter type of stuff. I think some people listened to After Midnight and were thrown off by In Colour. A few cats really couldn’t get past the offbeat drums and the lo-fi sound lol, and thats cool. The feedback overall was overwhelmingly positive. Eventually I’m going to do a 4th and possibly 5th, but I do want to play around with other musical concepts before I return to it. I’m a big fan of running themes in general, so there will mos def be another.
Tiffology: “After Midnight” was basically your first real album. What track(s) was the most fun to make?
Elaquent: Yeah, I really wanted people to perceive it as an “album” rather than just a beat tape. I put a lot of myself into that album, and I’m glad people noticed it too. As a whole it was a blast to make, off the top of my head, my personal favourite songs to make is a tie between Gobstopper and 2 AM Reflections (ft Moka Only & Es). Gobstopper was dope to make since I had never really tried to remake a song before. In making it, you almost get a better appreciation for how dope the original dilla donut was. Dilla’s was dope because of how simple it was. I didn’t want to rechop the sample and put a new spin on it like that, instead I treated it as if I was just playing sounds on top of it. 2AM Reflections was just very very unorthodox how it came together. The beat itself came together really nicely. I sent it to Moka, basically telling him to rap about whatever the beat tells him to… he sent it back, and I got Es to lace it… but we still had no hook, and I didn’t want to delay the whole project because of it. So I actually just chopped up the outtakes of Es and pasted it in, which I kinda thought worked good, and Moka decided to sing a bit for a hook that I never asked him to. the track sounds pretty cohesive for a track that was thrown together so oddly. lol
Tiffology: What’s the Gill Breathing family about? Who’s in it and are there any projects?
Elaquent: Gill Breathin is the family indeed. Much like my name, it’s derived from a family name, and it’s a combination of myself, my brother Es, and the homies Solar C, B, and Mathematik… who we are related to as well. Well when I mention the gill breathin fam, I mean fam in a literal sense. I don’t like to think of it as a “crew”, versus family. As far as projects, I’ve got a few projects out, Solar C has 2 mixtapes (check those), Es has some stuff in the works, and Mathematik has 2 classic albums out. As far as a Gill Breathin project, we’re all taking our time and gettin everything together before we connect like a Megazord and drop something.
Tiffology: What producers (mainstream and underground) are you feeling the most right now?
Elaquent: Well, I could list them all, but it would be a page long. Most of my favourites are the same people I try building with online. Right now, the award for fav current producer is probably the homie Dibiase – his shit always slaps. Shoutout to D, make sure you cop his May The Force 7″. Lets just say that the cats getting the most plays on my mp3 player right now are devonwho, Aspect 1, Slakah the Beatchild, Afta-1, Suff Daddy, Samiyam and 14kt. But again, the list is extremely long.
Tiffology: RANDOM: What color are your sheets and how many pillows do you sleep with?
Elaquent: Lol, random indeed… sheets are red, and I sleep with 2 pillows. Sometimes 3 if the original 2 are small.
Tiffology: My most played, and favorite, game on Sega Genesis was Sonic 2. Hands down. I played it all the time. Being that you’re a Sega man, what was your favorite Sega game?
Elaquent: Haha, Sonic 2 is actually the first video game I’ve ever owned in my life. Hands down classic, love that game to death. If we’re talking older Sega, then definetely it’s a toss up between Sonic 2 and Streets of Rage 2. Otherwise, if we’re talking Sega, past/present/future, then it’s gotta be Jet Set Radio on the Dreamcast. You skate around and spray graffiti while avoiding missiles! I dare anyone to play that game and tell me JSR aint the truth. Lol. Sonic 2 and Shenmue are a close 2nd and 3rd.
Tiffology: If you could make an album of beats for one artist to spit on, who would it be and why?
Elaquent: Hands down Common. I think he embodies literally everything I look for in an mc. He’s charismatic, witty, lyrical and poetic… it would be an absolute honour to have his name attached to my music. Perhaps one day haha. A lot of my beats are pretty laidback and smooth, and I always thought he fit those beats like a glove from Nag Champa to Black Maybe to Resurrection.
Tiffology: I know you sent in an application for the Red Bull Music Academy this year, but it didn’t work out. Do you plan to try again next year?
Elaquent: Yeah, it was a real bummer to get passed on it, I really sat down and took my time with the application. Shoutout to the homies Swede:art and TokiMonsta tho, they both got it. I’m happy that at least a few people I know got in. I’m definitely going to apply next year. I have no idea exactly how they evaluate the application, but I feel my inexperience had a lot to do with it. By the time I apply again, I’ll have a lot more experience with life and music in general, so hopefully I can leave a more lasting impression next time. Shoutouts to all RBMA applicants. In fact, shoutout to Redbull, thats a dope program that they put together.
Tiffology: I’m sure a lot of heads hit you up wanting to collaborate. How do you choose who to work with?
Elaquent: Yeah, a lot of cats do hit me up. In choosing who to build with, I just look for sincerity, potential and how well I think they will mesh with my beats. Sometimes the vision I have for certain types of tracks requires a specific type of mc. Lol theres tons of variables, but to sum it up, I gotta have that feeling in my heart. The problem is that theres TONS of cats that I want to work with, that I’m dying to work with. Once things are less hectic for me, I’ll definitely be working with lots of new faces.
Tiffology: RANDOM – Are you a lefty or a righty?
Elaquent: Get this… I’m right handed, but I’m left-footed… and I hit left at baseball.
Tiffology: You’re working on an LP right now, and last I read, you’re hoping to drop it the beginning of 2010. Want to tell us about it?
Elaquent: Yeah, I’ve got an album that I’ve been working on that will be coming out on ThinkLoud Records. It’s called Spur of a Few Moments…. I came up with the idea shortly before I went to Costa Rica, that I would take my laptop with me wherever I go, and to make beats whenever I felt inspired. Kind of like an audio journal… or somethin. So instead of waiting to get back to the lab, I would just take advantage of that inspiration on the spot. Being in a new environment with the ability to make music whenever. Just wanna make dope music that more or less takes you on a soulful and musical journey because I was (and am) on a journey in making it. As I grow older, I’m trying to see different people and places, and I really want this album to reflect that. All the songs were made in various areas… LA, Costa Rica, Toronto, various airports, home, work, etc. The album will be released on 12″ and most likely itunes, which will be my first actual release I guess.
Tiffology: What do you want the listeners to get out of it?
Elaquent: I’m hoping that when it comes out, that the listeners can get a feel for who I am and where I’m at. Lol all of my projects seem to have some concept. I mean if theres anything I’m hoping everyone will get out of it is that it’s a dope album with good production and a good cohesive feel. I just hope that when it’s a wrap, that the music will resonate with everybody well enough that I can continue making more music.
Tiffology: Any other future releases or shows that you want to talk about?
Elaquent: Yep. As I mentioned before, I’m doin an itunes ep release with my man Baker, a DOPE beatmaker, on some tag team ish… that’s what I’ma be focusin on once the current lp is done. Bhon and I are going to be doing a new album sometime mid 2010 hopefully. There’s some other releases in the works that are still in infant stages, so I won’t speak on those just now, but I’m looking to make more trips to do some beat sets. Theres a good chance I may be back out to Cali in a couple months, but we’ll see.
Tiffology: I want you to finish off these sentences.
I am… kind of a big deal.
I can… serve ANYBODY in Mortal Kombat Deception
I won’t… EVER use 808 drums
I’ve never… drank a coffee in my life. Seriously.
My top 5 favorite places to eat are… The Mandarin, Subway, My Mom’s house… have to think about the last 2 lol
Tiffology: RANDOM – What’s your most prized posession?
Elaquent: Probably my WIDESCREEN copy of Mystery of Chessboxing on dvd. For any kung fu movie collector out there, y’all know exactly how rare that shit is. Lol it was no easy task obtaining that movie…
Tiffology: Last words, shout outs, or advice?
Elaquent: Thanks to everybody out there who’s been listening and supporting over the years. Moreso than anything I’m just a kid who loves making music. I’ve got an official release in the works, but will continue supplying folks with the free tapes… just make sure ya’ll support the official! Spur of a Few Moments, coming 2010.
Shoutouts to the whole Gill Breathin fam, shoutouts to ThinkLoud, Digi Crates, shoutout to my man Introspect, big shoutout to everyone out there that has shown love to me. It shall be returned and then some.
Oh yeah, I guess I should probably shout out Tiffany as well for the interview. ;)