Melty Hermit Hermitage II: Suffering on this Lonely Road
Dad's Earl Grey Tea
How long have you been making music?I’ve been making music since I was 13, so about 10 years. It’s been a fun journey.Would I be right in assuming that some of your beats (like ‘I lit my Soul Afire with the Notion of Good Will) are inspired by some old school gaming bleeps and bloops? Are there any songs or composers from video game osts that are prominent to you?I play a lot of RPGs and they have a lot of orchestrated pieces and a lot of crazy mixes between orchestra and electronic music. So definitely like Final Fantasy shit. I love final fantasy. I played 9 like every other month, at least. I draw from Final Fantasy a lot, like that whole RPG genre. There’s also this really rare game on PS2, and I almost don’t want to give away what it’s name is, but I don’t know what the name of the composer is off the top of my head, it’s just got a very unique style. And I sample it a lot on the self-titled record; a lot of that aesthetic and those sounds come from that game.
I feel like a lot of your music is very reflective and contemplative, like with albums like Zen Garden. Is reflection important to making music? If so, how so?I think reflection is both important and kind of unavoidable when you’re making music, in any sense. But especially with my stuff. A lot of why I started rapping was coming from a place of me personally struggling and feeling like I have a voice to speak on any given subject; not necessarily that like an audience will listen to, but just people in general will listen to. I had a lot of self-doubt within my own ability to express [myself]. Learning how to reflect on myself in a healthy way and then push that outward from myself so that it’s no longer something that I have to hold onto like a weight, but also something that can be done in a healthy way that entices people to feel something. It’s a lot of what I do as a rapper, as far as defining myself. So reflection’s definitely important to my creative processes. I spend a lot of time writing about things that have happened to me, or things that I’ve seen.
What was your biggest hurdle in starting to perform your music?Coming to terms with what my voice was, and finding my own comfortability in that voice. And also just kinda perception. Understanding that people are gonna view you from a certain kind of veil regardless of how much they know you or don’t know you or want to know you. On an artist level and on an individual level, it’s just people talking about music that they like. One of the biggest hurdles I’ve ever had, had come with just being able to be a person that feels comfortable within my own skin, both on and off the stage. And they kinda helped one another balance each other out, so like, learning how to be comfortable on stage has taught me how to be more comfortable offstage with people and vice versa. It’s all baby steps. It’s just growth. vI really enjoy your lyrical style in ‘Blackberry Jams’ and pretty much all of Ursine Valor. You aren’t afraid at all to break out those 4 syllable motherfuckers and complex multi-sentence ciphers. What is the most gratifying part of songwriting to you?It’s just feeling like the song is complete and feeling like whatever I had to say or whatever was on my mind or whatever I felt like l needed to express came out in some form even it’s no succinct or streamlined in any way. When you’re able to say “I said this” and I was able to not only say it and have it be meaningful to me in some way, but I could also make it musical and make it a song and have it be a complete package in any kind of way, shape or from. That’s super gratifying to me because there are people that don’t know how to express themselves in whatever way makes them happy or comfortable. It’s kind of a blessing for me, because there were points in time when I feel like I couldn’t either. Being able to know that at the end of the day I can still write a rhyme that addresses directly what’s on my mind is super gratifying.
What is different about the process of producing a song to be an instrumental, and producing a song to eventually include lyrics?
Me personally, I kind of produce in different ways when it comes to different kinds of songs. So like the programs and the process that I go through to make an instrumental piece for the sake of being an instrumental is almost always different from how I would make beats that I would rap over or that I think someone else would wanna rap over, but it’s usually me just goofin’ around in my room. I play guitar, and I’ll play chords on my guitar, or I’ll mess around on songs by other people that I like, listen for certain sounds that catch my ear. I’ll mess around with drum loops and try to finds songs on youtube that I like; try to sample or find weird rhythms. Just play. Take every sound that I find I enjoy in that session and record it or set it aside or make note of it in some way so that at the end of 30 minutes of just messing around, I pull together sounds that I think fit cohesively. Then try to play with them like legos and build them into different things; try reassembling different loops and different patterns, moving things from the front of the song to the end of the song, mixing and matching stuff. It’s almost like finger painting. You just kind of stick your hands in whatever color appeals to you at the time and slap it on the wall and see what happens. Then go for another round of paint; figure something else out on top.
Whenever it’s done you can tell. It feels complete to you. You listen back to it and you feel a full connective vibe, either to it or throughout it. And then you usually know if you want to set it aside for whenever you feel like it.What was your first victory as a musician? Not necessarily a time that you were victorious performance-wise, but a time that you impressed yourself.
The first real victory that I felt like I had as a musician was the first time I had CDs made, because at that point it became physically real for me. I’d been in bands before and we’d play at shows, and I’d done open mics and at that point I’d been rapping publicly for a little while. I had felt comfortable with the experience of being a musician and performer for people, but it didn’t feel real for me until I got CDs. I designed all the art for it and done all the beats, I’d spent on all this time arranging it, and I as thinking of quitting rapping at the time. I was dealing with a whole of issues and a whole lot of drama in my life and I was just feelin’ like I was gonna quit. Then I got a Christmas bonus from my job at the time and it was just enough for me to be able to buy CDs. I just never had physical music made by me. As a kid, drawing pictures and thinking of CD covers and making imaginary bands in your head. You kinda reach for “man one day I’m gonna put out a fuckin’ album and I’ll be able to put it in a store and it’ll be real, it’ll be physically there for people” That was the point at which I was like “oh shit”, this is officially happening; it is no longer a path that I can step back off of. At that point, once you make music in a physical sense you can quit music right then and there and that shit is physically real forever. Like it is officially a part of the universe, history, time and space. Like you cant take that shit back anymore, you made an agreement. So to make myself real in the presence of other people and in the presence of myself: that was just a huge change of the guard, a whole breath of fresh air. I changed my rap name to Cunabear and I haven’t stopped since then.