Back in August, we featured Eso as part of the 'Artist Spotlight.' And as promised then, we bring to you another polite conversation. We caught up with this esoteric and talked about music, old schools, to what he thinks about trends.
As always all photos by Sheena She and shot on 35mm film.
And now onto the conversation!
What's in the name? How does it correlate?
The name's basically an extension of my mind, ha. Came to me when I was asleep and after I read the definition, it just felt right. Esoteric means "understood by or meant only for selected few with special interest." In the music, I think I talk about a lot of things that only certain people will understand truly, but EVERYONE can relate to at one point or another. I'm not exactly your "typical" artist or person, so it's not for everyone, but it IS for the esoteric-inclined. Hah.
Your vocab is on point. I feel like a lot out there don't really portray vocabulary just whatever can be said. Is that part of the "esoteric"?
Hahah, I don't know honestly. My mom always pushed for me to talk like I "had some sense", because my friends just talked like whatever. She believed in speaking with a sense of taste and cooth, I think that's what it was. My pops and his WHOLE family is from the country, so that was influential as well. I just talk. I carry myself accordingly to situations at hand. I also read a lot, so I'd like to think I'm well versed.
What got you into music? Explain your crafts.
Growing up, my pops played guitar, my brother was/is a dj, my sister sings, and my aunts and uncles all played instruments. Once I heard Parliament/S.O.S Band, and THAT era of music. I was hooked. I was always on punishment when I was growing up, so I started recording music off the radio and started writing poetry when I was about 8 or 9. I also picked up sax, drums, and keys around 10, and just stuck with it all as best I could. I'm not perfect, and never will claim to be but I do what I love.
So you are self taught in the sax, drum, and keys? and what made you gravitate into making hip hop music?
Nahhh, hahah. I'm self taught in guitar and bass, partially drums except marching band in high school. I quit though, so I don't really think it counts and sax I played in like 5th grade. My teacher told me I sounded like a moose, so he stopped picking me up for practice, lol. I played trombone a little in 7th and 8th grade, but just kept playing drums. I never could have my own set because of where I lived, so I played at church two or three times a week then they had me play guitar for the church band. As far as hip hop, my sister always threw me up on it. My mom's side is Jamaican, so she played boatloads of reggae and dancehall. Every week we'd watch videos and shit, and listen to the radio. My brother copped a Geo Tracker when I was young with 2 twelves in the back, and BLASTED Tupac's Makaveli album, and to me it all just made sense. I'm not Tupac, dont get me wrong, but just hearing the sounds that I could produce got me hyped. Outkast's ATLiens and Aquemini album is what sealed the deal. I just wanted to make the music; the bass, the snares, composing something. I always wanted to make a song that would rattle the FUCK out of a car. That's the Gods honest truth as to WHY I wanted to make hip-hop, lol. BUUUT, I got bored with what I was hearing a few years ago, and got kicked out of yet another band, so I started writing again (I have battles with it..). Hated my job, think I'd just gotten fired and all I had was a laptop and Ableton. So I decided that no one else would do it with me, so I'll just do it myself. And I've been producing and writing ever since. People really don't seem to be down for helping out without some sort of gain, or physical retribution or trying to change you. I believe in being free in doing this, and doing it for the love and passion of it. Money isn't really the first thing on my mind, which proves to be problematic. But yeah, that's what happened. Bands kicked me out, got fired, and all I had was music.
You do things solo, which is pretty awesome. Why do you prefer that? Doing things solo comes after the mountains and molehills of trying to work with people. I've been the guy in the studio producing and recording for hours, to the drummer writing parts. At the end of the day everyone has their own things that they want to do, which aren't always concise and in tune with what you want or feel; so you kind of have no other choice. I've been kicked out of basically all the bands I've ever been in, because I refuse to join the masses and do what everyone else does or is doing. I believe in originality, it's the one lesson I've learned and understood since I was 7 years old. I've yet to link with someone who's down with where my head is, or what I'm about...so alone I go. "The road to success is often a lonely one".
Nothing wrong with that at all. I think when you work alone and the project is done - you can honestly say you did it. Self gratification! I see you also shoot film photography. Is that any way related to you and your music?
Hah, self gratification, NON SELFISHLY! *hiiigh fiiiive* You're a nice lady, and I agree with you. But nah, I've been into photography since I was a kid, and went to college for it and recently picked it back up again. It's just fun, stress reliever. I do a bunch of things, all artsy (NOT pretentious!), I'm just not so out there with it. But my true ones know whassup.
You also skateboard. Tell me about that.
Funny, the other day some kid (probably 16,17) asked me if I was a poser, hah. I've been skating since I was 13. My neighbor was outside one day and I saw him skating so I copped a board after a while, and just got down. Moms was definitely worried every time I got one so she always tried to instill a helmet rule,pfft. I've just never liked skate parks. The whole point of skateboarding is to be free of competition and restrictions and I feel hella cooped up in a park. I like street best overall. Random spots that look like nothing, on some Chris Haslam type shit. Just having fun, not to be better than or the best, you know?
You're favorite skateboard trick.
My favorite skate trick is definitely 3 flips (360 flips). Fakie or regular, I'm wittit...hahah. Also backside 180's, I like OG tricks-bonelesses and shit.
What are your thoughts on being TRENDY?
As far as trends, I don't really pay attention to what the trends are. Growing up, I never really cared what people thought of me, mainly cause my parents always said to be different, don't do like everybody else. I wore whatever I felt like (within Moms approval, hahah.) Before the skinny jeans and "alternative" bullshit you see today, around where I'm from, I was known for skinny jeans and being a skater. Not to be bragadocious or conceited: but not too many African-American cats were skaters when I grew up, none the less like I was. I was trippin when I met dudes like me, cause I hadn't seen it before, haha. But it was who I was. Being into Depeche Mode, and the Cure, Joy Division, Misfits-made me the "weird nigga", lol. And I was cool with that because it made me different. It made me stand out, whereas today, you got kids doing shit and being shit just cause they try to be down, and cool. It's just not. The difference is being genuine about it. I wasn't wearing spikes and into Deftones and Orgy switch to Redman and Fugees, and end on some the Dramatics or Desmond Dekker and the Aces to be cool. That's just where I came from and who I am. A part of growing up to me, is always remembering where you came from. Staying humble. I can't let people in the world build me up to something I can't or won't be, because that wouldn't be me. Today, the need for validity in oneself is high, for whatever reason, and I can't be around that. I humble myself to show respect for myself and my family, and show respect to my name; but I won't act like somebody else just to be cool. Nor dress like somebody else to be cool. Everything I do, wear, and am...is a part of me and connected. Be original mane.
You have an affinity for old school cars. You drive a sweet ride too. Can you tell us about that?
Hah. That shit comes from my Pop. I grew up in Plainfield, before moving to Rahway and my pops always had an old school. He'd drive around with me through Plainfield talking about situations and life. Trying to hip me to how the world was, at least the way he saw it. 76 Chevy Caprice Classics, 75 and 87 Cadillac Devilles so I was only in newer cars with my moms or my brother. And come to think of it, he traded the Geo in for the Caddy when Pops got rid of it. My Grandfather had an 85 or 86 Buick Regal, and my Grandmother had a 88 Caprice Classic. The cars back then were sturdier, solid and all. It's nostalgic to sit in em, and to be able to drive one that runs RIGHT, is a privilege..haha. But since I was younger, I been around em, in em and wanted one of my own. I currently got a 1980 Delta with a Olds 350 engine. It's a big body, which is different from a cruiser or classic frame so not too many cats are hip to em. It doesn't have the muscle like a Camaro or a Mustang. I'm 6'5, so I like having room and space...only room in my cars for my subs, lol. But yeah...old school been a part of me since I was a kid. I'm in the process of building mine up, and turning it into a lowrider. Once I hit that stage in life, I can probably die happy..lol.
Anything that touches my soul. I'm am empathetic person, which can be seen as good or bad. I don't care either way, we're all human. Some care, some don't...but I care. So I can be inspired by a situation; my nephews going through, to printing a companies order at my day job. Inspiration comes in various forms, I really believe that. I've been inspired to write a song, whether bad or not, off of thinking of one word.
What is your next project?
My next project is still in the air. I would like to do a full release, but it may be an EP. Either way, I'm releasing it a track at a time. I want people to actually hear the music, and understand what it is that makes me, ME. My music's not for everyone, but within my music I HAVE something for everyone.