EMANON - Interview

First I'll ask you to introduce yourself and Emanon.

My name is Aloe Blacc from Emanon. Emanon is two people, DJ Exile and Aloe Blacc. We started in 1995 in Orange County, which is right between Los Angeles and San Diego. That's where we're from. We started making music on mix tapes first and then started putting out wax in stores, and doing shows...

Can you tell us more about these mix tapes ?

The idea was that Exile would put on one side music from his favorite groups, and on the other side music that he made. That's what got us a name. People bought the tape: on one side they get 45 minutes of great hip hop mix, on the pother side they get 45 minutes of a new group: Emanon. They liked it and it gave us a name.

So now you're with Spytech Records ?

In a way. We're not really with any label, but we're affiliated with many. We've done projects on Weapon Shaped, Spytech, Ill Boogie, Singletone (??), and Sublevel Epidemic. Five different labels, five different projects.

Your EP on Ill Boogie is part of a serie. Can you tell us more about this concept ?

The concept was, Ill Boogie record put out a serie of EPs to represent underground hip hop around the united states. Each group is from a different area. We represent the West Coast, Yeshua represents de East Coast... The slogan behind it is: "protect your ear from commercial hip hop", that's why it's called the earplug series.

But what about the name "Emanon" ? What does it mean ?

The word Emanon is "No Name" backward. Dizzie Gillespie had a song called "Manon", 'cause he didn't have a name for it. I had a song, didn't have a name for it, so I called it "Emanon" too. Exile said "that's a good name, let's make it the name of the group", and that's how it started.

Do you have a musical background ? Do you play of any instrument ?

I've been playing instruments from a young age. I started with trumpet, when I was about nine years old. Later at the university I learned how to play the piano and the guitar. Exile is learning to play the drums, and other people in the crew play other instruments like the piano... And I do some sing-brzwt-ing tooccccrrrrr--. Is this voice activated ? There's a switch somewhere I think... Yeah, there it is.

Thank you...

What happened with voice activation, is when it's silent, it stops.

Ok... thank you...

No, everybody now plays instruments. I'm producing on a keyboard, a Korg Triton, and on it I can play drums, piano, any sound I want. Exile do more piano and organ. Lots of instruments.

By the way there's a lot of music stores around here, you might want to check them out.

Yeah, this whole tour I've been trying to get a guitar so I could practice, and the only guitar I found was an electric guitar in Germany...

Really ? And what about the tour, how did it go ?

Here in France, with Lance-Pierres Productions, we went to Bordeaux and Grenoble where we did a show at a b boy competition. After the show in Bordeaux I went to Willes (???) in Switzerland to do a show with the Sabotage tour. From that point we did maybe seventeen show with Lootpack all through Germany. The response was pretty good. A lot of people who didn't know Emanon now know about us.

So why couldn't Exile come too ?

Exile is back in the States finishing up some projects. There was thing that he was doing that he needed to finish, like a compilation, and he's doing a lot of production work for our album. 'Cause when I got back we gonna finish the album.

So what are your next projects ?

We're trying to drop an LP by the fall, entitled The Waiting Room. Also coming out is the Dream Sequence compilation, music from all the people in my crew.

OK, classic question: who do you like or hate in hip hop, music, or even movies... Whatever you want to say...

I like Cat Stevens, now Yussef Islam, I really like his music. I really like Antonio Carlos Rubin, he's a brazilian musician. I like to listen to all types of music: Frank Sinatra, Samy Davis... Who do I hate ? I'm not really a fan of Speed Metal, but beside that... There's only good and bad music, some artists have good song, some have bad songs... I can't really put names on them.

Do you have theme you like to talk about more than others in your songs ?

I speak about as many different things as I can. There's not one thing that I like to speak about actually, because it gets boring. But what I enjoy about making music is being able to tell a story or say something that people can understand. When you finish listening to it, you can go tell your friend what my song was about. There's a lot of artists out there who make music, but if someone asks you "so what is he talking about ?" you can't really say cause it's a lot of nothing. By the end of my song, you should be able to say "He said, this, this, and this. These were his ideas, that's how he presented them".

As a matter of fact before the interview I was telling Ade about one of your songs about a unilateral love affair.

Yeah, "Blind Love".

And I was telling her the story of the song.

Yeah, that's the idea. I write about emotions, philosophy, social ideas, sometimes politics, and sometimes I make music just for fun.

What do you know about French music ? Especially French hip hop ?

I know about French hip hop from what I've learned on the tour. I've done a song with three different groups now. In Chalons I've done a song with Kung Fu ("Crew de Fous", "Coup de Fous" ). I've done music here with the Jazz Liberators in Paris. And music with DJ Toshee (??). I've met a producer in Bordeaux who gave me many discs with his music, and I liked it so when I go home I'm gonna make a track with it.

Thanks for your time. Do you want to add anything ?

Just add that if you don't know about Emanon there's plenty on the internet that you can listen to, on sandboxautomatic.com, or hiphopsite.com.

Oh yeah maybe one last question. What are the albums you're looking out for that are coming out this year ?

Slum Village, the OC album too that just dropped, and oh yeah maybe that Emanon album, I heard they're pretty good...

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