Hip-Hop Core: So, what do you think about the French public? Did you enjoy your show in France last year?

Existereo: Yeah, it was incredible, after my first show last year, i've been back to france this year with the shapeshifters. The four shows that I've done in France were great. Two in Paris, one in Rennes , and one Roubaix . The public was incredible in all the places. We're all gonna move there one day. Hopefully this summer I'll be able to stay a month in Paris while my girlfriend is in school there. Hopefully I'll get to work on this album with TTC if all goes according to plan.

HHC: I believe that it's more or less by being around Darkleaf that you've begun to really want to be a rapper. Am I right? What's the full story?

E: Yeah, Darkleaf was definitely the group that brought me out of my shell or whatever you call it. They just kind of helped me into something that I knew (and they knew) I wanted to be doing, sometimes you just need a push like that. I'll always owe them, I know I wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't for them.

HHC: Your LP "Dirty Deeds and Dead Flowers" has clearly been one of the most interesting albums of 2003. Can you tell us a few words about the album? How long did it take you to make it? What did you want to accomplish with it?

E: It took longer than I thought it would take to make it, about a year. But even some of the lyrics are lyrics I was working on in Portugal . I guess in that way it was a lifetime in the making. I wanted to accomplish just really solidifying an album that kind of captured what I had been doing for the last eight years of my life and who I had been working with. Because there were so many lost projects, I had to document all the groups I had worked with over the years. Also, to finally get myself out there as a solo MC. I had always been in groups, never by myself.

HHC: How did you choose the producers and guests you've worked with on this album?

E: It was easy, it was just all the people that are in my phonebook, all my friends. I just did "Crush Groove" as kind of a follow up but it's not meant to be as sentimental or personal, just for shows and to have a good time. I got to work with a few producers that I never worked with before. It turned out pretty good. But the next album, still untitled, so far I'm getting beats from everyone that I wanted to, people that I didn't know then but now I do. Through so much touring I've got to meet a lot of producers that I never would have heard of and I thought were incredible, so hopefully the next one will be the one.

HHC: Do you have any idea about why ' Four Way Window Pain' is such an efficient track? What was the creative process behind it? Did Daddy Kev come up with all the different movements of the track on its own or did you have any input on the production side?

E: It was kind of the beginning of two songs and then we just slammed them together and it was really all Daddy Kev. I would keep coming back to the studio and it would be different every time and I would just drop a little more and a little more. I think that's why all the pieces are so different. Plus, Daddy Kev is just a dope producer, you can't really go wrong.

HHC: In the end, the album is really eclectic. A jazz track here, an experimental one there, a more regular freestyle kind of rap somewhere else… The LP sounds like a patchwork of everything that defines you. What do you think about that idea?

E: Yeah, it is, because every day I feel differently, and it just depends on the mood I'm in and the beat I'm working on. Each beat has it's own life, if you can find it, it'll show you something... then you're makin' music, not just rapping.

HHC: On "Dirty Deeds & Dead Flowers", the intro and the outro contain excerpts from the Beatles' song 'Live and Let Die' as well as a little bit of AC/DC. The cover art could have been used for a Guns N Roses album… Are these elements really corresponding to your musical background or is it just something that makes you trip?

E: That's everything I grew up on. And still listen to. The cover was done by my friend, it's more reminiscent of American tattoo flash style which, obviously, is something I'm into. Hopefully in the not to distant future I'm going to try a punk rock album, and if I could sing, I'd do a country album. But yeah, everything I ever put out is a reflection of me.

HHC: The album shows that more than most of your Shifters' colleagues you like telling stories. What do you like about storytelling?

E: I don't even really realize I'm telling stories half the time. It's just free association and stream of consciousness. It just turns into something, I never start off with a theme. I think it's really open to interpretation, you can get different stories out of it or different meanings, it just depends on your perspective that day.

HHC: Last year has been a busy one for the Shape Shifters. You've definitely gained some new fans. What's the whole situation of the Shapes right now? A few months ago, Circus told us about an album "The Shape Shifters Were Here" that was supposed to be released soon. Do you have any info on this LP? What is it made of?

E: It's all new stuff and now actually we're breaking stuff down because of possible deals and we're putting out an album independantly, one with a label and a new "Soul Lows." And we're repressing all the old stuff independantly. The goal for this year is just to repress as much old stuff and make as much new stuff as possible. But the new album, "The Shapeshifters Were Here" and the "Soul Lows 2" are really great in my opinion, I'm really happy with what the group is doing.

HHC: What's up with Overfiendz? Does the group still exist? Do you have anything in the works?

E: Metfly is busy with his thing, I'm busy with my thing, one day we'll do an EP again, but right now we got so many other things to focus on. It's hard to really say.

HHC: Apart from your solo LP, you've also released a new Whyknows LP entitled "Vinho Barato" last year. Can you give us some info on this project?

E: Yeah, it was just a dope album, my brothers and I got to spend some time together when we were in Portugal . We always worked on music together so we decided, "let's make an album." There should be a new one before 2005, but Innaspace as well is really busy with school and it is music school, so I'm not trying to distract him. He will have a new solo album coming out as well. (If you don't know about "The New Colour," his last solo, track it down.)

HHC: I've read somewhere that you consider yourself as a "music nerd". What do you listen to these days? Anything you really like?

E: TV on the Radio, The Darkness, Subhumans... I make mix-CDs all day ranging from Hank Williams III (Hank III) to Edith Piaf ...to Pigeon John...to Frank Zappa...etc...etc...

HHC: The booklet of "Dirty Deeds & Dead Flowers" is full of paintings and photos. Apart from your friendship with Mear and the fact you were once an active member of the CBS crew, what still links you to graffiti art?

E: Well... we just did a piece in Paris ! But, I always have a marker, I'll always be catching tags, not as much piecing, just because to do it, you have to really do it. All my time is in music right now. It's not just Mear and the CBS crew, probably eighty percent of my friends are graffiti writers. When you do graffiti like CBS does graffiti, it doesn't just go away. It's in my blood.

HHC: What is the aspect of graffiti art that attracted you the most in the first place?

E: Just bombing, I love bombing. I love just gettin up, walking around, leaving your mark, but tastefully. (I guess tastefully is just an opinion.) But you can tell when you see a nice tag or a clean throwup that someone who really does it, did it. Not just a little kid with a Marks-a-Lot.

HHC: By the way, you've participated in the "Ex Vandalz" project in support of graffiti art. Could you give us some insight on this album and on its picture disc edition?

E: It's Perk's project, he's OG shifter so I'm always gonna do whatever he needs and the picture disc is incredible, I'm glad someone else is really stepping up the quality of our products independantly. There's going to be a new Ex-Vandalz 10" picture disc called "Gunstar Heros" featuring myself and a whole bunch of other people. Ex-Vandalz is my one place to really represent CBS to the fullest, and that's my first family.

HHC: What gave you the will to have so many tattoos?

E: It just worked out like that, I used to own a peircing shop on Melrose in Hollywood and I had a lot of friends that were tattoo artists and CBS guys like Duel, and Skate were tattooing people. I don't really know, I just lucked out, I liked the colors and the symbolism and, I figured, fuck it, I'm already an outcast, might as well make it official. It is weird though how much more acceptable tattoos are now than as recently as just ten years ago.

HHC: It would have been impossible to interview you without speaking on the Ghostwriters project you have with Awol One and Die. Could you tell us a few words about it?

E: It's gonna kill us. It's like the Polergeist movie, everybody that helps make the album is gonna have bad tragedy in their live. But we're making it anyway. We just stopped recording on the ancient indian burial sites. But on a real note, we don't want to rush it. When it finally does get done, it'll be worth the wait.

HHC: What about your (and the Shape Shifters') other current projects?

E: (1) Existereo, Crush Groove
(2) Shapeshifters Were Here
(3) Soul Lows 2
(4) Die, Ravish
(5) Perk, Graffiti Brydge
(6) Chainsmokers, and whatever else we can get done from now to the end of the summer.
(and XololanXinxo and I are working on a secret project.)

HHC: Any last word or thought for the readers of www.hiphopcore.net?

E: We really appreciate France and all the love they show to the Shifters and everyone in the LA2theBay family. And I want to just apologize for this interview taking almost six months to get back to you. "Are you a pothead, Faulker?"

Interview by Kreme & Cobalt
May 2004

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