Hip-Hop Core : First of all, tell us what your childhood was looking like...

Alias: I have fond memories of my childhood. My parents were working class, my dad was a firefighter and my mom worked in an art supply store. My dad is also a drummer, so there was always music around growing up. At the age of 14, my parents bought me my first drum machine for Christmas. There was only one kick sound, one snare sound, etc. but I learned how programming drums works on that piece of equipment.

HHC: Now about the very beginning of Anticon... what was the click that push you and Sole to create Anticon back then?

A: Well, back then it was sole and pedestrian who had come up with the name anticon, and they worked closely building up a base in the Bay Area. I think everyone involved with anticon wanted to do something different, and hip-hop heads weren't into the sound we had. So instead of braving it alone, we huddled together and became a crew of artists. It was basically formed out of necessity.

HHC: It seems like the making of the Deep Puddle Dynamics was a very important time for all of you. Can you describe us the feel/ the mood of that time, the motivation... I never understood why Slug stopped doing anything with you after that...

A: I can only speak for myself, but doing Deep Puddle was the kick-start of my music career. While we recorded that project, I started to see that maybe I could do this to support myself if I stuck to it. It was a very exciting time for me, because we were recording these songs with a new approach and different style, different from anything I had done before. Also, being around all those guys made me want to stay on level with them because they were all so dope to me. They opened some doors inside my head. As for Slug, he had already helped build Rhymesayers to an amazing thing at that point. I suppose he didn't want to leave that behind. I've heard and read interviews where he says he doesn't like Deep Puddle and can't understand what anyone is saying. I disagree with that. I think he did some of his best writing on Deep Puddle. But people go thier separate ways. Things run thier course, then die. That's the nature of music and friendships I suppose.

HHC: Then you all moved on to Oakland... what was it looking like at that time? You were all living in a pretty little space as i understood... plus you were married…

A: Yes, my wife, Jenn was with me from the start, but all the anticon guys welcomed her with open arms. Looking back at it now, it is crazy to think about the living arrangements at that time. First, there were 9 people living in a two bedroom place. I can't even begin to explain the craziness of that living situtation. The second place we lived in was a warehouse loft in East Oakland. It was all very industrial feeling. Bullet holes in the windows. Rabid dogs eating garbage and chasing people around. Gun shots and what not. It wasn't the happiest place in the world, but that experience is what made me who I am today, so I don't look back at it in a negative way at all.

HHC: Now about the way Anticon was perceived... Back to when Divine Disappointment was released, some people out there thought you were a catholic collective or something.. plus Sole's diss of El-P... Lots of guys instantly hate Anticon because of that, without even listening to the other stuff... in hindsight, do you have any regrets of having put some stuff out, like you would have avoid lots of problems and 'instant haters'?

A: There has always been hate about what we do, but I wouldn't change anything that I have recorded and released thus far. Why should I care if some people hate my music? There are plenty of people who enjoy it, and as long as there are people who listen to what I do, I will feel lucky. I make music for myself. I don't go into working on a song or album, thinking about what type of person will like it, or trying to please a certain crowd. If people enjoy the music that I make for myself, then I feel blessed. It's like an added bonus.

HHC: Also how do you see the evolution of Anticon right now? Those problems seems far away and you got a better distribution, but at the same time it seems like people ain't that excited as they were about your releases a few years ago...

A: I love where anticon is right now, and I'm excited to see where it goes in the future. Our audience has always been a rotating cast of characters. I think the excitement about our music isn't as immediate now, because the majority of people who buy our music don't spend their days on the internet on message boards and websites. So you don't see that excitement right away. But the amount of units sold on albums has gone way up over the last few years. I think there is probably more excitement now.

HHC: Now on a more personal level... The Other Side Of The Looking Glass is an album that deals a lot with personal feelings... it's quite depressive and scarry... was it a way to make a sort of psychoanalysis? Ain't you scared of releasing such personal things in your album, like now people that you meet will know personal stuff about you and you don't about them? Especially in the rap game where it's all about big egos..

A: Again, I make music for myself. Making that album was therapeutic for me in alot of ways. I got to touch on things that I had going on my head, and release them in a way that most people don't release them. I was depressed and in a terrible space when I recorded most of that album. But that's what humans do, they go through bad times, and they talk about them. I think that's how people relate to me and my music, because I'm not talking about things that are so far out of reach, or things that only I can understand. As far as the rap game with big egos, I don't care if some rapper talks shit about me saying I'm sad and depressed. It was true at the time I recorded that stuff, what can they say? I acknowledge that. Everyone gets sad sometimes, even tough rappers.

HHC: At the same time the term 'emo-rap' was out and concerned also people like Slug, Sage or Awol.. what do you think of this?

A: Emo-rap, goth-hop, nerd-rap, etc. These all make me laugh. They are catch phrases for people to form music into a more understandable thing. Tupac had an intense amount of emotion in a bunch of his songs, would he be considered emo-rap?

HHC: On your recent albums you stopped rapping and start doing more electronic stuff. Where you tired of that whole hiphop thing or it just felt like natural evolution?

A: I wasn't really tired of hip-hop, it was just a natural thing to do. I love producing, much more than writing rhymes. I still write rhymes here and there, but beat-making is something I never get tired of. I was listening to lots of electronic music at the time, and it started influencing me in my music. Even on Otherside of the Looking Glass, there is some electronic music influence. I just progressed into that I suppose.

HHC: How do you manage to work with Markus Archer?

A: Markus came to one of our shows in Munich, on the Themselves/Alias tour. We were all listening to Neon Golden quite a bit on the US part of our tour, so when we met him, we were all a bit nervous. We talked a bit, and I mentioned doing music together, and he seemed very excited about it. When I started working on Muted, I sent him a couple of basic tracks to see what he could do with them, and he recorded vocal and guitar parts. He sent them back to me and I finished the song in a day. I then got to tour with Lali Puna quite a bit last year. Markus is someone who I would consider a close friend now. He is someone I look up to musically in alot of ways. He's involved with so many projects, and he always keeps coming up with great new musical ideas. And now, with the 13 & God record, Themselves and Notwist show how well two groups of people can work together without one sound overpowering the other.

HHC: How do you work and with what kind of equipments? Are you a big cratediggeralso? If so, can you tell us about some of your favorite rare records?

A: I haven't been digging for records in a while. I have about 1,000 records. I went through and only kept the records with drum breaks on them, or with really cool sounds to sample. I use an MPC2000XL as my main piece of equipment, but I have a bunch of keyboards that I've been using for the past few years. But the MPC is the brain of it all. I do most of my arranging on the MPC and in Digital Performer.

HHC: Can you describe us a typical Alias day? Do you manage to live from the music you sell? Also what is your role in Anticon besides being one of the artist?

A: I haven't worked a day job for the past 4 years. I wake up at 7 AM and make coffee. I go into my studio and work on music for a few hours, take a break and go back and work on more. Sometimes I'll go to the anticon office to help out with a press mailout or tour mailout for whatever release is coming up. I'm one of the 8 owners of anticon, so I try to help out with as much as I can on other releases. I don't really have that much of an exciting day really. The repetativeness only gets broken up by touring and such.

HHC: You produced beats for people like Thesis Sahib, Bleubird or Subtitle... How do you came to work with these guys?

A: These are people I have met along the way, and have been great people to be around. They are great people to converse with, and also very dope artists. I like working with people whose positive energy shows through in their music.

HHC: Can you tell us a word about the Dax Pierson's foundation?

A: You can go to for all kinds of info on one of the best people in the world. Dax is someone I've had many great conversations with, and he is an amazing musician. He was the person who really inspired me to incorporate keyboards into my set-up, from watching him perform on the Themselves/Alias tour. Check out the website to see how people can help.

HHC: The subsidiary question now : your best and worst memories linked to hip hop...

A: Best memory - Having a massive collection of tapes in the early 90's, where everyone had thier own sound, and didn't bite what the next person was doing to make themselves popular. Worst memory - watching almost everything become redundant in the music in the mid to late 90's. Then watching it happen again with the "indie-hip-hop" wave.

HHC: What about your future projects?

A: I have a new instrumental project coming out with my younger brother, Ehren. It drops in August of this year, and it's called "Lillian" after my grandmother. I'm also finishing up an album that I'm producing with a vocalist from Broolyn. She is from the group Healamonster & Tarsier and you can check their stuff at for more info. That album will come out in early 2006. Both albums will be on anticon. I also have a self-relased CD called "All Things Fixable" that came out this week. You can order it from the anticon website.

HHC: Ok thanks a lot for your answers... any last words?

A: Listen to music with an open mind.

Interview by Pseudzero
June 2005

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