By Eric Wendt
Eligh and Amp Live might just be the peanut butter and chocolate of hip hop. Both are great on their own, but together…(kisses fingers)…tres magnifique. Eligh is probably best known as part of the Living Legends crew, as well as half of popular duo The Grouch & Eligh. Amp Live’s claim to fame comes as a producer extraordinaire who makes up the DJ half of duo Zion I. They’re both considered indie rap all-stars (and rightfully so), and they’re currently on tour promoting their recent collaboration, Therapy at 3. Synthesis spoke with both Eligh and Amp Live about their new record, different aspects of hip hop, and the “Holy shit” moments that come with being a rap star.
How did you guys hook up for Therapy at 3?
Amp: We had been talking about doing an album for some time. The perfect window came up after the last Zion I and Grouch Heroes album for me. So I hit up Eligh and he was ready.
How would you compare your work on this to your other projects?
Eligh: I usually handle most of, if not all, the production on those other projects, so to do an entire album where someone else handled all of it made the process very unique for me. All I had to concentrate on was my writing. It was an awesome experience.
Amp: Well, I treat each project I do differently. Working with Eligh was different because he is a producer also, so we pretty much were driven by the music first. We also wanted a sound for this album that was distinct and very bass heavy.
Eligh, your work is often described as “indie rap” or “alternative hip hop.” What’s your take on it?
Eligh: I love alternative hip hop. I would describe it the same way. I like alternative everything, because to me it means beyond what people consider “normal,” and normal is boring! I welcome that description with open arms.
Amp, you’re well known for some high-profile remixes. How does the approach differ when you’re doing a remix as opposed to an original composition?
Amp: When doing remixes you are pretty much given a template to start with, either with the composition there already or by the artist and what they want. It’s not necessarily easier though, because there is so much you can do with remixes. They have to have a purpose. Original compositions come from my own template, so it depends on what I am feeling.
Besides this tour and promoting Therapy at 3, what’s on the horizon for your various other projects?
Eligh: Aw, man, I have four projects happening, a new G&E album, an album with my Bay Area producer and friend DNAE, an album hybrid of instrumentals and songs from me and an album with Gift of Gab as well. A lot on my plate!
Amp: Working on a new Zion I album, Shadow Boxing, coming this fall. Also, working on my jazz instrumental album, Kaliedoscope Theory…I put out an EP last year called You Are Not Human, which is a precursor to it.
Being a musician can afford a certain lifestyle others don’t experience. What’s been your most surreal, “Holy shit, this is my life” experience thus far?
Amp: Definitely when we go overseas to places like Brazil and Malaysia. I never imagined I would be there doing music and performing.
Eligh: I went to South Africa in February. Holy shit. It was amazing.