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Centerstage Chicago Nightlife City Guide Arts Entertainment Chicago Illinois
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Auburn

Newcomers with ambitions
Thursday May 26, 2011.     By Jeff D. Min
Centerstage Chicago Nightlife City Guide Arts

With influences ranging from Rammaellzee and No I.D. to the Definitive Jux label, it’s no surprise that Auburn (emcee vyle. and producer Eliot Lipp) has created music that is deserving of interest. Together—vyle. with his wry, stick-and-move flow and Eliot with his multi-textured soundscapes—the duo brandishes a form of hip-hop that is fluid and speaks to many different styles. The easy thing to do would be to start labeling them with nondescript tags, but at this point it’s still too early to tell. So far the indications are that there is an honesty that reveals that they’re respecting the process of absorbing and translating their many influences; their most recent creative endeavors are taking them back-and-forth between Chicago and New York. As of now their mixtape (available for free here) is a guiding light in terms of where they’ll end up next. Centerstage caught up with them via email before their Chicago debut at the darkroom to discuss their process and what they have on deck for the coming months.

Where are you guys from originally and how did you get started in your respective crafts?
vyle.: I'm from Chicago and I got started in my craft via influence from the city and the times we were in, the mid to late 90's.

Eliot Lipp: Tacoma, WA. My brother had a punk band and I started playing drum kit.

Every musician has a laundry list of influences, which ones rise to the surface for you guys in particular?
v: Rammellzee, Basquiat, Nacrobats, NO I.D.

EL: Yeah, Def Jux era hip-hop is a major influence on vyle. and I.

How did you guys come to the name Auburn?
v: Auburn was a group name we've thrown around for a little while. Before then we were called Neonstriderbitrate, Auburn's easier to say.

You guys go back and forth between New York and Chicago, arguably the two most progressive minded hip-hop cities in the world. What’s your take on the two scenes and in what ways are you guys a representative of both?
v: In New York-That's the place where rap originated so it’s always influential being there. Sometimes it reminds me of little things in rap's history, movies like Wild Style and Juice, King of New York and things of that nature. Also there’s a great scene in New York art-wise right now with artists like Action Bronson and Ninjasonik. Chicago has always been much different because we have a huge freestyling background and obviously the regional change in styles. But yeah I'm definitely representative of both because my lyrics touch on things that are defiantly and unabashedly rap swag.

EL: I like how vyle. uses the term "nerd rap" but usually means it in a good way.

How does Chicago in particular influence you guys?
v: Chicago always influences me. I feel like most of the current clothing styles and rap styles come from here.

EL: Chicago is a city where you will see backpack rappers in the club and club rappers wearing backpacks, and of course, hipster rappers trying to get their pictures taken.

How did you guys link up with Box of Milk Records?
v: The owners of the label were starting it and asked if we wanted to put out a single with them and that single deal has grown into an album deal.

EL: vyle. knew the label owner from back in the day.

Can you tell me a little bit about your new mixtape T/E/L/E/X?
v: It's pretty much a teaser or what we’ve been up to lately Auburn-wise leading up to our album D/A/T/A/S/E/T/T/E. We got a bunch of great guests on there, Maggie Horn of Telephoned from Fool's Gold Records, G.O.D. Jewels, Sulaiman and more. The style of music is pretty much us and what we love to hear. Some songs can range from dreamy shoegaze-esque rap to italo-disco/trap and swag songs.

The past decade or so has seen a melding of genres that have in a lot of ways defied the way we classify music. How do you guys bring your respective influences and talents together without getting too caught by the media’s influence?
v: We just make the type of music that’s in us. We don't try to over classify our music (except for that last answer hahaha).

EL: I think that we are influenced by the media in some ways. By choosing to publish articles about certain albums, the media does help shape certain genres. Musicians and producers are all influenced by that music. We dig deeper for our influences though. We listen to different styles of music from all different eras. This helps keep us from making any kinds of typical generic sound.

What’s the process like for you guys when you’re ready to sit down and make music?
v: Usually we get our espressos, and I get started on the drum programming. Then Eliot comes in with the synths or sometimes it’s the other way around and sometimes tracks get formed out of nowhere. Sometimes we have other artists in the studio and we bounce ideas off of one another and other times we have a melody that gets put to midi.

EL: We start working on about three or four new beats then we will record vocals to some other songs, then we'll come back to something we did the day before and basically work until we're both about to pass out.

It seems like you guys are building up a steady stream of momentum, what can we look forward to in the coming months?
v: More material, singles, shows and way more videos!

EL: More videos, more singles and eventually a full- length album, D/A/T/A/S/E/T/T/E.

 

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