RESPECT. Interview: STL GLD Talk ‘Torch Song,’ Repping for Boston + More

Photo Credit: @moepope

With so much going on in the world, it’s only right that STL GLD (Moe Pope & The Arcitype) speak up on the topics that matter the most. So many shy away from making noise or don’t really know where they stand but that’s not the case with STL GLD. The duo put together what may be one of the best projects of 2017, Torch Song, and really laid it all out on the table. We sat down with the group to discuss Torch Song, Boston and more. Read it below and make sure to cop Torch Song ASAP!

RESPECT.: What is the backstory to your group?

The Arcitype: We individually have been making music for a very long time. Back in 2013 when we finally connected it was through mutual friends and I was familiar with Moe’s music and I’m just a fan of it. I went to Emerson out here and at 8-9 at night there had been a hip-hop program and Moe was a pretty regular content wise and interview wise and I heard a lot of his materials because I would listen to that channel it every night because its my college station. He had dropped some stuff and I really liked the record and so I had this one friend who had known him for awhile and we had meet at a show at Wonderbar.

Moe Pope: Literally right after you told me to hit you up.

The Arcitype: It was one of those quick “oh you know him, cool cool he has a show “ and all happened within a week. We started doing some work and he was working on an album with Rain and at that point they were at the halfway through it at that point and they recorded some things and had not recorded hadn’t really mixed anything yet so we met here and we started doing mixing work on that record and I produced a couple songs on that and after that we started a side thing and became a less of a side thing.

RESPECT.: How do you guys compromise on music and production?

Moe Pope: I think it’s easy because we like a lot of the same music. I love blues, jazz and indie rock and like the different aspects of music and because he’s a guitarist and he loves different types of music as well. It’s a lot easier when we can just sit and talk music and it will get to a place where there is understanding because we like the same thing.

The Arcitype: Actually I think there’s less compromise in this particular dynamic compared to the other people that I’ve worked with. There was this one guy I worked with that told me I couldn’t use synthesizers he only wanted beats that had real instruments. That was a pretty big compromise that I had to deal with all the time and trying to convince him that it was fine. We don’t really have restrictions with one another and especially with this album in particular there was a lot of wanting to explore with each other’s sounds a little bit more like work a little further outside the box, which is cool because it gives us more room for the desert try different things.

Moe Pope: In my opinion everyone has their own process and no two people are alike. I like to work with one person and just focus on that but I can’t do that unless I trust them. It takes awhile and we did one record and even though it wasn’t perfect. But, it was something we were both happy with and by the time we did this record the trust was absolutely there and probably more trust was given as the record came along. I then thought to myself “ let me sit back and let this dude get busy.”

The Arcitype: In terms of the time to make this record compared to the last was a fracture of the type which I think was indicative because the trust was higher and trusting that he has a good ear and just see what we come out with. We also had a heap really awesome musicians around us that wanted to contribute. It makes it fun and a lot easier making it a complex album and took it to places. I’m only one person on the music side of things so I love getting stuff from other people because it pulls me in directions that I wouldn’t otherwise go in so it opens up the potential for any song.

Moe Pope: Not for nothing for the content for this record and what I’m talking about like what I’m saying, I have no idea what he’s actually going to think because I’m saying some pretty heavy shit. I’m sitting there and I have to believe that this dude knows me enough and knows where I stand and who I am and know that clearly I trust him enough for me to speak freely and clearly he trust me enough to want me to speak freely. Its pretty dope and I’ve never had an experience like this.

RESPECT.: How did the concept for the album (Torch Song) come about?

Moe Pope: For me personally we had kind of started the record and we had 1 or 2 songs and I said I wanted to do a Roger, Zapp-type 80’s infused song.

The Arcitype: It definitely started with music and we were wondering what it would sound like and the feel we wanted.

Moe Pope: We had recorded and months went by and recorded another song we weren’t really fully there yet to get going on the record. I watched Eric Garner die on YouTube and I had a couple of a beats that he had been working on but that’s how it pretty much started. We never talked about it the full time because I was writing but I always said I wanted the Roger Zapp and ultimately I wanted a happy record. The tone started to change, his beats started to change and more people started dying and then Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and that was pretty much what happened. We never vocalized what we were doing but he knew what I was doing and vice versa. As the beats started changing I was coming in here and telling him “I don’t know if you’re going to like this or not” and he’d be like “I’m with that put something on” and he would give me another beat and be like “ I don’t know if you’re going to like this.” We were both dealing with these horrific things at the same time and that’s the way he can express himself and vise versa.

The Arcitype: We were just on the same page. As a producer, I’m never the type to step into the forefront and tell the artist what to do. You’re sort of at the mercy of whatever mc you’re working with and you have to live into whatever that is or whatever their story is. Whether it’s a concept album or something else, you sort of have to find your place in it. He was making his own records that were right where I was at the same time and he was eloquently vocalizing what I thought, so it made life really easy and made the record go quickly.

Moe Pope: I’m speaking to my kids and I’m speaking to my wife on these; my wife is white. We talk about these horrible things going on and his girlfriend is black. Were dealing with these conversations that are happening in a different way. I’m receiving it as a black man and he’s receiving as a white man with a black woman. My wife understands as well what I was dealing with and as a mother of black children. We both hit on something that hadn’t before. That’s all it was, music making and trying to be happy, trying to put a positive spin on horror. It definitely was a release too; it was never a heavy somber vibe. It was upbeat with friends and laughter, a lot of good vibes. This record was a byproduct of a coping mechanism for the both of us. Just getting it out and trying to release all of that, doing that got us going somewhere great.

 

RESPECT.: How did you feel the message was going to be received by family, friends and listeners around you?

The Arcitype: I didn’t really know how I expected to go or if I cared, ultimately Moe and I knew we made a record we needed and wanted to make. I mean, obviously you care, so I take back a little of that, you want a record to be well received, we just knew the record needed to be made. It wasn’t like we thought “oh we need to make a record that’s well received” that was never the intention. There is this piece that shows that we don’t know and Moe did not know how I was going to respond [to the project]. You certainly don’t know how other people are going to respond and you know some people will or won’t respond well. You just need to decide what you want to say. So ultimately we didn’t care.

Moe Pope: I’ve said this before to somebody, I did this selfishly, I did this because I was hurting, and I was sad and really depressed during that time. I needed to do something to keep myself busy. I talked about things that were affecting me the most, so I didn’t care what anybody thought about it, aside from Arcitype. My thoughts are that after we were finished was if people cared about it, that’s the thing. If you listen to the radio, no one is really talking about anything and it’s not that I don’t like that, I like some of that music too. To act like I don’t like to fuck or do drugs or drinks, whatever it may be, I’d be lying. But the fact of the matter is that when we were younger, our generation’s radio had a variation of things to talk about, there was a spectrum and all of it was being played at the same time and we don’t have that right now. Us wearing our hardships like a badge and that’s it, my hopes were that people cared about the record when we were done, but while we were making it? I didn’t give fuck.

The Arcitype: And I think that especially when you’re making a record that’s always the case, but especially a record like this, if you focusing on that you’re focusing on the wrong thing, the task at hand it to focus on the song that you’re making and making sure that the song is the best it can be. I told Moe this a couple of times, I told him “when it comes to the post production of these songs” Moe would come and lay these songs down and it felt incredible that I had the task of making sure that every stone was turned and that we had covered every base on every song to make sure nothing was missing. None of that was done out of any intention of making sure that the fan would like this. I just wanted to make sure I didn’t fuck these songs up. This man gave me crazy good music and I wanted to match his talent. The focus was always the song at hand, and gluing it together as an album. Then you sit back as say, did we do a good job? Hopefully yes, then you find a way to get people to hear it and hopefully they agree.

 

RESPECT.: How does it feel for you guys to be representing for Boston and talking about such a difficult topic?

Moe Pope: I feel great about it, we’ve had Common, and he always spits knowledge. For this generation I don’t think there’s many of that and when you have Common speaking about things in his fashion the way he did in his 20s, it’s not the same because I feel like music has changed. I know I can get knowledge from Common, but it’s not quite the same.

The Arcitype: Boston is in a really cool place musically. A lot of dope stuff is coming out. I’m super proud of that regardless of if I directly had anything to do with it. Right now there’s so much good music coming out and we all have a hand in it. Some people will hear the STL Gold album and think it’s awesome and know they have to make the music awesome too. We heard other people’s records and knew at that point we had to make ours awesome. We’re all raising the bar on each other simultaneously there’s a lot of diversity. It’s not cookie cutter, it’s just making sure we don’t mess up that work when we do what we do. So from the Boston side of things, I’m super proud to be part of the scene because it’s super exciting. In terms of the subject matter I’m equally as proud of that. The challenge is to make an album that doesn’t sounds oppressive when you listen to it, for lack of a better way to express it.  The most powerful lessons you learn are the ones you don’t know you are learning, the ones where you come out of the other side and you feel like you got something you didn’t have before. When we realized the album we were making, it dawned on us in the process that we still wanted it to be enjoyed. We wanted it to be an experience that you want to have more than once. There is a large gap in that market. I would say Kendrick is the strongest artist in this generation that is finding a way to say something but also in a way that doesn’t seem like you’re being preached to, in an inspiring way.  I think in making a record like this we’re looking at those kinds of models.

RESPECT.: Who or what continues to inspire you guys musically?

Moe Pope: I get inspired some much I’m on a Hector Lavoe kick right now. I don’t know how I missed him but I’m on a kick. And Celia Cruz because I got addicted to her telenovela. I have a lot, I like so much music. Solange’s last record is amazing.

The Arcitype: You just go through different phases. I love New Orleans jazz and I guess that’s what it is for me, you’re always looking for more. I was coming back from new york and there’s this group, orchestra bells bob and they’re awesome, they’re AfroCuban mixed with south African music, and it’s a nice blend that you can pull different rhythms and chants from. I like going through phases at any given time.

Moe Pope: What inspires me in a half hour won’t inspire me in 2 hours.

RESPECT.: To rap it up, based on the subject matter, what does respect mean to you?

The Arcitype: For me, I think respect means that you’re experience is not everyone else’s and just trying to understand from a different perspective. That’s the biggest thing, if I can allow you the space to have your world and try to understand it, in my opinion that’s the highest way I can respect you.

Moe Pope: I think to me respect is treating other human beings the way you want to be treated. I think all human beings, gay, black, transgender- if you wanted to be treated a certain way you treat others like that. That’s what respect is to me.

 

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