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I was beyond stoked when Hill Kid co-founder Braelyn Davis told me I was doing a piece on Amp Live and Eric from Rebelution’s collaboration called “Unified Highway”.
When a master of hip hop and music production like Amp Live teams up with one of our favorite singer/songwriter/shredders you know some beautiful art is going to come out of it.
Since Amp Live dropped his instantly famous remix of Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” album titled “Rainydayz” back in 2008, his work as a solo artist and member of Zion I helped ring in whole new dimensions of hip hop. Artists as dedicated to their craft as he is bring new depth and take music to places most people don’t dream of – the feeling some of his songs leave me with is electric zen.
As you’ll soon find out, Amp has been working with Eric Rachmany for years now, and their collaborative effort on Unified Highway instantly sounds as tight and vibey as you’d expect. I love the direction these guys take their creativity, and hope this interview and Amp Live’s new Hill Kid mix-tape inspires all you active artists in our community to create beautiful things!
Hill Kid (HK): What inspired you to do Rainydayz (the Radiohead “In Rainbows” remix?
Amp Live: I did a remix of Nudes off their In Rainbows album and got Zion I and Too Short on it. It started generating a lot of buzz and being posted everywhere. So people were suggesting I do the whole album and I agreed.
HK: Why Radiohead? [Noteworthy: Radiohead, literally gave him permission to drop this remix… what an honor!]
Amp Live: I was a huge fan of the Radiohead In Rainbows album. When they dropped it for free I wanted to just remix one of the songs to show my appreciation.
HK: When did you first get into music?
Amp Live: I have been into music most of my life. My father played jazz piano and also the organ in Church. So I would wake up every morning to the piano being played. I started in high school with a Ensoniq EPS Sampler that he bought for himself and eventually moved to a MPC3000.
HK: Who were some of your favorite musicians or bands growing up?
Amp Live: Definitely had a very diverse background in terms of the music I grew up to; I grew up listening to groups like Earth Wind & Fire, George Strait, Black Flag, Run DMC, Peter Tosh, Bob Marley and Miles Davis.
HK: That’s a beautiful diversity of music. Was there a point when you knew how big a part of your life music would be?
Amp Live: After I graduated from college I started a group called Zion I with MC Zumbi. During my first few years doing Zion I, I definitely got that confirmation that music was going to be part of my life.
HK: It’s amazing to see what you’ve created in answering your calling. Who inspired you from a young age? How about one musician and one non-musician?
Amp Live: At a young age I was inspired by my father who naturally had a love for music. I was just around him all the time and he would either be listening or playing music. My cousin was also an aspiring producer so when I would see him in Oklahoma I would always play with his equipment.
HK: What’s a song that changed your life?
Amp Live: Aliyah “One in a Million”. After I heard that beat I knew that music was about to change and there were no limits.
HK: When did you know that you had made it as a musician? Was there a clear turning point?
Amp Live: The Zion I “True & Livin” was definitely a milestone for me as an artist. We did our first headlining National tour then and it was one of our biggest albums.
HK: We have a ton of talented artists, musicians and painters in our community… What advice would you give to young artists out there trying to spread good vibes and build get their art out there?
Amp Live: You definitely have to use all the social media tools out there to spread your message and music to. Its part of your job as a professional artist to be on them. You also have to be really patient with the process.
Amp Live: I did a remix for their song Safe and Sound and Otherside that did really well. They loved it. We went on tour with them and Soja that year and everyone bonded really hard. Fun times!
HK: How did Unified Highway come about? Was it a natural progression from “Signs”?
Amp Live: Eric and I have been working with each other for years, either via the internet or when I would be on the road with them. We would be in the hotel rooms or the back of the bus recording songs and ideas. I also produced a few songs off of some of the Rebelution albums, so we finally decided to make it official. Signs just fell in line with that process. I put out an album called Headphone Concerto a few years back and I had to get Eric on it. It was actually an acapella from a different track I presented to him and I flipped it on a new beat.
HK: What does your normal morning routine look like?
Amp Live: I get up super early, take my kids to school, work out, then work on music until about 6pm.
HK: When do you find yourself most creative?
Amp Live: Definitely around 1am in the morning.
HK: If you could be remembered for anything 300 years from now, what would you want it to be?
HK: This is a question from Marley… what is your spirit animal?
Amp Live: My spirit animal would have to be the Bear. It is confident, in charge, and hybernates.
HK: What’s your favorite way to spread good vibes?
Amp Live: Definitely being on stage and making people move.. I love performing.
HK: What was your main inspiration for the new Hill Kid mix tape?
Amp Live: Well besides me wearing out my Hill Kid shirts because I like them so much, I really like supporting clothing brands I believe in. So what better way to show support?
It’s an honor to help spread the word about such an exquisite collaboration. Do yourself a favor and don’t try and classify it; it’s not reggae, it’s not hip hop, it’s music – truly beautiful stuff. Big thanks to Amp Live and Eric! ^
Make sure you get your hands on the new mix tape Unified Highway made for us here at Hill Kid (available tomorrow), and check out their new song release “Stand Proud”. Album drops March 4th, 2016.