State Of The Artist (SOTA) - Sound In The Signals Interview

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I have to say your album title Seattlecalifragilisticextrahelladopeness is probably the craziest titled I’ve seen all year for an album. How’d you come up with the album title and what is the response from people when they see the album title?

We originally came up with it based off a tour concept that never came to fruition in late 2009. We had just returned from a 6 week stay in LA writing and recording new music. We liked the name and decided to use it for the album knowing it was a bit outrageous and demanded some attention. Overall it fits the vibe of our music and hearing people try to say it is entertaining enough for us. We call it “SeaCal” for short.

The album is chocked full of good guest. One of which is Champagne Champagne who are featured on “What You Ask For.” How did that collaboration come about? Also you recently released the track as a free single. What made you decide to release it for free as opposed to a 0.99 method?
The song was the third of 3 free singles we released from the project. The first two were “Extrahelladope” and “Hey Hey,” which were products of that fun, party energy we, Helladope, and P Smoov are known for. The Champagne collab was a little darker, the monster of fame and ego. We released it as the third single because we wanted to show there was some depth to the album that we didn’t want overlooked. The collaborations, Champagne included, all came about pretty naturally through just being in the scene or being on a bill together and building from there.

You guys also have a track on the album that features PSmoov from Mad Rad/Fresh Espresso called “Hey Hey.” How did that track come together? Why did you guys decide to work with him and feature him on your new album?
Thad from our group had been featured on a few SMOOV tracks as early as 2007. We were excited to see where his production skills would go with us in the studio as a whole crew, and it was pretty effortless. The entire “Hey Hey” session was quick--we built the beat and verses from scratch and wrapped the whole song minus SMOOV’s verse in 45 minutes. It was a great second single and gave us a good amount of momentum the week our album dropped. It might be our best live song too.

The album has a neat vibe because you honor kind of the music of Seattle’s past but also have a current fresh sound and showcase a lot about the present Seattle. Do you think that’s a fair statement? Was that intentional or just something that happen in the creative process?

We think it’s safe to say overall. The album is full of what Seattle has to offer to hip hop and that’s reflected throughout the album with each guest appearance. We felt not exactly ready to articulate our own sound in a single album, and decided to build a unique collection of the different chemistries we had built with artists we knew. It’s safe to say that it was something that was intentional in terms of capturing our scene at that time but happened with ease being that we had relationships with almost everyone on the album prior to the recording process…it all felt natural.

You guys had quite a few producers on the album. What type of vibe did you set out to create with your beats and what got you guys interested in doing all the production yourself?

The album features 11 different producers, and repeated appearances by LA’s SKI TEAM, who have also worked with Dom Kennedy, U-N-I, Chip The Ripper, Hollywood Holt, Rob Roy, and our homie Dude Royal. Parker and PSMOOV produced the first two singles (Parker on “Extrahelladope” and PSMOOV on “Hey Hey,” they co-produced “Blowclouds” as well). We really tried to tailor the production and feel of each song to the artist that was featured. If there was a producer in the featured group we made sure that was a part of the track as well. We knew with 3 voices in SOTA we’d already have a strong vibe and presence. We also wanted to demonstrate our versatility as emcees from loopy tracks like “Peyote Kids” to more focused themes on “Jealous” or “What You Asked For.” Some songs as many as 9 people worked on, passing the sessions back and forth from Seattle to LA to rewrite/compose bits and pieces.

You recently posted some behind the scenes footage for “ExtraHellaDope.” Can you let our readers know a little about the concept of the video? What the video shoot was like and when can we expect to see the official video released?

The concept of the video was simple, blending the energies and visuals of Seattle and California specifically but the West Coast in general. We worked with Stephan Gray of GrayMatter Productions and choose a unique location and feel for each shot. Thad and P’s verses were shot at a viewpoint in West Seattle, Tay Sean’s at his house in Beacon Hill, Hyphen8d’s was in a green house on Capitol Hill to lend that crazy Cali feel and Jerm’s was downtown Seattle near Pike Place. Stylistically the effects were tailored to each verse to bring out different flavors without being distracting. Stephan is a genius, and didn’t always make music videos. That’s part of what makes his music work unique and exciting. The video is out on youtube.com/stateoftheartist, vimeo.com/graymatter or you can browse our blog sotaboys.com!

We recently talked a little about kind of the rebranding the group is going through up until this point you guys have allowed people to call you SOTA Boys but from here on out you want to be referred to as only State Of The Artist. What are some of the reasons behind the rebranding?

Yeah, interesting topic. Mostly it started with us choosing sotaboys.com as our URL a couple years back, sort of knowing that we might be more heavily associated with it than we wanted, but we didn’t come up with an alternative. We’re looking at rebranding a little and bringing our name mentions back specifically to SOTA or State Of The Artist as we continue to grow as musicians and people, and want keep the focus on our music. Any name with “boys” in it has a shelf life and we know it. Our music has grown a lot since this album and we want to make a conscious effort to be more deliberate in how we are marketed before and after we release it.

You guys are part of this emerging group of acts from Seattle that are really starting to pick up steam. What do you think it is about Seattle that has really caused this big explosion of up and coming artists over the last couple of years?

There’s always been a tremendous drive in Seattle’s music scene across various genres. It’s just been a while since the scene has been so in your face with the amount of talent, especially in hip hop. It’s one of those things that’s hard not to acknowledge with the strides hip hop has made in general--the evolution of different sounds let alone how that affects Seattle and how Seattle may again be starting to affect the rest of the world (re: grunge). There’s so many different camps and artists making noise in Seattle on a local and national scale its hard to just shout out a few but long-standing names like Old Dominion, Grieves, Blue Scholars, Grynch, Macklemore, Sport n’ Life Records--now joined by new faces like Out For Stardom (Mad Rad//Fresh Espresso), Members Only (SOTA//Hi-Life Soundsystem label), SOL, Cloud Nice, The Physics—even younger acts like Brothers From Another and Kung Foo Grip are getting recognized earlier and earlier.

To anyone who hasn’t heard your group what track would you recommend and why?

TH: “Say Say”
Parker: “Peyote Kids”
Hyphen8d: “Be Yourself”

I guess that about wraps it up thanks for taking the time to do the interview. Do you have any closing comments you’d like to make?

We’ve got a lot of plans for the coming year and a new project to be released in the Spring produced entirely by us—as well as a tour down to SXSW. Stay tuned to the movement at www.sotaboys.com and shout at us anytime on Twitter: @sotacrew or Facebook (www.facebook.com/stateoftheartist). Holler.

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