Keep Your Head High When Emerging From the Underground – Interview w/ The Grouch & Eligh

*written by A’Damaged Pro for Electronica Life

There’s a big difference between clever wordplay and lyrics that speak to the soul. The ability to distinguish one from the other is something you necessarily can’t be taught, but two gentlemen are definitely up for the challenge. The Grouch and Eligh have been working on honing their respective harmony together for several years. Their established solo careers and multiple collaborative projects enable them to offer a unique opinion about an artist’s role in an ever-changing musical climate.

What is “The Underground?” Is defining it a matter of perspective and thereby purely subjective? Does it have a voice? If so, how do you put a spotlight on the voice of the underground? Simple. Give it a pen and paper and a microphone. The “voice” in this case, is the combined message of the The Grouch and Eligh. These gentlemen are no strangers to being in the spotlight or having their words under the microscope. Their pensive, vivid wordplay is characteristic of a style only found when these guys get together to make beautiful heartfelt music. We discuss progression within the musical landscape, personal boundaries, and some dream collaborations that would be sure to sell out arenas around the world.

A’Damaged Pro – Who are some of your earliest musical influences?

The Grouch & Eligh – Grouch: Michael Jackson, Run DMC, Too Short, LL Cool J, BDP, NWA, Beastie Boys, Ice T, Eric B and Rakim

Eligh: I suppose my influences would have to start with what my mom used to play when I was a kid, because that music is what began my desire to make it..People like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Michael Jackson.

A’Damaged Pro – As you have matured, how have those influences evolved?

The Grouch & Eligh – Grouch: I still love each and every one of those artist plus a million more. Ever since I’ve had my daughter I’ve been more on the search for music that we can both listen to at the same time (something not too obscene and negative yet not so corny and kiddish). Living on an island has me listening to a lot of Reggae.

Eligh: Once I found hip hop, of course my most meaningful influences came to be, such as Tribe Called Quest, Poor Righteous Teachers, Freestyle Fellowship, and the Pharcyde..But now a days, my influence comes from indie rock, EDM, and anywhere that catches my ear with something different than the norm.

A’Damaged Pro – How do you balance your respective creative inputs in regards to both duo projects and ones collaborating with other members of The Living Legends?

The Grouch & Eligh – Grouch: It’s easier to work in smaller groups. Perhaps that’s one reason I gravitate towards that these days. Luckily, for the most part the people I work with want to hear my creative input.

A’Damaged Pro – Any thoughts on the fusion (of hip-hop and electro elements) that is becoming quite pervasive in music today?

The Grouch & Eligh – Grouch: I love it. I’m always open to change and boundary pushing in music. After all, music is music. Hip Hop goes with anything. Rapping is just like singing to me, you can serve it over any sound.

Eligh: I love it personally..Especially when its done with creativity and balls..! Pushing the envelope, staying out of the box, constantly smashing up lines between genres is what were all about, so the combination of different sounds is always something I gravitate towards.

A’Damaged Pro – Given the implied platform for spreading awareness, do you feel that artists have an inherent responsibility to their fans?

The Grouch & Eligh – Grouch: I feel that it’s up to each artist to decide what they want to offer the world.

Eligh: Personally, I don’t. I make music for me first, and I tend to believe the people who listen to our music are smart enough to know who’s in charge of their own lives. Grouch and I speak on various real life, and personal issues in our music all the time, so with us, I feel we have no guilt in what we release to people, but other artists vibrate on a different level, and maybe affect their listeners in a negative way? or not? I don’t know man..I’m not going to change the way I say something, or what I’m saying, because I worry about what a listener may do with those words..

A’Damaged Pro – What has been the most rewarding moment of your career, thus far?

The Grouch & Eligh – Grouch: Waking up everyday and not having to check into a 9-5. I have to give eternal thanks to the universe for that.

Eligh: Personally, it’s seeing the effect my openness through music has on people who really listen, who tell me how much what I make means to them, who tell me they got clean because of me, or they stayed clean with the help of my music. Nothing more rewarding than that.

A’Damaged Pro – Are there any new projects on the horizon for you guys?

The Grouch & Eligh – Grouch: We have a huge Grouch and Eligh project we’re getting ready to release. Can’t go into too much detail yet but we’ll be announcing very soon.

Eligh: Well, the biggest one looms on the horizon, ready to drop. The new G&E album, which were both super excited about..It will be here in February, but before that, we have an e.p dropping in December, a pre-lude to the album, and before that, we have a mix-tape-esque project we made which will be released for free sometime very soon.

A’Damaged Pro – Can you elaborate on the recent collaboration with Pretty Lights?

The Grouch & Eligh – Grouch: Eligh and I were out one night with a mutual friend of PL’s and ours and he introduced us. This was a few years ago when E and I had no idea who he was although he was already a huge artist at the time. He had no ego and explained how he’d been a fan of ours growing up and even told a story of how he once slap-boxed Murs at a house party after a Living Legends show back in the day. We immediately liked him and working on music was naturally the next step. We love that guy and his music and hope to continue to create great songs together in the future!

Eligh: Working with Pretty Lights is an awesome experience. He grew up on our music, and has become one of the top producers in the world..His stage show is something to behold, and Grouch and I hope to continue making music with this guy for years to come, because the combination of all of us, is a new, fresh energy, and that falls right in line with everything I’m about.

A’Damaged Pro – Who are some of the artists that you guys would like to collaborate with, if given the opportunity? How do you feel that your styles would complement theirs well?

The Grouch & Eligh – Grouch: I’ve always wanted to work with E. Badu and Mos Def. A G&E song with Outkast or any of the Marleys would be nice.

Eligh: Man, quite a few..Diplo/Major Lazer..He is absolutely killin shit right now. Go see a M.L show..off the hook..His beats and rhythms would bring out the beast in me..! We would make frickin magic! Regina Spector..I’m in love with her voice, her writing, her music period. That would be genre breaking, and I would just probably melt in her presence. Kendrick Lamar..Do I really need to explain this one..? Come on.

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