The Dulcet Melodies of Kevin Venom & TUX

The traditional interview has no place in a world where the period is quickly becoming obsolete. While technically sound writing is an art of its own, the fact of the matter is that it’s being boxed out by the internet and technology more generally. Today, in an effort to get with the times, Nomadic Bloggers is launching a new interview series called The Dulcet Melodies. Long for The DMs, these interviews are all conducted through Twitter’s Direct Messages. Accordingly, they boast a more conversational flow. Or, as close as one can come while communicating through text. What you read here is what was said. And what was said was guided by a natural progression. Which is not to say all the questions were thought up on the spot, but that which pre-written questions were asked is decided by which topics surface when. Having introduced the series, we can now delve into the subject of today’s interview.

As those who read my first interview with Kevin Venom know, he was introduced to music by way of the violin. He is even pursuing a degree in violin performance. Over the summer, this pursuit landed him in Quebec where he attended Domaine Forget, a month long violin program. As a result of fate, or more probably, sheer probability, he roomed right next to a fellow hip hop head who just happened to produce. However, as a graduate-level student of the violin, TUX was hard pressed to find the time to ever really explore hip hop production seriously. He had dabbled in electronic production before but again, on account of time, never too seriously.

But, when one spends a month in the woods with no responsibilities beyond practicing violin, time frees up. While there is no doubt in my mind that the program was rigorous, I assume part of the process is respite and recovery. And during that respite, with a laptop but no wifi, hip hop happened.

This might seem surprising to you at first, but really, who is more prepared to be a hip hopper than someone training to become a professional violinist? Who else is more conscious of the sheer impossibility of seeing success than someone trying to make a living playing one of the world’s most complex instruments? The fear of failure has no hold on him.

If you remain skeptical, I refer you to the pudding in which you’ll find the proof. Actually, before you press play, I should mention Kevenom’s lyrics. Some may describe them as inaccessible. I sincerely disagree. Many are afraid to hear the reality of life and therefore reject that which challenges their misconception that everybody is okay. As a result, those who express their internal turmoil are dismissed as inaccessible. But there is nothing inaccessible about them, people just aren’t willing to access them.

 

Ian

I Googled la malbaie, it is a place in Quebec.
Tell me more about the project’s title.

Kev

la malbaie is a town that is near where me
and tux met in Quebec

TUX

And it just so happens to translate to “the bad bay”
which worked great for the overall direction of the project

Kev

and it also tied in nicely to
the location of where we made it

Ian

Why were you both in that town?

Kev

For this classical music festival

TUX

Violin camp man haha. What are the odds

Kev

We both play violin and we attended a festival
called domaine forget that summer

TUX

Happened to end up rooming next
door to each other, and the rest is history

Ian

What do you mean when you say “Bad Bay”
worked well with the direction of the project?
How would you describe that direction?

Kev

the direction just sort of
turned out to be like, dark and heavy

TUX

Which was kind of unexpected because
the scenery we were surrounded
with was unbelievably calming and
beautiful

Kev

yeah, but i think that my musical personality
is already so dark that is was just kind of inevitable
and we were like cut off from the internet
and the outside world while we
were at domaine forget
gave us a lot of time to be alone with our thoughts

TUX

It’s like another world. Really gives you
a space to dig deeper into stuff
you don’t have time for usually.

Ian

TUX, how do you feel about the lyrical content
Venom brought to the project? Can
you relate to any of the woes expressed?
Do you think your production on its own
would convey similar emotions?

TUX

Sorry, I’m half teaching a violin lesson right
now haha but yeah I was blown away
honestly
I had no idea what to expect going into
really, even though I’d heard his other work.
But no one talks about this stuff nearly
enough, especially in hip hop
And the beauty of the way he presents
it is in the accessibility.
Somehow it’s vivid and relatable all at
once. It needed a production style that
was quite different from anything I’d
done before, but it was so easy to get in
that mindset after hearing his lyrics.

Kev

aw <3

Ian

What type of production were you doing before this?

TUX

Well I hadn’t released much, but it was
definitely more geared towards r&b
and slacker chill aesthetics. Nothing
dark really at all.
Kevin brought something raw out
that I didn’t even know I was capable of lol and
I honestly haven’t found it totally
again since. Speaks volumes about
the nature of a good collaborator.

Ian

Venom, when you told me in our first interview
that flex bars were on the way, did you have
“all in a day” in mind or did it just happen to
work out that way?

Kev

Well the songs I had in mind were tracks
like red and final form, but All in a day just sort
of worked out that way. That was the one beat
that TUX already has a draft of before we met
When I heard it for some reason it reminded
of one of those drake freestyles like 6PM in
New York, and I just wanted to go in with
like the wildest bars and flows I could
come up with
Some introspective lines still
make their way in there though

Ian

What would you say is the best bar on the project?

Kev

Shit man I think all the bars are good hahaha
But if I had to pick one
Well it would either be “got nothing but
ammunition for opposition / smoking
amethyst colored cannabis, jot the
hardest writtens” off all in a day just
cuz I’m very proud of the flow
and internal rhyming there and the lyrics
themselves

TUX

I remember when that line was stuck
in my head every morning for
like a week after he came up with it lol

Kev

Or “my life is not a movie just a view
into depression / I’m Kubrick with the shot
when I aim at my reflection”
because the wordplay and the
meaning is very hard hitting and
I’m really proud of myself for that
So one of those two haha
That second one is from nine lives

Ian

What was it like incorporating live instruments
on track four? How do you think that
impacted the end result?

Kev

It’s been a dream of mine to
make a song with live instruments
Having the human touch on the bass
and the saxophone made the song
sound so raw and made the whole
track that much more emotional
when combined with my lyrics
And the live solo at the end was oawesome
It was just nice to be able to have someone play
something that felt so organic and also
perfectly complimented what me and tux
were going for on the dog.
*song lol

Ian

What stopped you from incorporating live
instruments on all of the tracks?

Kev

Well honestly, the dude
who played bass left after two weeks,
otherwise we would’ve had him on
everything
But at the same time we didn’t wanna
overdo it, nine lives sounded like it wanted
live instruments on it but the others
didn’t lean in that direction when we
were making them

TUX

Also we only had my iPhone as a
means for recording live instruments
at the camp really lol which wasn’t ideal

Ian

Wait the project was recorded on an iphone?

TUX

Just that bass take

Kev

No no just the bass on track 4

Kev

Yeah, I recorded the vocals when I went home

TUX

Sax and vocals were off site
Yeah this guy I go to school with,
Cameron cook, recorded the
sax back in the states and then
sent it to us

Ian

but you made the beats together during the violin camp?

TUX

Yep! All on my laptop haha

Kev

Yeah, I also wrote the lyrics at violin camp

Ian

What moment do you think your
production shines brightest?

TUX

I think 9 lives is my favourite overall
track on the album, but I’d say
I’m proudest of sleep/dreams
when it comes to instrumentals

Ian

my favorite is sleep/dreams

Kev

The beat for dreams is fucking ridiculous
I made all types of faces when he showed
me the finished beat

TUX

I’ve never made anything even
remotely like that before
lol Kevin kept pushing me
to make it looser and dirtier
and yeah it happened haha

Kev

that sample chop is so wild too
gotta shout out my housemate webb hinton for
sending me obscure ass songs for
us to sample
he’s a radio dj so he’s listened to a
bunch of weird shit

Ian

what song did it sample?

Kev

the all of everything by sun ra
and the first half of the song sampled river
of dreams by don tiare and his
orchestra exotique

Ian

Venom, on “nine lives” you say
“Momma says I need a good job
I don’t think it helps.” What
do you make of Vince Staples’
Prima Donna? In my mind,
that project is the ultimate evidence
that even within hip hop financial
success does not guarantee happiness
as Staples has achieved a certain degree
of success only to realize that he will
“never make enough for [his] soul.”

Kev

i think prima donna is an
awesome project, and i definitely
agree with that main theme
honestly i think vince is talking about how
fame in general isn’t enough
to combat his demons
in fact he alludes to fame being part of
the reason for his depression where
like people only care about him as a
musician and not as a person with feelings
but even though i recognize that i think i
still crave fame because like getting
love from others is my greatest vice
because a lot of times i dont love myself
so i look for it from external sources
but yeah in that line i was referencing
financial success

Ian

On the same track you deliver the lines “used to
drive around at night contemplating
suicide / I was too scared to do it
couldn’t even buy the nine / but
I figure all these drugs gonna get
it done fine.” Later on, however,
you critique those who sip lean
and mix liquor with prescription drugs.
What makes their escape through
intoxication any different from your own?

Kev

haha dcamn callin me out

Ian

yeah I’m experimenting with hard balls

Kev

i just think that mixing liquor
with and prescription drugs is a bad
idea because it can easily lead to
addiction and overdosing, ive had
friends who have been really addicted
to xanax, for example, who have almost
died from overdosing

Ian

Thats true. It does seem more dangerous

TUX

I know I call people out for shit all
the time that I do too tho lol
recognizing stupidity doesn’t
make you immune to it

TUX

Especially when you’re hurting

Kev

that being said i dont look down on people
who are addicted to those things because its not
necessarily their fault, their circumstances led to it,
and their mental states and all that
i was just saying that its better to only use certain drugs
in moderation or not at all so it doesnt fuck up
your whole life, but if you find yourself on that
path im not going to look down on you im gonna
try to help you
and yeah we all have our own vices and our ways
of coping when we’re hurting

Ian

It’s interesting what you said about external
love being your greatest vice.
I never really thought of it like that
but I think its a rather salient description
of that need for other’s approval

Kev

Yeah I try to know myself as best I can and
after a lot of soul searching I realized that the need for
others love is one of my deep seated issues. It’s more
of a vice than any substance for me

TUX

That’s something I connected with right
away when he started writing. Unfortunately
it’s a huge part of the psyche of a performing
artist. Especially in classical music.

Ian

What do you two think of artists who adapt their
style so it is more accessible to listeners?

Kev

I don’t really blame them for wanting to do what
brings success in this industry but at the same
time if they’re compromising artistry I think
they’re missing the point
I think all that I can ask for artists to do is to stay true
to their own artistic vision and not to
compromise that
That being said, experimenting with a new, perhaps
more accessible style is fine if you do it
in a way that seems genuine
In a way that is genuine, not just seeming genuine haha

TUX

It’s tricky. I agree with Kevin, that it’s
important to put your own artistic
voice first. The issue lies in the extremes.
I respect people with a vision so strong
that they disregard accessibility entirely,
but I also don’t totally agree with it. It’s
difficult to draw the line when it comes
to who you’re doing it for.

TUX

have just as much of a problem with someone
completely disregarding any public
opinion whatsoever as I do with someone
creating completely within its means.
I feel like a balance is always possible
if you care enough to look for one

Ian

It seems in my mind that striking a balance
between the two is complicated by
that desire for external approval
you’ve explained plagues musicians

TUX

Very much so. It’s at the root. And it’s
exhausting to deal with lol.
But it’s a price worth paying.

Kev

yeah theres that desire for external approval combined
with the need to fulfill your own artistic vision and
finding a balance between the two can be torturous
for me personally, my desire to express myself accrurately
and fully to the best of my abilities and my need to
realize my own artistic vision usually outweighs the
need for external approval when it comes to music

Ian

Do you plan on collaborating in the future?

Kev

we really want to but its hard with this
distance and the fact that we’re both so busy with
classical music as well, TUX is in grad school so
he’s super swamped

TUX

Yeah it seems like every time we try and set up
FaceTime to discuss a new project
one of us is in the midst of a practice
blitz for an upcoming concert haha
Now that it’s the holidays maybe we’ll have better luck

Ian

or giving violin lessons haha

TUX

Hahaha yeah look at me talking here.
I have a rehearsal in a half hour too…
Shit doesn’t stop lol

Ian

Well, I hope you can work something out eventually.
I have one last question: Who is better at violin?

TUX

Oh shit
Talk about hard ball

TUX

Idk man it’s v subjective hahaha

Kev

dont even act humble man youre the
one in grad school for this shit im still in undergrad
Lmao

TUX

Dat barber tho

Ian

Barber?

Kev

hahaha we’re both great in our own ways

TUX

Yeah let’s go with that

Kev

the barber violin concerto is the piece i
was working on in Canada
its so pretty it plays itself haha

Ian

Haha I suppose it really depends on your conceptions
of the ideal violinist. Perhaps a topic for
someone more informed than I haha.

TUX

I don’t know what the ideal violinist is haha
there’s always a way you can be better

Kev

yeah, the journey to get better at violin
never stops
i dont think you can ever attain complete
mastery of the instrument
its the same with all art though,
you can always be beter
*better

Ian

Do you think that is unique to violin or the
case with all instruments? Or
even all art?
nvrm…

Kev

lol beat you to it
Violin has so many objective
things to master before you
even get into the subjective
tho which makes it even more
frustrating haha
Gets in the way of your artistic
voice sometime, which makes projects like
these even more important.

Ian

Well, I don’t want to keep you from the next part
of your day. Thanks for taking the time
to talk a bit about the project. I will let
you know when it is ready to post!

Kev

thanks for doing this man,
a pleasure as always

TUX

Yeah it was great talking to you man.
All the best. And thanks
for the hard balls lol

Ian Lunn

"Little things are big things to mice"