These are the transcripts of an interview with Encore. The interview was conducted by Hugo Lunny on December 6th, 2001. Encore has worked with Dan The Automator, Peanut Butter Wolf, Dilated Peoples and many more talented artists. He's working on his second album 'Great Expectations,' the follow up to 'Self Preservation.'
MVRemix: How did you begin in the Hip Hop scene?
Like everyone my age, growing up where I lived as a pre-teen in the eighties. Listening to Kurtis Blow, Run DMC, all those in the golden age of Hip Hop. I was just into the breakin' and poppin' and art of this stuff. That's basically where it all started for me out here on the west coast.
MVRemix: How did you get your break? As in how did you hook up with Peanut Butter Wolf, get signed to 75 Ark etc.?
Encore: I went to high school with charisma who had formed a group with Peanut Butter Wolf, just the two of them. I met Wolf through Charisma, and after Charisma passed, I worked on a few songs with Peanut Butter. He put out an EP on vinyl called 'Step On Our Ego's. I was on there, I did a song called 'Think Twice.' With that EP that he did, he kind of got a record deal. He started Stones Throw records. I put out a single with Stones Throw, but during that time I had met up with Dan…with Automator. He liked my style, what I'd put together and wanted to sign me to the label, though the label hadn't started then, this was around '96. When he finally got the label together, I put in my work, it was kind of a done deal.
MVRemix: I've read that one of your main influences was Main Source. What was it about their music that attracted you to doing similar things yourself?
There's something about that whole time period. To me, from '90 to '94. I consider that the silver age of Hip Hop. There was something about the way that Large Professor put things together, he wasn't a super flashy emcee, but the way that he put his flow to the production that they did on that particular album 'Breakin' Atoms' - I just loved the vibe that he brought to each song. It's hard to explain, the certain vibe which is 'just hangin' out.' The first line "I'm mainly known for the rough raps / kids steal my lyrics like hubcaps." I just dig that shit. I'm just feeling it.
MVRemix: What was your home situation growing up?
I grew up in the suburbs, but it wasn't like I was paid or anything like that. My parents divorced, I was an only child. I wasn't broke, but I really didn't have everything. I had to work for everything I've got.
MVRemix: What made you choose the name "Encore" specifically?
Encore: I just wanted some with an "E." I don't know why I chose "Encore," I was gonna take "Eclipse" but somebody already had that. I was gonna try "Enigma," but that sounded kind of corny. The main thing was just finding something with an "E." That was basically it, it wasn't anything dramatic.
MVRemix: I read on certain releases "Encore The Essence," what's the reasoning behind the addition of "The Essence" to your name?
That's another name I go by, I go by "Core," I go by "Holy Water." It's just another name I go by.
MVRemix: If you weren't making or involved in music, what would you be doing?
I'd probably be playing sports or something, getting into some computer stuff or something.
MVRemix: In terms of trying to get more knowledge on your personality and your perspective on things. Metaphorically, is the glass half full or half empty?
MVRemix: Is a freestyle, a freestyle, if it's written?
Haha. To me it's not. Definitely, on the East Coast, a freestyle is pre-written. To me a freestyle is basically coming completely off the head, but then at the same time, I don't think it's a big deal for somebody to come with something that they've just specially made for a radio show or something. I know a lot of cats that get up on the radio with rhymes especially made for that performance. If you're trying to make a good impression on somebody, why not come with something written? It doesn't make any sense if you're gonna go on there like some big shot to try and show who you are and you freestyle, come off a little shady and mess up a little bit. I think being a dope freestyler is a gift. To me, I'll freestyle, but I have to feel it, I have to want to do it. There are other people that can just go completely off the head, and that's a gift. But a lot of these cats that can go completely off the head can't put any songs together, so… For some people it's a trade off. It's all about what you want to do.
MVRemix: How has your life been effected by the occurrences that happened on September 11th?
For me, it was kind of like. It's really hard to say because I'm the type of person where I'm comfortable with the idea of dying. I'm just kind of bugged out about how people died. More so than the actual loss of life. It did kind of crack me up that as far as the patriotism, I guess the patriotism is cool. But to me, a lot of it is kind of fake.
MVRemix: What do you think about what's being done in the attempts to kind of resolve the situation?
Encore: It's really hard for me to be either pro or against either way because it's really hard for us to see an accurate account of what's really going on out there. The way it's portrayed, it looks like what they're doing is the right thing. But there's a lot of things that were portrayed one way which they definitely weren't. For me, I'm unable to make decisions without letting things run their course. It definitely hasn't run its course right now.
MVRemix: The East Coast brags about having its underground backpackers, and then you've got the thug rappers and then there's the Jay-Z's and Biggie's who were very flashy. What would you say the West Coast brags about in its line up?
I'd say the one universal thing about the West Coast is the emcees, whether it's Snoop or whether it's Jurassic 5 or someone like that. There is a sense of we are the West Coast, trying to prove that we are definitely big factors. I think we brag about being from the West Coast. I guess you could call that bragging.
MVRemix: When your material is reviewed and a critic doesn't like it, how do you react?
I don't really get down on it because I mainly do music for myself. I appreciate negative criticism probably a little more than I appreciate positive criticism. I've always been like that. I definitely appreciate people liking my music, and that's great, but, my ultimate goal is to make music for myself. Whenever somebody critiques it, I read it, I like to hear that standpoint because I always feel like hearing different reviews of how people are interpreting my music and absorbing, just out of curiosity. It doesn't make or break me one-way or the other.
MVRemix: Can you tell me a bit about your forthcoming album, how it compares to 'Self Preservation,' who's on it etc.?
The album's called 'Great Expectations' and, it's not finished yet. But I can give you an idea now, the concept of the album is…it's kind of funny that you brought up the whole critics thing. The idea kind of manifested itself off of somebody writing, "I hope he doesn't pigeon hole himself." That's one thing I plan on never doing, I listen to too many different types of music. Too many different types of sounds to pigeon hole myself. What I'm basically trying to do is gradually; subtly go in different directions with each record. This album is gonna have some different producers on it. I'm gonna have Architect, who pretty much did all of the last album, he's gonna be on a few songs. I'm going to have these two cats from Seattle, Vitamin D and J-One, they're gonna do the majority of the album. Possibly Large Professor is gonna do something, Automator is gonna do something. I haven't really locked down the special guest artists on there yet, one thing I want to do is not have too many songs and make the album clustered. My theme is always going to be doing music that I like first. Because if I do music for somebody/everybody else. Ten, fifteen years down the road when I finally stop recording, I'm gonna look at certain recordings or certain songs I've done for the sake of pleasing other people, and not appreciate it. I'd be going against everything I believe in.
MVRemix: Is there anything that you're currently working on in addition to your LP? Guest appearances and whatnot?
I just did a song with Rakaa from Dilated, it should be coming on a Warner Brothers subsidiary. Joey Chavez did the beat. It's us on one side and I think Phil Da Agony is on the other. With Joey Chavez, we're trying to get this EP done together. I know I'm frustrating him because I'm working on my album, I should be doing the EP with him though, it should be released on ABB records. I can't give you a date because I haven't really started on it yet. I also did something with Automator, he did the musical score for a John Leguizamo and Rosie Perez movie. I did kind of a funny song with him for it, it's cool.
MVRemix: What are your favourite books and movies of recent times?
Books - probably 'Malcom X,' 'African Presence In Early Asia.' I like a lot of historical books, I'm not much a "story" book reader, I'd rather go to the movies and watch one. I liked 'Memento,' that was ill. I actually kind of liked 'Harry Potter' - that wasn't bad. I'm looking forward to seeing 'Lord Of The Rings,' that should be ill.
MVRemix: So, do you have any plans to change yourself in 2002?
To finally get this album out. And once the album is out to definitely tour more. I'd like to go out to Europe and more so across the United States.
MVRemix: You said earlier on in the interview that you were very at ease with the concept of death. Could you die today saying that you'd lived?
To say that I've accomplished everything I set out to in my life, I'd say no. But to say I was pleased with my life, yeah, I could.
MVRemix: Do you have any non musical aspirations?
Yeah, to raise some healthy kids. I'm pretty simple, to get married and have a simple life. Maybe start a small business or something. My short time aspirations now are music related.
MVRemix: Any last words for your fans?
Expect the unexpected from me. When you hear my music, listen to it from a standpoint that when you hear my music, you're gonna hear more from me. Don't just look at it and think this is what he's all about when you just hear one album. I feel like I'm a man who's going to continually progress. Don't pigeonhole me; don't expect me to be what you heard before.