Gabriel Teodros of Abyssinian Creole has proved to the world that you can work doing what you love and love your work. Even though Gabriel is an artist, he is speaking to and for the ones who are struggling to survive.
Gabriel Teodros is ½ of the duo, Abyssinian Creole. The emcees of the group, Khingz Makoma and Gabriel Teodros met in Seattle. An unlikely hip-hop breeding ground, Seattle has been home to other artists like Oldominion and Boom Bap Project. Released in 2005, Abyssinian Creole's debut album, "Sexy Beast" earned them critical acclaim.
As a solo artist, Gabriel Teodros has released, "Lovework" (on Massline Media). A majority of the production of "Lovework" is handled by Amos Miller, but Moka Only, Specs-One, and Kitone produce some tracks too.
The words "work" and "love" are rarely used together. When a human being loves their work, they a truly lucky. Their productivity and final results are woven with pride and care. The work of Gabriel Teodros is hip-hop and he loves his work.
MVRemix: What goes on?
Gabriel Teodoros: What it gwan?
MVRemix: The new Gabriel Teodros album, 'Lovework' was just released on Massline Media. Tell us about the album.
Gabriel Teodoros: 'Lovework'. It was a moment that got captured between February & May of 2006. Amos Miller and myself, just doing music because it was medicine for our spirits. To start, I got to take you back to what we were doing the fall and winter of '05. Khingz Makoma and myself had just released the first Abyssinian Creole LP. 'Sexy Beast'. We were able to do some shows as Ab Creole, but it was hard because we never had a plan of how we were going to push our album. Our plan was more like 'Hey, we got an album!'. Khingz was living in the bay area, so a lot of show opportunities were missed. Soon after the release of the album, my father was doing a roofing job. Something happened with the ladder and he fell 2 stories, fracturing his spine in 4 places. So for a couple months, my life stopped. In the time I should have been working on a solo record and really pushing the Ab Creole project, I was doing everything I could to take care of him and looking out for my Grandma as well. Family drama. I also had homies overcoming addictions that needed support. Long story short, there was a good half a year there where I wasn't making music. For a minute, it didn't seem like I ever would again. Meanwhile, Amos Miller was going through the worst of it as well. My guy has been making beats for 10+ years and spends all his days working with youth in the Seattle Public School system, doing creative writing workshops, recording albums with his students and just helping them find their voice and get it out there. Along with all his collabs with the vets of our scene, somebody came in this man's house and stole all his equipment. Plus most of the files for projects he was working on at the time, got jacked too. So, basically, we both entered 2006 feeling low. A brother named Lawrence Norman, who was familiar with what Amos had been doing in the town, heard about what happened and decided to help out. Lawrence owns an amazing studio and an indie label in Seattle. He basically gave Amos a key to the studio and said, 'Make music'. Now up to this point, me & Amos knew each other but had never worked together. Amos was in this new pace, able to create whatever he wanted, but everything was brand new since files had been stolen, albums were lost. A mutual friend brought us together. Amos wanted to do a series of 12" singles and I guess I was the first person he reached out to that came through. After the feeling we got from the first song we did together, we knew there was chemistry and a full-length album needed to happen. Everything we put into that music, was a healing process, I think for both of us. I can say it was the most intentional album I ever worked on, the most revealing. I feel like it really captured some personal transformation, having nothing and then suddenly given a space to do what you feel and just say whatever you want. That's the moment we were in, Spring of '06 in the 206.
MVRemix: What is the meaning behind the title, 'Lovework'?
Gabriel Teodoros: I realized the music I've always been drawn to, is music that makes you feel loved. Whether it's Curtis Mayfield's 'Makings Of You' or Mystic's 'Cuts For Luck & Scars For Freedom', the sad thing is most of the songs out now that are supposed to be about love make you feel like shit. This is true for music in many different genres and I think it has a lot to do with our understanding of love. Even the word 'love' triggers so many different responses and it's hard to find a group that can even agree on a definition for the word. So, I took some notes from bell hooks, and I agree with her. We need to redefine 'love' to really know it, and to really grow. One of my favorite quotes from Khalil Gibran says, 'Work is love made visible' the title 'Lovework' reminds me of all these things. Also, to know true love, I feel like we got a lot of Work to do as a people, to undo every system of domination that stops people from loving, and this was also a work created in Love, and if I never get paid from it at least I love my work.
MVRemix: Favorite song on the 'Lovework'?
Gabriel Teodoros: 'Chili Sauce'. I sound like I'm singing in the shower halfway through the song. That song got my personality in 2 minutes, better then anything else ever recorded. I might answer this question differently every time someone asks.
MVRemix: Which song took you the longest to do from conception to completion? Why?
Gabriel Teodoros: 'Beautiful'. There's an Abyssinian Creole version of this song, a Khingz version, and this is my version. I think the verses in this song were written 2 years before everything else on the album. It was inspired by a message someone left on my voicemail. I wanted to record it for the longest time but never found the right beat till Amos played me this one. Then, I came up with the chorus, the bridge and recorded it right away. 'Beautiful', that's actually the only song on the album that I wrote with no beat in mind.
MVRemix: What inspired the song, 'Sexcapism'? Tell us about that track.
Gabriel Teodoros: 'Sexcapism', that was actually the first song we did for this album. What inspired that track was a pattern of unhealthy relationships I had gotten into, and my desire to break the cycle. You got to acknowledge you have a problem, if your ever going to do something about it, right? This song was an important part of my growth and leaving the past there.
MVRemix: Tell us about the collab with Moka Only. How did you hook up with him? How was he different than other artists?
Gabriel Teodoros: That's my cousin! We met in 2001, Victoria B.C. and did a show together and afterwards, stayed up late drinking coffee and playing each other music. At that point, I never heard his music, and I didn't even have anything out. He had just released a record called 'Road Life'. 'Lime Green' came out a little later. Anyways, a week later, we were both back in Vancouver, which is my second home, and the 2nd time we ever kicked it, we did a track called 'Liquid Sunshine', which ended up coming out on his album, 'Flood'. Ever since then, we've been family, not only did he produce 'No Label' for this album, he's been a part of every record I've put out. Working with him? It's just natural. I will tell you Moka O is one of the most prolific producers and emcees on the planet and his beats these days? Classic.
MVRemix: Do you do many overdubs while recording?
Gabriel Teodoros: I usually just do one track of dubs. Some of the songs on this album had more. Amos had me try a lot of things I never did for this record.
MVRemix: Do you use many first takes, or do you do multiple?
Gabriel Teodoros: I usually like the first take. Could you tell?