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Gabriel Teodoros - conducted by Todd E. Jones  

Gabriel Teodros Loves His Work

January 2007

MVRemix: How did you meet the people in Abyssinian Creole and eventually form the group?

Gabriel Teodoros: I met Khingz in 1999. He was in a live band called Maroon Colony, I was in a live band called 500 Years. We kept getting booked for the same gigs and we started hanging out at different community events around South Seattle. What really brought us together though, was a group called Youth Undoing Institutionalized Racism. We went to some trainings together and a trip to New Orleans. You get to really know people in environments like this and we realized there that we had a lot more in common than just dope music. The concept of our group came from there. Abyssinia is for my peoples, Creole is for his. Together, we represent a bridge from the oldest African nation to the newest African tongue. I also met Kitone in 1999, through his older brother. His beats were ridiculous back then and he was still in middle school! Khingz moved to New York City in 2001, just a little after we formed Ab Creole. I ended up moving to New York as well, in late 2002. But right before I went to the airport, Kitone came back in my life with a beat CD. When we heard these beats, we ended up wanting to use every single beat he ever made. I moved back to Seattle after only a few months. Soon after that, Khingz moved to Oakland, where he would spend 2 more years. Whenever Khingz would come to visit Seattle, whether it for a show or just to visit family, we would record as many tracks as humanly possible. So the whole album was created, and came out, while we were living in different cities.

MVRemix: Will you work together again?

Gabriel Teodoros: We're working together right now. This time, we live on the same block. In fact, we just put out 2 mix-tapes.

MVRemix: Besides the obvious difference (the number of people), how is 'Lovework' different from the music of Abyssinian Creole?

Gabriel Teodoros: It's also, obviously, a lot more personal, more autobiographical, and just cause of the time, you could say it's grown up. There are still a few songs featuring Khingz and a track produced by Kitone. The difference in production is probably what stands out the most.

MVRemix: How are the fans responding to this solo album?

Gabriel Teodoros: Too early to say. The album isn't being released until February 27th, 2007! So far, the feedback has been really positive though.

MVRemix: Why did you choose your real name, Gabriel Teodros as opposed to a pseudonym?

Gabriel Teodoros: You know, I could never think of a name that was doper then what my mom blessed me with!

MVRemix: When creating a track, do you have a set theme or idea first or the music first?

Gabriel Teodoros: Usually, it's music first. I write to whatever the beat is telling me. I still free-write as much as possible and there are songs that get written with no beat. Sometimes, a beat gets found for it later. I always have song ideas, I just never stick to the script in my head when I hear music. It's working through me.

MVRemix: What was the recording process like for the new album? How was it different from other times?

Gabriel Teodoros: It was dope, working with Amos made it different because he was so involved during the whole recording process. He was good at giving constructive feedback and suggesting things I wouldn't of thought of. Some of his ideas worked really well, some didn't. I just loved the group dynamic of working with him because most producers will give you a beat and that's it. I've engineered myself a lot, but Amos was involved from production, to engineering, to post-production. It was just a true collaboration.

MVRemix: Musically, what else have you been working on?

Gabriel Teodoros: I just put out a mix-tape called 'Westlake: Class Of 1999'. It's a collection of songs recorded between 3 cities, pre-'Lovework'. All original beats by Moka Only, Kitone, Ian Head, EarDrumz, DJ T-Bone Steak, Khazm, Brotha Thomas, DJ Moves, Jeff Spec & Sichuan. It's got featured vocals from Moka Only, Khingz, Manik, SistaHailStorm, Toni Hill, Belladonna, Xololanxinxo, Rise & Shine, Ishkan, Jeff Spec, Ndidi Cascade and hell of more people. In addition to that, Khingz just released his mix-tape 'Hillionaire Boys Club'. We're also working right now on this group project called Good Medicine. That's Geologic, Khingz, Macklemore and myself, a MassLine mix-tape, and a few other things.

MVRemix: What are some of your favorite drum machines / samplers?

Gabriel Teodoros: I'm strong believer in the theory, 'It ain't what you got, but how you freak it.' That being said, I don't make too many beats. I like whatever Moka, Amos, Kitone, Sabzi, Vitamin D, and Specs-One have been using. And everything J Dilla ever used.

MVRemix: On Guru's 'The Street Scriptures' album, Talib Kweli mentions that Pro-Tools made producers lazy. Do you agree?

Gabriel Teodoros: Again, it all depends on how it's being used. Lazy-ass producers come with all kinds of equipment.

MVRemix: Around what time in your career did you start financially surviving form music?

Gabriel Teodoros: Oh, I'm not surviving from it now. In 2001, when my first solo album came out, I was paying rent and eating food just off CD sales and classroom workshops, but really it was those schools that were making it possible. I've worked several odd jobs since then and the last year, you could say I've been living off music. But I've just been getting more in debt. Maybe I'll have a better answer for you next year, or another job.

MVRemix: Do you think that success and credibility are mutually exclusive?

Gabriel Teodoros: I think if you love what you are doing, than your already successful.

MVRemix: What song / album are you most proud of?

Gabriel Teodoros: This whole 'Lovework' project is pretty cool.

MVRemix: Who are some artists you would like to collaborate with in the future?

Gabriel Teodoros: In addition to what we're already working on, I'd love to do a full-length album with Moka Only on production. I'd like to see what would happen on tracks with K'Naan, Mystic, Medusa, Native Guns, One Self, Xperience, Silent Lambs Project, Yirim Seck, and Pep Love. Getting Abyssinian Creole and Of Mexican Descent on a track together. We could call ourselves Of African Descent for that one track.

MVRemix: Who are some producers you would like to collaborate with in the future?

Gabriel Teodoros: Vitamin D, Specs-One, plus everybody I'm already working with like Kitone, Moka, Amos, Sabzi, Budo, Eardrumz, T-Bone Steak, Ian Head, Mr. Hill, and Sativa Green.

MVRemix: How did you get the deal with Massline Media?

Gabriel Teodoros: We actually all started the label together, Sabzi, Geologic, RA-Scion and myself, around the same time I was working on 'Lovework' with Amos. It seemed like a natural move to put the album out with MassLine.

MVRemix: What LPs have you been listening to in the last couple of days?

Gabriel Teodoros: K-Salaam's 'The World Is Ours', Khingz 'Hillionare Boys Club' Mix-Tape, Bambu's '.38 Revolver' Mix-Tape, Moka Only's 'Desired Effect', Skim's 'For Every Tear', Curtis Mayfield's Live Album and Zap Mama's 'Seven'

MVRemix: What is your favorite part of your live show?

Gabriel Teodoros: The part where Khingz starts a mosh-pit or the song 'Warriors'.

MVRemix: How has your live show evolved?

Gabriel Teodoros: It's gone through so many phases, from rocking with the live band to doing spoken word theater kind of sets with no music at all, to where we're at now, 2 emcees and 1 DJ. We think more about rock concerts than hip hop shows when we're approaching our sets, still focused on the message in our music. Freestyles are a real important part of every show and I still roll by myself sometimes depending on the place and time. Every show is a little different.

>> continued...

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"I'm strong believer in the theory, 'It ain't what you got, but how you freak it.' That being said, I don't make too many beats."