By Elena K. Cruz
If 18andCounting could make any animal become the size of a horse, he would choose an ant.
“Then they would actually take shit over,” he said. “I would go ahead and put it down that ants would straight up take your house apart.”
We spoke to 18andCounting after his show at Cafe Berlin during the True/False Film Festival for our Miracle Berry Q&A series. To make matters even weirder, he answered our question about hypothetical changes in animal size after drinking pure lemon juice.
18andCounting told us he doesn’t like to be put in boxes – and he definitely proved his words to be true.
To be clear, these actions weren’t unwarranted. We gave him an Mberry, which makes sour food taste sweet due to its chemical miraculin, and we prompted the question about horses. 18andCounting was composed throughout it all, and he discussed his work among these intermittent oddities.
KCOU: How do you define your sound?
18aC: It’s a combination of things; I think that’s most important to me. I think a lot of people – I think actually everyone, not a lot of people, literally everyone – experience a combination of things when going through life, living it. But I don’t know if everyone does that when it comes to music. I think a lot of people are heavily inspired, and I am, but I am inspired by trying my damnedest to not be any one thing. So the sound is a reflection of that. I don’t say it to be cute because I don’t want to get put in a box, because that’s true for me too, but I think a lot of people are afraid of being put in a box when they actually are in a box.
KCOU: You released “Animal Skins” in December. How did you make it different from what you’ve worked on the past while also keeping it true to yourself?
18aC: The most important part, going into “Animal Skins” even before it had a title, TheOnlyEnsemble and I needed to make a project that had TheOnlyEnsemble’s name on it. Folks are involved in a lot of different processes, in a lot of different projects, different lives. It’s a difficult thing to get us all in one room at the same time. That’s the most important part, to get everyone’s touch in at the same time in this project. But I had to step up as a producer, as an engineer, to make it all happen, to see it all together. So you just stretch it out, give it time, let whatever come through and be natural. Sometimes it’s a combination of things, sometimes it’s very deliberate.
KCOU: How did you link up with TheOnlyEnsemble?
18aC: It was really just one-on-one, person-to-person. I got invited to do a particular recording situation a couple of years ago hosted by Cherokee, and I hit up everyone individually. … We had all known each other from from being artists, all having good times, just all being creative. It’s almost like we existed before we had the opportunity to make the music, in terms of how precise and how specific it is. But the open invitation is the catalyst that I think most people don’t morph any more. The moment, the money, the dimension. I like taking things that are offered to me and pushing the envelope. If I’m not allowed to do that I’m not allowed to be an artist.
KCOU: Why do you disregard spaces in your titles, whether we’re talking about an art piece or your own name, 18andCounting?
18aC: Before there was a hashtag, I would brand my one liners – the things that I write, the things that I thought were potent, one line poems is probably the easiest way to describe it – I’d remove spaces and capitalize all the first words. That’s just a branding stance and an artistic stance and I’ve been doing it since middle school. It’s just a matter of leaving your mark.
KCOU: We’ve seen you around Columbia a lot. What inspires you to keep coming back?
18aC: How honest everybody is. That’s the biggest thing. Entertain, figure out the situation, and reverse the situation, those things are always fun, but I think folks are really living; they really get it. I’ve made friends strictly from coming out and having shows. It’s really dope. I think every city has this, but Columbia seems to appreciate it in a certain way. Maybe because it’s small enough where you can see folks face to face. Maybe it’s because I know that feeling is going to be traded across different cities. But I get invited back and it’s always a good time. It’s always an adventure.
Collaboration with Owen Brock
Videography by Elena K. Cruz (except when on screen. Owen held the camera. Hahahahaha)
Video Edited by Elena K. Cruz