INTERVIEW: Eons D talks about his music, his faith, and fitting in with Louisville’s hip hop scene

Tonight (6/1) Allen Poe’s FM show Rhyme Hour Radio from Lexington Community Radio will bring the performance series The Culture Appreciates to Zanzabar. The event aims to spotlight Kentucky’s hip hop infrastructure (journalists, curators, blogs, documentarians etc) in order to thank them for their efforts and encourage others to play a role. The honoree picks out their favorite Kentucky hip hop artists, Rhyme Hour Radio arranges a performance with those artists and the honoree is presented with a gift on behalf of all the hip hop artists present at the show. Additionally 10% of the proceeds at the door go back to either Lexington Community Radio (if the show is in Lexington) or ARTxFM (if the show is in Louisville). The first show spotlighted, a blog that covers nearly every new hip hop single or album released by Kentucky artists.

The second show will spotlight none other than Never Nervous! Hey, that’s us! Hell yeah! Come out to Zanzabar tonight from 7 to 11:30 to hear Rhyme Hour’s mix of hip hop, as well as performances from a few of NN favorites Touch AC, Goodbar and Eons D & friends. ARTxFM’s I and Eye Radio with RMW2LLZ and DJ DS will host alongside Poe’s Rhyme Hour Radio. The cover is 10$, 10% going towards ARTxFM, the remainder is split among the artists performing and covers advertising and overhead costs. Rhyme Hour encourages aspiring curators, writers and others who are interested in helping push Kentucky’s hip hop scene forward to come out and say hello.

Before the show we decided to speak to one of the artists performing, Eons D, to find out about possible new music on the way and more. Read the interview below and stop by Zanzabar to say hey and hang with us for The Culture Appreciates.

Never Nervous: What is #Space and what is it about that concept that represents you?

Eons D:  #Space is me sitting outside at lunch by myself in high school staring at the sky, with too much social anxiety and no friends to sit with inside the cafeteria. It’s believing you can make it out of Jeffersonville, Indiana as an artist. It’s Mae Jemison. It’s understanding you can do great things, be confident, and still have the humility of knowing your small role in the universe. It’s a telescope.

NN: It’s been 2015 since you dropped your solo project Physics On Paper. Is there a new release date in sight? How have you grown as an artist over the last 2 years?

ED: Ha. I’ve grown in a lot of ways but was actually more mature in some ways at least with what I was shooting for with that project. I was naive and idealist on physics on paper and there are pluses and minuses to that. That album was a devout Christian losing his faith yet holding on, trying to understand others while still standing on the ground that separated me from them.
I let go of grace for a while to get my Huey Newton on but trying to get a little bit back. Balance is key.

I’ve learned a lot in the past 2 years and it cost me quite a bit in terms of mental anguish. No regrets. I’ve broken myself apart and building it on a more solid foundation to use a biblical principle. While also understanding that ‘self’ is a bit of an illusion so not taking myself too seriously. So the music I’m making has been a bit all over the place and I’m coming to accept that. I hope the cohesion will come from it being authentic expressions of my experiences, passions, views, sense of humor, tastes and technique. I still have certain techniques I consider my own that find their way into much of what I do.

An area of growth for me is realizing that it’s ok to make music I like and not just music that I feel is worthy of replacing the Sistine Chapel ceiling. I don’t have to prove to people I’m dope. I feel a lot of my music like Physics on Paper, while great suffered a bit from feeling I had to prove my talent level to be validated as an artist. Now I just wanna make music that makes people feel, whether that makes them feel good or bad, just make sure they feel something, as a friend of mine says.

“An area of growth for me is realizing that it’s OK to make music I like and not just music that I feel is worthy of replacing the Sistine Chapel ceiling. I don’t have to prove to people I’m dope.”

NN: How does working out of your home vs an outside studio effect your creative process?

ED: I think it took me a lot longer than it should have to learn certain things because working from home by yourself you can second guess yourself without extra ears or a mentor to guide you. I didn’t trust my instincts and started making music with my eyes instead of my ears. Music can be complicated but it should be a labor of love. It shouldn’t feel like you’re doing equations.

The good thing about working from home is I feel I have the power over my creative output. I don’t have to wait on anyone else to express myself. I’m currently getting the best of both worlds having the privilege to work from home and at a few local pro studios and having a personal engineer now. And since I’ve been working with other engineers I’ve learned I tried way too hard. Things are simplified now and music is back to being fun.

NN: Have you figured out a balance you’re comfortable with between artistry and family?

ED: Thats such a hard one. My wife is amazing. She’s not really a rap fan so it was tough for her to ‘get’ why this needed so much of my time and money. But I realized I had to go out of the way to let her know I cared about her and wasn’t going to abandon them for my dream. I got a good one. It does help when we get nominated for things like album of the year ha so thanks all who voted and put us on best of lists, etc. for Inner Space. Thank you Never Nervous! Validation IS important.

I haven’t always been the best when it comes to time management but I’ve improved a lot. Getting rid of unnecessary entertainment has helped lately. I think also making quality time count is important. Like when you think of certain professions like military soldiers, etc. They are gone for months from their families but those who really care make that time count when they’re home. Doing anything worth anything is going to take time and sacrifice, I think you just have to show your family how important what you do is when it comes to use of your time but they are more important when it comes to what you value.

“Doing anything worth anything is going to take time and sacrifice.”

NN: A line of yours that has always stood out to me as brilliant is “used to fake the Holy Spirit, maybe once or twice I caught I can’t call it/ I just fall out on the carpet and they bought it/ so I saw how much you sale depends on how you market.” How has religion affected you as an artist?

ED: Ha, I am currently coming off a Twitter testimonial about this topic exactly. Religion, critiques of religion, etc permeates much of my artistry. I don’t think it’s wise for an artist that has a great history with religion to run away from speaking on it. It’s a huge part of ‘You’, you’ve been marked. I think how I use religion in my work gives me a unique perspective in hip hop. Even from artists like Kendrick and Chance The Rapper. They were never as deep as I was in Christianity and as pulled away from it as I’ve been while still being considered by others to be religious.

I started out making music in church and I didn’t go to your grandmothers church. It was a pretty intense Pentecostal church where we were taught about places allegedly worst than hell, alternate universes, Hebrew translations of the New Testament and tons of other awesome and weighty shit at 7 years old. I was a yearly bible quiz champion so my work always dealt with deep philosophical, psychological /spiritual ideas, even in simple worship songs I wrote at 15. So yeah, my church was considered a cult.

My early rap music was heavily influenced by these teachings. I was conflicted a lot about art then as my fave artists like many people were Jay-Z, Kanye, Lauryn, Outkast, all artists who I believed were sinners. So I bought albums and threw them away a lot. My cousin and I would try to rap at church and they’d make us turn the beat off because it sounded ‘worldly’ and rap acapella so we started playing instruments so we could rap over that, that’s how I learned how to play piano. After a while along with friends from the church, we formed a Christian rap band and we performed at church a lot and at revivals, etc. Much of it is corny now but some of it was pretty good in my opinion. We had really intense performances similar to hardcore punk shows where ppl would go nuts, it’s really crazy when I think about it. I learned how to perform during that time.

We really took music seriously, it’s all we did for like 6-7 straight years It was very important to us but we always felt stifled like the church would never let us leave and do anything outside church and use our talents to better our situations in the real world . I moved to Indiana from Florida because this is where the church organization is based and it seemed like a less restricted church where I could pursue music and get answers to questions I started to have and I was dating my wife who lived here at the time. We got married the following year and my life was basically to be a minister and a Christian rapper but being so close to the source of everything I regarded as truth, it had a Wizard of Oz ending effect on me and I slowly began to lose faith in the church and American Christianity, developing a hunger for knowledge while my passion to be an artist intensified as I felt that’s all I had left after devoting so much of my life to religion.

NN: You engineer and produce music for other Louisville artists. Do you ever feel like you expend so much creativity working with others that you find a creative deficit when you want to work on your own material?

ED: I don’t really have the creativity problem, more a time issue. I wish I had more time to work with more people, I wish I had more money to be able to afford to work with more artists. I have so many ideas and styles I want to try, right now I don’t have a creative output issue at all, just more trying to find time after prioritizing certain projects I feel are most urgent. Which is why as I mentioned earlier I’m seeking to get rid of all time wasting aspects of my life so I can create more.

NN: Do you feel like you fly under the radar in the Louisville hip hop scene?

ED: When I first got on the scene I honestly was just trying to find a place in it and respect it. I was coming from performing at churches and not even being from from here and whatnot so was glad to even be acknowledged. On one side I don’t regret doing that but on the other side I think I could’ve valued myself more highly. I know the years of work I put in to be a good artist. This area is home to me now, I’m raising my son here. I will never be able to put on for Louisville like the homies Jetson or 1200 who were born and raised here, that’s not my place but I think everyone has a right to get their life where ever they happen to be, chase their dreams and take opportunities, it’s kinda irresponsible and a waste not to .

“When I first got on the scene I honestly was just trying to find a place in it and respect it.”

I feel after being nominated along with Jetson for album of the year for my first release on the scene, after getting a chance to perform at most of the major venues and waterfront Wednesday, being on the scene for only a year and a half I’d have to be pretty Kanye to feel I’m flying under the radar. I think the right people fuck with us. I’m different, I’m not going to appeal to everyone immediately. But I have won people over over time. I like being doubted, when everyone believes I get a bit bored. As much as I love the scene, we want to reach wider audiences. I want to help artists go beyond the scene. I feel there’s talent here that the world needs to hear.

NN: We are excited to see all the artists live this Thursday night at Zanzabar. What can the people expect from your performance?

ED: I am honored to be a part and put on for such a well written, hardworking and supportive publication. I will be doing some new material and some old material with a few friends, I’ll just say that ha. Space.