Twenty one year old El’ Jistos was previously in the rap crew A Blank Canvas, who supported big names such as Thudamentals, The Tounge, Spit Syndicate, Rappaport, Hermitude, Urthboy, Dialectrix, and Joe New.
After being active on the hip hop circuit for the past 6 years, Blue Mountains born ‘n raised El’ Jistos is getting revved up for his first release in collaboration with producer Illumes on the 24th October this year.
1) Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I’m the underdog, I grew up an underdog, I am fighting for the underdog. I don’t think I have ever won anything in my whole life. I’m not smart, I’m not fast, I’m not lucky, I am only hard working. I spent most of my childhood involved in music and performance in some way or the other.
2) Who were some of your musical influences coming up?
Biggie is a major influence lyrically. Outkast is by the way they laced their music, and style with Jazz, Funk and the Blues. The distorted vocals on ‘Da Art Of Storytellin’ (Part 2)’ inspired the sound of my mic on this record, it really resonates the blues.
3) How would you describe yourself as an artist? Has your style changed much over the years?
My style is forever changing and evolving. I used to have an extremely technical flow, now I go for meaning and clarity, and where I would like to go next is to be able to carry more emotion, and be more tactful and deliberate with how I use my words. The one thing that hasn’t changed is my love of the double entendre. I always try to reach a deeper level.
4) What’s your process like for making music? Do you have a set routine or does it vary track by track?
Its the same for every track. Put a beat on, and write one line at a time. Also never underestimate how important the beat maker is. The beat is the moment of conception for me.
5) Can you run me through the making of your latest project – Try Explain That to A Four Year Old? What were the studio vibes like?
Illumes and I met working together. As soon as we spoke about music I had a feeling we were going to make something together. We really got along from day dot. After the album was written we both put in some solid hours tweaking and refining everything. It really came together then. I love being in the studio, I love creating music, its my passion so the vibes were wonderful.
6) What sort of independent hip-hop promotion and marketing are you doing to differentiate yourself from other artists?
I’m diving in the deep end and going straight to vinyl for my first release, no CD’s. I am passionate about records, and independent record stores. I want to try and service music culture and vinyl culture by making the album available exclusively in record stores before anywhere else.
Vinyl is harder to sell so its not really a marketing decision so much as an expression of my obsession, with the aim of encouraging others to discover it for themselves.
7) What are you thoughts on the current state of hip-hop music today?
Its got its pockets now, what I would call hip hop could very well be completely different to what my neighbour calls hip hop. This is an issue I have been writing about lately for my next project. In terms of hip hop music no one sub genre can be right or wrong (ie. trap, grime, boom bap, trip hop etc) because its all music at the end of the day, so no issue for me there. For me the issue is in rappers or vocalists using the ‘hip hop’ label falsely. You can’t call a cow a pig.
8) What music are you listening to these days? Anyone in hip-hop really blowing your mind?
I’m actually listening to the demos for a psychedelic rock album by Womb Catacomb I’m going to release on my label next year. Getting pretty excited to watch that project develop. The people blowing my mind in hip hop these days are the up and comers. Last Saturday I watched someone perform their 1st song for the 1st time, and nearly cried because it was so moving.
9) If you could work with any artist you wanted, what would be your dream collaboration?
I would like to make a song with Hermitude, and for my next album I would like to work with Citizen Kay.
10) What has been the best moment in your music career so far?
Getting my album on wax. Manifestation of a dream.
11) So what’s next for you?
I’m doing a run of shows in October to support the album drop, and then I want to gig as much as possible while I focus on the Womb Catacomb release. I would love to go on tour with Lord Street Collective. Next though is learning how to run a label, learning how to book a tour and getting a few more releases under my belt.