Welcome everyone to the very first edition of my new interview series, Conversation Chronicles with Nick Slade. My guest for this interview is the Nerdcore artist that is blowing up the music scene like a supernova, and my very good friend, EyeQ! He has an amazing talent for music, writing, and has accomplished a great deal in his career thus far including being the first Nerdcore musician to perform at The Library of Congress (and one of the few rappers to do so), performing all over the U.S. and Canada including at major conventions and events such as MAGfest, SXSW, PAX, Otakon, Anime Expo, and San Diego Comicon, being the 2018 recipient and three time nominee of Orlando Weekly’s “Best Hip Hop Act of Orlando” award, and having his music featured at events by organizations like New Japan Pro Wrestling and CEO Gaming. I recently sat down with EyeQ to discuss the early stages of his artistic career, what drives him as a musician, what he has in store for the future, and much more. Let’s get started.
Nick: Thanks for sitting down with me, Chris.
EyeQ: Hey, how’re doing?
Nick: Doing well.
Nick: Before we get started, tell me a bit about your background for those who are just learning about you. Where you are originally from for example.
EyeQ: Okay. I am originally from Brooklyn, NY. I have been living here in Florida for maybe thirteen years now.
Nick: To start this interview off, my first question for you is what was the main thing that made you want to become an artist?
EyeQ: I have always had a love for music, so for me it kind of started from me just wanting to try. When I got to a point where I was telling some of my friends what I was thinking about doing, they really encouraged me to give it a shot. I also promised someone that I would do what was in my heart to do. I have always been a lover of music, I just never thought I had the affinity to do it. However, I ended up giving it a shot and making music with a friend of mine. I really wanted to see him do some music and the thing that kind of pushed me over was when he said, “I’ll do this if you do it with me.” Right? And I really wanted to make music so much that I was like, “Alright, cool. I’ll see you tomorrow,” and I went to his house and I brought him back to my place and we started working on the first song that I, kind of like, put out. I also used to make up jingles and things like that for fun.
EyeQ: Because it was something I found entertaining. So I was already doing things of that nature and doing things in recording because I wanted to be a Foley artist. So, I started, kind of, putting together my own little studio so I could do my school work and things like that at home.
Nick: What was your first major during your time in college?
EyeQ: My first major was actually Sports Medicine.
Nick: Yeah? That’s interesting.
EyeQ: Yeah, well, I was an athlete for most of my life.
EyeQ: I thought that it would be a thing that made a lot of sense, because I have always been into, like, studying how my body would work, and things of that nature. Having gone through injuries, I also understand how hard that rebound can sometimes be. So, I thought it was a great choice, but my affinity for science wasn’t what I wanted it to be (laughs). You know, like, to get to the part where I was good, I would have to get through all of the stuff that I wasn’t good at. I didn’t necessarily quit, I just got a calling for something else that really spoke to me more and that was television and radio production. So I went to school for that and I also took some other classes in digital media. So, I guess more in the Communications kind of field.
Nick: That’s where you learned your camera work.
Nick: We’ve known each other for a long time. I know I moved here to Orlando in 2012 and I think we’ve known each other since late 2012 to early 2013 at least. When I first met you, you were doing camera work for a lot of different artist. Did doing camera work for different artist play a role in you wanting to become an artist yourself?
EyeQ: No. Not at all. That’s just something that I love. I love creative mediums. I have been writing ever since I was a kid. So, I was never a stranger to writing. I used to write a lot of poetry, short stories, and things like that. For me, making music just goes hand in hand with my writing. Except for it started in a different kind of way. The first songs I wrote were when I was younger, but the first thing that I wrote that I turned into an actual song was literally a poem that I was writing for Mrs. Slade. Mrs. Slade was one of my teachers in high school but she was more like my mom and I spent a lot of time with Mrs. Slade.
Nick: I know you have said in the past that she played a big role in your life and helped you get through some of the harder parts of your life.
Nick: My next questions is what genre or genres would you consider your music to mostly fall under?
EyeQ: I don’t necessarily think that is for me to decide. I like to make Hip Hop music. I guess I would say that it falls under the category of Hip Hop, specifically Nerdcore because of the nature of my content. All in all, Nerdcore is still just a subgenre of Hip Hop. So, it is Hip Hop first and foremost.
Nick: Now, I’ve always knows you as Chris, but your fans know you as EyeQ. Where did the name EyeQ originate?
EyeQ: The name EyeQ actually came from Myk Media.
Nick: Our friend, Myk Media.
EyeQ: Back in the day Myk Media use to have a thing called Nerd Night.
Nick: Yep, I remember that.
EyeQ: We would go all the time and Myk and I would talk a lot. He said, “Man, you always give the greatest advice so I’m going to call you IQ.” We both laughed about it. I always thought my Hip Hop name shouldn’t be something I gave to myself, but something that still actually makes sense. I liked it for a lot of other reasons so I decided to go for it with the name.
Nick: So we know you do a lot of Nerdcore style Hip Hop and other similar types of music, so I was wondering who you would say are your biggest musical heroes?
EyeQ: I have too many. Some of them are Anita Baker, Prince, Lupe Fiasco, Fresh Prince…
Nick: Will Smith, yeah.
EyeQ: Black Thought was a really big inspiration of mine. Stevie Wonder. I’m just kind of all over the place so when it comes to music it’s also kind of like the decades (Laughs). Like where was I at this point of time, because I can’t just name one person. I have so many. Just so many influences. A lot of people around me now influence me very heavily as well.
Nick: That actually brings me to my next question. Who would you say are your some of your biggest personal and professional influences in your life as an artist today?
EyeQ: Oh man, once again if I leave anybody out I apologize (Laughs). But man, the NPC. Everyone in that collective inspires me a lot from Mega Ran to K-Murdock to Richie Branson. You know, Kadesh Flow, Sammus, Creative Mind Frame, ShubZilla, Sky Blew, and Bill Beats. A lot of them inspire me and seeing them work hard pushes me to keep pushing to be better because I see the amount of work they all put into it their work as well. You know, other people like Mag.Lo, O-Super, Beer Money UNLTD, Lotus Cloud, Shinobi Stalin, and more. They put in a lot of work and they are good at what they do.
Nick: That’s a lot.
EyeQ: Yeah, there is. Currently, these days I find myself around most of the people that I’ve idolized like Substantial and Shing02. Just so many people that have been influential to me growing up. So a lot of people in my personal life are also those people that I look up to in one aspect or another. So yeah, once again, there are too many names to name, but I hope that helps.
Nick: When you are working on a new project what do you consider the most challenging step in completing that project?
EyeQ: Sometimes it’s just starting. The most challenging thing is when you are thinking about a direction, you always have these things in your mind that you want to look a certain way and you won’t be happy unless it’s perfect. The thing I realize the more that I go is it’s not about perfection. It’s more about movement and actually doing. Because until you actually start you don’t necessarily understand what your vision is in its entirety. You know it’s like looking at a slab of marble if I’m a sculptor and I say I want this to be this really cool looking person, but it doesn’t translate to what’s exactly in your head. It never translates to the way that you see it. But until you start you don’t understand how you like things. So the more that I do things, the more that I realize what it is I like or not like about something and that perfection is a thing that we strive for but it’s not realistic. You also question yourself so much. For me it’s beginning. Even if it’s just a little at a time. Even if it’s a couple of words every day that by the time you turn around and look back, what you’ve done physically starts to tell you more about yourself, what your style is, and where you are going. I find that a story is told better for me when I’m looking back at it and saying, “Well there is a pattern here and the things I find myself doing are just because they are in me to do.” So I would say starting.
Nick: Taking that first step.
EyeQ: Exactly. And you’re always trying to also figure out when you should stop. That’s the thing, you never know.
Nick: That’s a problem every artist faces for sure.
EyeQ: But at some point, we hit a place where we are just at peace with it. That’s the place that I strive for when I say, “Okay, this the way that it is and I’m going to let it go and put it out to the world to see what’s there.” We tend to hold on to stuff too much.
Nick: What do you do for fun to relax while working on a project?
EyeQ: Watch anime and play video games like Overwatch and Call of Duty and try to spend time with my friends and people I care about. That stuff tends to help me a lot and inspire me as well. I also really enjoy making memes.
Nick: I’ve seen your memes (laughs). They are very good.
Nick: What other forms of entertainment outside of music influence your work the most?
EyeQ: Anime. Anime influences my work more than everything else. Just the stories that I see and I guess just living life and correlating it to things that I like do. It’s the lessons and feelings that I get sometimes when I’m watching an Anime series. I play a lot of Overwatch and the thing I get from Overwatch is getting to meet people outside of the game and inside of the game. When I’m watching anime, I am in a totally different world and I’m experience it by looking through the eyes of so many different characters that I’m learning so many different lessons from and I try to be receptive to where ever the author is going to take me. That’s awesome to me.
Nick: What anime in particular has had the biggest influence on your work?
EyeQ: I can’t point at one. I just can’t. There’s too many.
Nick: I do know that you had a fantastic album based on Attack on Titan. The album even received praise by Funimation and the Attack on Titan team in Japan.
EyeQ: I love Attack on Titan, but that’s not where it started so that’s me being so crazy about so much to where it influenced me a lot. But you know it doesn’t happen without its predecessors. So I guess that would be it.
Nick: So, we mentioned that you’ve worked with a number of talented individuals. Are there any artists in your field that you have not had a chance to work with that you would like to work with in the future?
EyeQ: Are we talking Nerdcore or just music in general?
Nick: Let’s focus on Nerdcore.
EyeQ: One of the first people who comes to mind is MC Frontalot. I definitely would like to work with him. Other people? I have plans to work with different people in general. I have to give that one some thought. Outside of MC Frontalot, I have literally been talking about working with a lot of people so it’s a little different in the fact that because some of those things are already active, those people know I already want to work with them, but I’m probably just as excited to work with people that want to work with me and understand what type of artist I am. Oh, you know what? Super Soul Bros. We’ve talked about it for a while and I would love to see an EyeQ/Super Soul Bros. album.
Nick: That’d be great.
EyeQ: Or J-MUSIC Ensemble. They are another group I’ve wanted to work with for a long time. Tribe One is someone I’d like to work with as well.
Nick: In your career thus far you have been able to play in a lot of places like Texas and Canada but do you have any favorite places you like to play?
EyeQ: They are all my favorites. I love everywhere I play in general because it doesn’t have to do with where I’m at and everything to do with those who wants to see me. So, I’m always taken aback when someone wants me to be in their city or a promoter or con reaches out to me and says we would like for you to come out and play this. It always kind of surprises me because I remember when that wasn’t as abundant for me. I have spent a lot of time in a lot of states and made a lot of friends all around. So, I’m just happy that I’m able to just be anywhere and do it at all.
Nick: In a similar question, are there any particular cities that you would really like to explore and experience the local culture?
EyeQ: I’m happy to see anywhere and learn and see and experience those things in general. I go to Texas a lot because I love it there, however I’ve had many great experiences and I want to see more of what the actual world looks like.
Nick: That leads me to my next question. Where are some places that you have not played at that you would love to go to and perform?
EyeQ: Right now, I would love to go to Japan, South America, and the UK.
Nick: I remember you said to me that you have a really good following in the UK.
EyeQ: A better following than I thought. I really enjoyed Canada. I’d love to go back there even though I’ve already been there and I want to go to Korea. I’ve been listening to Korean Hip Hop since I was young. I would love to go there and meet the performers that I grew up listening to such as Epik High, Dynamic Duo, Drunken Tiger, and Yoon Mi-Rae. Two performers I have enjoyed in recent years are Primary and Dean. I would love to be able to work with all of them one day. If I could go there right now, I would get up and just go.
Nick: So tell me about your latest project. What are you working on right now that you can tell us about?
EyeQ: I’m currently working on a project called Digital Sunshine, so that will be my next album. I have just recently released the second part of my Anita Baker project.
Nick: I know you have mentioned how big of an influence on your career Anita Baker has been, enough to inspire what I believe you said would end up being a trilogy. Is that correct?
EyeQ: Yes. I decided to approach this project a little differently with the fact that the name of the album itself is Triple L which stands for live, love, and life and I decided to put it out in three separate projects over a span of 3 years. Every January 26th (Anita Baker’s birthday) I will be releasing one of those projects on her birthday. Last year I released Live. This year I released Love and next year I will release the album in its entirety as Live, Love, Life.
Nick: Something to look forward to.
Nick: So where and when is your next big performance?
EyeQ: It will be in Austin, Texas at the Geeks of Color Expo which runs from February 14th to 16th. I will be headlining the concert. Other talent performing will include Creative Mind Frame and Alpha Riff.
Nick: Over the course of your career you’ve accomplished a great deal of impressive things. What would you say would be the next big goal to take that next big step to advance your career as an artist?
EyeQ: I’m already doing it with my project called Bytes & Beats which is a concert series that I serve as Producer of. It is something that I started over a year ago and it’s pretty much about bringing more Hip Hop into convention spaces. It’s something where I will also be bringing out more performers of color and showing people their differences. Even at the places where I do Nerdcore music, there is a disconnect from Hip Hop, even though that is what it actually is. Those two things, for me, are what I want to show people. I want to show people what Hip Hop looks like and what the power of it is. It was actually the first ever Hip Hop tour to ever happen at convention spaces. It won’t just be focused on Nerdcore and Hip Hop, but also other mainstream music to show how intertwined the music of different cultures truly are in ways people don’t pay attention to. We brought a show that was a tribute to Samurai Champloo and Nujabes. So basically we brought together voice actors and musicians that worked on the show. We also brought out others who worked with Nujabes throughout his career. It was received really well. I want to do more concerts that you would not expect to see. I have concerts on the horizon. It’s going to be great. While we don’t have a website, we are on all social media.
Nick: Thank you for joining me Chris and giving our readers a chance to get to know you better. Where can people listen to and/or purchase your music?
EyeQ: Right now you can best find me on Bandcamp.
Nick: Fantastic. Thanks again for joining me today, Chris.
EyeQ: You got it.
And that is it for the first edition of Conversation Chronicles. I would like to once again thank EyeQ for taking the time to talk to me and FGS about his journey thus far. Below you will find links to his social media as well as videos of two of his best songs.