Vapor Eyes is a prolific Chicago-based hip-hop and dance producer and long-time YHS artist. His latest album, Invocation, channels an otherworldly energy and releases it slowly over 11 satisfying tracks. The album cover is symbolic of the consistent elevation of Vapor Eye's sound. At times the music is fast-paced and heavy handed and other times confidently understated.
Over the past few years, Vapor Eyes and I have talked about every aspect of both music we're fans of and the music we create. With the release of his latest full length project, I wanted to condense some of those conversations into interview form and publicly shed light on his creative process.
MB: How long have you been working on your album Invocation?
VE: I don't recall specifically when I began work on this album, you could say officially sometime shortly after I completed Verano Tempura. I am always writing music and over time a theme arises and an album surfaces out of all the tracks I've been writing. After that, I zero in on those pretty much exclusively for awhile until they're finished. “Vimana” is actually an older song I resurrected because it fit this project's mood and theme. A couple of the samples I've been hanging onto and waiting to develop and chop up for the right songs. The vast majority was written at some point between last summer and this past January.
MB: How does this project differ from your last album Verano Tempura and Whispers before that?
VE: This project is different than my last two releases in the regard that it has its own mood and style. I'm easily affected by the seasons and a lot of my output tends to correspond as such. This to me feels like a more personal album reflecting on things that weigh on my mind and soul, rather than Verano Tempura which was some wild-out-for-the-summer type shit. The majority of the tunes are centered around samples from 70's rock songs, which to center a whole project around, is new ground for me.
MB: What inspired the name “Invocation”?
VE: The inspiration for the album's title came from the idea that the creation of music and art can invoke a certain feeling in its viewer/listener/creator. The word “invocation” is often used in conjunction with spiritual ideas which also comes into play here. The idea of sounds and art invoking and connecting us to the mystical and unseen.
MB: There seems to be a recurring theme in your artwork, can you explain the thought process behind that?
VE: The recurring theme in my artwork comes from my love for consistency and presentation of the overall vision. It feels like a cohesive storyline to me. You don't see all the Harry Potter or The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo book covers looking different. I appreciate that aesthetic. I love that when you see a Pink Floyd or Mars Volta or Tool album cover you know immediately it’s their work based on their consistently themed cover art. For those who dig one step deeper into my world it creates a visual thread to tie all the overall works together."
MB: How do you keep your music output so consistent?
VE: That's a hard question. I think it’s a matter of always putting in work. I rarely have super long sessions. I mostly work on music at night in 1-3 hour sittings, but very regularly, very consistently. I don't worry about the final product up front, I just try to get as many good ideas, song skeletons and loops as possible. Items can always be developed later so I try to stay excited and keep momentum alive at all times when creating. If something isn't working I move on quick or revisit it later. I also have learned to trust my own judgment and not second-guess myself. I think that's one of the biggest struggles I see peers go through is the whole second-guessing thing and it prevents them from putting out more dope work. I trust my gut in my artistic endeavors and I let things come naturally. I'm not worried about trends or where I'm supposed to fit in. I think it boils down to staying inspired, putting in mad work in the lab and being true to myself with my output.
MB: So what’s next for Vapor Eyes?
VE: What's next? Have some fun and stay inspired. Play some shows. Continue writing new tunes. Find the right rapper to drop a hot ass project and finish a new EP for Young Heavy Souls later this year.
Intro and questions by Matt Black, answers and music by Vapor Eyes