Exclusive Mix & Interview
December 27th, 2018
Country: United States
Genre: Hip-Hop / Jazz
Vagabond Maurice. Introduce yourself to our audience and tell us a little bit about what you do in life.
Peace, they call me Vagabond Maurice and I’m a lyricist from Chicago by way of Minneapolis who is inspired by Hip Hop, Anime, Blackness and Jazz music.
What is the Garden at the End of the World? How did you come up with with this concept?
A Garden at the End of the World is my third and latest LP, released October 28th of 2018. The project itself is a journey of how to nurture and sustain happiness, with lyrics and music that reflect that mantra under an autumn soundscape. The concept itself comes from the book "No Mud No Lotus" by Buddhist Monk - Thict Nhat Hanh, who was one of many Buddhist I was reading before delving into creating this project.
At first this project was only suppose to be a little EP, but then became so expansive and ambitious that I decided to have it be apart of the ‘main cannon’ of LPs I’ve released – which was well worth it.
"...in high school I won the ‘Best Smile’ award..."
When curating your own productions - what steps do you take to ensure that each block of release has its own theme?
Curating is such a good word to use for said production. With the latest LP, it was honestly the first time I had so much creative control behind defining how each song would sound like instead of picking through a series of beats to write to (which wasn’t bad, etc). Recorded the whole LP with Brad Kemp here in Chicago, who produced a majority of the project. I'm usuaully sample searching and listening to a whole lot of music to generate ideas, as well as just listening to artists I like to spark me into writing Raps – but I’m usually just writing all the time because it’s more so a healthy habit now than anything.
In terms for themes for each project, I can’t reveal too much because then I’d be laying out the blue print for my future ideas, but moving forward it’s always about capturing a certain mood with each LP, whether it be inspiring, sad, or defining happiness. The mood is always the first thing set for the project before diving into the music.
Lyrical Content - where do you get your influences?
Grew up reading a lot of literature and a lot of poets, listening to a lot of ‘conscious’ Hip Hop and Neo Soul. I’m a light weight in terms of American Comic Books, but am a beast at reading Manga. I often draw from life and my interest in Martial Arts as well as spiritualism and Buddhist philosophies of seeking enlightenment.
Equal parts Nujabes, J Dilla, Soulquarians, Native Tongues posse and a one man Digable Planet.
It is, without a doubt, a balance of many influences. It’s a Libra thing.
Every picture - you’re smiling. Why so happy?
You know in high school I won the ‘Best Smile’ award? Haha, a brotha got to show them teeth as much as possible. But really tho, I’ve always been associated with my smile since I was little, and my teeth ain’t even straight so at first I was shy about it. In general, I’m pretty laid back and content, and just like sharing said happiness with others. I try to move on a path with the least amount of resistance to said happiness, but am not afraid of confrontation and dealing with the ups and downs that living life brings. All about that balance and harmony.
Plus on a side note, it’s kinda cool because in any anime depiction of me, I always tell illustrators to draw with with that ‘kitsune no me’ anime trope where the character always has their eyes shut/look like they smiling (like Ling Yao from Fullmetal Alchemist, Xellos from Slayers or Guila from Seven Deadly Sins), it’s just a cool way to articulate it.
"I try to move on a path with the least amount of resistance to said happiness, but am not
afraid of confrontation and dealing with the ups and downs that living life brings."
For our readers - give us a list of your most important habits for creative success.
Other than actually getting down and dirty via working on your craft, whether that be reading, writing, or listening to various kinds of artistic mediums, I feel like it’s important too to facilitate healthy physical habits as well. For me, I started to work out (moving from a One Punch Man body weight work out routine to All Might, bout to get slim-buff) and that’s definitely helped the creative process as well as just puts me in a better state of being.
But yeah for real, you gotta do the work. Work on your craft. Test out different things. Experiment and ask for feedback. It all helps!
Besides your current releases - what can we expect in the future?
Maybe another project in 2019? We’ll see how the process goes. Also, my solo sets will be accompanied with a live band, the homies known as "Hong Kong" and I are joining forces, with my brotha Brad Kemp coming in to throw down on the keys. I’ve been looking forward to developing a new experience with my live performances, and this is definitely the move!
If you were an anime character - what power would you possess?
You know, that would definitely depend on the series/world of said anime, but in general it’d definitely have to be of mix of Telekinesis mixed with some practical Aikido rhetoric. I feel like those two things compliment each other real well...yeah, without a doubt it would have to be some type of power that also would allow me to use my hands – get close in personal but also have the lenience to defend myself from far away attacks. Hah.
Vagabond Maurice, in a few sentences. Tell us about this mix you made for us. Where did you get your inspiration? Is there anything special you want the audience to know?
The Mix is a journey of development for me as an artist, and is threaded together by lines or choruses that inspired other songs I’ve written.