San Diego – North America
San Diego is home to many forms of Hip Hop. This next group has paved the way for Live Electronic mashed with Hip Hop, welcome Vokab Kompany. Rob Hurt and Burkey Baby continue to rock shows and create music people enjoy to listen to. Burkey Baby breaks down all that is, Vokab Kompany.
10 years making music as Vokab Kompany, Congratulations! I feel you’ve created your own lane in Hip Hop. San Diego should be proud to have you guys reppin the city. How have you guys grown since 2006? Production wise, creative wise?
In 2006, Robbie was on his own with Buck “The Rabbit Killer” of Tigers Temple doing all the production. Rob had a full time job and was just kinda getting started. I was touring with a funk/jam band doing my hip hop thing. We knew each other and collabed on a track, loved the workflow, and got into this common law marriage we call a band (haha). We went from getting beats and adding instruments on our first album together, “The New Kong”, to expanding into a deeper realm of song writing, incorporating bass music into our soundscape, using multiple producers while still adding our own instruments but beginning to manipulate/arrange the stems on our with the “Quit Sleep” album. To setting a whole new sound with VKCE, our collab project with producers ‘Crush Effect’ (which had a ton of commercial success; KIA, STARZ, Southern Comfort, Franklin and Bash etc). In my opinion that album is still ahead of its’ time, such unique song writing and creative instrumentation, both of those producers are schooled and well traveled musicians as well as amazing producers, so they took a musicality to the songwriting which was entirely unique for bass music. We then dropped an album produced mostly by our homies in the bass music scene of which we had vocals featured on, appropriately named V-Sides, as it wasn’t necessarily “our” brand of song writing, more just verses featured on big banging beats. We are about to release our “opus” if you will, The Good Kompany Album. This is was an entirely new process for us, we were able to put our long term keyboardist Geoff Nigl on salary, remodel my back room and create this album “in house”. Half of the album we still used beats from other people as starting blocks, basically for key/tempo, but we took those and re-wrote most of the music, changed the “sounds”, and created a whole new non-genre of our own liking. For example replaced snares, changed synths, re-wrote meld, wrote key changes etc. and etc. into an entire years worth and 14 songs of music. We have had about 5 versions of the same song with different instrumentation, it’s been such a growing process for us as musicians, producers and song writers, it’s really been an incredible journey. It really ranges between a ton of different styles, with Rob and My vox as the glue that kinda makes sense of it. For Rob and I to be able to express ourselves to a schooled musician like Geof, and receive the have our ideas grown to life has been liberating for a couple of “mc’s” in the music world. His musical knowledge and patience with us has turned those ideas into something more than any of us could have envisioned a year ago. We wouldn’t be here without a very special person who helped us afford this luxury, our “secret angel”, whose investment in our talents is something that has both humbled and inspired us to reach new heights.
Hip Hop & Live Electronic make for some really great music. You could play your music at the club, rave, in the ride or on your ipod. Its just a matter of time before the World catches on to Vokab Kompany and bands like you guys. Tell us about the huge album VKCE. How’d it come about? How’d it do for you two? What was the response from the fans?
As I had mentioned above, it was an amazing collab that really went places for us. Jesse Molloy, who often joins VK on saxophone, and his partner David Vieth, keyboard player for Karl http://buydiazepambest.com Densons Tiny Universe (Karl plays in the Rolling Stones, Slightly Stoopid, Greyboy Allstars etc.) are the duo “Crush Effect”. Being able to join them in a creative process helped us grow professionally in a way that only being amongst professionals can help you grow. It has definitely been received well by fans, especially “new” fans.
As of today, who is in the band officially?
Rob Gallo (vocals)
Matt Burke (vocals)
Geoff Nigl (keys, production)
Richard Galigius (guitar)
Tyler Olson (drums)
Viking Burkheiser (bass)
*Spencer Sharpe (violin)
*Chris LittleField (trumpet)
*Jesse Molloy (sax)
*Karen Mills (backing vocals)
*Spencer can only play locally due to work restrictions. Chris Littlefield is the trumpet player for Karl Densons Tiny Universe, thus can only play with us when his schedule allows. Jesse is the busiest man in Hollywood so our schedules don’t often connect, and Karen now lives in Texas, however all 4 of them have earned their “official” status in our band.
The single Kaleidoscope, how’d you guys come up with this song? Is it for your up coming Vokab Kompany album?
An amazing Canadian producer we met along the way, JPOD the Beat Chef, was in town and needed a place to crash, so we hounded him into showing us his mountain of beats for a possible collab. We had been wanting to do something around that 120 bpm for a while and when showed us the skeleton of what has become Kaleidoscope, we immediately fell in love with it! He was cool enough to let us use it for our album and we released as the debut single for the upcoming album release. It was painted live during our performance at Serenitiy Festival, while we were playing it, by an amazing artist named Jimmie Olivida.
What are you working on right now? Any other projects with other artists/musicians/DJ’s?
We have a bunch of “features” out there right now, I think like 3 or 4 have been released in the past month, but we are really concentrating on the finishing touches and market for #TheGoodKompanyAlbum
You guys have personality and give off a positive, lively vibe in your music. What influences did you both have coming up discovering your own talents? Other artists you looked up too?
We both have a mountain of influence spanning “everything but country” (which we thought would be a great description of our music).
I (BB) am a bit older than (RH), so I can date my Hip Hop roots back to 1984, my Mom took me to see Grand Master Flash/Dougie Fresh etc….that same year she took me to Chaka Kahn, and in 1986 she took me to The Beastie Boys Licence To Ill tour. However though the years, Guns And Roses, Rolling Stones, Beatles, Marley, Nirvana, Erika Badu, Stevie Wonder and just about “everything but country” has been on our playlists. Bob is an avid music fan, he’s still finding gems all the time that we dissect and learn from. When I first met him he was like 14 and legendary in S. Tahoe for his flows, we have both been kinda involved in the underground West Coast scene as it shed light on the conscious lyrics we try to keep steady in our music, from the likes of Blackalicious to Chahlie 2na, Guru and Bone Thugs to 2pac and Biggie. Right now I’m bumpin Sam Smith and Bobs been telling me I need to peep that new Kendrick. I heard a slice of Deangelo’s new Album and its FIRE! Jam bands like SouLive, Karl Densons Tiny Universe, String Cheese are the masters of doing it live, so we love catching those shows too. Big shout to my new favorite band whom I just caught when we played Jazzfest with KDTU, Nth Power…unreal gospel, jam, funk, R&B group….shit I could ramble all day about this topic!
Why is San Diego Hip Hop not acknowledged like other large cities artists like L.A., Detroit, Houston or New Jersey?
For one thing, I’m not sure the “San Diego Hip-Hop” scene is very accepting of people they don’t feel fit their mold. Since day one all I’ve read on blogs and from certain media outlets that support some of the homegrown artists here is that we aren’t hip-hop, because we have a band or because we have catchy choruses they want to kick us out of their box. My response is and always will be, is that Hip-Hop is an ever involving genre, that’s what makes it so great. To say that our music isn’t the same as hip-hop from 2001 is an accurate statement, however it’s not an accurate statement about the current state of the genre itself. The beauty, and one of the reasons why we gravitated toward electronic music, was that we could see that in re-creating it with the live band we would contribute to stretching, and even destroying the barriers that surround many genres of music. You can see that the labeling of the music is kind of a thing of the past. You hear folk music with a house beat, reggae vocals on a Skrillex track, Sam Smith on a break beat, it’s a great time to be in the creative process and try to incorporate your “many influences”, rather than adhere to a mold created 15-20 years ago. “Everything but country” is identifiable in our sound, and we are proud to have made sense of it in our particular way.
What advice do you have for musicians trying to do it big like Vokab Kompany?
Get a plan, drop your ego, reach out to other musicians, learn from people you like, don’t take yourself to serious, recognize that being a good musician doesn’t make you cool-your actions and how you treat people make you worthy. This is a marathon, not a sprint, how you treat people is very important towards longevity in this biz.
Are you signed to a major or are you guys independent? Which would you prefer?
We have been independent since the get up. We are “showing” people the new album, and listening carefully, but haven’t really decided what we are doing with the new album as of this second….11:29am on May 19th, 2015.
I see that Vokab Kompany is moving full steam ahead! I can’t wait to see them live on stage.
By Mr Ceza Photo Courtesy Vokab Kompany