By Jessica Schlegemilch
Aside from having great lyrics that are thought-provoking and relatable, what makes the Santa Cruz band Eliquate so unique is its sound. Each member of the Santa Cruz local group takes influence from artists from all kinds of backgrounds. Red Hot Chili Peppers, James Murphy’s LCD Soundsystem and Atmosphere have all had some effect on the band’s unique beat.
Elliot Wright, the group's lead vocalist, says he even grabs inspiration from performance poets such as Buddy Wakefield. Because they don’t conform to one genre of music it makes it difficult to define exactly what kind of band they are. Despite that the one thing we can say about Eliquate is that they’ve got swag.
Wright describes Eliquate as a “blue collar” band: “Everything we do and make is off the sweat off our backs.”
Before Eliquate was formed, Wright sold mix tapes on the street for a dollar. It wasn’t until 2009 when guitarist Jamie Schnetzler, drummer Daniel Wells, bassist Cosmo Stevens and Tanner Christansen, a specialist in keyboard and samples, would come together to form the group that is known today as Eliquate.
“Eliquate basically started in my old apartment,” says Wright, “it happened so naturally.” Thomas Dawson, a friend Wright met through water polo and would become Eliquate’s manager, was also an integral part to the band’s formation.
Now Eliquate meets four days a week at a shared art compound near Costco.
“It's basically four walls and a door,” says Wright. All of the members have day jobs, but as Wright explains “there is a difference between what you do for a living and what you do for money…it’s nice to have consistent passion.”
Since 2009 the band has produced four albums with a new one in the works. The group mainly tours in California but last year the group did its first national tour that stretched out all the way to Boston and back.
Come March the group is going on a southwest tour through Southern California, Arizona and New Mexico with a possibility of hitting Texas and Colorado. The new album will be released after the tour possibly in summer of 2014.
The upcoming album (Wright explains the creative process hasn’t allowed for a title yet) is being made through “a very different process,” than previous albums. “Our first album was done primarily with beats being made,” says Wright, “It was almost as if we were an Eliquate cover band…(with the new album) we’re consciously trying to get everyone back to their own instruments for the best sound possible,” and he adds to create a more “dynamic” sound.
Each album from their first, Arch Rhythms, to their latest project, Patchworks, produces a different feel than the last.
Wright explains their album Who the F*ck is Eliquate?, released in 2011, is a collaboration of “fun party songs,” whereas Patchworks, their current project, was a product of just wanting to “rap and make beats."
“We call it soul food,” he says.
The new album takes a more narrative approach where lyrics tell stories and moments are given “significance where (they) normally would go unnoticed.” Wright laughs and reluctantly admits his love for stories which brings moments alive that can “evoke an emotion or the ability to relate.” Which brings us to the next dynamic of Eliquate: their brilliance in lyrical story-telling and, for lack of a better word, satirical commentary on the bullshit.
Here are some great lyrics:
A part of me is harvesting because marketing is gardening.
In a world where bad can turn a million and get paid then hell who knows what I can do just being OK, from "Potential (or not)" from Patchworks.
I've had moments of clarity and moments of confusion, moments of despair that lead to moments of conclusions, "self deprecation" from Patchworks.
Still I rock a smile more than I think I need to, to keep you smiling even if mine is see-through, also from "self deprecation".
In this life there are customers and employees/ customers get the benefit of being naive never being aware that they are constantly being sold shit/ distracted by the merchandise they only want to hold they identify with the brands and fancy advertisement/used to the fact that personality on consignment /all is fine inside the world/no nothings is for them to find/ it's all face value and they don't really seem to mind/ignorance is bliss but it's still ignorance/while they buy into the cost of obliviousness"--"Customer and Employees" from A Chalkboard's War Against Erasers
Although most of Eliquate’s music has a fun rhythm that evokes a bob-your-head-to-the-beat kind of flow, if you take closer listen you’ll find that the lyrics have a lot more to give than the initial instinct to dance.
Wright is the main lyricist although everyone in the group contributes to the writing process. Wright says their music takes on a “Trojan horse effect” where the beat is entertaining but the lyrics surprise the listener with intellectual merit. He explains that once the listener can “take time to reflect on it…the moral is able to be more effective.”
A lot of Eliquate’s lyrical content has to do with “ranting,” says Wright. Wright’s inspiration can come from the criticism he feels when watching shows like TMZ or the media in general: “you have just all these smart ass comments in your head…(while you’re) observing the world.” He says the writing process and lyrics represent the “alter ego that is allowed to be opinionated and vocal.”
Eliquate’s musical style has the ability to appeal to rockers, rappers and poetic writers. They’re funky, fun and philosophical all at the same without being forced or faked: the content is raw and the flow is on point. With all of the shoddy artists that are making it big in the music world today, Eliquate’s “blue collar approach” and lyrical expertise give modern listeners a band they can respect not only because they sound awesome but because they have attitude and heart.
Eliquate will be performing live at the Milk Bar in San Francisco on January 4th. Members Elliot Wright and Jamie Schnetzler are planning on releasing a mixtape on December 17th. If you would like to know more about Eliquate follow the links below to download and listen to their music.