LIFESTYLE

Erick the Architect of Flatbush Zombies constructs his own sound

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Erick Elliott, better known as Erick the Architect, is a rapper, singer, artist, producer and, since 2010, one-third of the beloved Brooklyn hip-hop group, the Flatbush Zombies. In February, he dropped his first full-length solo album, “I’ve Never Been Here Before,” which features collaborations with a range of artists from Lalah Hathaway to James Blake, to Joey Bada$$, to George Clinton and more.

“I don’t think I would’ve been able to write if they didn’t come with ideas that would initially spark creativity within me,” says Elliott, who is this week’s guest on “Brooklyn Magazine: The Podcast.”

And yet the album is very much his own — a hip-hop mission statement. A homecoming.

“I’m always serving other people with my ideas and eventually I have to be a little selfish and do that for myself,” he says. “And I never made time for myself before. I never went on intimate walks by myself. I never was just honest with myself before.”

The album’s title is an allusion to where he’s at in life, emotionally, physically, professionally, musically. And the 16 tracks within comprise a kaleidoscopic mix of psychedelic hip-hop, Jamaican dancehall, classic boom-bap rap, and neo-soul that reflects an omnivorous musical palette.

“I wanted to make a project that I love. I’ve heard reviewers write, ‘This is like a mess.’ I’m like, ‘What are you listening to? If this is a mess, what the fuck is good in hip-hop music?’” he says. “You either fuck with my music or you don’t. If you don’t, that’s cool with me.”

Last week Elliott stopped in Brooklyn as part of his “Mandevillain” tour, which takes its name from one of the new album’s singles. Here, we talk about the tour and his return to borough (Elliott moved to Los Angeles four years ago). We discuss his so-called “villain era,” loss, growth and what he hates about contemporary hip-hop — quite a bit, it turns out.

“To be transparent, I think a lot of people suck, bro. Their music is ass to me,” he says. “I’m tired of hip-hop being regarded as this thing that’s big joke.”

We discuss that and Brooklyn and more. Check it out.

The following is a transcript of our conversation, which airs as an episode of “Brooklyn Magazine: The Podcast,” edited for clarity. Listen in the player above or wherever you get your podcasts.

You played at Elsewhere last night. How did it go?
That was the best show in the tour so far.

Really? Was it like a homecoming kind of thing?
It felt like a homecoming. It felt like the Knicks won the championship.

There’s also a literal billboard with your face on it up at Flatbush Ave. right now right above the Footlocker there. How’s that feel?
Surreal, man. I used to work at Foot Locker too.

I thought so, not that branch.
That’s a full circle moment. Not that branch, but not far.

We’re talking because you mentioned you’re touring for your new album, “I’ve Never Been Here.” It’s really good. You’ve been around for 20 years now. You’ve been here. Talk about that title, it reminds me of Gil Scott-Heron’s last album, which was “I’m New Here.”
Interestingly enough, one of the albums I was playing a lot was Marvin Gaye’s “Here, My Dear” album which was a double CD and it’s obviously about his breakup.

It’s about a divorce. It was ordered by the judge: “All proceeds go to your ex.” And he’s like, “Fine, I’m going to double down.”
“I’m going to double down.” Oh, what an album, man. I resonated with that a lot after dating somebody for a long time and ending it initially I had a different name. I changed it because, although like you said, I’ve been doing it 20 plus years — it’s aging me — this is actually a new perspective and a new sense of confidence and understanding of myself, how to grow as a person initially and then letting the music reflect all the transformations that I’ve had as a man. I was like, “Well, I’ve never been here before,” because I’ve never been okay with losing some of the stuff that I’ve lost. And I’ve actually gained a lot more than what I have lost. I’ve gained a lot more from what’s not around anymore, whether it’s bad habits or bad people or bad vibes or bad food or bad clothes or bad credit.

You’ve lost some good things too. It’s not all shedding the bad.
I lost some good things. I lost some great things. But I also feel like depending on how you deal with the loss, things become angels for you. I needed a certain level of guidance that I have now, so I’m okay with what I lost.

Not to dredge it up, but she’s a presence in your album: Your mom passed away and she was a huge influence on you and your upbringing obviously. Talk about some of the bad things that you’ve lost, some of the things you’ve shed.
My ex-girlfriend. She’s out of here. Being insecure, not commanding my power, not working out or being physical, not reading, not being mentally stimulated. And always looking somewhat for validation from other people before I made a move. I’m guilty of that just because I’m in a group, I’m always serving other people with my ideas and eventually I have to be a little selfish and do that for myself and I never made time for myself before. I never went on intimate walks by myself. I never was just honest with myself before.

It’s interesting that you said that you were in a group and you’ve never done this thing for yourself before, but you only produced one track on this album, right? You’re working with other producers and I wonder if that experience of ceding control over to other producers, was that a challenge for you at all? Or was that exhilarating, the give and take? Do have control issues at all?
I don’t have problem with control issues, and I was quite relieved to allow these great producers — T-Minus and Linden Jay and James Blake — they were all very integral to my development as a writer. I don’t think I would’ve been able to write if they didn’t come with ideas that would initially spark creativity within me. Not to take away anything from the producers, but it wasn’t like they just sent me a beat, I rapped on it and then they finished the work. I still had to use my production mindset to arrange the records to figure out what drops were necessary, the arrangement, the composition.

If I needed to, a song like “Breaking Point,” I already had initially had the foundation of the record. But then I called Baby Rose and Rüde Cåt to come to my house and then I hit up Jacob Vetter, Pale Jay. Then I hit up C. Ray to play lap steel and he had a friend that played strings, so it’s another style of production. It wasn’t just the way it was where I’d play everything by myself.

Lap steel and strings are not things you hear on hip-hop albums all the time.
At all.

You did announce on social media when this came out that you can “confidently say” it’s the most you’ve cared about anything you’ve made. And you can hear that in the songs. It’s a true passion project. What do you feel like was different this time? I know you’re still tight with your fellow Zombies, but what was it about this that you made it care so much about?
To be transparent, I think a lot of people suck, bro. Their music is ass to me and I’m tired of hip-hop being regarded as this thing that’s big joke. Everybody’s a joke and laughing and memes and USB microphones, I’m tired of it. It’s so unfair. It actually pisses me off. I feel like an old man but I don’t think it’s a big joke. I don’t want to hear joke music. If I want to hear that, I’m going to listen to weird Al Yankovic or somebody that’s like, “I’m actually telling a joke, but it’s actually still interesting and I’ve thought about it.” I don’t like these industry plants. I don’t like that people learn to become popular then learn how to make music and I’m supposed to respect them. I respect your work ethic, but as a musician there’s only very few of us.

Shout out to James Blake, he’s making a big splash right now on social media about the same thing. Why the hell do I have to be a social warrior and media content extraordinaire in order to be a rapper or a musician? The time you’re spending figuring out how to do 16-by-9 videos is sacrifice when you’re trying to learn to play major seventh scale. Shouldn’t you spend time learning that? Why are we only focusing so much on what people are watching and it’s almost like if you didn’t film it didn’t happen and it frustrates me.

When you’re talking about the joke of the music, it’s not just social media, it’s the actual music itself that you’re saying? The over Auto-Tuning or whatever? You have a passion for the history and a knowledge of the history that I think a lot of younger rappers don’t care about their elders or what came before them necessarily. There’s people who are in it for the money and people who are in it for the love and the art. You fall into that latter category, I feel like. Is that what you’re getting at?
It’s only really hip-hop that does it. Because in rock it doesn’t happen. Rolling Stones and Kiss, nobody would ever say, “Get these old farts out of here, this bag of bones.” Hip-hop is like, “Shut your old ass up.” It’s like, “What? That’s LL Cool J., bro, that’s Big Daddy Kane, bro, that’s Rakim, bro, that’s KRS-One. Why are you so disrespectful?” Because without them, the foundation of hip-hop wouldn’t really be here. You had guys like Raekwon saying, “We are in Carhartt and Timbs and we wore utilitarian clothes because we was going to possibly fight tonight because of what we said and what we believed and what we stood for.” It wasn’t about beef, it was just like, “Yo, I’m going to say something that might be spicy that might get me into shit, and if I have to stomp somebody else I want to have Timbs on.” That’s completely different than like, “Yo, I got this song. I don’t know what happened. I put it online and people just like it and now I take music seriously.” It’s just weird.

I didn’t come up with the values of music being that way. It was very not cool to be a successful artist and when I would say stuff like, “I’m a producer.” People were like, “Okay, oh, producer. Oh, okay cool.” And I’m just doing it regardless of when people make fun of me. But now it’s like, “Oh wow.” People are more genuinely interested because I think that they have more of a scope of what production is. But at the same time it’s because it’s cool, it’s not because it’s something that you’ve dreamt about since you’re 5 years old like me.

Producers didn’t become famous back in the day until it was Dre and Diddy and then …
Pharrell and Timbaland. They made it cool, but producers were fucking losers. They would act like they would just sit in the back of the room with shades on, sitting down with the head up. Thank God for these guys that’s come out to make the Neptunes, that was so influential to me.

So good.
They made it cool to be smart.

Let’s talk about the album a little bit because some of the tunes had been sitting in your pocket for five years, since before Covid. What was behind that? Was it the timing wasn’t right or the song wasn’t right yet or a little bit of both?
I would say a little bit of both. I battled with a lot of records that I felt like I wanted to use for this project, but I was also thinking about what showcased how I felt presently the best. So, even if I thought a record — and I mean we’re our biggest enemy and biggest critic — you’ll be like, “Oh, this is old, so I’m not going to put it on there.” But to everybody that’s never heard it, they don’t even know how old it is. It’s only when I spilled the beans on it and I only told people because I kept hearing stuff like, “Man, you’re so much better. I hear the growth.” And I’m like, but this song is from six years ago. If you hear the growth that means that I was ahead of my time six years ago. Eventually I had to say something about it because — I wouldn’t say it’s the majority of the records — but it’s some of your guys’ favorites were ones that was on my laptop. I sat with them because I wanted to make sure that I had the right songs surrounding them in order to hit the pockets of people.

I heard somebody say to me yesterday, “When ‘Parkour’ came out, I did not like it because I don’t like Auto-Tune.” And I said, “First off, I didn’t use Auto-Tune.” Secondly, “That’s cool I respect your opinion.” He’s like, “When I heard the whole album in sequence, I was like, oh, I actually understand why this is important to your narrative and why you’ve used it.” And I was like, “Yeah, well, sometimes singles don’t necessarily hit because of the time that you’ve heard them. It’s also the place where you listen to the music for the first time.” But I made an album. I didn’t make a bunch of singles.

I was going to say that’s a very producer mindset, you made an album. You thought about the arc of the album, the beginning, the middle and the end. And the album as an art form is rarer these days than it’s ever been.
Unfortunately.

You moved to L.A., you turned your back on Brooklyn or you just grew out of it or?
I had to make a little hiatus, but I’m always Brooklyn the rest of my life. L.A. is good to me though.

We mentioned that you’re on tour. It’s called the “Mandevillain Tour” after the song on your album. I thought it was interesting you didn’t call it the “I’ve Never Been Here Tour.” Which could be true when you go to a new city like, “Hey, I’ve literally never been here,” but why “Mandevillain?”
Mainly because I came into this project with a different mindset that I was going to write from a perspective that was the inner parts of me that are the most honest. Actually, the name came about because, much like about five minutes ago, I was trashing other rappers and musicians as I do. All these people are just lazy and everybody loves them and people clicking it, it’s great.

Do you want to name names or that’s not your style?
I’ve never named names because it doesn’t even matter. You may love them and art is objective, so what difference does it make to say that I think they suck? Yeah, I was ranting about how people suck. I’ve been doing this for so long, I just feel like I’m jaded by all the stuff that people tell me to listen to. And I was actually about to go to Jamaica with my dad last summer. He’s from Mandeville, which is a parish outside of Montego Bay in the mountains. We just all of a sudden put the word villain and Mandeville together. “Because clearly, you have a lot of strong opinions about the industry and music. Why don’t you just claim yourself as the Mandevillian?” I wrote this whole album with that in mind, a lot of times when I do voice shifts or voice changes.

You have characters in this album.
A character, yeah. Interesting enough, the song “Mandevillain,” when I first recorded the chorus — “tell you something, this ain’t luck, I’m bona fide”— I had a piece of ice in my mouth. I was watching “Godfather” a lot. I was like Marlon, Brando and I recorded it with a piece of ice in my mouth. I remember when my friend came over, he was like, “Who is that?” I was like, “That’s me.” He’s like, “Oh, shit that sounds really dope. I didn’t know you could do that.” I was like, “Yeah, I had a piece of ice in my mouth, I wanted to sound different.” And because they couldn’t understand what I was saying, I was like, “Oh, you know what? I’m going to take the ice out and I’m going to do it again, but purposely make another character.” I switched my voice a lot on the album basically because I’m trying to use that whole alter ego thing.

It’s funny, when I saw that song title the first time made me think of Madvillain. I don’t know if you’re a fan.
Yeah, so many people said that. I’ll take it, man. Doom, yeah. Doom, Madlib legends easy.

In that song within the same bar, bar or two, you literally cite two of your inspirations: It’s Biggie and Foo Fighters back to back, which I feel like says a lot about what we need to know about you. Is that fair?
Yeah. I don’t think anyone else is going to say something like that.

Because you’re culturally omnivorous? Musically speaking you’ve got influences like Marvin, Stevie, Herbie, the Beatles, as well as the hip-hop you grew up with. Talk about how you came up liking a lot of stuff in Flatbush in whatever year.
My parents were obviously really influential. Your parents played stuff in the house, we had Sunday music on Sundays. Your parents play certain stuff when they cleaning the house or, I would say, gospel was introduced to me through that. And when we didn’t go to church, my mother made sure we played church in the house. So, it always gospel, Marvin Sapp, Donnie McClurkin, Bishop T.D. Jakes. That was the music she played, Kirk Franklin. She played Anita Baker, she play Aretha Franklin, you play all these amazing singers. And then maybe on Monday my dad is playing Peter Tosh and Whitney Houston ironically.

He had a very eclectic taste and then on maybe Monday night, my brother’s playing Bell Biv DeVoe and Fu-Schnickens and Ras Kass and Wu-Tang and then the next day. My first introduction, it was like, why is all these people playing alls these weird sounds and it’s just not the same sound? I really themed my tour over that because I was always around it and I almost envied the fact that they love these people so much. I’m the last kid, so I wanted the attention and the happiness that they got from listening to that music. I wanted to try to provide that to them. I didn’t listen to no goo-goo-ga-ga, Sesame Street, Barney shit, I didn’t do that. I don’t know nothing about no damn “Mr. Sun” and all that shit, that’s not my thing. I was listening to grown music. I’m listening to Thelonious Monk. I’m like, what, 6- or 7-years old listening to my uncle play this really unique music. And I was always like, “Man, what does it take to be these people?” I call them superheroes because it just seemed out of this realm of reality. Especially a Stevie Wonder or Ray Charles, somebody who can’t even see and I just was so fascinated by how they were able to write these songs that really captivated people who had full five senses going.

And I know The Gorillaz was a major turning point for you.
I’m glad you said The Gorillaz. It was probably one of the first CDs my mom had bought me. I think I was in seventh grade and I had a CD player. She worked at Con Edison and across the street was Virgin Records and she would sometimes buy me music. I liked the Spice Girls a lot too when I was younger, and so I told her, “Don’t tell nobody, but buy me the Spice Girls ‘Spice World’ album.” And then I remember I was like, “Yo, I saw ‘Clint Eastwood’ on MTV,” when they played videos. I was like, “Yo, these drawings are so cool.” I had no idea what that song “Clint Eastwood” was about. I just thought it looked cool and I told my mom, “Yo, can you buy me this CD?” I didn’t even know what the name of the character or the group was, I was just like, “Yo, it was like a drawing with these people and a Jeep.” And she was like, “Yeah, no problem.”

I remember when she bought it for me and I played it on my CD I was like, “This is not cartoon music. This is shape-shifting genre-bending music.” And “Rock the House” and “M1 A1.” And my God, bro, that was probably my inception of I want to make music like this. This is not one genre of music, there’s hip-hop, there’s jazz, there’s Latin music. And then the fact that they had the animation combined for a little kid that just blew my mind open. I got to meet Dan the Automator, I got to meet Cass Browne, I got to meet Jerome Alexandre. I got to meet so many people that played with Damon Albarn and the Senseless Things and Blur. And I’ve been chasing their legacy since I was in seventh grade, so they’re probably the most influential band to me.

You mentioned your dad being from Jamaica, you have songs like “Beef Patty,” which is pulling dancehall sounds into it. You’ve got “Breaking Point,” which you mentioned earlier, which is more dreamy, psych, almost a little Radiohead. Do you think about challenging your audience at all or you’re just expressing yourself? People either come along or they don’t.
You either fuck with my music or you don’t. If you don’t, that’s cool with me. I wanted to make a project that I love. I’ve heard reviewers write, “This is like a mess.” I’m like, What are you listening to? If this is a mess, what the fuck is good in hip-hop music? How the hell is this a mess? Or, “This is awkward to listen to.” I’m being so honest. If my honesty makes you uncomfortable, then I’m not the artist for you. A lot of these guys is fabricating their lives and making it seem like they have this tough life that no one can relate to. And I’m here trying to tell you about something that relates and is important to me, and if you don’t resonate with that, I’m actually okay with that. I’m not purposely trying to be different or unique.

I think “Breaking Point” works on the album because I’m Erick. Like you said, Radiohead. Or Little Dragon is another one of my favorite bands. When I look at their ceiling, it’s like they continue to change and reinvent themselves. Prince is probably my favorite of all time. “Planet Earth” Prince is not the same as “Little Red Corvette Prince.” You take the artists for their transformation and who they become, and I don’t think that you can possibly love them truly if you don’t know their story. So, this is a way for me to introduce people to that and if you want to come along the ride, then let’s go.

Let’s go. You started talking about some of your influences and your idols. One of your idols, who’s also one of my idols, is on this record. And that’s George Clinton.
Come on, man.

Talk about working with George. He’s 82, he’s all there, he’s good. My dad’s 82, so I understand what an 82-year-old man can be like and he couldn’t be less like George Clinton. What’s working with George Clinton like?
Clearly, like you said, I mean, he’s one of my favorites of all time. My mom really loves him so much. I remember “Get Funked Up” and “Flash Light,” and that to me was, “Who the fuck is this guy making this crazy music” as a kid. And when she showed me what he looked like with the feathers and all the dyed hair and the braids, I was like, “This guy’s out his fucking mind, bro.” And it’s exactly what I thought the music would sound like as a kid and, just like the cartoons, it was so interesting to me. So, growing up, and I didn’t even know how ingrained in hip-hop he really was from all the people that sample him from Snoop and Dre and all these people who really heralded it, especially on the West Coast ,as an East Coast guy. P-Funk and shit was so big in California.

I didn’t realize the influence, I just knew his music by himself. And the older I got, I’m like, “This guy is cemented.” Him and James Brown are probably the two biggest influences on hip-hop to me. I already wrote the record and every night we perform it, me and my band and shit, I’m just like, “Yo, this is my favorite to perform because I not only am so honored to even have George’s presence on it, I remember so vividly how fast I wrote this song, it was almost like a stream of consciousness for me. And then when I met him, I already knew that this record was the one I wanted to play for him.

It’s a story from the Bible, right? “Eziekel’s Wheel?”
Yes. It was a bit of a contrast because me and Rudy who wrote the chorus, he grew up in church too. And both of us were referring to something beyond Earth. I wrote it when I was on a plane, which meant that I was closer to the heaven than not. I was 30,000 feet up and I thought about this concept, and then when we thought about the Bible, I was just like, “Well, the chariot that’s being pushed by these wheels are four winged.” The four wing that’s pushing this chariot are the influences of music that I described. I talk about Junior Reid and Eartha Kitt and all these people that I grew up listening to. And by that time, I already had this concept and I did a photo shoot with him, which was crazy. A brand had wanted me to do a photo shoot with him, and that’s when I met him.

And ironically enough, I literally wrote for the part at the end of it, Rudy and I wrote a fake George Clinton monologue. And I was like, “Yo, that’s how you got to manifest it, bro. Let’s just pretend he’s here.” And then I got the call, literally, I don’t know how much weeks later and he’s like, “Do you want to work with George Clinton?” And I was like, “What the fuck.” So, we did the photo shoot and I asked him then and there like, “Yo, I have a song for you. Would you want to do it?” He’s like, “Hey, yeah, let’s do it.” I was like, “Oh shit.” He didn’t even hear the song and he could have said no when he heard it, but he didn’t. He was finishing this tour, he got off tour and he gave me more than I even asked. He went over through line the entire song.

It’s a great track. I wasn’t actually going to go there, but I’ll just talk about pulling from different genres and mixing genres and being influenced by being non-discriminatory in your influences. I wonder if you’ve listened to Beyoncé’s album, have you checked out “Cowboy Carter” yet or if you have any thoughts?
I haven’t because I’ve been on tour, but I love Beyoncé. My girl loves Beyoncé. She can’t do wrong to me.

I’m a country fan, I’m a soul fan and it’s just perfect. You’re Erick the Architect, literally an architect of a sound. You produced the Flatbush Zombies, all of their work. I wonder in making a solo album, you feel freer or do you feel more pressure because it’s all on you?
I feel more free. And I also think a lot of the times I produce stuff, it went over people’s heads and it’s stuff that I’ve produced that people don’t even know. Even if it came out or stuff that I’ve done that the artists have never released. So, people have no idea I did a song with Metallica. So, people have no idea I have a song in “Hereditary,” the movie. Production is such a weird thing sometimes because you devote so much time into an artist and maybe they don’t release it or it gets released, but the optics for the time, the artist didn’t push it hard enough so no one ever thinks about it beyond.

Especially the way that we ingest music now. It has a six-week window and then it’s out of here. So, especially if it’s not me, it’s hard for me to promote somebody else’s. Even though it’s my production somebody else’s song more than I produce on my own. So, being a rapper or being a singer or a lyricist or whatever, it gives me a chance to now give that energy to myself and I could trust somebody else to help me paint that vision, and it’s not just solely on my shoulders.

You talked about growing up in a musical household. I also know that you’re big gearhead. How does the gear come into it? Because that’s harder to access for anyone. Where does the gear thing come from?
The gear shit, I’m so happy, bro. I’m such a fucking nerd. When I was in high school, bro, that’s when I first was like, “What the fuck is analog gear?” And I was wondering why do people love it so much? And I didn’t have any money at the time. I graduated in 2006, so that ages me a bit, but early 2000s, obviously the sound of music was still digital, but I wanted to incorporate live musicianship with digital stuff. So, everybody using Fruity Loops and dah dah dah. And I was like, “You know what? I want to buy sound modules.” So, I would buy the XV-5080 and these really wonky thrift shop sound modules. And I bought a MIDI keyboard because it was cheaper than to buy the whole Phantom X6 or whatever the shit at the time.

I remember the first time I bought a really expensive one was when Jay-Z did “Black Album.” When Pharrell did “Allure,” I watched his video so many times over and over again because I was like, “What keyboard is that that he’s using?” And I watched it and it’s in the video and I’m looking, I’m like, “What is that?” I’m rewinding and rewinding, I’m like, “It’s a Triton, holy shit.” And I remember I went on eBay. I was selling eBay, I’ve been on eBay since I was 14 years old. I have an eBay plaque too. And it was a Triton Xtreme and I bought the Triton Extreme from eBay. My mom loaned me the money, that was my first initial way and I remember I found a patch that Pharrell used that just did the little pitch, chhh, chhh. Got me calling right back, chhh, chhh.

I was like, “Oh.” Bro, I barely used that keyboard because one of the chips is busted and it just was a piece of shit. So, the person who dicked me over on eBay I gave them negative feedback. I wasted like $3,000. That was when I was like, “Okay, this is why people don’t rely on real equipment because it’s expensive, it’s finicky, it’s a labor of love.” But I went back in and I was like, “Fuck it. I’m going to learn to use an MPC.” And I got my money up, I got a Roland MV-8000, and I was a big Wu-Tang fan and I knew that the RZA was endorsing a special one that had a outboard VGA, so you could plug it into an external monitor. And I was like, “Yo, I got to get that.”

So, I saved up. Some of my friend were selling drugs, using drug money to buy this shit. Not going to lie, that’s what we used. Pawning shit, stealing shit, that’s what we was on. I had to get the money, I had to get it and I started building this small little rack in my room, and that’s when I really was learning the music. It was really in high school, bro, and by the time I got to college, I was already full-fledged producer for myself. My dream started to really manifest, but I wanted to be a musician and I didn’t want to just be a good sampler and I’m still really good at sampling, but that was my foundation. Then I went to learn to play bass and I went to play keys. So, it all started really from that terrible investment in that Triton Extreme.

You’re a graphic designer as well, right? You did all the artwork for this album and you studied graphic design, is that right?
Yeah. Graphic design is my shit. If I didn’t end up doing anything with this music shit, that would probably be my full-time job. I love it, I used a really old typewriter, I actually bought the same brand of typewriter Jack Nicholson using in “The Shining.” I forgot the name of it. I’m just that guy, bro. I’m that guy that’s going to go the extra mile because I love this so much. And even if nobody else notices the nuance, it’s going to mean something to me. So, that’s why graphic design is like in tandem with the music so much.

The album design is very classic, black and white, totally works. “I’m new here.” It feels very unsullied.
Good word. I like that. It’s an SAT word.

So, you’re living in LA now, obviously you’re here. When you fly back to Brooklyn, you get off the plane, where are you going? Do you have an Erick the Architect tour of Brooklyn or any spots you want to shout out, whatever?
The first thing I’m going to is Bake & Things, Trinidadian. I’m getting a boneless curry chicken roti with chana and pumpkin. That’s what I want, and I want a peanut punch, that’s what I need. If I could order that shit on a tarmac, I would.

What about Juice and Meechy? You guys are still tight? Are you going to record again? Does Flatbush Zombies have a future or is this your moment? Or is it like the Voltron situation? You break up and then you come together?
Ideally, we all have done the same gamut. They have released their own solo projects and we shut down so each one can have their moment. This is clearly mine, but those are my brothers and we are going to be making music until all of our hair are gray. And even then, I feel like people going to listen to us like we’re Grateful Dead. Juice would look like Jerry Garcia and shit. I’m just waiting for him to look like Jerry.

It’s true though. Sometimes I go through Twitter and I search by neighborhood, either to see what’s going on or see what’s getting mentioned. Every time I plug in “Flatbush,” there are mentions on a daily basis for Flatbush Zombies, it’s nonstop. You guys are beloved.
That’s a good feeling, man. One of the words that’s a cognate, which is a word that translates through every language, is zombie. And because zombie is associated with voodoo and shit, it’s a mythical thing. Which means that no matter what language you speak, you say “zombie.” So, it’s so cool that we chose this thing that everybody can speak and say no matter where you are all over the world. So, I’ve been called “zombie” and “Flatbush.” Everywhere. That’s so cool.

Check out this episode of “Brooklyn Magazine: The Podcast” for more. Subscribe and listen wherever you get your podcasts.

The post Erick the Architect of Flatbush Zombies constructs his own sound appeared first on Brooklyn Magazine.

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