Meet Escalade: the Foul, Thoughtful, Party-Starting Rapper from Noise Band Catholic Guilt

Escalade (pictured right) rips at Lemmons in early '12 - Mabel Suen
Mabel Suen
Escalade (pictured right) rips at Lemmons in early '12
Escalade represents a foul mash-up of noise and rap music. Not rhythmic static or choreographed feedback, Escalade's songs shows a keen ear for tonality where songs have become occupied spaces of thought. We're not talking about hyper produced hip-hop or hardcore ghetto-spit, but pop songs coming from the wrong side of the tracks. There's a personal hue to Escalade's style, one that could be passed off as confused but quickly becomes personal with a closer listen.

2012 has been a year of transition for Escalade, as he's held off on releasing a third album and has ushered in an additional member and a new sound for the future. Escalade recently sat down with us to discuss these changes and his thoughts on composing such an odd hybrid of electronic music. Although his secret identity is easily deciphered via any research on his noise band Catholic Guilt, we'll refer to the man himself as Escalade.

Joseph Hess: When did you start working on the project that would become Escalade?

Escalade: Some of the stuff on the first album is three years old. Some of the beats I did a long, long time ago and I didn't really make anything out of them. I don't know when it started exactly. My first show was about one month after I posted the first album online in January 2011.

I assume you had some sort of electronic project in mind before?

It was more just a thing that happened. I acquired some software just to make electronic stuff because some of those elements have been in Catholic Guilt pretty much since the beginning. Some of our earlier sets were us playing to loops. One of the first sets we played was us going over a two second sample of some harmonica from a Jandek song that I just slowed down a whole, whole lot and I layered on top of it. That software is really made for pop music, and it's really easy to make stuff like that so I just whipped it up. It's really easy to make a beat on the software that I used. It's not challenging at all. That's why everybody should do it!

This electronic music began first to augment Catholic Guilt and you branched out into making these songs that sound very focused. When did you decide that you were going to perform as a solo artist?

To be totally honest, I don't know when I decided this, but I decided I should just do something as just myself. My original thinking was, "Yeah they pay pretty good at the Tap Room, if I didn't have to split that check four ways it would actually be kind of awesome!"

When you brought the music from a studio environment to a live environment what was the idea behind the aesthetic and what you like to portray visually?

It's from going to a lot of really shitty hip-hop shows. Even seeing dudes that you really, really love. You go to a show and this dude raps over his iPod, and not even the instrumentals, but the songs themselves. It's not that far off from what I'm doing, but that's something I want to change in the future. That's why I went on hiatus, to think about that and how I want to involve more elements of improvisation. If all I'm going to be doing is singing over an iPod, more or less, I want there to be something else to put some sort of blood in it, to a certain degree. I really don't know what it is that I do, it's just this sort of character that switches on. These are parts of my personality that are buried deep down inside, and this is some sort of outlet for them.

The performance has a kinetic energy, and it's narcissistic in a way.

It's totally narcissistic. It's very narcissistic.

Not in a way that's off-putting. It's great to watch, and fits the music well.

That's the thing that I love about hip-hop. The braggadocio of the whole thing, it's this idea of the projected self. The idea that you're pumping yourself up to an extreme degree, that sort of stuff entertains me.

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