Taken from The Bulletin (Feb 08, 2018)
Solillaquists of Sound to engage Bend audience
Conscious hip-hop group closes Oregon tour at Domino Room
by Brian McElhiney, The Bulletin
Orlando, Florida, hip-hop group Solillaquists of Sound will make its Bend debut at the Domino Room on Saturday. Marv Ellis & We Tribe and local MC/artist Mosley Wotta open the show. (Submitted photo)
It‚Äôs not easy to be a passive fan of Solillaquists of Sound.
Since its formation in 2002, the Orlando, Florida-based, four-piece hip-hop group has emphasized community and family over being typical musicians. This is reflected in its membership: Tonya Combs, in her role as ‚Äúthe listener,‚ÄĚ serves as a representative of the audience onstage. And, of course, it‚Äôs reflected in the music, especially the three-album ‚ÄúListener‚Äôs Trilogy,‚ÄĚ an entire concept cycle dedicated to breaking down barriers between artist and audience.
That album cycle took nearly a decade to complete, and the double-album conclusion, ‚ÄúThe 4th Wall,‚ÄĚ was released on the group‚Äôs own Second Subject label with a hardcover book of related artwork and a 22-page guide filled with band notes and Easter eggs. It‚Äôs a lot to ask fans to dig through, especially as the music industry continues to cater to short attention spans with streaming.
‚ÄúIt is a challenge and has been a challenge from when we first started to now,‚ÄĚ producer and composer DiViNCi (born Glen Valencia Jr.) said recently from Orlando during a joint call with bandmate and rapper Swamburger (born Asaan Brooks). They spoke with GO! the day before leaving for a four-date Oregon tour that wraps up at the Domino Room on Saturday.
‚ÄúAs the participants, as I will call them ‚ÄĒ as fans realize that they can be more aloof and not be as active ‚ÄĒ because that‚Äôs just what‚Äôs advertised. I don‚Äôt blame anyone for it. It‚Äôs just what‚Äôs advertised all the time is the fact that, ‚ÄėOh, this is just a one-sided thing; they put stuff out; I get to listen to it or I can choose not to or whatever.‚Äô But again, what I‚Äôve always maintained is that this is a conversation, and I don‚Äôt want to be the only one doing the talking.‚ÄĚ
For the group, maintaining that connection comes down to consistency.
‚ÄúI think there is a target audience that we shoot for all the time, and that‚Äôs the truest version of anybody ‚ÄĒ the truest self of anybody and everybody,‚ÄĚ DiViNCi continued. ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt think that you can reach that goal by playing by all the rules that people play just to reach a wide number of people. ‚Ä¶ Once people see, oh, it doesn‚Äôt change when it‚Äôs in this topic or that topic or this topic, well then maybe this is actually a wall I can lean on, not just somebody talking.‚Äô‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúThe Listener‚Äôs Trilogy‚ÄĚ ‚ÄĒ also encompassing the band‚Äôs two ANTI- Records releases, 2006‚Äôs ‚ÄúAs If We Existed‚ÄĚ and 2008‚Äôs ‚ÄúNo More Heroes‚ÄĚ ‚ÄĒ is certainly a defining statement for the band. Along with setting out the band‚Äôs mission statement, it makes up the bulk of its studio-album output, excepting 2002‚Äôs debut album, ‚Äú4 Student Counsol: Running from Precedence.‚ÄĚ
The group‚Äôs Oregon run is its first in the U.S. in some time ‚ÄĒ the band‚Äôs most recent tours have been in France, DiViNCi and Swamburger said. A new single, ‚ÄúLet it Burn,‚ÄĚ dropped in anticipation of the shows; it‚Äôs the group‚Äôs first official release since the trilogy.
But again, release schedules and even tours don‚Äôt convey the whole picture. Since the trilogy, the group members have dedicated themselves to giving like-minded artists a leg up through Second Subject (DiViNCi produces all of the label‚Äôs acts). They‚Äôve also performed solo and in different permutations (DiViNCi and vocalist Alexandrah ‚ÄĒ born Alexandra Sarton ‚ÄĒ together as Chakra Khan; Swamburger and DiViNCi as a duo). On the personal side, DiViNCi and Combs have a 2-year-old daughter; Combs will sit this tour out to stay home with the kid.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs no longer just a music format; it‚Äôs actually in the action,‚ÄĚ Swamburger said. ‚Äú‚Ä¶ I‚Äôm now a promoter in this town. Because of stuff like (the trilogy), I‚Äôm able to connect with audiences even more by way of grabbing other folks who are still doing this and bringing them to town. ‚Ä¶ This music thing, if you will, it grew some legs and became an actual movement, so now we‚Äôre managing that movement as opposed to just talking about starting one.‚ÄĚ
DiViNCi and Swamburger are unsure what the next Solillaquists of Sound album or release will look like. For now, the group is glad to be back on the road in its home country, delivering its messages of unity and community.
‚ÄúEspecially with what the world‚Äôs kind of asking for today and what it faces, we‚Äôre relevant again, you know what I‚Äôm saying?‚ÄĚ Swamburger said. ‚ÄúNot necessarily just Solillaquists of Sound, but the actual message ‚ÄĒ it doesn‚Äôt seem like it‚Äôs just us talking about these things.
‚ÄúIt kind of feels to me as if the floodgates have been opened, and the world‚Äôs like, ‚ÄėHey, where are the warriors at?‚Äô‚ÄĚ he added. ‚ÄúAnd it‚Äôs like, all right, it‚Äôs our turn.‚ÄĚ
What: Solillaquists of Sound, with Marv Ellis & We Tribe, Mosley Wotta
When: 9 p.m. Saturday, doors open at 8 p.m.
Where: Domino Room, 51 NW Greenwood Ave. Bend
Cost: $12 plus fees in advance
Contact: midtownballroom.com or 541-408-4329