TMN: Hey guys. Thanks for taking some time to sit down with us. Let’s talk about the tour at hand right now. You guys are cruising around with one of our favorites, James Vincent McMorrow. Did that have anything to do with your stellar remix of “Cavalier”?

’James Vincent McMorrow – Cavalier (MOORS Remix)’

Keith: Yes. We had done a remix of BATHS’ “Miasma Sky”, and I think some of his people heard it. So, they contacted us and asked us if we’d like to remix “Cavalier.” After he heard it, he became a fan as well, and made instrumentals to it. I was like, “I fucking love this,” and wrote to it. We sent the remix back and they really liked it and invited us to come on tour with us. It’s a really great opportunity for us to expand.

TMN: It’s an interesting contrast as far as a line up goes. You’re definitely playing for a crowd that might not be expecting what you guys do. How do you handle that going into each show?

Keith: I don’t really think about it too much. I think what we’re doing musically is kinda different. It takes a lot of courage to do something like this. I respect JVM for having that. We go into it just expressing ourselves. If people like it – awesome. If not – cool.

’BATHS – Miasma Sky (MOORS Remix)’

TMN: Speaking of that remix, we’ve been seeing an influx of that style lately – where not only is the music reinterpreted, but there’s also a verse thrown on to truly make something unique. Did James’ vocals inspire that verse?

Keith: His vocal style is different than a lot of shit than I’ve heard. To me, it has like a RnB-ish feel to it, which is something that I gravitate to quickly because I’m a big fan of RnB, especially that early 90’s shit. When I first heard the song, I thought he was black. Then when I saw him, I was like “ah, shit!” It just opened up my mind.

I think that’s what drew me to it. His lyricism is great too. It’s metaphorical and has you thinking a lot, and I’m a cerebral individual, so that shit just stuck out to me.

We always had in our minds that anything we remix, we’re going to try and put a verse to it. We’re going to try to remix things that aren’t traditional hip hop. We want to do things that challenge us and the listeners to get into something different. We think that hip hop is multi-dimensional, so we want to express that.

TMN: You guys did that with ease tonight. When you guys closed with that remix and brought James on to sing…that was just phenomenal. Admittedly, hip hop is not my number one genre, but when I do get into it, it tends to be people with intellectual, introspective lyrics. You definitely have that approach to your music. Talk to us about what fuels your creativity in songwriting.

Keith: I have a lot of things about myself that I don’t want to face or express openly. I try and challenge myself to dig deep from within and get those out. So, music represents that opportunity for me to do that. I’m an actor as well, but I don’t have that same expression there. Music gives me the opportunity to dig deep, and everything I don’t want to say, I try and say. It helps me. It’s therapeutic. It helps me get through stuff.

I look around and I see that people have gone through things similar to me. I’m not completely alone in that, and that gives me a lot of solace.

TMN: Who did you idolize growing up, lyrically? Is there anything that would throw us for a loop? Maybe some classic poets, or something like that?

Keith: I really like Edgar Allen Poe. I know he’s super depressing, but I kind of like that stuff.

TMN: You have a darker element to your music though.

Keith: Right. Of course. I think that’s where I spend a lot of my time psychologically…in a not so nice place. I like Edgar Allen Poe, I like Langston Hughes. As far as music writing goes, I like Ella Fitzgerald, Amy Winehouse, Howlin’ Wolf – “Smokestack Lightening” inspired me a lot, Johnny Cash…I love that dude.

Johnny Cash is amazing to me. He tells the truth so simply, and that’s what I like to do. But, one of the main people that stands out to me is MC Ride, from Death Grips. His storytelling style is really appealing to me.

TMN: I gotta bring up one of my favorites – Slick Rick. He’s the master storyteller.

Keith: Yeah! And E-40? I fucking love him.

TMN: One of the highlights of that style, to me, is “Asphyxiated.” It’s got a bit of an Odd Future sound to it, which we love. Talk to us about what that song means to you.


Keith: I was in a state of mind when I wrote that, that I felt smothered by my environment. I have a fragmented family. I only have a couple of family members that are close to me, and all of them were going through something dramatic at that time. My moms was going through a big break up, and she was sitting in the car with the exhaust on. I walked up and saw her and had to jump in and talk her out of it. My brother started getting into all of these books and thinking that life is intrinsically meaningless…that we’re all just matter, and nothing really matters. Then he attempted to commit suicide. My little brother’s unhappy. My little sister is only 13, running around learning all these things, and she doesn’t have a guide because her dad’s gone.

So, all this shit is going around me, and I’m just feeling like, “Fuck! I’m just starting my career and having good things come on my horizon, meanwhile all this fuck shit is happening. I can’t take it!” I love my family so much and I only have five of them. So, if they’re fucked up, everything is fucked up. That’s where that song comes from.

HH sent me that beat on the day I found my mom trying to do that, and I was just like, “damn.” That was the quickest thing I’ve ever written because I’m so there. The instrumental just brought it out.

TMN: That’s intense, man. Thank you for sharing that with us. Following everything that happened in Ferguson, you guys released a tune which expressed your thoughts on that situation. If you could sum up what your overall message from “Wolves at War” was, what would you say?

’Wolves At War’
Keith: No one is going to tolerate being oppressed in that way. I think it’s important for us to not look at people as the enemy, but look inside ourselves to look at how we can better ourselves to transcend these types of incidents.

In “Wolves at War” in particular, it’s that the police are not on our side. It’s been shown time and time again. I don’t think that every police officer is fucked up. I think they’re generally good people. I think mostly what they stand for isn’t what they represent. It’s indicative with their behavior.

I feel like that dude is me. I mean, I’ve had run-ins with the police…fuck, I’m digressing. My main message is just that – if you need to be a martyr for the truth, then it’s worth it. I think you need to tell the truth and be real. If you don’t, no one will.

TMN:Alright, lets go on a more positive note here (laughs). Your flow works so flawlessly with the production which can range from minimal to slightly aggressive. What do the work process look like between the two of you?

Keith: That’s a good question. It’s basically a collaborative effort between both of us. Sometimes I’ll send him some stuff and he’ll build a beat around it, like “Flight.” I just sent him a bare verse. I was in another country doing a movie, and he just built the whole song around it. Other songs like “Asphyxiated,” he made the instrumentals first. With “Gas” he made the instrumentals first, and I went back and gave him my thoughts, and we changed things. With “Smoke,” he wrote the whole chorus for me. It’s just really collaborative.

HH: For “Smoke,” we actually wrote that together, in the same room. That was the last song we made for the EP. We were out and Keith was talking on the phone for a second, and he started telling a story about Victorville and when he first moved there. He was talking about how it was like, “We made it,” and then slowly watched it slowly become the hood. I didn’t want to interrupt, so I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote him a note – “That’s a song.”

Keith: That was fucking brilliant.

HH: We went back to the studio after that and we talked about what that idea could be. We both knew what the vibe was, and I just made the really basic sketch of the track with some drums and that organ. Keith listened to that, caught the tempo, and started writing the verse. He would walk in and out between the yard and the studio, and I would sing a little snippet, then he would come back with something. That’s how a lot of it happens.

TMN: Fast forward to how you two met. How did Moors come to be?

HH: I was at one of the first screenings of “Short Term 12” at SXSW last year, and I was excited to see it. It’s this really well-written, sensitive, indie drama. It was moving along, and really great, and then there’s this scene where it seems like this guy is about to rap. I braced myself for some horrible thing to happen, because…just not the right context for anything but cheesiness to come out of it.

Keith: It would have had I not re-written the rap!

HH: I knew the director a little bit from his previous films, and I think he’s super talented, but I wouldn’t think that…you know. Anyways, I was ready to cringe and Keith did that scene, and I was completely blown away. Afterwards, they have a Q&A, I was like, “Did you actually write those lyrics?” The director was like, “I’ll let Keith answer that.”

Keith: You asked that question!

HH: Yeah!

Keith: (High Fives HH) I remember that instance, but I didn’t know that it was you.

HH: After the Q&A, I found Keith and was like, “what’s you’re story? Do you have records out? How do you make your songs?” I had a CD of my music on me, and I asked if I could ever give him a beat. Before I even got home to email him, he sent me an email saying he loved the CD.

TMN: Coming from a music blogger’s perspective, I get hundreds of emails a day – deep house, trop house, minimal, tech house, etc… In an era of complete and utter saturation, where do you find inspiration from and try to stand out?

HH: Well, I don’t know that we make a conscious effort to stand out. We’re just trying to do stuff instinctively.

TMN: Where do you find inspiration from?

Keith: Our Mamas (laughs)

HH: We send each other stuff about six times a day.

TMN: All from The Music Ninja?

HH: (Laughs) Sometimes it’s stuff we just think is awesome. Sometimes it’s like “I love this little moment here,” and we try to extrapolate it. I have a tendency to overthink stuff when it comes to music, so working with Keith…he just always wants to go. I never get the chance to overthink things. I just react to what his reaction is.

TMN: What’s your live set up like?

HH: It’s Ableton with an MPD.

TMN: Most of us are only blessed with one true gift, but Keith, you actually have experienced some success as an actor. Talk to us about what you’re working on right now.

Keith: I just did a film in the Bahamas. I can’t talk about much about it, but it’s called “Happy People.” It chronicles a couple who had a still born baby in America, and they go to the Bahamas to try and refurbish their relationship. I just did that with Dree Hemingway, who is Ernest Hemingway’s great great grand daughter or something like that. It was crazy because in the Bahamas, they love Ernest Hemingway, so they were all over us. That was wild.

I just did that. I have “Selma” coming out this Christmas, which I play Jimmie Lee Jackson in. I have “Miles Ahead” which is a biopic about Miles Davis, directed by Don Cheadle.

TMN: He’s from Denver!

Keith: Shout out DC! I also have “Straight Outta Compton,” in which I play Snoop Dogg, which comes out summer of next year.

TMN: What’s ahead for you guys? An album? Maybe some festival appearances?

Keith: We’re working on an LP, and you might catch us at some festivals as well. Really, right now we’re at the point of honing things, getting them to where we want to be. We’ve been doing this for a while, and we’re finally getting to the space where we feel like it’s right.

TMN: Alright, we always wrap things up with a few random, stupid questions. It’s nice to balance out all the music talk. So, if you could pick your last meal, what would it be?

Keith: Should I say the first thing that comes to my head? Pussy. Or shrimp. (Laughs)

TMN: Whose posters did you rock on your walls?

Keith: Metallica. Marilyn Manson…

TMN: You’re from LA. What’s the best and worst thing about the city of Angels?

Keith: It’s a place full of pretentious assholes, and it’s also a place full of opportunity.

TMN: You’re currently in NYC. What’s the best and worst thing about the Big Apple?

Keith: It’s a place full of assholes, and it’s also a place full of opportunity.

TMN: What’s in your pockets right now?

Keith: Man, you should have asked me that before I changed. I had some interesting shit going on. Right now though…I have a lighter, my phone, some money, my id, some cigarettes.

TMN: If your music were an animal, what would it be?

Keith: Half lion, half eagle.

TMN: Isn’t that a Griffyn?

Keith: Yeah. You ever play World of Warcraft? I did. I never played the Alliance because – fuck them. They rode on Griffyns. I played Horde, because they’re ghetto.

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