Having released their first LP not even a month ago, Yoni Wolf and David Serengeti are on tour and stopped at the Hi-Fi on Saturday, May 28. The band, known as Yoni & Geti, is an experimental rap group that challenges the boundaries of definable and set genres. PATTERN talked with the duo to learn more about the newly formed band.
Aubrey Smith: Your relationship dates further back than the first release of your album as Yoni and Geti. How did you originally meet?
David Serengeti: I went to (Yoni’s) show and then I got affiliated with this record label. Then I started to open up for the band WHY? over the years. Then we decided to make something on my first solo under his record label, Anticon. We worked together for five days. That was the first time we spent time together. Went out to Oakland and I stayed in this cottage you sublet. It was really nice. You had bunk beds. We saw one movie per day and made one song per day.
Yoni Wolf: We start in the morning with a song, record that until night. Finish it and then go to a movie. Play some cards.
DS: Play some cards and listen to a couple records. John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme.
YW: When did we plan to record though?
DS: I think I asked you. You said ‘ehh, I don’t know dude, I don’t really know or trust you. We can do this remotely.’ But I didn’t have the set up to record myself. So you said all right.
YW: So beyond my better judgment I allowed you in.
DS: You picked me up in a Mercedes Benz. I remember that. I was like look at this guy.
YW: It was an old busted 70’s Mercedes. Not mine.
AS: So you were pleased with the result of the pairing?
DS: No one said that. It was easy. It wasn’t a lot of ‘what are we going to do?’
YW: I remember you would rap a bunch of your different tunes, and I would pick out the ones I liked. You gave me a few options. It was smooth.
DS: It was very smooth. We got one done everyday.
AS: Tell me more about your past music projects. How do they compare to the music style you produce now?
YW: We’ve both done a lot of different stuff over the years. What ever I do, I always change it. Each project has a new sound. A new feeling. You always learn from each project, but each project also has its own feeling too.
AS: Your lyrics are far from anything you’d hear on the radio. How do you find inspiration to come up with such colorful words?
YW: Just try to quiet down and listen to your inside voices. Then you just play with language a bit. I guess that is what writing is. Why is it different than other stuff? I really can’t say. I think everybody’s stuff has its own feeling of course. But there’s also a thing that happens when people feel like they’d have to do a certain thing to be good because there’s a status quo to live up to. That can sort of equalize it in a way. I try not to abide by that but of course I’m affected by what else goes on around me. But you try to do something that feels natural to you.
DS: I just like to write. Play with stuff. You live. Live life. Something I like doing. While I’m living, I’m also doing this because I like to do it. So it’s no thing.
YW: It should be part of your normal life. You’re just writing down something that occurred to you.
DS: ‘Oh that’s good, tuna fish sandwiches.’
YW: We have this ability in our brains. As humans, we think we are the only animal that has language in the complex way that we do. Why not write it down sometimes and remember what thoughts you had. Because everybody has really interesting transit thoughts throughout their day. Most of it evaporates into the mist and maybe exists on a different level of consciousness somewhere as something else. Or it’s being beamed in. Who knows. I think it’s interesting to document some of that stuff and to share it with your fellow people.
AS: Many reviews express that you like to bend the genre when you’re making your own sound. Do you agree that you’re compiling different genres or are you creating your own?
DS: I just do what I feel is right. I don’t think about it. Sometimes I want to go for a certain feeling, but…
YW: But you don’t want to be stuck in a specific field. You don’t want to be ‘oh he is a guy that does reggae.’ There’s many different ways to move your body or move your soul. You want a music for each of those. There’s always going to be a different way to approach it. It’s pretty small to be, you know, ‘I do rap.’
AS: That’s a good approach so you can’t limit yourself.
YW: Well it can also be stifling at times. I listen to old reggae. There was no question to what the rhythm would be like because that was established. It’s almost like more of a group mentality where this is the rhythm we do, now let’s make something with this. It’s adding stipulations and boundaries to work within, which I think would be good too.
DS: That would be nice.
YW: Right? But we don’t come from that. We come from this pluralistic world.
DS: Like a mish-mash.
YW: And we listen to a mish-mash of music.
DS: I would love to have something like that. Some tradition and culture. We’re cultureless. I am at least.
YW: No I feel lost in it too.
DS: Hotdogs. Birthday cakes.
YW: And the Internet.
AS: All you ever need. Others say there’s some dark humor mixed in. Do you think that’s a common theme behind your music?
YW: There’s no humor.
YW: No I’m just kidding. Of course there’s humor. We’re naturally programmed to have a sense of humor some how. That’s within us. Is that part of God? We are made in God’s image, they say, right? I think God has a sense of humor. Things are weird, right? You step back and think about it, so I think it’s only natural to have a sense of humor about it.
AS: What are your expectations for tonight’s show?
DS: Have a fun time. It’s our second one. So it should get more fun to do it. I just want to go up there and feel good. It can be stressful on the first couple because you’re still thinking about what you’re playing. You don’t want to mess up. After a while, you just fall into the music and forget about it. But you have to have done that work.