Not familiar with Alert312? This Chicago bred Hip-hop duo is the undeniable chemistry of emcee Boogalu and producer Moral One. They’ve been busy releasing four projects in the last five years (2 EPs and 2 full length albums). Carving out their own niche through sonic and visual art accompanied by intentionally curated live performance experiences, this duo is worth familiarizing yourself with.
The title of your album was referenced on the track, “The Villain vs. The Virtue,” which was released in January 2013. How did the album’s title and concept evolve and solidify over the past two and half years and through the release of another EP (Singular Vision)?
Initially, we had the idea for this record toward the tail end of Vice and Virtue. Boogalu had an idea of talking through a lot of the principles in Jesus’ parables and the upside down kingdom. ‘The Upside’ was initially short for Upside Down. The eternal perspective came in when we wanted to address the different down sides we were facing. Originally the songs ‘Local’ and ‘Eternal’ were one idea. It was this simple introduction of facing our present struggles in the first half and the upside of looking towards eternity in the second half.
When did you guys officially begin writing for the album?
Writing for the record officially started in November 2014. Demoing sessions bled into the tail end of Singular Vision.
Creating and producing an album can be a very intimate experience. As an artist a lot of thought goes into who you allow into your creative space and process. Noticing one of the attributes differentiating “The Upside Eternal” from Alert312’s previous projects was the abundance of features, I wanted to understand what drove this shift.
The Upside Eternal features Mr. Enc, Catalina Bellizzi, Taelor Gray, Propaganda, DJ Efechto, Jay Cabassa, and many more Chicago residents you’ve been highlighting on social media. What are two determining factors in deciding whom you want to work with and allow in to your creative process?
With this record we really wanted it to be a community experience and have the guest musicians feature take it further than our limited talents and capacities could take us. When we decided on the songs we were gonna move forward with, it really came full circle for us. A lot of the musicians that were featured came through our studio spaces and we gave them chances to improvise. With ‘No Holds Tongue’ we thought it worked really well with Propaganda and what he doesn’t shy away from speaking about. Jay Cabassa and Mr. Enc were guys who we really wanted to work with for a while so we created songs we wanted to have them on.
Taelor Gray was actually a cold call – we didn’t have a relationship with him beforehand. We’d been listening to the music he was creating and both Boogalu and myself genuinely liked his music. We reached out to a friend who knew Taelor, mentioning we wanted to work with him, got his number and called him. When it comes to who we collaborate with, we want to work with people we mutually respect and are inspired by — artistically, creatively, as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Which track did you have the most fun creating?
Bringing out Taelor to Chicago to do the ‘Kingdoms Falling’ video was one of those fun moments. Mainly because we got to meet him in person and shot in a rad location. The most musically fulfilling and stretching was recording Eternal with the string quartet. Personally, it was something I wanted to do for a really long time. Crafting a song of ours then translating it into a classical piece was really fulfilling and beautiful. It was a first for us; working with classically trained musicians and most of them were college age kids!
Wow, that’s incredible. How did you choose the quartet you worked with?
Eternal was composed by Jeremy Ward who attends church with Boogalu. Jeremy teaches at a local Chicago college and is also the worship leader, leading worship with a cello. Boogalu reached out to a mutual friend for Jeremy’s email because he wanted to work with him on the song. We were working on a budget so when we reached out to Jeremy about collaborating and the budget we were working within he thought it might work to have some of his skilled college students come into the studio. They came into the studio and the song was made.
Moving from a better understanding of their musical processes, I wanted to know more about Moral One and Booglau behind the music. One of the qualities I’ve always been drawn to and admired was their focus on community and their values motivating that focus.
Buy Alert312 “The Upside Eternal” at iTunes.
Audio: Alert312 – The Upside Eternal
Video: Alert312 – Everyone Eats