If you ask Eternia, At Last literally represents a sigh of relief. After spending over a year in the studio under MoSS’ creative guidance, followed by a year of label politicking and promotion, the Canadian duo is finally ready to breathe easy now that the release date for their pet project is less than two weeks away. I got a chance to speak to them (in great detail) about the makings of the album that could very easily be the most important of both of their careers. It’s safe to say that they are more than satisfied with the resulting product.
Eternia, I know you’ve been emceeing for a long time, but at what point did it become a career?
Eternia: I started taking it seriously full-time when I was about 15 years old, because I moved out of the house [at that age]. I was not going to high school at the time, and I wasn’t working because I was moving around every two months, so because there was so much in my life that was up in the air, the only thing that wasn’t was hip hop. From that point on I took it seriously, but [eventually] I went back to school. But even while I was at university I was doing it full-time. That’s when I was working on my first project in Toronto, performing on the scene there and doing that tour circuit. So I think I’ve been attacking it like a full-time job since I was 15.
So were you actually supporting yourself with your music?
You know what, I feel like I’m a contract worker. There’s months when the money comes in, and there’s months where there’s no work and you have to make that money stretch. Even to this day, there’s times when I’m living off it and there’s times when I’m a starving artist.
I like to ask people about the inner-workings of the industry, for some reason that really fascinates me.
Eternia: (laughs) Yea, its like, “how do you survive”! The answer is, you keep your monthly overhead really really low.
When I hear you perform live, and even when I hear you on record, you remind me of a battle MC. Did you battle at all?
Eternia: It’s funny that you say that because one of the sonic themes of our album is my live intensity. But basically no, I don’t consider myself a battle MC. I was raised in the 90s era of hip hop — which generally I find that energy had to be dynamic and aggressive. If you think about Onyx or Busta Rhymes, or people I was listening to like Shabazz the Disciple – I don’t know, everybody to me was intense and aggressive and it was kinda how you got noticed in a cipher. It didn’t matter what you were saying, it was how you said it. You couldn’t rap bored. There was no such thing as bored rappers in the 90s. They were more, they were larger than life, they were animated. That’s the era that I was raised in — Organized Konfusion and all that kinda stuff. That’s where you get that sound from. I’m very east-coast based in a sense that what I listen to hip-hop-wise was more of the aggressive acts out of New York. So that’s probably what you hear when you hear my style.
MoSS: When I saw her perform, that’s what I wanted to capture in the studio. I basically approached her and asked if that was possible and that [became] the focus of the album. We wanted to have that live intensity captured on an album on every song. I didn’t want her to run out or fall back on any song. I wanted to approach every song the same way. She was open to the idea, and she killed it.
Eternia: Every time I recorded in the studio, in the booth I was thinking to myself “I’m on stage in front of 1000 people.” So every verse you hear on there I’m trying to get that vibe out.
So was MoSS giving direction during the recording process?
MoSS: I don’t wanna say I gave direction. It takes away from what Eternia did. I mean, she wrote everything, she went in the booth and basically did her thing.
Eternia: No, he definitely gave direction. He doesn’t rap obviously, but he was doing it more from the perspective of “do I like the way this came off? do I like that line? Could you say this better?” He produced me in the sense that if he didn’t like something he’d say “do that again” or “I think you could’ve done better.” He definitely was a director and a guiding force. Minus one verse, he was there for every single thing we tracked on that album.