Group member Braille chats to us about how the Portland crew hooked up, their past and future albums, touring the world, their creative process and religion. Check it out.
Please introduce yourselves and tell us where you're each from?
I was born in Portland, OR… and I live just around the corner now in Salem, OR. Ohmega was born in Brooklyn, NY but he's living in Portland now as well. Othello was born in Seattle, and he lived in Portland for awhile but now he's in Lansing Michigan.
What's the thinking behind your group's name?
It's the idea of being optimistic in the midst of chaos. We know that there are a lot of problems in the world, but we choose to meditate and talk about the things which are praiseworthy. It's not a matter of avoiding problems, but dealing with problems and promoting good attitude. This isn't just something we do in our music, but also with our lives.
How did you guys get together and form the group, and how long have you been going?
Me and Ohmega met in 1999 after doing a show in Florida. We started a group together called Return to Sender. After working together for a long ime, we both moved to Portland (my home town) and did shows around the northwest. We met Othello at a show, and we all became really close friends. We eventually started Lightheaded around 2002 and have been moving forward
What do you feel each member of the group contributes to the overall sound of your material?
I think what makes our sound unique is that each member brings something different to the table. If you look at all our solo records… they have the same nature about them, but they all sound completely different. Ohmega does a lot of the production and design for the group. He plays a big role in the sound of our tracks. He's got the most laid back flow of the group, and it really works well in contrast. Othello is the style master, and he's always flipping quick verses. He also adds a lot to the prformance element of the group. I mainly focus on concepts for the group. I try to bring strong lyrics with a passionate flow. I've also done a lot of the behind the scenes work.
Could you give us a run through of what you've released so far?
As a group we've dropped two albums. 'Pure Thoughts' originally came out on Day by Day Ent., but now is available as a re-issue on my label Hiphop IS Music. Our second album 'Wrong Way' dropped this year on Tres Records and is available worldwide. We also have solo records available. Ohmega Watts 'The Find', Othello 'Elevator Music', Othello and The Hipnotiks 'Classic', Braille 'Lifefirst: Half The Battle', Braille 'Scatter Brain', Braille 'Shades of Grey' and Braille 'Box of Rhymes'.
That doesn't include a long list of vinyl singles, guest appearances and future solo records from all three members. We also are starting to talk about our new group album which will probably be called "Lo-Fi Heights".
How do you feel your releases have gone so far and been received by the hiphop crowd?
Things have been incredible for us. All our releases have received great reviews. I can still remember when I was 14 years old, writing rhymes in my bedroom. It trips me out how far things have gone. We couldn't ask for anything more. We are just trying to do our best to be faithful.
How would you describe your sound, and what kind of things are the lyrics exploring?
Our sound is very energetic. Some people think our music is real "happy" sounding… but we try to offer a lot of different moods. Our lyrics mainly explore every day life. We try to find the "light" and the positive aspects of everyday situations. We talk about a lot of different things and just try to bring our own flavor with it.
How aware are you of the listener when you're writing your lyrics?
I think about the listeners a lot. When I was young, I would just say whatever I felt like. It didn't matter 'cause nobody was going to hear it. Now, it's not about proving how good I am, or trying to diss mcs and stuff. When I'm writing, this is my chance to speak to the world.
I want to share something meaningful. We are all dealing with the same issues… and music often brings hope to our perspectives. I want to "add" more then I "take away" from the music community. It's something I think about a lot when I write. My goal is to reach a place of being "selfless" with my art, and using my gifts for the benefit of others.
How does the completion of a track come about?
Every song is different. The concept usually comes around first, and then we start building the layers on top of that. We revise the lyrics around the beat, then revise the beat around the lyrics. We try to keep a real natural process to our music. We come up with a concept, agree on a beat and then share our thoughts. It's usually really simple.
Who's your beat maker?
Ohmega did all the beats for 'Wrong Way' on his MPC 2000. As mcs, we are always throwing ideas and concepts out at Ohmega which will inspire the production, but ultimately, he is the man behind the boards. 'Wrong Way' also featured production from Muneshine, Tony Stone and Stro.
What effect do your religious beliefs have on your creative process?
Our beliefs drasticly effect our lives… and our lives drasticly effect our art. We feel it is important to be honest and sincere in our music. So whatever is going on in our lives, is going to come out in the music. Our belief in Jesus Christ plays a huge role in who we are as people… which plays a huge role in who we are as artists. I think everyones art is influenced by their beliefs….you could take two artists with the exact same beliefs though, and their art would both be different.
Do you feel people run with stereotypes when they hear of religious hiphop artists?
I think people form stereotypes about every artist they hear about. It's just what we do as listeners. Our goal is to let the music speak for itself and let people make up their own opinions. Some people are going to love it, and for others it might not be their thing. We just hope people take time to listen to the music before forming an opinion. It's easy to avoid things your unsure of.
It's funny though, 'cause I remember listening to Mobb Deep 'Infamous' when I was a kid. The truth is, I was coming from a completely different place in life than what they were talking about. But I still got into the music. That's why I think it's important that we listen to stuff before we put it in a box.
What label are you on and how did that relationship begin?
Our current album is out on Tres Records. We did a show in Portland opening for J-Live and People Under the Stairs. We met Thes One at the show and he told us about Tres. We eventually ended up meeting with the Tres team in L.A. and the rest is history.
Is there much of a hiphop scene in Portland and who else would you recommend we listen out for?
Portland has a great scene. I think hiphop is active everywhere in the world right now. Growing up, my favorite local group was Lifesavas. There is also some great music coming from the Oldominion camp and so forth.
How was the touring experience and what sticks out as the most enjoyable show?
There have been many great moments on the road. We started out traveling around the U.S. and doing shows for free. Those times were great. We also performed at the Blue Note clubs in Japan. That was an incredible experience. Opening for De La Soul was another high light.
How much of a mind trip was it travelling the world and earning a keep simply from doing something you love?
I haven't worked a 9 to 5 since 2000…. and looking back it is a mind trip for sure. But there has been a lot of challenges and a lot of struggles leading to this moment. I never thought hiphop would open doors for me to see new places. My passport is almost completely full of stamps, and it's a trip, but it's also been a lot of hard work. I wouldn't trade it, that's for sure.
Did you get much opportunity to hear some UK hiphop when you was over here?
I've been digging Lewis Parker for a long time. There are a lot of producers and mcs that we enjoy. Also some great bands. We were aware of UK music before our visit. It's been getting around more and more, plus with the internet, you can listen to the world if you're patient enough.
What artists are you currently enjoying at the moment and how do you rate the US scene?
Latley I've been mostly listening to artists who are on my label. I've been so busy, and we have an active release schedule. So one month I'm listening to new Sivion songs, then new Surreal songs, Theory Hazit, Sharlok Poems and so forth. I try to always keep an ear out for new music… but sometimes I just need silence as well.
I think the US is full of talented artists. Some of them are getting exposure and some aren't, but we are at a good place for indy music. We do have a problem with over-saturation… but that's the joy of it. People have freedom to make their own music right now and it's a cool thing. I'm not one to judge who should make records and who shouldn't… I just try to encourage artists to be mindful of their messages and how the messages influence young kids.
Who are your all time favourite artists, from any genre, that you perhaps look up to as role modes?
It's hard to say role models…. there were tons of artists we looked up to when we were young. I mean, we think it's incredible how De La Soul continues to stay on top of their game and drop quality hiphop records. That is something we hope to achieve… longevity.
Are you working on any new material and what can you tell us about what we can expect?
Our next album is going to be called 'Lo-Fi Heights' but we haven't even started recording anything yet. In the meantime… check for new solo material from all three members. Othello has a new record coming called 'Alive at the Assembly Line'. I got a new record out now in Japan and coming worldwide (with some different songs) in 07 called 'Box of Rhymes'. Ohmega is also working on his second solo record for Ubiquity.
Is there anywhere online we can find out more information about you guys?
No doubt, you can check out: