On discovering the Solillaquists of Sound on Songtradr, I developed an immediate infatuation. The hip-hop quartet out of Orlando has one of the most unique, thought-provoking sounds you will hear in music today. The Solillaquists are made up of Swamburger (MC), Alexandra Love (vocalist), DiViNCi (producer/composer), and Tonya Combs (poet, listener). We exchanged a few emails with DiViNCi to learn more about how they got started and where they plan to go.
Kyle Warner: A hip-hop quartet, you don’t see that everyday, how did you guys all come together and meet?
DiViNCi: Yeah I suppose you don’t see that everyday, let alone one made of two couples. How we met is kind of a long story, but here’s a short version: I came to Orlando to go to school and after meeting Swamburger through a mutual friend, he introduced me to Alexandra, who he knew from Chicago. We met Tonya (my wife) at a show. 14 years later we all still live together here in Orlando.
KW: How’d you come up with the name, Solillaquists of Sound?
DV: I was really inspired by the reaffirming talks I was having with Swam and others. I felt like we would hit a point where we weren’t talking to each other as much as we were talking to reflections of ourselves. Like we were talking to ourselves aloud and that’s basically what a soliloquy is; when a character speaks their thoughts aloud so the audience knows what they are thinking or feeling. All of our music comes from the same place of self reflection and personal experience that we aim to connect within our audience. A soliloquist is someone who writes or performs a soliloquy. So it made perfect sense to adapt the concept to be the name of our music group.
KW: I was watching Eddie Huang’s show, “Huang’s World” on Vice the other day and he mentioned the only difference between Orlando and yogurt is that yogurt has culture. Have you felt that? Or do you feel that there is a music culture in Orlando that has inspired your unique style?
DV: There are a good amount of cities you go to where its cultural history is thick in the air. Because of its transient nature, among other reasons, Orlando isn’t one of these cities… yet. There has always been a super talented group of people here in Orlando, but for years it has lacked the built-in support system that would help it to be recognized as a thriving cultural mecca. But, what it has lacked as a whole has more than been made up for by its parts. The people make Orlando such a great place to be and they are the reason why we and the people that know what’s up, have stayed. And it’s the people that have stayed that have chosen to cultivate the seeds of an ideal cultural place. Give it some time and you will start to see the fruits of this labor deliver an abundant harvest. It’s already started. And outsiders are starting to take notice.
KW: If I had to describe your sound, I’d say Solillaquists are a crazy mix of Aesop Rock, Atmosphere, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Alabama Shakes, among others. Haha, how would you describe yourselves?
DV: Because I don’t really see one way to do so or other accurate references, I honestly don’t even attempt to describe our sound anymore. The best way is to experience it for yourself.
KW: Speaking of that style, how did that unique combo of funky, jazzy, even rock n rolly, hip-hop come together?
DV: Musically, I was brought up by hip-hop, which itself is a literal sampling of all other music that has come before it. So to me, it’s a natural place to go.
KW: Would you say that having 4 members with distinct sounds and styles gives you a sort of creative freedom to create different sounds with every song?
DV: Absolutely. I love a lot of types of music. We all do. So being in a group of different musical upbringings and styles definitely encourages us to freely explore all of the things we love sonically.
KW: Socially conscious lyrics are one of your staples, do you feel hip-hop is a platform for you guys to spread a message or is it more of a release?
DV: We came up when hip-hop was THE platform to spread such messages. So, of course, but also, when anyone writes songs they simply write about what they know or observe. We are no different.
KW: You guys have a cult following, is that something you relish, being a prominent figure in the underground hip-hop game? Or is mainstream success something that is important to you?
DV: The quality of connection you get with a cult following is something I value greatly. The quantity of people you reach with mainstream success is absolutely a welcome goal. I’m interested in any means of genuinely and profoundly connecting with the most people possible.
KW: In an ideal world, where would you want to see your music being licensed?
DV: EVERYWHERE! Definitely film, documentaries and TV. As far as commercials, only in ads of things we support.
KW: Where can the people see Solilla Next?
DV: To me, “Solilla” isn’t just about Solillaquists of Sound, it’s a wave that was set in motion many years ago. We are working night and day cultivating and developing this movement by way of the many side projects we are part of and/or curating. Chakra Khan, Beautiful Chorus, DiViNCi, Acey Wasuto, SKIP, E-Turn and the Second Subject Records roster are just a few of the projects and artists we are working with. Most of which you will see in the Solilla Publishing catalogue on Songtradr. We are interested in keeping the momentum moving in a way that doesn’t just promote us, but others that can help the culture and community grow!
KW: I found myself saying unique over and over again when I was writing out the questions for this interview. I think that is the ultimate sign that you guys are doing something special.
DV: Thank you so much!
Listen to Solillaquists of Sound here.