Making music in 2017 is much different than it was back when. The “indie” movement has not only allowed artists from around the world to release their music through various mediums, it has also forced record labels to back off a touch and let artists break through the barriers that genres have created in the past.
1 AMVRKA is an especially unique case. The duo is made up of Jesse Scott, a country music songwriter from Oklahoma who began by writing songs on a three string guitar, and Los Angeles-born producer, Rudy Maya. Like many artists these days, 1 AMVRKA brings their perspective to a shaky world, but deletes the term “genre” from their dictionaries.
I was fortunate enough to get the chance to speak with Rudy Maya recently, here is how it went.
Brandon: Hey Rudy! Thanks for talking with me today, how is everything going?
Rudy: Everything is going great. We just finished our first residency here in Los Angeles at the Hotel Cafe. It was great to finally get the music out there and we had a great response. It’s exciting.
B: I was just going to ask actually, you guys are really new to the scene and Hotel Cafe is an iconic place in Los Angeles. It was a trilogy of shows too, what was that like?
R: It’s crazy because I think the week we started John Mayer was there and Dave Chappelle was actually there. I was like, “What in the world? We are doing residencies now in LA?” It was super surreal, like you said, such an iconic place. There is really nowhere to “start” though, you just have to jump in. We did luckily and we had a great support system in the city.
R: We actually met through a mutual friend. I had been producing and writing for years and I was looking for something new to break the monotony of trying to write pop records and all that stuff. We had this energy of wanting to press on and not try to write the same stuff as everyone in the city was trying to write. It was pretty instant.
B: You’re a multi-instrumentalist as well, what did you start out on?
R: I am like a sixth generation musician. My father was in a Spanish rock band, my brother is an incredible piano player, he was born 10 years before me, so I had these incredible shoes to fill. My whole family would have jam sessions, so growing up I just learned how to play. Anything they would teach me. I picked up piano and then guitar, in school I was in the marching band, so I played trombone and trumpet. Just everything, a buffet of instruments, you know what I mean? It’s kind of helped with the live shows, because I am playing a lot of instruments at once. It’s kind of like “This is your life!” on stage.
B: That kind of speaks to what 1 AMVRKA is, right? It’s this blending of sounds.
B: Many genres seem to be finding their way to each other lately, wouldn’t you say?
R: I just feel like today genres are kind of antiquated. The idea of a genre is pretty outdated to me. We’re the generation of growing up on the internet and everyone has playlists now on Spotify and YouTube. There is nobody really curating what you should be listening to unless you listen to radio. I think we’re the first generation who truly grew up on everything. My Spotify playlist is the most ridiculous thing ever.
B: Your debut single is “Raised in the Wild” and that sort of seems to be your theme as well. Tell me a little more about that.
R: Yeah, I mean Jesse coming from Oklahoma, he has this amazing tapestry. The idea of the Midwest was such a foreign thing to me, you know? We come from such different walks of life: him from the country; me from the city. As soon as we met though, we realized we had this vibe from our upbringings. Even though we’re so different, it felt like our lives were riding parallel to each other. Stuff like your father coming in and out of your life and not being there, nobody really expecting much from you. We wanted to find this therapeutic thing and that’s what it was for both of us. As soon as we got into the studio it was instant synergy and that’s just kind of it. We were raised in the wild.
B: We only just have a taste with the one single. What can listeners expect in the way of music and touring in the near future?
R: We’re really trying to set this level of urgency. We’re trying to be dynamic in everything we do. When you’re in a studio, a basement, writing a record that you really don’t know if anyone is going to hear it. We were just trying to push ourselves and challenge ourselves to write good music that was going to inspire us to continue writing. We want to push the limits of what we want to define us, so we tackle everything from school shootings, domestic violence, just growing up in a blue collar environment. We’re trying to be the moderators for the underrepresented so to speak. On stage we want that to continue, you know? Let’s be loud, in your face and polarizing.
B: That brings me to my last question. With the way the world is right now, how important do you feel it is for musicians, such as yourselves, to be a part of the discussion?
R: You don’t ever want it to be contrived. You don’t want to be the guy on the soapbox trying to tackle social issues and stuff, but it’s so hard not to be influenced by what’s happening when it’s right there when you pick up your phone. Everyone is trying to change the world and music, to me, is the ultimate influence. It can grab a kid and tell them it’s going to be okay or it can make them angry. There is a lot of social responsibility that goes along with that. We don’t try to act like we have the answer to everything, but we want to spark the discussion and be like, “Hey, we should be talking about this!”
Check out 1 AMVRKA’s brand new single, “American Muscle”, below. Also, if you’re in the Los Angeles area, be sure to catch their show at The Observatory Orange County on March 18!
Editor in Chief of Lemonade Magazine