If this name doesn’t mean anything to you yet, it shouldn’t take long. At the helm of this unique project, we find Eli, a pillar of the Strasbourg rap scene and two seasoned beatmaker musicians from the group Dirty Deep, Geoffroy Sourp and Adam Lanfrey. Goldencut is the story of three alchemist and committed artists, of a geometry with variable symmetry in the service of an art brut as intense as it is subversive, which reminds us once again that rap is definitely a music that knows no no borders. On the occasion of their first EP Room to Breathewe met Eli, the MC of the trio.
Difficult to draw up a topo of the character in a few lines… Not far 15 years of passionate career, devotion and uncompromising convictions, he is one of the standard bearers of hip-hop culture in Strasbourg. In addition to his numerous solo and group projects, we also owe Eli the legendary Freestyle Mondays. So obviously, we wanted to know more about the back Goldencutand spoiler alert: we were not disappointed!
How would you define the Goldencut concept and project?
“I would speak of mystical rap, without limits. Goldencut is a way of talking about the golden ratio. It’s about sacred geometry, something that we find everywhere in nature, in Da Vinci, in the architecture of temples or even in nature, with the shapes in a sunflower, the repetition of patterns, fractals of a Romanesco cabbage, the way the tree branches move. It is this mathematical, geometric proportion that is found almost everywhere. Even in sound, certain frequencies can be qualified as such. I would say that Goldencut is a look of wonder at the universe that surrounds us, there is a desire to talk about light and shadow, without setting any creative limits. »
Some describe your music as ” a flow that oscillates between spoken word and rage, carried by a totally raw punk sound “. Are you ok with this description?
“This description speaks a lot about the title that came out two weeks ago, A Nation of the People. So yes, the rage is quite present on it: I talk about racial injustices, it lends itself to it, but I wouldn’t say that it defines us. Never a song can define a group, we really impose no limits. The first title Addicts, was very dark, very electro, almost awkward. The second is more venerable, goes in, more rock and cash, while the sequel will be more cloudy, more hovering and meditative. As you can see, we allow ourselves total freedom. Adam and Geo can bring me their inspiration of the day and we’ll build on that, or conversely I can come and say “I want to talk about that”, and they’ll compose something with it. We don’t say to ourselves that “because it’s rap it has to look like that”. We do very different things, and so much the worse… Or so much the better. I know it’s easier for people to be able to categorize the music they listen to, but we don’t. I think that live it takes on its full meaning, that’s where we can make the listener travel in our universe and sail from one piece to another. And then rap means everything and nothing now. Everyone has another vision, that’s also the richness of the thing. »
How do we come up with such an improbable merger? What is the story of your meeting?
“Basic rap is already an improbable fusion, it’s a record player with a sound that spins in a loop, and a guy who comes to chant on it. All the ways of practicing this music are improbable. Today, a beat, a drum, a bass and a rapper, that’s perhaps what is most normal after all. Adam and Geo have known each other since the conservatory. Me, I’ve been an activist in the hip-hop scene for many years now. We’ve seen each other for so many years in the same jams, the same places. Adam had wanted to touch hip-hop for a long time, Geo also has a long-standing affinity with this culture, it finally made sense. What stimulated us in this project was to start from iron to make gold out of it, from a raw material, polish it and shape it to make something magical out of it. A little alchemy, some magic on it, and it was done. »
How do you get to do Goldencut? How did your artistic direction come about?
“At the beginning, we started by doing a full week of creation to see how it matched between us and start creating material. Often one of the three of us would come up with an idea, take it to a certain level, and then the others would bring in their stuff, we’d pass hands on. I wrote according to what was happening around me, there were very natural sleights of hand, it went super fast. In five days, they composed 15 ideas, not finished pieces, but bases from which we drew five or six tracks to then develop them. Geo and Adam are artists as talented as they are prolific, they never stop. Not long ago we were together in an Airbnb near Sélestat because we were playing in the area. Adam started coming with his iPad sampling stuff, the sound of the pepper mill, the creaking of the oven door, etc. He made a beat out of it, we evolved it, and it became a song that we play live now. »
What values or messages do you want to convey? Who writes the lyrics?
“Let’s say that it mainly comes from composition, from what it inspires in me. Of course you can’t talk about the circus on a melancholy production and vice versa, but I also sometimes have ideas, fairly clear desires for subjects I want to tackle, I like to talk about deep things. Especially in the times we’re going through, our music, I think, has to nourish the soul. At the origins, at the foundation of hip-hop, the goal was to have fun and claim! Some got lost along the way, started talking about the ego, capitalism… I think it should be about communities, solidarity, the ties that unite us, death, peace, our personal feelings. The guys follow me in this spirit, we understand each other, that’s all that matters. »
You started the project with the title Addictscan you tell me a bit about this piece?
“We started composing this track in 2019 with Freeze, my old band, but Geo was already involved in it, it was a long road to get to its final form. When we formed Goldencut, we created a lot of new titles, but this one was close to our hearts. He was already well advanced, Adam added his touch, we closed it with a beautiful clip, we are very happy with it. It’s a piece that talks about addictions, addictions to substances, networks, vices, the extent that it can have in our lives. Going from a crutch to an addiction goes very quickly. Drinking a shot to feel more relaxed, picking up your phone when you wake up or smoking a joint to fall asleep, it doesn’t matter, but up to what level? This song is about all of that. The clip shows above all the substance side, because that’s what is most visual, but there are also screens, compulsive buying, the obsession with one’s own image. I collected a lot of testimonials for this piece. I wanted to understand what states one can be in when one is at the lowest of one’s addiction. It allowed me to guide myself, to develop my lexical field; I thank again the people who trusted me and who gave themselves up, who allowed me to understand the state of mind that one can have at that time. There are really two parts in the title, a very dark, uncontrollable and powerful first part, then a second where everything is sweet and wonderful… It illustrates addictions well, there is never one without the other. Pleasure without the pain in a way. »
You all live in Strasbourg and you have always been active in making your music resonate locally. How did the public react to this new project?
“I assume that this is a project that has its place because we believe we have something good to offer, so we have to do it. We’ve only been able to do one gig so far in Mâcon, and we have two dates coming up, February 18 in Colmar and March 12 at the Ateliers Éclairés with Pelpass. It’ll be cool to bring this home, to see how it’s received. The titles received very good feedback. Afterwards, what’s funny, as I said before, is that people think they’ve understood the band with two tracks, when it’s a real experiment. We ourselves haven’t really understood each other in the proper sense and besides, that’s not what we’re looking for. I can’t wait to offer this to people who know us and to those who don’t know us to see what sensations we manage to give them, if people are receptive to our vibrations. »
How have you lived for the past two years? Would Goldencut have been born without the Covid?
“Actually, we didn’t have much choice to work in the last two years. First at the level of live performance in the literal sense, it was very hot, too abrupt for anyone to be able to know how to approach this kind of imposed break. From a personal point of view, I think it allowed some of us to take a step back, to take stock of our desires, fears, fears, dreams, etc. And some have included it in their creations. From the group’s point of view, let’s say that the creation is not related to the pandemic. At first containment, Freeze (editor’s note: former group of Eli) stopped, and from there the story of Goldencut was born, but I think it gave us the freedom to build something with peace of mind. We suddenly had a lot of time, no calendar pressure with concerts or other projects, no concerts… It’s time we used to do creative residencies, to see each other, to rehearse. Let’s say we did what we had to do in 2020 and 2021, now come what may. »
Rapping in French, do you think about it sometimes?
“I think about it sometimes. But what’s great about writing is that I don’t really think, I have an almost automatic mode of writing. Sometimes, all I have to do is set a theme, an intention, the first sentence and I’m inhabited by the music and it comes. I took my habits in English for many years, but why not change them one day. Case to follow. »