Interview: Peace & Red Velvet
Whispah the Ruler and Acacia the Queen make beautiful music together under the name Peace & Red Velvet. The electric hip-hop soul power couple released their debut EP 366 last year and spent the rest of the year playing nearly every hip-hop show in Seattle, sharpening their skills and gaining fans who are in love with incredibly positive outlook, personas, and music. The duo consider themselves made up of two pieces of iron that are constantly sharpening one another which makes their latest project a knife that will tear your heart open. 366 the RE-P is the new and improved edition of their very first EP. The first project, 366, is full of feel good vibes and positive affirmations and as the name suggests was literally created in 366 days. It's been around now for one trip around the sun and it's back better than ever with some additions, subtractions, remixes to the original project, and the help of genius sound engineer and producer Lucy Christo to give it that crystal clear professional sound.
We wanted to get to the bottom of what makes these two such effervescent souls so we had a (rather hilarious) chat about their marriage, their music, the Seattle scene, and Tinder (because why not).
You two are married, were you creating music together before your marriage at all?
Whispah the Ruler: Yeah! Oh... I guess we have to say more than that...
Acacia the Queen: We were strictly buds when we first met in person and complete strangers online when we first heard each others' music through a mutual friend, although I [Acacia] claimed James as my husband when I first heard a verse... he didn't know it at the time. But shortly, like maybe two days after we met, we knew we'd be doing music together from then on, and that's no exaggeration. It all kind of happened naturally.
How did you meet?
Whispah: Like... on Facebook through a mutual friend that did some work in my studio in Georgia.
Acacia: Yeah, I used to do music with a dude in college, then he met Whispah and he linked us up through the book of Faces. Surprisingly enough, he was one of the few people I didn't completely stalk there
Acacia: Then he was talking about moving to Washington and I was just like "...What for? There's nothing out here" I had no idea there was a music scene at all. At that point I had just been recording for Soundcloud and was beginning to give up hope, but he was pretty set on coming and one day he showed up and we met in front of an Econolodge in Tacoma!
Whispah: It's a god awful Hotel. I got there in like 4 in the morning and barely had any sleep but... just walking outside and I saw Acacia just bubbly as every, I knew that was exactly who she was on facebook just from her profile pic. She literally ran straight at me, all I remember was "HEEEEYYYY!!!!" ... it was awesome, it definitely brightened my day
Acacia: Then after that... I took him everywhere. I had a staff meeting after that got cancelled so we had Applebees with my closest work buds, we hit it off immediately there...
James: Yeah, her work friends thought we had already been dating
Acacia: Then we all went to see Spy, then we went skating, then we went to the bar and danced the night away. They literally had to kick us out. That's where the inspiration for the song All Night came from. We used to party hard man!!
For your other releases you two did producing, recording, and mixing and mastering yourselves, was it difficult to give up control to Lucy Christo, Cassie Vee, and D-Sane for Re-P or was it kind of a relief?
Whispah: It wasn't hard. It wasn't like "OHHH RELINQUISH CONTROL!!!" Because we already knew Lucy Christo's work thru Falon Sierra and Call
Acacia: We bumped their projects so much the CD player in our car stopped working... It's literally jammed in there as we speak... On another hand, that's easy for him to say! I am the one who recorded and mixed everything on the first project and man!! I'm a control freak!! It was really weird to have somebody other than myself even record me! I get nervous in other people's studios cuz I can be a bit of a perfectionist, but I'm also slick self conscious so like... I'd be psyching myself out and trying to be a pro at the same time! The first mix we got back though, was Go, and it just sounded so different, I had to train my ear to hear anew, yeh know? Like I had never recorded it myself before. It was working with Lucy that taught me to listen objectively and I actually learned how to let go more and to hear with a new ear so to speak, and doing that opened the door to, honestly, see the flaws in my own work. For example Lucy's work is suuuuuper clean and the instruments are at such a beautiful balance while my production's instruments are all in one layer all together.
Whispah: You could say muddy
Acacia: Yeah! I heard instruments I didn't even know were there in the original songs in Lucy's mix and I'M the one that mixed them!! Once I crossed that checkpoint, for lack of a better word, I trusted Lucy with anything we brought to him. He's honest, he's professional, he's suuper fun and will push you to create a sound that wouldn't have been there, things we haven't thought of
Whispah: Most importantly, he's an artist himself so we can take his creative criticism, he looks at a piece of music in a different light and provides us a new perception. Kind of like a quarterback would look at a play a certain way, but a receiver would at the same play and comes up with alternatives. He always comes up with something we hadn't thought of!
Acacia: Cassie Vee is one of our top supporters on our Patreon and earned the title of Executive Producer by helping us fund the project! She's on youtube as "Cassie Vee" and educates a lot on techniques on how to go green easily! You should definitely check her out. Her videos are informative AND entertaining. D-Sane is the one doing our mastering so our sound is even more clear and is able to be played on any platform!
Whispah: That good ol' radio sound!
What (if anything) has changed about Peace & Red Velvet in the past year since 366?
Acacia: Well... We're a lot more broke! This project was NOT cheap. But oh so worth it! We perform a whole heck of a lot!
Whispah: We've played several festivals this year and we're gonna be playing more! We've got the Station Block Party this year, and we're playing a celebration at the Jimi Hendrix Park for it's Grand Opening...
Acacia: As far as performing and sound... I don't know... It's not really measurable, but I feel we've really started to master the energy that we're intending to provide for our audiences. We've been faced with new crowds and audiences that we haven't performed for before which brings new challenges... What else has chaaannggged....?
Whispah: I mean... Not much really. If I could say anything, our production value has skyrocketed and it's all because of the people that have been put in front of us that have been really gracious to help us get to heights that we couldn't get to on our own
Acacia: And the love that we get back from the people who watch us perform, I really feel like they add value to what we do, because when somebody tells me that they felt inspired or they had so much fun or they're sweating, it's like "It's working!!"
Whispah: Oh!! And we've travelled, we went to Portland and San Jose, created a crew
Acacia: FLUX FAM!!!
Whispah: Shot a video at Burnside Park, for those who remember Tony Hawk Pro Skater!
Acacia: Shout out to FLUX FAM, man! That's our, well, Fam! Consists of CALL, Falon Sierra, Fayleyny, and Rocket Tha Prophet. TRULY gifted individuals. Really what we did was... Got our favorite artists together and asked them to be our best friends, we travelled through some mountains, almost died, and now we're definitely friends for life... So if you ever want real best friends, just follow that regimen
Whispah: Near death situations bring friends closer :]
Do you think that Peace & Red Velvet will sound more like you do on Re-P in the future or was this just a one-off project?
Acacia: We'll never go back to the old way.
Whispah: That's for sure
Acacia: I won't allow it.
Whispah: I see no reason to... backpedal.
Who in the Seattle scene is inspiring you right now?
Acacia: OH MY GOD, there are soooo many!!!
Whispah: Oh man... are we talking about Producers? or Emcees?
Whispah: As far as producers are concerned just to split it up...
Acacia: ANCIENT ROBOTS
Whispah: Sendai Mike hands down is my favorite beat maker in Seattle, Vaughn, Golden Master, Jay Battle/QREEPS, he's just frikkin dope. All those guys are my inspiration for my beat making. Now Emcees? We gotta start at the beginning with Ready Ron! AudioPoet. When you make a list you always forget
Acacia: I was literally thinking about this yesterday and the list never ended
Whispah: SCRiBE the Verbalist, And of course Rocket
Acacia: We already said Rocket
Whispah: He's one of my favorite emcees out here
Acacia: I say CALL because he inspires the unabashed truth in our message. Whenever I start to censor myself in like a radical point I want to make, I think of CALL because he'll tell it to you straight on a track, POETICALLY!! Get it? It's a CALLoqialism
Whispah: Yeah and he'll also challenge your bars. He'll let you get to like 9 bars and then have you ready to change your wordplay and change your delivery so your words are like, nail on the head
Acacia: And clear, easy to hear. He's super techniCALL too!
Acacia: Dudes a genius. And I'm working on a solo project, I think I'm gonna call it either Blue Suede or Blue Velour, wordplay for the opposite of Red Velvet, that takes a more sexy and vulnerable turn than the upbeat rhythms that Whispah and I work on, I've got Rocket helping me on the project as far as sound, but really I'm literally channelling Falon. Like ... 100. See, I'm about as sexy as a math book, but if I pretend to be her, I think I might be able to pull it off. She so sexy.
What do you think overall about the Seattle hip hop scene?
Acacia: Hmmm... There are levels, and Whispah and I have been talking about what the Seattle Hip-Hop Scene really is, there are just soooo many corridors to travel through, you've got the grunge like youngster jiji, AJ Suede, Rocket where you can just mosh out to shit, I personally don't like to mosh, but I may watch from a distance cuz I love the music, You've got the classic Ready Ron, SCRiBE the Verbalist, Julie C, Suntonio Bandanaz, BMN, You've got like the alternative with Donormaal, Raven Matthews, Taylar Elizza Beth, you've got the soul with Shorty Loves Me, Ancient Robots
Whispah: Mojo Barnes
Acacia: Yeah! The Queer with Ancient Mariner and Michete There are just soooo many pools to dive in, and it's all so beautiful and the best part is, that it's all love!! We all have love for everybody
Whispah: The Seattle scene as a whole is improving, but there is a whole lot of growing to do. It's not like the Run DMC era where Hip-Hop had a Distinct [Ed. note: We see what ya did there!]
Whispah: identity. The Seattle scene isn't as broad as Atlanta, New York, Chicago where those areas have a narrow, distinct sound. Where you can listen to Kanye or Common and they have Chicago twang a Chicago Sound
Acacia: Yeah with Seattle, it's like you never know what you're going to get! That's a great thing, but as far as it advancing, I can really say that it could be a hinderance as well, AS A WHOLE. If you dig what I'm saying.
Whspah: Right. in my opinion, Seattle's sound is a melting pot. It's like Gumbo, you get everything you want! What can elevate the Seattle scene and give its identity is the fact that we all support each other even something as simple as that could be a driving force that gives Seattle its identity across the US.
Acacia: Yeah I feel like one day it could be like, "Oh this sounds like some Atlanta Trap shit, this sounds like some Bay shit. I don't know WHAT the fuck this sounds like... Must be from Seattle." Yeh know? We're weird :] I love it!
Whispah: Yeah! And WEIRD only stands for Where Everyone Is Really Dope. :] Get it?
If you could do a song with any rapper dead or alive who would it be?
Acacia: Rapper? Hmmm.... I don't think I care to do a song with another rapper. I got Whispah.... I'd do a song with Aaliyah and Ne-Yo though. Drop of a hat. How bout you?
Whispah: First and foremost, my Uncle Snoop Dogg! after that... I would go with Rakim, I really wanna collab with Desiigner. That would probably be the most fun collab! last but not least would have to RedMan
You two are always the most jubilant, positive people at every show and it's a contagious feeling that makes me so happy to see you two! What do you credit this positive outlook to? Love? Spirituality? Or is this just generally how you two always are and have been?
Acacia: The latter! It's just way I am! I go out to have fun!! I honestly don't see how people feeling go to places and pay at the door to just.... stand there. GET DAT ASS ON THE DANCE FLOOR!! I'm just... I dunno, I wanna have fun. It feels good! Because with me you get either fun, or awkward as hell. it's not fun to be awkward.
Whispah: I've always been calm, level headed. Pretty much a go with the flow type of spirit, person, what have you. I really don't find any value in holding on to any negative vibes. It doesn't profit me anything, or the people close to me. I wanna say that I'm the person that provides that healthy balance. If anybody was feeling crappy I want to be that guy that alleviates the tension.
Acacia: This guy gives great massages. Real talk. It's some deeper level energy type shit...
What does the future look like for Peace & Red Velvet?
Acacia: Pffft. I stopped guessing. Things just happen! I would like us to get on the radio, start touring worldwide, start helping the communities, building schools, paying off these student looooannns... Touching people I never knew we could influence, changing the world
Whispah: From the folks we come into contact with, the folks that we get to touch in kind, Peace & Red Velvet has no limits. I feel like we don't really necessarily have to choose what our next move should be, it'll already be laid out in front of us. And of course the new faces that we are destined to see to be placed in front of us can further help us shape our futures, I guess. Idunno
Acacia: Well in the near future, I've got Blue Suede/Velour coming soon, Whispah is starting to DJ, We're going to LA hopefully before the summer is out for a couple festivals, all the while we've been writing new projects for our NEXT album which I would like to be a full length album... New chapters.
Okay here's a weird random question for ya. Since you're married you might never have used Tinder before but theoretically what would your Tinder bios say?
Acacia: OH!! Uhhhmmmm... I haven't been dating in so long so it'd probably say... something liiiike.... "Don't talk to me, I don't know what to do with myself" or "If you like Math Books, I'm sexy enough for you" or "...Wanna listen to Janelle Monae?" What would yours say?
Whispah: Uhhhhhhh..... "Black. Dreads. 5'8" *laughter*
Acacia: *obnoxious laughter*
Whispah: "... can't swim. Prone to tell a joke at any given time. Hella nerdy
Acacia: You're really selling this, babe
Whispah: "... Swipe to the left at your leisure"
Acacia: Good thing we didn't use Tinder. We'd be alone forever.
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