Interview: TxE (Portland, OR)
Portland’s TxE is: Cal Valentine aka G_Force -producer, while EPP spits out raps /writes hooks, and Tope plays short stop…and raps. This Portland trio has not only been making music waves as a group, but as individuals, and in collaborations with other northwest artists. TxE’s latest album, We Get It In True is available on their bandcamp, for free. So what are you waiting for? Go get their latest album for download, and play it loud.
How did TxE come together?
Tope: TxE the group really formed through G_Force moving up to Portland from Eugene, Oregon, and all three of us linking together. Epp and I had made some ground music together, but never took it serious until we linked up with G, and added the producer to the equation. I guess G really brought us together into making the full-fledged group that we are today.
Epp: Basically Tope and I worked on some joints and G hit me up. He said he just moved into town, so we went over to his crib. He was playing us some beats, we just went over to hear some beats. We were like, the beats are crazy, we kinda need a DJ/Producer. The rest is history.
How do you feel about being the “X” in the equation? (To G_Force)
G_Force: It’s got it’s qualities. I like it, it’s fine. It makes it so a lot of people don’t know I’m in the group. I get mistaken. People think I’m Tope a lot of the times when we show up for sound check. They recognize Epp and they see me and just figure I’m Tope.
Epp: To this day people will be like, “Oh Tope, Epp!” Still it’s like, we have another member, I had to make that known months back on twitter. The “X” is G_Force, Cal Valentine, don’t get it wrong from here on out.
How does the Portland scene influence your beats and raps?
Tope: Portland is apart of me. I just wanna hear raps.
Epp: I think just naturally it’s just real organic. This city is a mix of all sorts of different cereals in one big bowl, You take a littler piece here and there and make it your own. We just wanna make music that can reach nationwide status, and represent Portland in the fullest, but not in a cheesy way.
You’re not putting a bird on it?
Epp: No. No, no, Never. No birds being put on anything nor mustaches here. Birds are not here, not for us.
We Out Here Magazine said, “Whether they realize it or not, they are the leading voice of Portland’s local hip-hop scene.” from September 2011. How does that make you feel?
Tope: I don’t know. Me personally, when people say things like that it makes me a little nervous. I feel like it puts the target on our heads. At the same time, I think we are all three of the hardest working people you’ll find in the music scene, if I may say so myself. Just the productivity we’ve put out this year; 10 albums, 20 videos, something like that. We work hard, and I think we deserve the little shine that we do get.
Epp: It’s always cool when people put you at that high regard. I feel like we are making music that represents us, that everyone else can feel. It’s nothing watered down, it’s nothing fake. We want to keep on working hard, and keep delivering that quality TxE sound that is like nothing out here.
Do you have other side projects that you work on?
G_Force: Everybody’s got a bunch of projects they do. I’m in like 3 bands with Epp. We have Mardest Purple, we have a group called Dreams of Fantana, which is just me and him. I’ve got my solo rap stuff that I do, Tope’s got his solo stuff and production that he does for other artists. I produce for everyone under the sun, so..
Epp: I’m actually currently working on an album with a producer by the name of Lawz Spoken, we’re like one or two songs away finishing. I really just want to make quality music, I mean if we’re gonna make it free, let’s just make it as quality as we can.
Tope: I’ve got a solo endeavor under Tope. I put out a sophomore album this year, Until The Next Time We Meet, on i-Tunes, go get it. Then a free project, Since The Last Time We Spoke which is an EP. I also have another group called, Living Proof we have two albums available. And yeah… various productions for other artists and what have you. So, you know we all stay busy.
Since you’re all in these other projects, what is the process of creating an album?
G_Force: We’ll just pick a date and get in the studio. Most of the TxE songs are made from scratch. Like we’ll just chill out and vibe in the studio, and I’ll make a beat, then they’ll write the song to it.
It sounds like a pretty organic process.
Tope: No one really comes to the studio with an idea. We just come to the studio open-minded, whatever comes, and it’s a lot of what we’re feeling. A lot of the beats are a collaboration between G, and steering the direction of where we want to go. It’s just really a testament to the energy of all three of us have, and our work ethic together.
You’re first EP, The Rain In Cali came out in 2010. How do you feel you’ve grown from then to now with, We Get It In True?
Epp: I think just musically, lyrically Tope and I have grown, and G’s production is just crazy. Like he said, you know he’s the go to guy in town. He can play any sort of instrument you want. I think we’re pretty lucky to have him in the group. I think musically the albums have grown through that. The progression of us wanting to up the ante, and always wanting to create something better than the last.
Tope: I think Epp’s hook writing is forever increasing, better and better. G is taking production to another level. We continue to grow, like even by the time our album is out, we’re ten steps ahead of that. We just keep growing as artists.
How do you think the Northwest hip-hop scene is different that the rest of the country?
Epp: I think the Northwest scene, we really try to craft our own sound. It’s a time right now where it’s so easy to be catchy, and do what the next person is doing. I feel like people are trying their best to stray away from that.
Tope: I think I’ve seen the growth of the Northwest hip-hop in the last few years become something that is in demand outside the Northwest now. Like people in LA listen to Grinch, and Macklemore worldwide. I think the Northwest scene is comparable to the scene in Minneapolis, because it’s a lot of independent artists’ based off of what little labels there are. Theres not really a major label scene in the Northwest at all. So everything that has been done has been built off of independent artists. It’s been fun to watch the growth of a lot of artists take it to a national or worldwide platform over the years. I think it’s just going to keep continuing to grow, it’s a domino effect. Hopefully one artists will lead to the next.
So what’s in store for you for the rest of 2012?
G_Force: Basically Tope came up with the idea a long time ago of taking Portland indie-rock bands and making a beat tape out of them. The idea just kinda stuck around for a while, and finally we decided to do it. And it’s turning out crazy.
Tope: New T&E, new Tope, new Beat Tape. My goal was to put out six releases this year, I have three out. I’ve got a plethora of things to put out before the end of the year.