First Look: Astral Science with ETC

etc. /adverb/ - used at the end of a list to indicate that further, similar items are included.

Enter the paradox of ETC. While his name is likened to this familiar abbreviation, we will no longer find it at the end of anything: collectively, we should begin to expect ETC at the forefront, spearheading new configurations for lyricism. The current state of hip-hop finds us without a compass -- the edges of the genre fray and root into a plethora of syncretic listening experiences, a phenomenon that 10 years ago would’ve fallen victim to the language of “subgenre.” In this anarchic lyrical landscape, the listener is liberated to enjoy music for its own sake; unencumbered by labels, the trajectory ventures toward new forms. These new forms do not get swept out of sentences and replaced with etc. -- they are not in like kind with other contributions. This is where we locate ETC: at the beginning, at the convergence, the precipice. 

Today marks the solar return of ETC’s debut EP, Astral Science. First released via Soundcloud, the Arizona Hip-Hop Community took notice, naming ETC one of it’s best MC’s. Astral Science may have put the scene on notice, but for ETC still something was missing. A year’s time has placed all manners of being, from art to faith and our very existence in the cosmos under his microscope. What emerges is a set of newly re-mastered songs produced by the ever-evolving Lav Kai, and a slew of new tracks not included on the original recording. The re-birth of Astral Science proves to be even more potent and prevalent than its previous incarnation. 

I had the pleasure of interviewing ETC over the phone, and despite the discontent of our socially distant state, the conversation provided connection and meaning as only ETC can deliver: 

SC: How is the music speaking to you differently a year later?

ETC: It’s not that my beliefs have shifted, but there has been a richness that has developed, new context coming through as I develop as a person… and maybe this is a more spiritually prevalent time for this album to be in the public eye. The EP has moments or songs that act as an emotional snapshot -- as a human i’m experiencing a full spectrum of emotion. 

SC: Regarding that emotional experience, your entryway into the music scene was through the Metal and Hardcore community correct? How does that influence the music you make? 

ETC: As a vocalist in those genres, you’re learning to manipulate your 3 main tones. I was learning and growing through osmosis and observation of really talented people who were so patient with me. My approach to my voice now is as its own instrument: Taking after that percussive tone I view it as a separate drum kit, and am looking to bend off of the beat in a style that’s similar to heavier music. 

To venture between two very distinct musical expressions that each possess a rich cultural element and to do so well is no small feat. ETC shared some incredible insights with me as a participant in the dominant culture navigating an artform that comes from outside of his cultural experience. Ultimately, ETC is uncomfortable labeling himself as an MC or rapper, as his interaction with the genre does not reflect an embodiment or lived experience, but rather an appreciation and admiration for the artform. Through this humble declination of such labels he joins rank with other artists seeking to simply create; weaving in and out of his eclectic mix of musical influences, ETC holds fast to a vision for his craft that exists beyond a solitary genre. 

SC: What do you want listeners to notice or glimpse when listening to your EP? 

ETC: More than anything, i’m hoping for messages from fans with snippets of lyrics and ideas i’ve brought up that they want to talk more about. On this EP, my subject matter ranges from mental health, to politics, to religion, and I feel like that can facilitate growth and evolution. 

- Jay Mercado, Sorrowcircle

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