Interview: Inside Elsphinx’s Brain Cave Deluxe
The mastermind behind Pig Food Records latest release, Elsphinx, introduces Brain Cave Deluxe best himself, saying, “I scattered pieces of myself throughout this like timed land mines. It’s designed to entrap you. My breath and brain were entrenched in the making of this record. Long story short, I couldn’t be more proud to share it with you.”
Much like the earth’s rarest solar eclipse, the kind that the news makes a big deal of because it’s not going to happen again in our lifetimes and we all must go outside at 2am to look, Elsphinx’s record is that level of eclipse rare. It’s an absolute beauty. Except the good news is that if the night sky decides to be a cloudy bastard, you’re not going to miss out on anything. It’s here. This album is extremely special. Now imagine that stay-up-late-in-anticipation was stretched over the past three years, because in the case of Brain Cave Deluxe – it was. That’s how long Elsphinx has been in the lab sculpting this monster of a double LP. Three years.
Technically his second project, Elsphinx hasn’t remained secluded from the underground rap scene these past three years, with countless features and performances throughout the east coast during these tests and trials of creating what many can agree is a 5-star album. That stay-up-late-anticipation has not disappointed. Filled with sleepless nights, countless hours in the studio, writing and rewriting, adding tracks and taking others away, and essentially just carving away at a project with such passion and skill, that we, as an audience, are truly blessed that it is now ripe enough for us to consume, digest and experience many, many times over.
More importantly, Elsphinx has taught his fans, and also himself, the virtue of patience, perfecting your work and executing creativity on your own terms and timeline. There’s a strength behind the album’s creative process and even better, the album is just as fresh now as it was when it was first conceived, showing further proof that unique sounds are timeless. That being said, Brain Cave Deluxe is also a massive collaborative effort at its absolute finest, harboring the blood, sweat and tears from much of the Pig Food Records roster and features from other special guests, with Elsphinx in his rightful position as the ringleader to this cosmic rap circus.
Based out of Albany, Elsphinx is hands down making the weirdest rap music to come out of upstate New York, in the best way possible. An artist entirely in his own category, he sets the bar extremely high with this double LP. Going through the 18 tracks, there are a lot of strengths on display with a lot of lyrical content to go through in addition to absolutely spectacular production. This album is a reflection of Elsphinx in the purest form, while still remaining true and humble to his artistry. Elsphinx is here to take listeners on a journey through his eyes, as simple and complex and intriguing as that is.
Brain Cave Deluxe is available through the Pig Food Records site, as well as other digital platforms, and is also released on a special double LP vinyl pressing.
1. Introduce yourself – your name, where you’re from & where you’re at now.
Greetings. I’m elsphinx. I was born in the panoramic, scenic Adirondack foothills in upstate New York. I lived there long enough to want to get the fuck out. I travelled billions of light years through time and space an hour away to Albany, New York, which I currently inhabit.
2. When did it hit you that you identify with being a rapper/producer/artist?
I wanted to be all of those things the instant rap music discovered me. I learned that rap and I were meant for each other at around age 15.
3. How did you get started?
I became enamored with rap music as a mere child. I started making my own in secrecy as a young kid because it was unlike anything I had ever heard and I loved that dearly.
I actually tried to DJ before I took rapping seriously. Turns out I wasn’t very good at it.
I continued rapping as a teenager when other people heard it and reacted positively. When school disinterested me, or when I was in trouble, I was armed and prepared with the necessary tools of a notebook, a pencil and headphones. I grew with it because when I grew as a person, people thought it sounded good or maybe even related. I utilized it as an expressive outlet as a young adult when I started to change; to explain my transformation to those I thought wouldn’t understand without it. Turns out I was pretty good at it after all.
It’s not the only thing I’ve ever been good at. But it’s what I’ve been passionate about more than anything else.
It’s been my channel throughout. Through adolescence. Through puberty. Through struggling with my identity. Through very real heartbreak. It’s been with me longer than any friend or romantic interest. It’s not disposable. It isn’t sentient to abandon me and I could never even consider turning my back on it. Now I rap just so I don’t lose my fucking mind. I think my girlfriend even gets jealous with how much I talk about it.
And I should’ve written this as a song.
4. Tell us a bit about yourself and your creative processes. What does your favorite environment to begin writing new lyrics or working on a new track look like?
Timothy Leary was a hack but his recommendation of a comfortable, familiar set & setting is reliable advice.
5. When does a new song feel finished to you?
Revision constantly yanks the reins. Some songs that I made publicly available five years ago I’ll hear now and say “I should’ve said this” in lieu of the actual lyric. Once I decide the song can’t be further sculpted to perfection in that moment, I put a helmet on it and shoot it into space.
6. What helps inspire your music?
Other music. Foreign music. Drama movies with hilarious one liners. Human interaction. Women. Staring at the moon and getting lost inside of myself. Challenging others to laugh or think, Having rappers for friends. That unspoken but acknowledged test to outdo each other while keeping it a hundred.
7. What advice has really stuck with you and what was the source?
Hours deep into a swamp a local rapper I looked up to chimed in on a conversation amongst our group about Wu Wear and his distaste for buying or wearing it.
Verbatim: “I’m trying to be a neighbor; not a fan.”
That’s always felt very powerful to me. I don’t even necessarily think it was advice. More of a credo. It was either that or “Just drink some water and go to bed.”
8. Fill us in about your latest project.
Its called “Brain Cave Deluxe”. It’s a throbbing, engorged hard on full of super unleaded gasoline. It’s the cumulative sum of everything I mentioned already. The framed portrait of living inside my mind splattered over a choice backdrop of savory sounds.
9. What are the things about being a rapper that you most enjoy?
I’d say the women and free drinks but that’d be a bald faced lie. I’m handsome and drink a lot anyway so those things are just perks of being alive. The coolest thing about being a rapper is being able to get away with wearing a ton of purple without my boss asking uncomfortable questions.
10. What are you listening to right now?
Literally right now at 3:06 AM I am listening to Ege Bamyasi by CAN.
11. Who are your top 5 artists, either visually or musically these days?
This may fluctuate if you ask me tomorrow or any other day.
Omar Rodriguez Lopez
The kid who makes sidewalk chalk murals down the street. They’re melty as f*ck when I’m walking to work.
12. If you can pick any artist or photographer to put together your album art, who would it be and why?
I want a moving holographic album cover directed by guy Ritchie featuring iridescent mannequins and gargantuan jellyfish.
The record was mixed and mastered by PJ Katz. Check out the production credits below.
- Meet Me In The Swamp – produced by Hunchback Esquire
- Cellar Door – produced by Hunchback Esquire
- Pork Swordsmen – produced by PJ Katz
- Up & Atom – produced by C-Note
- Pocketwatch Therapy – produced by PJ Katz
- Hi-Def Dream Theatre – produced by Hunchback Esquire
- Legit’s Tooth – produced by Rob Viktum
- hippykoalafax // trapped in the hour of 8 – produced by Surge Cess
- Cities of Rust – produced by Radiolab
- Being Chased by Celestial Objects – produced by Theorist
- Infinity Gauntlet – produced by r0b0tr0n
- Elements – produced by C-Note
- With Hazel – produced by Melvin Junko
- War Pig – produced by elsphinx
- Got The Time – produced by PJ Katz
- Farewell, Flora – produced by Hunchback Esquire
- Moth – produced by Misnomer
- Pork Swordsmen remix – produced by J57