Estea Elements [Prolific Profile]
Vancouver, B.C. – Estea Elements is a long-time presence on the West Coast’s hip-hop scene. He routinely takes it back to hip-hop’s golden era: from the beats he makes in his shed on a 4-track to the party vibes and conscious rhymes that flood his music, Estea carries the essence of the old school.
In this week’s Prolific Profile, Estea the Imaginaut shares his views on the oxymoron of an artistic industry, the punk aesthetic, and the business of having fun.
Estea Elements (title: The Imaginaut) of the Influents Crew
34 years old. My hip-hop age is 22. I start counting from a “Fat Boys” show in ’88, though I already loved RUN DMC.
HipHopCanada: How do you define hip-hop, and where do you feel you fit into that definition?
Estea Elements: My Hip-Hop is: People expressing themselves, creating, and improving their lives regardless of the obsticles, or limitations, the world throws in front of them. I fit into my definition by being a vocalist regardless of my crummy singing voice, and by using that skill to build community and make people feel good. I fit my definition because my dresser is made out of milk crates.
HipHopCanada: What drives you to stay in a business that is rarely profitable and highly competitive?
Estea Elements: I’m only involved in the “business” side of it by defalt, but I guess I keep my drive by asking what I can do for hip-hop rather than what hip-hop can do for me. I’m in it to express myself, have fun and connect with people, and to add to the overall body of work that I love. And it’s really not hard to do any of those things, so it’s no sweat! “Profitable” doen’t always refer to making money, and for me hip-hop has been highly profitable!!!!
HipHopCanada: Where on the West Coast are you based?
Estea Elements: I do most of my artistic interaction in Vancouver, but that’s unfortunate. I think of myself as being based out of the whole Lower Mainland. Right now I live in White Rock and my crew’s foudation was formed in Langley… I wish we still played more shows there.
HipHopCanada: How has living there influenced your sound?
Estea Elements: My crew played a lot more often with artists from a wider variety of musical backgrounds. We’re hip-hop but we are a part of a larger artistic community. We played to audiences of very open minded people who put skills and good performance ahead of fitting in. That inspired us to take more chances and explore! Also, there’s less distraction in smaller cities, and you have to make your own “scene”. As a result we spent a lot of time crafting, and we learned to blaze our own trail.
HipHopCanada: Who is your primary fan base?
Estea Elements: People who are super cool because they’re not “cool.” People who would remind you of the original hip-hop because they’re not so caught up in being “hip-hop.” People who want to throw their hands in the air and wave ’em like they just don’t care. I love them.
HipHopCanada: What tips would you give young artists coming up, or what do you wish someone would have told you when you first started out in the hip-hop industry?
Estea Elements: Don’t think of it as an industry at all! For me the word “Industry” brings about images of machines making products! There definitely is a music industry, but you don’t want anything to do with that! “Artistic industry” is an oxymoron to me. I would also say, have your own style by being honest with yourself. Anything else will eventually fade and embarass you.
HipHopCanada: In which ways do you interact with your community?
Estea Elements: I play benefit shows whenever I believe in the cause, most often for free. I get into schools. community centers, etc. and try to inspire kids to express and believe in themselves, offering them hip-hop as a tool for life. I try to play all ages shows as much as possible and I try to put fun and inspiration into my work. A lot of the shows I’m involved in are free to attend and I support and organize shows that promote the whole hip-hop community (not just rap shows!). Also, even off the mic, I try to conduct myself as an abassador for hip-hop and possitivity in whatever I do. I try to be a good dad, husband, and neighbour. I don’t drink, do drugs, or contribute to the suffering of any earthlings if I can help it. I try to lead by examlpe. I often work hip-hop into my work as a youth cousellor as well.
HipHopCanada: Which artists have you worked with that left an impression on you, and why?
Estea Elements: My crew have put up with all my wacky ideas and hang-ups now for about seven years! Their patience and professionalism inspires me as does their skill. K-Rec (my DJ) leaves an impression on me with his work ethic and humility, and his incredible music has inspired a ton of my rhymes. The people I played in bands with as a kid taught me about music, and the right reasons for making it… the punk rock community has had a huge impact on me. My B-Boy friends Savage Rock and B-Minus have left an impression on me by believing in themselves and not being affraid to chase their dreams. It left an impression on me meeting T-Train because I learned that I wasn’t the only one. Bitter Tastebud inspires me by being a totally honest and original person. And June 10 inspires me by continuing to grow and refine even though he has outskilled just about anyone already.
HipHopCanada: Which Canadian artist would you most like to collaborate with?
Estea Elements: Nomeansno would be awesome, or The Dream Warriors! I don’t think I would sound any good with Propagandhi, so maybe Kish?… A Kish revival track with Estea?… come on!!!!
HipHopCanada: Tell us about past and present successes, as well as future projects?
Estea Elements: “Punk Rock Hip-Hop Soul” was a success because I made it with a record player, a mic, the Corg Electribe, and a four track in my shed! “Influents Party” was a success because I made a CD with 5 other guys and we didn’t kill each other… also it’s def! My four CDs with K-Rec have all been big successes because I feel like I’m making the music I would want to hear. We’re starting number five and hoping to grow again!
HipHopCanada: Any last words for the HipHopCanada online community?
Estea Elements: It’s very cool to represent hip-hop to the fullest and to be concerned for its wellbeing, but make sure you don’t get bogged down in the pointless debates and all the labelling and jargon. The original hip-hoppers didn’t even know the scope of what they were doing, and I think they were in a good position as a result of that. They were having fun and trying to improve themselves and as a result, hip-hop took care of itself and was dope! I’m trying to get away from the DEfining and getting back to the REfining. Let’s get away from image and materialism and stick with the skills and fun!