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new music: Aquience

“On Hip Hop Band Aquience”

by Lisa Gregory

Aquience is an electronica/hip hop/acoustic band that came together in Fayetteville, North Carolina in 2009. This motley crew consists of three members: Sir Voh, Jaiden Frost, and Squid (alternatively spelled: S!r Voh, JA!DEN FROST, and Squ?d). I interviewed them at the Xtasy Ice Café, a friendly coffee shop in Fayetteville, where I found out that yes, they will be releasing Untidaled, their first EP, for free online download later this month. No two songs sound alike. The tracks contain a spectrum of sounds that range from the dreamy and mellow “Ocean Blue” to the poppy “Do it Like you Want Me (Ah Ha Ah)” to “Level 5,” which is literally a fun and games song that for me conjured up images of a crowd of techno dancers having an insanely good time in the middle of a chaotic video game. “Abigail’s Lullaby” is the acoustic Squid wrote for his newborn daughter (Abigail Maria Nykole Hall) and Jaiden raps his soul out in “Lost Smile,” which also features a nicely drawn out vocal solo from Squid at the song’s close.
***
Q: How did you guys meet each other?
JD: We’re cousins.
Q (JD): You and Squid are cousins, but how about you and Voh?
JD: We’re cousins too, which we found out about a year ago. I’ve known Squid since he was two and I was four.
Q (Voh): So how did you meet Jaiden and Squid?
Voh: I lost my apartment and didn’t have a place to stay. I showed up at the house where Jaiden stayed – Kasa de Punk – and talked to the house owner. The owner let me stay on the couch in the beginning, but after a while everyone got sick of me being there, so I ended up sharing a room with Jaiden.
Q: Where did your band name originate?
Voh: Super Nintendo’s Donky Kong Country. The background theme of the Coral Capers level is called Aquatic Ambience. We merged the two words together and got Aquience.
JD: We’re totally geeks.
Q: What genre of music is Aquience?
Voh: We kind of fuse everything we do with hip hop.
Squid: We started out being electronica hip hop crunk [but after switching things up a few more times] we became electronica hip hop acoustic.
Q: What are some of your influences?
Squid: Aaron Lewis from Staind would be my acoustic influence… Hip hop and pop influences are Eminem and Lil’ Wayne.
Voh: My influence? Video games. And for some reason when I make a beat it winds up as crunk as hell.
Q: Crunk?
JD: Crunk is Southern dirty hip hop. Deep and bassy heavy hip hop.
Q (JD): How about your influences?
JD: Lunchbox [AKA LunchboxXx]. IDK (alternative spelling !Dk?) is my favorite band and Lunchbox is their frontman.
Q: What genre would IDK fall under?
JD: Nu Grunge.
Squid: Lunchbox is like this: If Tool and Deftones got together and had a baby and this baby grew up and had sex with Korn who then gave birth to Siamese twins, Lunchbox would be just like the Siamese twins.
Q: What instruments do you play?
Squid: Guitar, bass guitar, vocals.
JD: Bass guitar, keys, drums, I make synth beats (AKA programming), I can sing and rap.
Voh: I do programming and play all the instruments JD listed minus drums.
Q: Do you play any special brands or hope to get sponsored by any company in particular?
Squid: FruityLoops!
JD: FL Studio…
Voh: …the software program.
JD: And maybe Rock Band… Our mic is a Rock Band mic that we just found at the house one day and started using.
Squid: I like Washburn guitars. And Martin string is delicious.
Q: What was your first inspiration to play music?
Squid: I was five when Grandpa got me a guitar. I didn’t really pick it up until I was ten, but by twelve I knew I wanted to play guitar for the rest of my life. It’s surprising that I do any singing at all though. I started singing when I was five, but Dad always told me to shut up when I sang in the back of the car. He’d say “Just let the song sound like it’s supposed to.”
Voh: I was making a video game and I really liked the music, but it was illegal to reproduce it, so I started making my own with MIDI synth computer software.
Q (Voh): When did you start?
Voh: Freshman year.
JD: My first inspiration was hearing System of a Down when I was twelve. I heard it and said, “I wanna play that.” “Aerials” was the first song I learned on bass.
Q: Have you had any formal training?
Squid: Nope.
Voh: If YouTube counts as formal.
JD: Classical Flamenco guitar.
Q (Squid): What makes you “Squid”?
Squid: I had dreds.
Q (JD): What makes you Jaiden Frost?
JD: I am Jaiden Frost.
Q (Voh): What makes you Sir Voh?
Voh: It’s a spin off my real name. Joe became Voh. The “V” stands for verbosity. I’m randomly verbose. The Kangaroo Gas Station, for example, is the Australian Marsupial Gasoline Distribution Facility. The “Sir” just comes from my mannerisms. I’m classy?
JD: He’s extremely polite… very genteel.
Squid: If he had the money he’d dress in a top hat and black suit with pin stripes every day.
Q: About the music… Who writes the lyrics? Who puts it to music?
JD: Squid and I write lyrics. Voh makes the beat and I produce the song, but sometimes Voh and I switch. I’ll do a beat and he’ll produce.
Q (JD): “Lost Smile” is wrought with emotion. How did you record it that way?
JD: If you listen close, there’s a sniffle in mid-first verse. I had just gotten a phone call saying my parents had to go to prison. The lyrics were from a self-project. I took the lyrics and decided to record them soon after the phone call. The beginning of the song has me wondering why I can’t feel. I had a period where I couldn’t feel anything, couldn’t cry… By the middle of the song, I’m figuring out why, and by the end I’m telling myself I need to change… live in reality and not so much in my own mind. The blues vocal solo Squid does at the end is something he was just walking around singing at the time of recording.
Q (Voh): In “Level 5,” are you portraying any video game in particular, a mixture of favorites, or did you dream up your own game?
Voh: Look at it as a random video game. The first chorus is a battle, the first verse is a bit of wandering around. There are elements of old Final Fantasy. The final boss comes in at the end with fanfare. There are experience points. The original NES [Nintendo Entertainment System] sound… I went for that.
JD: Some of the raw phrases you hear in “Level 5” are just weird terms we came up with and proclaimed around the house. This was a fun song. We felt free to insert anything we wanted since it wasn’t anything we planned for radio play. But aside from a couple of beats that I came up with… some minor things, this song is basically all Voh’s doing.
Q: Who wrote Abigail’s Lullaby?
JD: Squid did the guitar, vocals, effects, and the lyrics. It’s all him.
Q (Squid): How old is your daughter?
Squid: Six weeks. Abigail Maria Nykole Hall.
JD: She’s Catholic… not really… but she’s got three fucking names in case she doesn’t like any of them.
Q: Is it true that you might actually give your first CD away?
JD: Yes. We have discussed it, we have agreed. We didn’t spend any money on it… the Rock Band mic was found. Voh had his laptop. If anyone wants a physical copy they can buy it if they want to, but whoever wants to download it will be able to download the whole thing for free.
Q: When is your expected release date?
JD: We’ve only got one more song to record. It will feature vocals from both Squid and Lunchbox from IDK… Hmm… March 27… Untidaled.
Q: Is there anything I haven’t asked you about that you would like to add?
JD: We recently made an appearance in a short film called “Final Straw,” which has been submitted to Comedy Central’s Tosh.O. Also we just did a podcast for the Fayetteville Feed. That’ll be up in a few days and they’re sending the podcast to Q98.
Q: Anything else?
Squid: Parkton [NC] is the mother ship.
Voh: Fuck Rachel Watson.
JD: …Spin Shannon.

***

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