Kill the Vultures will be playing at the Paper Darts hosted MIA Third Thursday on January 17.
Interview by Matt Beachey
A lot of musicians move out to New York City to try and make it. Crescent Moon and Anatomy of Kill the Vultures left that haven of aspiring and failed artists for Minneapolis in 2001, and since then they’ve been slowly crafting their brand of hip hop. Producer Anatomy’s beats lack the crisp sheen of most modern hip hop—instead, his productions unfold slowly, asking you to listen closely instead of rattling your bones from the start. He samples the sounds of jazz almost exclusively, splicing samples of upright bass, saxophone, and light percussion to create gritty noir scenes in which vocalist Crescent raps brutal stories with dark, troubled characters.
Kill the Vultures has honed their chops opening for hip hop greats such as De La Soul, DJ Shadow, Talib Kweli, and Atmosphere, and they’re currently working on their third album.
Paper Darts: What unknown hip hop group/individual are you most excited about right now?
Crescent Moon: Well, since "unknown" is a relative term, I am going to choose Seattle-based duo Shabazz Palaces. Musically, I think they have a very similar philosophy to Kill the Vultures, which is to push the boundaries while remaining rooted in a tradition of making sure the music bumps something fierce. We had an offer to open for them when they came through Minneapolis earlier this year but we weren't available, unfortunately. Hopefully we'll get another chance.
PD: You guys use a lot of jazz samples. Do you have a jazz background, or are you just drawn to the sound?
Anatomy: I do not have a jazz background, but I like bringing a jazz element to our music for a few reasons. The melodic and rhythmic possibilities are infinite, which gives me the freedom to experiment. The sound of jazz captures the essence of American existence better than anything else in my opinion. As a producer, I have to choose the sound that makes the most sense with the personality and approach of the vocalist that I'm working with, and jazz works the best for Kill the Vultures' vocals. When I work with other vocalists I usually delve into other sounds.
PD: If you made a concept album, what would it be about?
Anatomy: It would be about precious stones. They are beautiful. We would do anything for them.
PD: What's your favorite way to pass the time on the road?
Crescent Moon: My favorite way to pass time on the road is a continuous cycle of snacking, napping, pretending to be asleep to avoid awkward conversation, gossip radio, vocal warm-up exercises, seeing how long I can hold my breath, freestyling a playlist, crying softly under my breath, and thumb-wrestling with the driver. Sometimes when I'm driving, I have to thumb-wrestle myself. I always lose.
PD: What would be on a sandwich named after you?
Crescent Moon: Well, I would change the name to "The Once in a Lifetime" or "The Identity Crisis" and it would start out with chunky, organic peanut butter (using the labor of domesticated Himalayan yak), coated with organic, locally farmed honey (from European honeybees) and topped with organic slices of Manzano banana. The bread is the diner's choice of artisan flatbread or an aged hot dog bun. The catch is that every time the sandwich is ordered, a new ingredient is added by the customer and is to be documented and added to every future "Once in a Lifetime."