:::Take a Trip Into The Matrix w/ Eternia::: (interview)
Interview by: Mamba
Photo’s by: B Fresh, Helene Ehrlich & J Grissette
Photo Editing by: Kwestro & Mamba
For those of you out there that have never heard of this brilliant, humble and extremely talented female MC, it’s time to get familiar =) Eternia embodies what it really means to “Hustle” & be an Artist. Sometimes I don’t think Eternia ever sleeps….She somehow manages to do the following without missing a beat: answer all of her fans facebook messages, answer all of her fans e-mails, promote herself extremely well, work on new material, rock shows, go to Church & spend quality time with her family. This woman has completely submerged her whole well being into her music for you to listen to, hear, & marinate on.. All of Her songs are personal, intimate & genuine. Eternia is orginally from Canada and was voted, and still remains the best female MC in Canada. With her current & free mixtape release – “Get Caught Up” (mixed by DJ Law) which I will kindly drop at the end of this interview. Eternia still continues to grind like everyday is her last! Eternia now resisdes in New York, and if you plan to attend SXSW this year, you can see her live!!!
Boy-Cott: How’s life been treating you?
Eternia: Life is good. More than good. God has really been blessing me. I can’t complain. I do reflect a lot (you see Ralphie May’s stand up about how the female mind works? *lol*! “your mind hates you!”) … but can’t complain.
Boy-Cott: How would you describe a typical “Day in the Life” of Eternia?
Eternia: The only thing ‘typical’ about my days is that they’re never ‘typical’ (*smiles*). No routine really. One day I may get up at 5am, to be on the road and performing at a high school for 9am. Another day I may get up at noon, be typing and on the phone all after noon for business-related ish, then headed to a rehearsal in the evening, or to church… these scenarios could go on for days. My life is far from routine. But you learn to appreciate that, too.
Boy-Cott: Before rapping what were you into?
Eternia: I always wrote poetry and sang, since I was old enough to write and sing. My pops remembers me singing “Jesus loves me” before I had a grasp on the English language, I must have been 2 or something. I was a bookworm as a kid too. I had the whole C.S. Lewis Narnia series read before the age of 8. From the ages of 6-15 I wrote a lot of novels, short stories, letters, and poems. I was a penpal with…. Everybody! (*laughs*). I’ve always had a passion for peoples’ stories, and I’ve always asked a lot of questions, which is probably why I went into Journalism in University. I’ve always loved animals, and wanted to work with animals. I’ve always loved older folk (seniors) and wanted to work with them too. I have a heart for that generation, I think they’re often overlooked. I’ve always been into documentary-style film work (moving picture and still photography). Which ties into my passion for journalism and peoples’ real life stories, you know? It’s all inter-woven. If you see “Brother’s Keeper” (1992), that’s the kinda documentary I love. It also relates to my love of older folks. Watch it! I’m just figuring out myself as I go along.
Boy-Cott: What’s one of the most frustrating things about being a female MC?
Eternia: Not being a natural selection for most opportunities. We’re not a natural ‘collab’ choice (unless it’s for a relationship track, and the rapper can’t get a dude to rap on that…). We’re not a natural ‘opening act’ choice (unless it’s for an all-female bill). We’re not a natural ‘cool crew’ choice (how many female emcees you see with a bunch of dudes on stage screaming their lyrics, air-micing, behind em? NEVER!). We’re basically just not a natural selection for much. But I ain’t complaining. I have good people around me- forward-thinking people, that DO select me, for all these things. So I don’t see the people that don’t see me.
Boy-Cott: What’s one of the most rewarding things about being a female MC?
Eternia: We easily stand out and are memorable. Because we’re still considered an ‘anomaly’, I find certain media outlets and audiences will take more notice, and remember us longer once they’re introduced to our existence. So, that can work negatively if that’s a female emcee that sucks, but gets shine ‘cause she’s one of very few in her environment. But that works in my favor, since I already know I can hold my own on any bill or any track with any dude, so if I am given the opportunity to rock with my peers, I will stand out and be remembered. A good example of that is a cute text my sister-in-law recently sent me. She’s a diverse music listener, not a hip hop purist at all. And her and her friends went to see TalibKweli in Williamsburg, at like this hipster party, because they’re fans. They had no idea who Jean Grae was, but when Jean came on stage and RIPPED it, my sis texted me right away like, “who’s this Jean Grae girl?! SHE JUST STOLE THE SHOW!!” So, you see what I mean? Jean obviously has natural talent and ability to outshine folks. But I think, as a woman, people take notice and remember us longer if we are given the platform to shine. And that’s always cool. But for me, the most rewarding thing is simply touching people with my music.
Boy-Cott: After listening and seeing countless songs & video’s of you ,I noticed that you’ve gone through a spiritual transformation. During this spiritual transformation, where you ever afraid that it would cause serious detriment to your career in the sense that you might be labeled a Christian MC?
Eternia: Ahh nah – not really. Because I’ve lost interest in caring what the industry thinks of me, or where I go ‘career’ wise. My ultimate goal is not to please fans by molding myself into what I think they may want me to be. I’ve always just strongly been who I am with no apologies… Christian or not. I think my biggest concern once I was saved was that maybe – by pursuing a career in the secular music industry – I was not doing God’s desire for my life. That working in the music industry and being a Christian were… intrinsically opposed. But I’ve received a lot of spiritual direction on that, from the scriptures, from God and also from other believers, and I’m just taking one day at a time. I really do take every opportunity to God before I say ‘yes’… so so far, I can say God’s paving the way for this career model I have now.
Boy-Cott: If someone could tap into the matrix and feel what you feel when you’re performing. How would they feel?
Eternia: WOW! HA! GOOD QUESTION! I think I have alotta adrenaline rushing through me. I’m kinda a blank slate too. Like if I’m at a really good show (good crowd, good sound, the band is tight, we rockin out ..) I’m just… blank in my mind, my thoughts aren’t racing, they are still. Which is VERY RARE for me! Ha! (back to Ralphie May). Like I’m not sidetracked, I’m not thinking, “man, why doesn’t the sound man fix these monitors?”, I’m just free to GOOOOooo!! It’s like flying. I’m just hyper and happy and high. That’s how I’d describe it. I smile a lot when I’m enjoying myself on stage. And afterwards, when I walk off stage, I have a natural buzz. I’m flushed and if I was tired before, I am not tired now. I’m ready to go all night. I’m just… it just feels like coming back from battle, Victorious. That’s how it feels…. Like Rocky Running up the steps, man. Yup. Victorious.
Boy-Cott: Before you start writing a new song, do you have a certain ritual you do? Or do you just start writing?
Eternia: Yah. I like to write to beats most of the time. So normally I let the beat rock on repeat. I like to be alone, but mobile (walking outside, on the treadmill, or riding the train…). I like to have the beat in my earphones, drown out the outside world. I write in my notebook if I want it to be more lyrical or complex. I write in my phone if I want it to be more conversational, like a freestyle. I noticed that after the fact, after I switched up my medium, that the rhymes sounded different. So yah. I don’t like interruptions when I’m writing. When I was a teenager I used to lock myself – in a bathroom – just to write… ask Apathy (ha!). But now I’m a lil more… uhh professional. I can write anywhere as long as I can lock myself away from distractions with earphones. In an ideal world, I like to chill on a beat or concept for a couple days, or weeks even. I think it helps me fine-tune the subject matter… cause I usually never re-write, once I put the pen to the page. There are no ‘rough drafts’ for me, once I go… I go. What u hear on record is my first attempt at that verse or concept. There’s rarely a second attempt.
Boy-Cott: I noticed that you have a very aggreesive rhyming style. What brought that to frution?
Eternia: My natural speaking voice is loud and aggressive, when I’m excited about something and I’m around family or friends. I’ve pretty much been a loud-mouth, embarrassing my family by my volume in public spaces, since I was born. But I also contribute that aggressive style to the era I was raised in, and the people I was raised around. I came up rapping in the 90’s and early 2000. So I’m not old school, but I’m not a newbie. I consider myself kinda… in the middle. But you know, we came up with Wu-tang and Onyx and M.O.P. and Redman and Busta wildin’ out, and everybody had STRONG voices and everybody performed HYPE, far from relaxed… well I mean the Native Tongue cats were relaxed I guess, but my voice was always strong and loud. Then I was mentored by Collizhun of Nefarius in early 2000. Anybody in the hip hop scene in Canada in the 90’s should know who that is. And he was SUPER WILD on stage and in the booth. He screamed on cats and encouraged me to do the same… ha… He had me standing a foot back from the mic when I was recording my first album (which never came out, btw). So, later on, I had to learn to rhyme in my speaking voice, as opposed to yellin. Yellin was natural for me. I had to learn to calm myself, and sometimes sound like a ‘woman’ on tracks. (*laughs*). That was so not natural for me. Now I just do me. I try to match my onstage energy with my energy on tracks. I want people to know what to expect from me, always… like Ghostface. He sound like Ghostface whether he doin a love song or a dirty rap record. I just wanna be consistent, always.
When I was a teenager I used to lock myself – in a bathroom – just to write…