Chris DeLine

Cedar Rapids, IA

Teller Bank$ Interview

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Teller Bank$ is an MC and producer based in Des Moines and his new album, The I & I, is the third in a trilogy released with producer Ed Glorious. This discussion drifts heavily into the esoteric, looking at such influences as the 12th book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible and Aleister Crowley’s Magick: Book 4, comparing and contrasting different mystical influences in communicating the philosophy behind Teller’s music.

villin: Hey, this is villin and that track is titled “Pop Star” from the Des Moines-based MC Teller Bank$. The song appears on Teller’s album The I & I, which is the third of a trilogy released in collaboration with Indiana-based producer Ed Glorious. This episode is going to be a little different in that it is less focused on the music itself, and more-so aimed at digging into and communicating Teller’s philosophy behind the music. This isn’t to take anything away from the album, though, which is one of the season’s best. For more on the release itself I’d like to direct you to Lucius Pham’s piece for Iowa Public Radio, or my own review for Little Village Magazine. And, actually, that review is what sparked this episode. Before I heard a note of the album I was intrigued by Teller’s album art, and in particular I went down a rabbit hole exploring the scripture used on its back cover. There, Teller creates an interesting dichotomy, pulling references from two distinctly unique pieces of writing.

The first is from the 12th book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible while the second is a quote from Aleister Crowley’s Magick: Book 4. One passage speaks to a concept of not waiting until old age or for darkness to fall before honoring one’s God, while the other references the sword, an accessory of ceremonial magick, as a weapon which “strikes terror into the demons and dominates them.” I felt an urge to decode the vague nature of the esoteric references, or figure out how they might be related, but that was a failed pursuit within the parameters of a 500-word review. Fortunately, Teller was willing to discuss his ideas and influences at length.

The starting point here is trauma of the big-T variety. Raised in Denver and elevating himself out of the trappings of gang life, Teller uses vivid imagery throughout The I & I to explain the nature of his past. As an example, the track “Demons” finds Teller asking, “you ever heard them yell ‘freeze’ when you was at the post box?,” while in “Cain & Abel” he adds, “I close my eyes I see violence.” Teller doesn’t characterize his experience as one that should invoke a sense of sympathy, but rather he shares it as a means of adding context to his current situation. Any of us are only who we are because of who we’ve been. The thread of trauma runs throughout the album, and in our discussion the theme of herd mentality also presents itself, whether relating to gang culture or religious practice. And in Teller’s life, that mentality began to influence him from an early age, imprinting upon him a vision of the world that he is still working to reconstruct.

Teller Bank$: I’m learning a lot of the things that I was just taught to be, and taught that existed and the way that things are. It’s like, I was molded by this environment that I described in The Grotesque & Beautiful, where it’s like, I look at the hood as nature. It’s one of the most beautiful things you’ll ever see, but it’s also one of the most violent, grotesque things that you’ll witness happen in nature, as well. The same thing, in the hood, the type of love and natural camaraderie that you’ll come across in the hood doesn’t exist anywhere else, but some of the savagery and native things that you’ll see there only exist there, as well. So, it’s kind of like, you’re taught a certain set of rules and guidelines of how to survive this particular environment, right? And you internalize it as the rules to life itself. You know what I’m saying?

But as you start to get older and start to understand, you start realizing a lot of the things that I learned and was taught to do wasn’t necessarily about right or wrong, it’s about survival. And so as your moral compass starts to shape itself and as you start to live and experience the environment on a first hand basis, rather than it being taught to you, then you start to understand the subtleties that go along with being in that environment or the actual nuance to the conversation of what is right or wrong. So, essentially, that’s like the third album, my perspective as I am right now, going back and unlearning things that I was taught, learning things that I grew to understand as right or wrong.

villin: Every young person is faced with an interesting task as they maneuver childhood relating to the interpretation of value. Sources of authority promote different ideals and we’re all tasked to balance a reverence for elders and authority figures with critical thought and finding our own path in the world. While elaborating further about his own childhood later, Teller spoke to the young person’s dilemma here as a means of transitioning into the adoption and application of symbolism in his life.

Teller Bank$: The first thing I’m starting with is the metaphor for the sword. Basically the entire album draws back to my life, like, I grew up in a lot of gang culture, I grew up gang banging and involved in a lot of that type of stuff. And that’s the neighborhood and area and the people that I was around, that’s what they was into when I was growing up. You see it in different levels, it’s like, when you’re a kid you’re watching all of the older people and everything is like this fantastical, glorified—you play those type of games, it’s like cops and robbers, you know? It’s a fantastical version of what’s actually happening, right? But as a child you don’t understand the reality and the terms yet. You’re seeing all the things happen, people die, and people go to jail, and things happen. You’re witnessing it, but the actual reality effect, it hasn’t hit you personally yet so you’re just observing it from the outside. So it’s kind of like being a kid that’s raised in a military family, from that perspective. If you looked at it like that, you have all these monuments to war and you see people in their uniforms, you see people’s medals and badges and all these things, and you have this reverence for—even though you haven’t seen the actual bloody combat of warfare, you know what I’m saying?

And so that’s that metaphor of being a weapon or being the sword or being a device that’s used to fight a war, it’s very important to my life. And metaphorically that’s how I view myself is, more or less, I’m the sword. You know what I mean? As I’ve [come] to understand it in my life now, where it’s like I’ve taken the negative things that have been imprinted in me and my life and now I use it to a positive. So it’s like the people that I am around now are positive people and I defend them with the same kind of fervor that I defended my hood back in the day. So, my role in the group that I’m a part of now, and the things that I do now, is still the same. I’m still the defender, I’m still the carnivore, I’m still what would be seen as the bad guy, right, or the negativity. But it’s like, I am the sword that protects. If you’re going to have a kingdom of love and peace and all of that, you still need an army to protect it otherwise the evil will come and take your peace away.

As the albums evolved there’s been different portions of both the Bible and Crowley that I’ve used throughout both of the albums to kind of articulate some things. I live a very occult existence, so the different scriptures that are from the Bible actually come from different parts of my own interests in groups and societies that I’m involved in that have special poignant meaning to them. And the same thing with chapters from Crowley. So the Ecclesiastes piece is like the final of three scriptures that are important to me and my brothers as far as what we do and things that we’re into. The sword, the wand, and the altar are all important pieces of magick or Crowleyism. So, just in terms of the trilogy, this album lines up with those scriptures and with the sword as being a conclusion piece. It’s really about finding who you are yourself.

The I & I is another term for God, too. So it’s kind of like, if you understand the scripture of Ecclesiastes, it’s more like always keep God in your heart. Remember in your youth, as well, don’t wait until old age to start making your life how you’re supposed to live it, essentially, is how I interpret the scripture. It’s hard to explain the one without the other, without the other two, or without those other pieces with it, you know what I mean? But that’s the beauty of it, too. There’s so much depth to it, if you really want to get in there and get into the meat of it, but also from a surface level it’s very understood, as well. If you’ve never been from where I’m from, if you don’t know nothing about the masonry, if you don’t know nothing about Crowley, if you don’t know anything like that you can still enjoy and appreciate the music and the album. But all of the different signs and symbols point to a lot of deeper spiritual references.

villin: This is where we get into the conceptual intersection which braids ideas from the Bible and Crowley with the influence behind the album’s title, itself. This term, the “I and I,” reflects a Rastafarian belief that God is within all people, and at an esoteric middle ground between these three concepts are themes revolving around self-awareness and manifesting one’s own destiny. At this conceptual crossroads, if God is within and we’re to pay respect to that presence, doing so might come in the form of giving gratitude, or self-love, including gratitude for one’s own ability to strive through life’s hardships and obstacles. As Teller explained, this focus on self is something at the heart of tracks such as “The Truth,” where the challenge issued is one to recognize the importance of strengthening one’s own relationship with the self. That personal resolve toward integrity or harmony is something he raps about in the album closer “Fed Block Illuminati,” as well, speaking to how an outward view of the world gets twisted in the absence of self-trust.

Teller Bank$: The whole album really is about finding that love of self, you know what I’m saying? Finding the meaning and, like you said, you hit it right on the head, the love of self, because the term—the whole title is a play on a lot of different things, you know what I mean? It’s your inner you, the I in I, the I and I, it’s kind of like… it plays with itself if you think about it in terms of how it’s set up. What is The I & I? Like I said, it comes from an old Rastafari term for actual God and it’s about exactly what you said, the God that’s in all of us, right? It’s like all of us are connected to this source. On a grand scale of things God is surrounding all of us but on a microscopic level He’s also inside all of us. It’s that wheel inside of a wheel metaphor taking shape, but it’s about finding that love in yourself because oftentimes our love is sewn into other things.

[When] I grew up I had love for colors, I had love for my brothers, I had love for my neighborhood, you know what I’m saying? I did things to gain a certain rank or to follow these dogmatic practices within my community, within my neighborhood, within my gang, that gave me honor and respect. That’s all I know, right? But once you remove yourself from that… Like, for me, I moved to a completely different state, city, all of that, where everything that I knew and grew up to wear as badges of honor aren’t recognized. It’d be like if I was wearing my army uniform and I got all my stripes and stars on it but I go somewhere else where they don’t even have that. They don’t care, nobody knows what this means, nobody cares what this is, right? So, what are you left with, you know what I mean? When you remove everything that you’ve gained your value from, right? You’re just left with yourself.

Like you said, honoring that value in yourself is the most important thing. You can go search for meaning in religion, you can go and search for meaning through any different group that you can try to join to find belonging, whether it be church, spiritual groups, or whether it be a witch coven, the Masons, whatever it is that you want to go and get into that you feel like you’ll find yourself and find meaning, you’ll always have that understanding or have to have that value of who you are without all of those things. Otherwise it’s all for not. That’s why I like songs like “Finders Keepers” where I say “Traveled all around the world and ain’t no where to find it but I found it in myself, ain’t know where it was hiding.” That song, “The Truth,” where it’s like, you know “Faith in God is worthless if you don’t believe in yourself, material wealth is worthless if you don’t have spiritual health,” you know what I mean? It’s like all of those different types of things, putting it in to where it’s like… stuff that I’ve just learned in myself now having unlearned all of the things that gave me value, even learning to deal with certain problems, where it’s like if somebody does this to you, you respond in this way. And just even the feeling of, you know, like I said, somebody else determining your rank and your value in any type of system. This is just a breaking of that and an understanding now, looking back on all those things and concepts that were brought up in the first two albums, kind of looking back on them now in an adult lens. From the lens of fatherhood, from the lens of now having to be a better person for the future, no longer being the future itself that people are trying to teach and show the way, you know what I mean?

villin: Wearing trauma as a badge of honor bears different significance in different situations, but think about how our own faulty relationships with ourselves, or perhaps self-imposed trauma, changes the way we view the world and the other people living in it. Teller spoke to this, commenting on the end point in gang culture which stems from the personal devaluation of the individual.

Teller Bank$: All of the problems and all of the people I know, everybody’s just searching for acceptance. And it’s because you search, you seek it externally because the hardest place to find acceptance is within your own self. Because you know all of your own shit, right? Everybody else, you can pull the wool over their eyes. You can convince people that you’re not afraid. You can convince people that you’re all kind of things, just in your actions. But you know, you’ll always know all of the deepest darkest parts of you. And, so, the way you feel about yourself is ultimately how you’re going to feel about the world and everybody else. If you don’t value yourself or your own life then you can’t even comprehend the value of somebody else’s life. And that’s why in a lot of places I’m from, the place I’m from and a lot of places I’ve been, the value for life is so low. It’s not because people don’t care about each other, around them—they actually care more about each other than they do themselves. And that’s what the issue is.

villin: Teller came from the church, his background influenced by his family. And as we discussed his rejection of one set of values and adoption of another, it was interesting to track the parallels between the church and gang cultures. In both situations, the purity of the concept, or what brings people together, is prone to corruption by the prevailing trend of human nature, leaving many with a quandary over how to proceed. When involved in a group that is straying from your own ideals, what do you do? How do you reconcile other people’s influences with your own? And further, how do you change paths when reaching a philosophical dead end?

Teller Bank$: [When] I grew up I spent a lot of time in church. My dad became a pastor probably when I was eight or nine years old. I spent a lot of time in church, but I’m the black sheep of my family. Around the time that my dad really got into church was around the time that I really started getting into all the bad stuff that I was doing. I lived a dual existence. I knew how to put on the face and be good in church and be an upstanding person but that wasn’t who I wanted to be. I wanted the accolades from being hard. I wanted all the street shit, I didn’t really want the other side of it. But just being in the other side of it, you start to see how similar everything really is. How much human nature just prevails, no matter what the setting is, all of that, it’s like everything eventually breaks down and becomes victim of people’s human nature. My dad actually was a pastor for a long time. He stopped. He doesn’t really do church stuff no more, just ’cause he just fell out of organized religion. [He] realized that for all the positive that he could do in it, the system itself is corrupted, limited. So, if you’re in it for the actual good of the spirit of trying to do good, it almost becomes more hassle than it’s worth. And you eventually just start to focus on your own individual relationship with God and your neighborhood, you know what I’m saying, at the same time.

villin: This is where Teller became more specific with how he pivoted personally away from those issues in his own life and used the tools at hand to try to make sense of his world.

Teller Bank$: My actual spirituality that I practice is technically magick. I practice the [inaudible]. I study a lot of Crowley, I read a lot of Crowley. So that’s like the basis for my… I won’t say my spirituality, but my spiritual practices. How I learned to meditate, really a lot of that stuff comes from Crowley, or Crowley-like individuals and groups. That’s what I was into. Once I started finding for myself what I was actually drawn to and into that’s what came to me.

villin: Along with learning about the album’s cover, I was also interested in understanding more about the symbolism that carried over into a tattoo Teller has on his arm, featuring a crest bearing a variety of different icons and references. In explaining the influence behind the tattoo, discussion also turned toward the adoption of a holistic view of spirituality, finding similarities across traditions and using various sources of mythology in developing a personalized relationship with a higher power.

Teller Bank$: That same book that that quote is for—my tattoo—is based on that. So, it’s just essentially an instruction book. So, it gives you instructions on the different things that you’ll need to be a magician. This, essentially, is a crest of protection that came—I want to say almost directly from the book, but I had it reimagined and interpreted. I put a couple different numbers on there; the 357 is on there instead of the 418 that Crowley has on his. And then I just have a couple other different symbols, like the five V’s—that’s my mantra—but, yeah, I got the sword, the crown… They’re all different applications metaphorically: the sword, the crown, the wand, the altar, the cup. Different things that you also see depicted in tarot, they’re all these different concepts that have existed for a long time. You see these different types of archetype through all kinds of different religions, that hold different types of significance and you see it even in the Bible, as well. The Bible is one of the most mystical, mysterious… If you have the understanding of the Kabbalah and Crowleyism and all that, and you go back and look at the Bible in a different interpretation, you can see a lot of the parallels. And then you start to understand, it’s like, if you understand the crown and the sword and the cup from a Crowley standpoint, then when they appear in the Bible you start to get a little bit, “Oh, okay, now I’m starting to get this.” This is the same information told in different types of allegories.

villin: As we spoke, I was reminded of a concept I love which comes from Bruce Lee. He referred to “styles” we all take on as a way of crystalizing personal ideals. In terms of religion, some people are Christian, some Muslim, some atheist, and these are each a different style, but styles can be identified in all walks of life. In his world, Bruce Lee created his own martial arts style, Jeet Kune Do, as the style of having no style—a practical approach to his craft which left open the door of doctrine, recognizing that his approach can and should be improved upon and changed as new ideas become available. When we stand firm in our own unique styles, Bruce Lee said, that becomes a crystallization, a hardening, an adoption of a particular position at the exclusion of all other styles. If I call myself a New York Yankees fan, I do so at the exclusion of all other baseball teams. If I call myself a Christian, I do so at the exclusion of all other religions. In his own way, Teller got into this subject of styles as it relates to spirituality and the concept of how incorporating various influences can help benefit one’s own spiritual path.

Teller Bank$: It’s my belief and understanding that the spirits of the Earth have existed eternally. And it’s through man that God experiences the Earth. That’s why you have all these instances of divine inspiration across… And you think back to ancient civilization, you have all these people who have never seen each other [or] interacted with one another that are participating in the same types of phenomenon. Building pyramids, acquiring gold and wealth and creating temples and these different things to essentially house and attract these spirits and they’re all doing this, and they’re all seeing some type of result that is making people continue to do it, right? So I just look at everything like—all the spirits of the Earth and all the things that exist in that sense basically use us as a vessel to enjoy the things that they want to enjoy or participate in.

That’s the understanding that I go into a lot of religious things with, why symbology and iconography are so important and have withstood so many thousands of years, you know what I mean? This idea of a cross warding off evil spirits or being a holy thing has persisted through several cultures, through cultures that don’t even believe in the crucifixion. The star, the symbol of a star, the circle, there’s all these different things that hold different value and it really does… but, just in terms of understanding, figuring out how your brain works and what you’re actually attached to, what your spirit is the most naturally inclined to be a part of—’cause everybody isn’t just wired the same to work the same. Figuring that out is kind of like figuring out your codex, it’s a coded symbol, each symbol represents something else, right? And every person has their own interpretation and once you figure that out for yourself, then it’s kind of like cracking the code. It’s like “ah, the crown is this, the sword is represented in this, the cup represents this, the wand is these things.” And then you start to understand.

It’s kind of like philosophy, everything is a meta language. If I’m looking at a cup and I call it a mug and you call it a cup it’s the same thing, you know what I mean, we’re just calling it different items. It serves the same purpose. Prayer [and] meditation serve the same purpose but just through different mediums. And different religions have more of a focus on different actual aspects of that, how to improve and how to do things. And I really feel like understanding a lot of different things, instead of limiting your mind to one interpretation, you can learn how to do a lot of things. Like, you can learn how to pray better by knowing Hindu style of meditation. If you apply that to your Christianity you’ll improve your Christianity. And potentially vice-versa, I’ve never done it the other way, because I’ve only experienced things from one schema of learning Christianity first and taking everything back and applying it to that. But, I just think it’s a valuable practice for everybody to get outside of your comfort zone. That’s how I got into Crowley.

I grew up super religious. So, I was anti all of that. I thought everybody that was rapping was a devil worshiping, sold their soul to the devil… you know, I was one of them Killuminati guys. And I started reading Crowley so that I could understand. I knew I wanted to be in music, right, and I’m seeing all the symbology so I started reading about it to understand to help better protect myself. Because if you don’t know your enemy, what do you know? You can’t defend yourself from anything. So I’m looking at all of these things like, “Oh, this is evil, this is Satanic, this is demonic.” And then as I start reading and actually understanding the material for myself I started to realize, oh, they’re not saying anything different from what the Bible is trying to say through its stories. This is just more matter-of-fact; this is just from a different lens; this is just from a different interpretation or from a different walk of life than saying that’s looking at it in these ways versus looking at it in a base Western Christian standpoint.

villin: Further, this concept of crystallization can become a point of divisiveness. As Teller commented on religious animosity that can bubble up between those bearing opposing views, the thought of gang mentality continued to linger in the background of our conversation. Flowing out of this was a question over how the purity of a group’s stated purpose can be twisted into a tool by which to ostracize or castigate those who stray outside the boundaries of that particular viewpoint.

Teller Bank$: And, it’s like, when you look at the purpose, you’ve got to look at things for the purpose. What is the purpose of Christianity or your religion? You’ve got to think, “Okay, so the purpose of it is salvation,” right? That’s what’s sold to you in Christianity is salvation. But it’s not sold to you in salvation on this Earth. It’s giving you a set of practices through stories, it gives you a set of, basically, anecdotal stories throughout a certain area in history that are supposed to give you the practices that will help you lead a better life, but will also lead to your salvation of your soul. So, if that is the purpose, is just simply seeking salvation, then the exclusivity in that is simply human nature.

Where you see it all the time where it’s like, “Well, my confidence in the fact that I’m right is that other people are doing it with me. So, I can’t feel comfortable in the fact that I’m doing the right things unless I can convince and get everybody with me to do things the same way I’m doing things, because if somebody is doing things another way then that leads me to question what I’m doing.” That’s the toxic, that’s the human element of it that we add to it. Where we forget the actual purpose of it is to be seeking salvation and we end up with a system that values conformity over even an actual… or the actual purpose itself being salvation. Where, a lot of people in religion could care less of your actual spiritual health, or how you’re doing, as long as you’re walking the walk and talking the talk then you are validating their belief, “Then, okay, yep, we’re doing it the right way.” It’s not even about, “I feel like you’re going to go to hell, I’m trying to save you so bad, I don’t want to go to hell.” Compassion isn’t like that, otherwise why would we be killing each other, why would we wage war for religion if our purpose is to save another person’s soul, why would we destroy their body over it? Right? It’s not about that, it’s about gaining the confidence of, “Well, it makes me feel insecure that you guys feel a different thing. And if you guys believe a different thing and get good results from that, and I’m not getting good results from what I’m doing, then I either have to fall in line with you guys or destroy what you’re doing.” My power of, “Well, I was given the power to destroy you by my God who you should be serving, not your God,” who is all the same being.

villin: There’s a practical application found in Teller’s approach, and one that has helped him transition away from his former self and into the person he is becoming. That’s what I hear when I listen to The I & I; someone attempting to reconcile with history and do right by themselves and their children; someone attempting to unlearn broken styles of thinking and learn a new approach to living.

Teller Bank$: What is religion serving to me? It’s supposed to be salvation, right, and then I start to question, “Well, what does that look like; what do I need to be saved from, really?” And the idea of the devil just becomes a blank of everything negative. People don’t look at the personal, “Well, what am I actually personally dealing with? I’m dealing with insecurity in my looks. I’m dealing with depression. I’m dealing with feelings of loneliness. I’m dealing with all these things.” And those specific answers aren’t given to you in that sense. For me, it was like, “Alright, Christianity is missing something. I’m missing my, you know… How do I find peace and solace in this lifetime, in this existence, in my current human form?”

And Crowley and the writing of that led more more to that understanding how to meditate and reading it and looking at spirituality in almost more of a scientific sense. Where it’s like, let’s remove the mysticism and let’s remove all this stuff and just look at the data and really look at it and see what are we trying to achieve? What can we narrow down? What do all things agree on in all these religions? What is something that I can take away that’s universal from all of them? That idea is essentially the same as what I’m exploring in the album. Where it’s like, a lot of the times I was growing up to meet every situation with violence. I didn’t know how to solve any problem outside of that. The solution to everything was violence, right? Now it’s like, alright, removing myself from that area and environment that I grew up in, now I’m having my son, now I’m teaching my son how to live life. And [the] actuality is, in the environment that he’s growing up in and the life that he’s living, it’s more detrimental to teach him the things that I grew up with. So I have to now take that and re-learn and re-do that and in that process refine myself and re-look at the things that I knew to be right and wrong and now reinterpret that.

Religion in its current form, Christianity in its current form, doesn’t offer that. It doesn’t offer a lot of actual open discussion for interpretation. It is a, “You believe this or you’re going against us, and it’s actually worse than just [not] being a Christian. If you believe that this says something different than what we tell you you’re actually a heretic. You’re the worst type of person. You’re a blasphemer.” You know what I mean? All of the philosophical conversation around religion is almost lost at this point. There is no more debate of, “What does this mean?” or “Oh, I think it means this, or I think that.” There is no individual connection to it. And for me that’s what I was lacking and just interpreting that as that’s where I felt like a lot of people on Earth are lacking. It’s that connection to the I, themselves, and the God that is within themselves that’s just personal to them. Not the God of everybody, right? It is the same God, but the same God that presides over everything all at the same time is also uniquely inside you as an individual. You have to tend to that personally more so than you tend to everything else and everywhere else in the world, and what everybody else is doing, and the practices that they’re doing in the physical. How is your actual spiritual health and your personal relationship with God.

villin: There’s a balance at the heart of all of this for Teller. He recognizes the allure certain individuals find in this sort of abstract discussion and how that enhances his work, but he’s also quick not to manipulate that appeal by catering to a specific audience or putting the mythos above the music. If you’re just listening to the album and all you’re interested in is good music, you’re going to get that with The I & I. But if you’re looking for more, there are countless roads to travel within its 14 tracks. That’s the nature of the art and artist at play here.

Teller Bank$: It’s not even like I’m pandering my spirituality to sell records, right? But I know that that’s what gives my music its differences. That the content that is in my music is not something that you can replicate. I have what would be the equivalent, in terms of degrees, in both of my groups that I was in in spirituality, whether it be the masonry or other things. I pretty much have a doctorate in both of those. That’s what makes me set apart from other artists. There are a lot of people that can rap great. I know a lot of artists that are amazing rappers, I know a lot of people that do amazing things. My specific niche though is what compels people to be involved in my art. The mystery of seeing a symbol in the background of my album and then saying, “Okay, what is this? Where’s this from? What is he talking about?” Or even just being able to spot the references and those kind of things. My biggest fans are people who are reading books, have read Crowley, are into the occult, you know what I mean? Instead of me trying to make music as this mass appeal, and some songs I do make sound like that, but all of the content is so hyper-focused and hyper-specific on a specific set of interests and a specific set of people that it’s like, that’s how I create my value.

[This interview has been edited for length and clarity and was first published on villin.]