Ecliptic Sight Interview: Werner Von Wallenrod

Werner Von Wallenrod aka John W. McKelvey aka Mr. Hip-Hop Encyclopedia has helped many fill holes in their record collection since 1997 with his “Humble Little Hip-Hop Site”. Now continuing that tradition with his “Humble Little Hip-Hop Blog”, he is set to educate the masses with his video post and overall knowledge of hip-hop. Come now as pick the brain of Werner Von Wallenrod.

ESP: Thank you for taking your time to answer my questions.

WVW: Thanks for your interest!

ESP: Who is Werner Von Wallenrod and where did the name come from?

WVW: It’s an obscure reference from a very bad video game. Despite how much it sucked, my friend and I decided we were determined to beat it, and we then spent way too much time playing it.
I think I chose it for the same reason Flavor Flav picked his rap name – he wanted a name where he wasn’t going to find out six months later that another guy in another city had the same name (i.e. all the MCs and DJs named Dre). And so far, it hasn’t happened. ;)

ESP: When did you start Werner Von Wallenrod’s Humble, Little Hip Hop Site?

WVW: In early 1997. I actually had an earlier taste of running a website (of a sort haha)… I don’t know if anybody remembers X-Band anymore? Pre-internet, it was a cartridge that plugged into your Sega Genesis with phone wire coming out of it. Essentially, it let X-Box players play a few 2-player games (primarily Mortal Kombat 2 and Madden) against each other over the phone lines. I used to write a page that had upcoming release dates and reviews of each week’s hip-hop releases, and I actually started to get readers and people e-mailing questions and stuff, if you can believe it.
Then, my family got on the internet with America Online (back when you used to pay by the minute – scary!), and I decided to teach myself a little HTML and make a members page building on that X-Band page.

ESP: Who was the first discography on your site?

WVW: Ultramagnetic MC’s and Natural Elements. Back in the early days, a friend had found a discography of Ultramagnetic on the internet. We printed it out and I carried it around everywhere. It was really incomplete, though – both in the sense that it didn’t include any of their guest spots or solo/ side projects, and that it was missing a lot of their key, classic 12″‘s and stuff. So I decided to make my own, much more completist version, that even went on to include Tim Dog, Godfather Don and Raw Breed. And I did NE because I had all of their records, and their was no discography of them anywhere. I started adding more pretty, then, pretty much right away.

ESP: On your site it says, “…Or, maybe I just like them. I’ll tell ya one thing, though: they ain’t payin’ me for it. Except L’Trimm. They made me rich…”, what does that mean?

WVW: That was a silly joke. Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world where L’Trimm paid somebody millions of dollars to make an AOL members’ page about their music?
In honor of this interview, I made today’s blog entry about a L’Trimm record.

ESP: Where did your love for hip-hop come from?

WVW: Ever since I was a young kid. I remember my first tape I ever owned and loved was a Weird Al tape. I was kind of searching for a musical genre, I guess… because all fellow first graders would’ve been listening to, like, early Bon Jovi, which I could never get into. I had a few rock and roll tapes as a kid (I remember Poison and Def Leopard), because that’s where I grew up; but as soon as I found hip-hop, that was it.
Back then, I used to have a hard time because in music stores, hip-hop and other genres (R&B, dance, rap etc) were all mixed into one big “Soul” or “Black Music” section. Can you believe, as late as the early 80’s, modern music stores in New Jersey still had a “black music” section? So anyway, (bear in mind, little kids aren’t all that smart yet), I used to often be looking at tapes trying to figure out, “is this rap?” Those were the days.

ESP: What is your current stance on the state of hip-hop in general?

WVW: The only new stuff I get into these days is pretty obscure, indie stuff… except for the recent revival of old school reissues which is pretty awesome, ey? I could accept that I’m just a crotchety old man (32!) who insists that the old ways were better, except I do enjoy new stuff by some innovative new artists (Buck 65 is a favorite), so that must just mean the new stuff sucks. In an industry driven by ringtones, though, I don’t think that’s so hard to accept.

ESP: Werner Von Wallenrod’s Humble, Little Hip-Hop Blog has you showing off extensive knowledge of everything hip-hop. How does this help promote your ideas?

WVW: At one point in my life, it got me a flashy job writing and editing at The Source. These days, though, my life and business (I run a bookstore in a neighborhood where people would say, “Yuck, why are you playing rap music? Please turn that off”) are pretty separated from the hip-hop scene. It would be nice if those two ends could meet again someday, but who knows?

Plus, I’ve never been that plugged into the scene, per se… just the music. As a kid, I remember seeing kids who listened to heavy metal and thinking, “just because you listen to the music, why do you have to have long hair and wear t-shirts with skulls on them?” Actually, I kinda liked the skull shirts; those were cool. I remember as a little kid wearing a Ted Nugent cap, and teenagers would be like, “whoa; 5 year-old into Nugent! Way cool!” But I didn’t know who he was; I just liked the logo with the skulls.

So anyway, as I got older listening to hip-hop, it just wasn’t my nature to suddenly roll up one sweatpants leg and carve little niches into my eyebrow just to follow a trend. I don’t go to shows or hip-hop clubs… I just support the music. In fact, when I ran The Source website, I used to sneak the motto, “The website of the magazine of hip-hop music, culture and politics… without all that culture and politics crap” into the mix wherever I could. Because I used to buy the magazine to get the latest scoop about MC Shan, not to read some budding music journalist’s under-informed opinions on the latest presidential election.

ESP: What does the future hold for Werner Von Wallenrod?

WVW: I’m still working on indie, creative projects… and I always will as long as I can. If that ever will pay any bills, who knows, but I hope so. My other interest is film, which I’m into and take as seriously as hip-hop. Like I said in the last question… those interests now are pretty separate; but maybe they’ll all come together. Or not. I enjoy them both, I don’t need them combined.

ESP: In closing is there anything that you would like people to know about?

WVW: For those who used to check my site but haven’t heard yet, I started a blog about a year ago at: Werner von Wallenrod’s Humble, Little Hip-Hop Blog. It’s updated regularly, and I try my ass off to be fun and informative. I hope its good, but that’s for you guys to decide – it’s definitely not one of those blogs that has the same content as about fifty others, though. 8)

And I’d also like you and your readers to know I appreciate your interest and I hope you like my work!

Werner Von Wallenrod

Ecliptic Sight Interview: Breez Evahflowin’

Breez Evahflowin’ is a name that should be associated with quality hip-hop. With over a 300 song catalog of music, a world famous podcast and drawing skills, ESP wanted to know if there is anything this man can’t do. Read the interview to found out and discover things that you may not have known about Breez Evahflowin’.

ESP: Breez Evahflowin’ is a name that definitely stands out. Where did the name come from and what does it mean to you?

Breez: I started out as a kid as just Breeze in 1989 cause it felt cool, and I wanted to be cool badly. Rap was cool and I was a fan of the smooth rappers like Big Daddy Kane and EPMD. than I realized there was a Breeze in Philly and in Cali. I added on the Evahflowin in the mid 90’s. The Evahflowin part made it really stand out and I guess it’s been good to me. I still focus alot on my flow, it was always something that I wanted to be different from everyone else’s and I still do. I don’t see an end to rhyming, I see it as something you can work on your whole life and constantly see improvement. And that’s how I’ve embraced Evahflowin.

ESP: Many people believe that MTV was your first appearance as an emcee but you had songs before this. What was your first introduction to the hip-hop community?

Breez: The 360degree hip hop seminar from 1993. that was my first official stage battle. I said a line in that one that sent one of the judges “super producer” Clark Kent running to the back of the room laughing his ass off.

In 95 I spit a rhyme over the phone line to the Furious Five’s freestyle radio show on Hot97fm. They invited me down to the studio then made me the unofficial co-host for the remaining 2 years of the show. I got to rhyme next to Melle Mel who wrote a new rhyme every week!! Grandmaster Flash and then an up and coming Tony Touch on the wheels. Angie Martinez was our engineer. what a weird but good time. In 96 I was featured on my 2nd 12” release “who is the blackman” alongside Freedom Williams ( C&C music factory) as part of a crew called the Black Knights. Some of us later branched off to release another 12” the following year “Always” as the crew Hypodermic Needlz. My first solo 12” Came when I was being managed by Sean Prez and produced by Cassius Clay Mack in 1997. It was called “Forsaken” and it was one of the only independent hip-hop releases featured on Kenny Dope’s “hip-hop forever” compilation. It also made an appearance on the infamous Five deadly Venoms OF Brooklyn mixtape via PF Cuttin. Later in 1997 won the MC battle title at 88hiphop.com and went on to host the 2 minutes of fame segment for the program. I went on from there to produce hip hop content for multi million dollar Internet
start up UBO.com

1998 was the official formation of STRONGHOLD. Then later that year the Blaze Battle championship, a full page pic and 3 page write up in Blaze magazine.

2 video game soundtracks, a miller genuine draft commercial, the blaze pro-battle, than finally the MTV stuff, which compared to everything else wasn’t nearly as fun.

ESP: With a catalog of over 300 songs and numerous collaborations, this question maybe hard to answer. What would you say is your favorite Breez Evahflowin’ song?

Breez: I haven’t written it yet, but I’m getting really close.

ESP: After hosting on radio stations and shows you decided to start the John Henry Radio podcast. Where did this concept come from and who is this “Mr. Announcer” that we hear about Mr. Evahflowin’?

Breez: The concept came about when I started getting excited about the “John Henry Returns” Project. I spoke with my boy Noah D out west who manages deezlee.com and he was breakin down all the latest possibilities in digital promotions. He hipped me to the podcasts and how tons of people were catching there jams that way . He blessed me johnhenryradio.com and linked me to the podcast movement. without Noah D. there wouldn’t be a John Henry radio. Mr. announcer is my homie from around the way, he’s cool, just a lil’ slow.

ESP: Is this really the end of the John Henry Radio podcast? Will the John Henry Returns LP/Book be a continuation or something totally different?

Breez: For now, I’m nearing the end of my playable stash and I cant let the 40-50 new songs out of the gate just yet. It’ll be fun to do it again in about 6 or 7 years, I’ll easily have stacked up another 300 by
then.

The LP will carry a lot of the weight of the radio show, especially the sound bites. It’s a theme album with such incredible guest
contributions, that it wont sound even a little dated by the actual release time. Wally What produced the whole project and it sounds great so far.

ESP: You are taking on the music industry but you are also going for the comic industry with the Evahflowin’ Issue #1 pencil art that was posted. How long have you been honing your art skills? What art projects do have coming up?

Breez: I’ve been drawing ever since I could walk. I had old closets full of crayon wall scribbles to prove it. I studied specifically cartooning and illustration at the Children’s Art Carnival in Harlem under Gil Ashby and Michael Davis for over 10 years. I Graduated Laguardia HS and did 2 years at the School of Visual arts University (kids, don’t quit school to rap!)

I’ve currently got all the production design for an off Broadway play, and a book cover illustration on the drawing table right now. I’m also trying to lock down a deal drawing hockey players as comic characters for a major hockey equipment manufacturer.

It pays the bills, but I’d take a pay cut in a second to work on a decent comic story. Evahflowin is a cool side project but I’m not a comic writer, I’d love to work with a good one though.

ESP: With so many different talents and projects, what do you do just to relax?

Breez: My girl drags me away from the table from time to time to make me go out and see things. I love her for it cause sometimes I zone out on work and get my Reed Richard’s on.

The god of war games release alot of angry stress I like workin, I just do, If I’m not working on something or haven’t worked in a while I get fidgety and anxious. My work relaxes me.

ESP: How did your affiliation with Stronghold come about? I know you are probably asked this a lot but when will there be a official Stronghold album?

Breez: We are all asked that alot. I personally have no idea, but I think it will be incredible when it does happen. The guys are great and I’m proud to be associated with them.

I remember that it started in writing. I passed out a leaflet with the heading “Strength in Numbers” and I gave it out to dozens of MC’s who were hanging out around the 88hiphop.com studio. Poison pen, Stelf Index and myself were hanging out partying pretty hard winter of 97 and we would always run into C-Rayz Walz. When the first official meeting was called in January I invited all of the MC’s I had handed flyers to come to crib and build on a unified front. the only heads who showed up were C-Rayz, Pen, Index and L.I.F.E. Long. We immediately started coming up with concepts for the numbers and the fingers of the fist and then Pen blessed up with the name! I started scribbling a sketch of the fist fortress. and Stronghold was born.

ESP: Is there anything you would like to add or say to your fans?

Breez: Yes, I first wanna say thank you for the support. This is therapy for me,
if it offers any of you any kind of a release than it makes me feel
that much better.

Keep an eye open for the troublemakers release which is coming soon and I feel is my best work ever released over some of the tightest production I’ve ever received thanks to Dirt E. Dutch. Also down the line I’ve got the Breez Deez Treez project produced by Davey Tree and Noah D and the Yes You project produced by Burt Fox. Not to exclude the kids but I’m primarily rhyming for those that have been there for the whole ride or have been on a long journey of their own. this is grown man music from now on, cause us grown folk need something to listen to also.

Just wanted to say thanks again to Breez for the interview and here are links if you want to discover more on your own:
Breez Evahflowin’ Myspace
Breez Evahflowin’ Youtube
Breez Evahflowin’ Art
Breez Evahflowin’ John Henry Radio
Breez Evahflowin’ Music
Breez Evahflowin’ Digital Music

Breez Evahflowin'