For some people music simply serves to entertain a moment, for others it provides a deep and direct connection to the soul. For Cobaine Ivory and Rocki Evans from producer/singer duo CharlieRED, creating is an “instinctive desire” that comes from within, "full of emotion" and often accidental. Since the release of their debut EP ‘Religion’ late last year, CharlieRED have gone from strength to strength proving that this Blues/Hip Hop duo are indeed the truth in music we’ve all been missing.
Stimulate Your Soul has a chat to CharlieRED about the need for truth and honesty in art, their first sold out show opening for Marsha Ambrosius and why their debut collaborative EP is a message to believe in something so much that it becomes your religion. Jesse Kuss writes.
Who is CharlieRED? How does the name represent you both?
Rocki Evans: CharlieRED represents the calm yet bold versatility of both our energies.
Cobaine Ivory: I feel like I represent the "Charlie" part. I come from a more old-school way of production and "RED" is definitely Rocki's energy, all caps!
Before CharlieRED the two of you were pursuing your own separate musical paths, how did you both get into music and how did you meet?
Rocki Evans: I got into music through church, seeing preachers sing. The emotion they evoked appealed to me and the passion grew from there. Cobaine and I met through our manager, at the perfect time in each of our lives.
Cobaine Ivory: I've grown up with music all around me. My mum was a singer and I would sleep in the studio when I was younger. My stepdad was a Jazz drummer and DJ so his ear is crazy! We were introduced to each other by our manager and decided to try this together.
Cobaine, I have heard you say that you feel like CharlieRED was created “out of lack.” What do you think was missing and how do you hope CharlieRED will fill that void?
Cobiane Ivory: I feel like we are all missing the truth in music. It exists, but it's not as prevalent as it was in different times. Much of today's music is drowning in marketing and brand schemes and the connection is lost. Fast food music. My only hope is that CharlieRED remains true and honest.
Rocki you’ve said that when you connected with Cobaine you felt that your expression finally found a home. What was different about working with Cobaine compared to your previous experiences?
Rocki Evans: Great question, I feel working with Cobaine is different simply based on the quality foundation he provides me as a singer and songwriter. The beats often feel like theme music to my emotions, I've never felt that prior to Cobaine.
When you first started releasing music together as CharlieRED you were an "unknown singer/ producer duo." Was keeping your identities hidden a conscious decision?
Rocki Evans: Initially keeping our identities unknown was conscious, simply because we wanted the focus to be music oriented. It worked out because the focus is still on the music; they just have a face to attach it to now.
Cobaine Ivory: Personally, I feel it's just about the music. Of course, we have to "reveal" our identities once we began performing, but I like remaining unknown. At times, we get wrapped up in the packaging of the message.
It is evident that you both take your relationship with music very seriously. Cobaine you even have a rule that no one else can be in the studio when you are recording. What defines your relationship with music and how would you like this to flow down to your listeners?
Rocki Evans: Creating is an instinctive desire within me. It's a legal high that takes me places no drug can, I appreciate my gift and would only ask that the listener be open to it.
Cobaine Ivory: As in all things, remain true. Quincy Jones said it the best when it comes to music, "We can only go by god's dividing rod; goosebumps, chills. If I'm turned on by it, it is more than likely that others will be turned on by it as well."
Rocki I have heard you say your influences come from what you force yourself to be surrounded by. What is influencing the music the two of you are making at the moment? Do you often reflect on who and what you are surrounded by in life?
Rocki Evans: I often hear of writers that write based on something that happened in a particular day; I've done that but my source of inspiration is built over time. Meaning I think for days on a particular topic and when Cobaine provides a track, it all comes pouring out. At the moment, I am listening to lots of Stevie wonder and Bobby bland.
Tell us about the ‘Religion’ EP? What is the overall concept and how did it come about?
Rocki Evans: ‘Religion’ was a moment that happened so naturally. It's basically saying that your Religion is the "life you lead not the creed you profess." From relationships, time and life in general. My religion is a bit unknown at the moment. (Laughs)
Cobaine Ivory: 'Religion' is just a musical representation of conversations Rocki and I were having at the time. We allowed the muse to come and the songs wrote themselves. The concept of the EP is essentially, "Believe in something so much that it becomes your Religion...not the other way around." Our faith was completely in the 'Religion’ EP before anyone knew it existed.
What has the response been like since you released ‘Religion’? What has been the most memorable part of the journey to its release?
Rocki Evans: All of it is memorable to be honest. It's truly amazing to hear people genuinely speak on what they received from the music, even more mind-blowing when their perspective is exactly where I wrote from. It's shown that people want truth and honesty in art. The response has been amazing, we released it a little over four months ago and the universe has worked wonders for us.
Cobaine Ivory: The responses continue to be amazing. Hmm, I would say when ‘Kansas’ landed on VH1. At that moment, we were eating dinner with our band and both of our phones blew up as well as our numbers! It was a great moment.
You opened for Marsha Ambrosius at SOBs in New York last month, a situation I understand came about because Marsha herself asked you to open for her. What was it like knowing that you had her support? How was the experience?
Rocki Evans: Having Marsha's support is amazing. I grew up on floetry, listening to the songs and loving their vibe. The experience was one to remember, I learned a lot from her in terms of vocal and crowd control.
Cobaine Ivory: It was an experience. It was our first sold-out show! I just appreciated the opportunity and every opportunity to let others know that we exist.
You have both spoken of the vulnerability and truth in the music you create. Why is it so important to make honest music? What does making honest music mean to you?
Rocki Evans: I never really focus on making honest or dishonest music. I pride myself in being an extremely passionate and vulnerable person, so creating simply comes from me being myself.
Cobaine Ivory: I believe the more you ‘think’ about making music the less that you heal yourself, which in turn leads to you not healing others. Everything I've ever created has been completely absent of thought, full of emotion and accidental. It's pretty simple for me. I do it for the feeling. Something else wrote those songs. I'm just happy I was used.
What’s in the future for CharlieRED?
Rocki Evans: The future is bright for Charlie, more music, more honesty and more experiences to tell to amazing interviewers as yourself.
Cobaine Ivory: We're working on new music that we love... We hope you will connect with it as well!
What Stimulates your Soul?
Rocki Evans: Pain, love and life stimulate my soul.
Cobaine Ivory: The Life experience.
Want more? Get Stimulated with CharlieRED here: