Name: Evidence aka Michael Taylor Perretta
Occupation: Rapper, producer
Current release: The new Evidence album Unlearning Vol. 1 is out now via Rhymesayers Entertainment.
If you enjoyed this interview with Evidence, his artist page on the Rhymesayers website is the best point of departure into his world. He is also active on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?
Stuff like that can influence me, but it’s still something I would do regardless. If you see a food commercial or a food ad somewhere, it could maybe get you to buy that product or eat at that restaurant. But if you don’t go there, you’re still going to find a way to eat.
For you to get started, do there need to be concrete ideas – or what some have called a "visualisation" of the finished work? What does the balance between planning and chance look like for you?
No real rhyme or reason. Sometimes I stumble as I go, and other times I’ve had an idea or a song title and that drove the narrative. I personally don’t believe in having a set way of working. I do whatever makes it feel like it’s not a job.
Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating?
Weed is a good one, but not a necessity. Sometimes I like to go in clear-minded just to get a grip on everything early.
What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents, exercise or reading poetry play?
Coffee - very good
Lighting - very important
Scents - if possible
Exercise - always feel better!
Poetry - sure
What do you start with? How difficult is that first line of text, the first note?
That’s the hardest part, of course. The rest usually falls into place after a solid establishment line is in place.
When do the lyrics enter the picture? Where do they come from? Do lyrics need to grow together with the music or can they emerge from a place of their own?
No set way. I think we all have songs that have started from every different possibility. Could be a line in your notes, could be the beat telling you what to write, could have a verse that you’re looking for the right beat to go with it.
What makes lyrics good in your opinion? What are your own ambitions and challenges in this regard?
We all have access to the same words so I like when someone says something simple in a different way than I had thought about it.
As for me, I think being felt is the most important. If you have a skill set behind being felt, even better.
Once you've started, how does the work gradually emerge?
Sometimes it gets done before you blink, other times it gets done with an initial idea that ends up with a lot of trial and error until it feels right, or gets thrown in the trash.
Many writers have claimed that as soon as they enter into the process, certain aspects of the narrative are out of their hands. Do you like to keep strict control over the process or is there a sense of following things where they lead you?
The weed I just hit is amazed at this question.
Often, while writing, new ideas and alternative roads will open themselves up, pulling and pushing the creator in a different direction. Does this happen to you too, and how do you deal with it? What do you do with these ideas?
Alternative roads are always better, you might find a beautiful hitchhiker who has good weed.
There are many descriptions of the creative state. How would you describe it for you personally? Is there an element of spirituality to what you do?
When I’m going almost cross-eyed, I know I’m channeling something good.
Especially in the digital age, the writing and production process tends towards the infinite. What marks the end of the process? How do you finish a work?
When the dish is starting to burn, better get off the oven quick. There’s about a minute of time you can save a burnt meal.
Once a piece is finished, how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate it later on? How much improvement and refinement do you personally allow until you're satisfied with a piece? What does this process look like in practice?
If you can sit on music for a while, it’s a good thing. Being over honest with yourself and seeing if there’s any way to make it better. It can also hurt you and make you overthink it. I let the weed decide for me.
What's your take on the role and importance of production, including mixing and mastering for you personally? How involved do you get in this?
I love this part of it. Especially mastering. It's very sobering.
After finishing a piece or album and releasing something into the world, there can be a sense of emptiness. Can you relate to this – and how do you return to the state of creativity after experiencing it?
I don’t see it as that. Now I get to perform it. That’s when the real life of the song starts.
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you personally feel as though writing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee?
Good coffee is really hard to get right. I respect you if you can make good coffee.
What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more "mundane" tasks?
If you have good coffee and good weed, nothing is mundane.