Cecil Otter’s idea of an April Fools’ joke is dropping his first solo record in eight years out of nowhere. Well, maybe calling it a joke isn’t entirely correct, because here it is: “Dear Echo,” a six-song EP (three brand-new tracks and their instrumentals), which his Doomtree crew made available as a digital download here (and you can stream it below and here, and it will also be available for vinyl pre-order).
Eight years is a long time in between solo records. But it’s not like Cecil has been sitting around playing video games at Doomtree HQ. The Minneapolis rapper/producer has contributed heavily to the each Doomtree group record, and in 2011 hit the viral jackpot with “Wugazi,” a mash-up album that mixed together the Wu-Tang Clan and Fugazi. The 13-song record (made with Swiss Andy) got write-ups by several big media outlets, including RollingStone.com and Jay-Z's Life + Times blog.
On Monday, Cecil released a tease of sorts with the song “Cross Countries,” which is also available on the surprise EP. He wrote and produced each track on the mini album and even designed the cover artwork. The EP is a continuation of the sound heard on recent Doomtree albums – electronic walls of sound, punctuated by manic drums and a bit of singing by Cecil himself. It was recorded in Fall Creek, Wis., at Justin Vernon’s April Base Studios.
Earlier this week, we got a sneak peek at the EP and talked to Cecil about his solo hiatus and plans for more new music (and if there are any political raps bumping around in his head).
Q: Why haven’t you released a solo album in 8 years? Too busy stuffing your pockets with loot from “Wugazi”?
A: Haha. No money was made off of the “Wugazi” project. Swiss actually dropped more money on it than we actually made. As far as not releasing songs... I needed time to recalibrate and figure out what all of this kinda thing really means to me. I love making music more than anything, but it can lose its appeal when trends, opinions and politics get involved. I started to feel worried about how people were going to react to my music and my ideas. Worried that I wouldn't be able to keep up with the music that all the kiddos were bumping off of their YouTube pages. That eventually took over and it just made me want to hide everything from everyone until I felt it was safe to come out.
These three songs have been around for a few years just waiting to be forgotten when my buddy Ryan Olson came to the rescue and took those sessions along with 20 others and began breathing new life into them for me. I quickly fell in love with the idea of making songs again and started writing and recording to a slew of more recent tracks that will see the light of day much quicker than the last batch. These three tracks weren't fitting into the new tracks I was writing so I decided to toss ‘em out and leave that part of my life behind ... old lyrics, old stories and old bull---.
Q: You wrote and produced everything on the EP. How has your sound changed since 2008's “Rebel Yellow”?
A: That will be up to someone else. I have no idea.
Q: When will you start performing these songs live? And when can we expect a full-length?
A: No plans for a show yet and no solid dates on full-lengths.
Q: Who’s Echo?
A: Just a cute way of saying that I am talking to myself. It spawned from “derecho” which is a type of storm that doesn't happen too often. One of them happened the night I was born in the same city. My mom always talked about it. I was basically born to this Earth like a Terminator ... a lightning bolt hit the ground and when the thunder dust settled ... there was naked-ass me looking for a leather jacket and a motorcycle.
Q: Way back in your slam poetry days, I seem to remember you participating in a national “Slam Bush” competition. Has this new election season produced any material for you?
A: I have new ways of dealing with things like that these days. Plus it's just so insane that there is nothing I could really add to the mayhem.
(Above photo by Bre McGee)