Interview with local "celebrity"
// Harrison Pratt

(Editor’s note: Moka Only is a local hip hop artist who is possibly best known for being part of Swollen Members. Now in his late 30s, Moka Only has released a rough average of three albums a year since 1989. On Jan. 31, Moka Only paired up with fellow local MC Evil Ebenezer and released a concept album called ZZBRA: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, described as a soundtrack to a movie that went over budget and fell apart during shooting, never to see the light of day, “Stuey Kubrick’s Pan-African adventure epic.” Here is a transcript of an interview with Moka only in regards to this release.)

Harrison Pratt: How did you end up making this album? How did you meet these guys?

Moka Only: I’ve known Evil for many years just through an association with the hip hop scene, so we’ve done some stuff together, and I’m not sure what happened; we just ended up making it. It was some years ago, actually.

H: I’ve noticed in the liner notes it says that Stuey Kubrick and U-Turn produced it.

M: It was one of the first projects I’ve done where I didn’t do the beats.

H: Did you use any of your gear for this? I noticed there was a Casio SK-1 on one.

M: Yeah, I used a Casio SK-1. It was a track that I actually added to “Stunt Driver”. That was me, but other than that I didn’t do the beats.

H: When are you most productive and where does your inspiration come from?

M: Let’s say I’m most productive every day that I’m alive. I’m always inspired, there’s not a moment that goes by where I’m not thinking about something to do with music or creativity or art. As for where it comes from, that’s a mystery, and I think you can ask just about every other artist, [and] after they give you their bullshit answer, they’ll give you the real answer; nobody really knows where it comes from, some people are chosen by a greater power to be vessels for art. I don’t know, I have no idea, I just know that’s what keeps me running, and if you took that away, that’s my lifeline, I wouldn’t have anything to live for.

H: You must stay up pretty late at night. What time do you wake up most days?

M: Depends if I recorded during the night or not. Sometimes, also touring, sometimes I got to catch flights at six in the morning or whatever, so it varies.

H: You’re a busy man. Do you ever decline offers to work with people?

M: Yeah, I’ve declined a lot of things. But I give people a fair shake. You know, one of the reasons for declining somebody: it may be their approach, if someone’s approach is off, I don’t care how much money you’re offering. I don’t want to do it.

If it’s not up to par financially, there’s no way they can make it happen. I would say, “Get at me when you can.” You know what I mean. I try to keep it fair, but you know I don’t discriminate. It could be anybody, really. If their heart’s in the right place and they [have] some skrill [money].

H: This is a concept album. You guys made a soundtrack to this movie Zzbra. I was wondering if this Zzbra movie will come out?

M: I doubt it’ll ever see the light of day. It’s not meant to be seen.

H: In the liner notes I noticed Stuey Kubrick mentioned that “after great creative differences, I buried the footage deep in the jungle.”

M: Well, that’s an artistic way to put it. I don’t know what he did with it. I mean, you know, it’s sometimes good not to take everything literally. Even if it’s given to you that way. It’s all art. It’s all just for laughs and stuff, you know. The bottom line is we take the craft of creating music very seriously; we take ourselves … not so serious. You know what I mean? We just like to have fun with it, and yes, we will sometimes do and say things to confuse people, or sometimes do things and say things to surprise people, but nothing is of malice or ill-intent. We’re just entertainers, is what it comes down to.

H: Do you guys plan on touring?

M: We’re actually on tour right now; as you’re calling me, we’re in the tour bus right now. I’m on the phone with you! We’re just pulling into Edmonton right now. Right now were doing this cross Canada tour, then we’re onto Japan; after that we’ll stop over at Thailand. Then there’s a break and it’s on to… I’m not sure where. I don’t know.

H: Are you guys going to Lebanon? ‘Cause I noticed you guys have a song called “I look Lebanese”. I was wondering if you had any connections with Lebanon?

M: No. I just look Lebanese. I’m negro. A lot of people look at me. You know what I’m saying? Cause I’m a light skin black person. But it’s like … I’m negro. That’s what I am. You know what I’m saying? But I’m sort of racially ambiguous. You know what I’m saying? People don’t realize how fucking black I am. I’m like the blackest. I’ll tear your head off! You know what I’m saying? I’m very militant. But not really. I like to sit around and eat cereal and stuff. I’m just goofing around, man. But, I mean the truth is, yeah, because I am a bi-racial, I’m black and white. Some people, bi-racials, they do have an ambiguously racial look to them. And that’s why I said that in the song, I said “I look Lebanese”; I said it in “Let’s Roll” and we ended up looping it up for that song. I don’t think we’re going to Lebanon … we have lots of Lebanese friends, so you never know. It may happen.

H: Where did you meet Evil; you guys known each other for a long time then?

M: Like I said, I actually did say, Evil’s part of the scene in Vancouver, I’m part of the scene in Vancouver, and somewhere along the lines, I don’t remember the exact moments, but we connected. I heard about Evil for a long time, actually before I ever met him, I heard about how crazy he was and the first time I’ve seen him perform was 2001. So it wasn’t too much longer after that, that we started to connect on some music type stuff.

H: You guys planning on collaborating more after this album?

M: Yeah man, it’ll definitely happen. Like I mentioned before, the album is not new. It’s something we’ve been sitting on. We actually made the album in 2006. Everything was done in 2006, except the videos we just shot recently. Some things just aren’t ready to come out. Just to make sure things are ready. So, whether it’s the business part, or final artistic touches or whatever, that’s what it is.

//Harrison Pratt, writer
//Graphics by Claire Vuillamy

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